by Julian Jackson
For three weeks in July 1945 all eyes were fixed on a humid Paris, where France’s disgraced former head of state was on trial, accused of masterminding a plot to overthrow democracy. Would Philippe Pétain, hero of Verdun, be condemned as the traitor of Vichy?
In the terrible month of October 1940, few things were more shocking than the sight of Marshal Philippe Pétain—supremely decorated hero of the First World War, now head of the French government—shaking hands with Hitler. Pausing to look at the cameras, Pétain announced that France would henceforth collaborate with Germany. “This is my policy,” he intoned. “My ministers are responsible to me. It is I alone who will be judged by History.”