Talk:Philippe Pétain

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Shouldn't this article be under Henri-Philippe Pétain rather than Marshall Pétain, which could be a redirect? Do other military commanders have their rank in their article? -Scipius 07:37, 30 July 2002‎ (UTC)

No -- this is nearly as silly as having "General Eisenhower". --mav

Ooops - I'll fix it. -- Hotlorp

Now someone's made it bad again... half changing it to the unhyphenated version... Now all fixed to Henri-Philippe Pétain. -- Hotlorp

He's generally known as Philippe Pétain in France, and, even more commonly, as Marshal Pétain. David.Monniaux 17:49, 17 February 2005 (UTC)

We don't put articles of people under military commander names. He should stay at Philippe Pétain. john k 19:33, 17 Feb 2005 (UTC)

That I agree with. But certainly not at Henri-Philippe (nobody calls him that way). David.Monniaux 07:33, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)


I'm taking out the POV tag until the person who put it there bothers to explain why they did. -- 07:29, 30 June 2005 (UTC)

-I did explain, if you had bothered to read my reason in 'History'. Antman July 1, 2005 03:17 (UTC)

I think the claim that Petain never resisted collaboration with germany makes this article POV. The phrase "took the initiative to collaborate" is factually dubious, and screams "POV." Also not mentioned is the onset of gerontological problems during Petains tenure as head of state, including the possible onset of senility. Overall this article is very poor quality, nto fleshed out, and needs to be improved. p97dav45 16:07, 5 January 2006‎ (UTC)

dutch version[edit]

the Dutch version has a much more complete and as far as i found out, a much better discussion, of Petains role in the First World War. If I find time I will provide a translation, though I am not a native speaker so my Duglish will need some correcting. Hugh van der Mandele, Harlingen, the Netherlands.

I removed the sentence from the world war one section that stated "His advocacy of a defensive strategy contributed to the construction of the Maginot Line." Petain was most definitely not an advocate of a defensive strategy, particularly during the interwar period. He imagined an initial "soaking up" of a German attack, followed by a vigorous counterattack, and assented to the Maginot line because lack of manpower, cash, and political will made maintaining sufficient troop strength impossible. His first conception of it was a series of "lighter but unbroken prepared battlefield" (Williams, 2005). Sort of a "kill trap idea- hardly an addiction to static defence. Yet another example of this article factual difficulties. p97dav45 19:54, 5 January 2006‎ (UTC)

Marshal of France[edit]

At the end of the WWI section it says "After the war ended Pétain was made Marshal of France on 21 November 1918." In the Between the wars section it states "and was made a Marshal of France at Metz by President Raymond Poincaré on 8 December 1918." Both dates are referenced but off-line sources. Could somebody please clarify which on is the correct date? Thanks you, Calistemon (talk) 03:54, 5 July 2016 (UTC)

Without any books open in front of me, I would guess that the latter date is the formal ceremony at which he was given his baton in the presence of Foch, Weygand, Haig, Pershing et al. A famous photo of the ceremony survives. But that's just a guess.Paulturtle (talk) 04:16, 26 September 2016 (UTC) Charles Williams does indeed say 8 December was the formal presentation of his baton, as does the brief 1990s Atkin biog. So I've amended the text accordingly. The previous date may be when he was told of his impending promotion, or when it legally took place, but I couldn't say.Paulturtle (talk) 15:18, 26 September 2016 (UTC)

Biographer's words[edit]

In the section titled "Imprisonment and death", there's the following reference:

"many of them 'self-proclaimed heroes of the Resistance' in the words of biographer Charles Williams"

Why is this included? This seems to be a blatant attack on the members of the court that tried Pétain. In any case, a biographer's point of view is, more than likely, to be biased. If the validity of the court is in question, it should be addressed directly, not in an underhand manner as such. In any case, the earlier section (Trial in High Court) does address the shortcomings of the court.

My two cents. Thanks. Todd (talk) 20:44, 8 December 2016 (UTC)

It's referring to the French Cabinet, not the court. They had the medical reports a few years after his imprisonment, which were pretty clear that Petain ought to be in a geriatric ward rather than in prison, but were unwilling to court unpopularity by acting on them. I assume you are aware that many French people, especially those in public life, for one reason or another exaggerated their role in the Resistance. There is no reason to assume the writer to be "biased". If you can find another authoritative book which gives a different viewpoint, e.g. claims that the French Cabinet all had distinguished war records and despised Petain for that reason, feel free to add it.Paulturtle (talk) 12:05, 26 December 2016 (UTC)

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Petain's reputation[edit]

This has been in the news lately courtesy of M Macron, with a fair bit of nonsense being talked, eg. that Petain personally ordered the deportation of Jewish children to death camps (nope, that was Laval in Vichy and the out-and-out collaborationists in Paris). At the moment we have a claim in the intro that he was the French equivalent of Vidkun Quisling (who was little more than a German puppet), a claim explicitly denied by, I think, Julian Jackson.

It is fair to say that Petain was chief among those who pushed for an armistice in June 1940. Like the German armistice of 1918 it turned out to be much harsher than had been hoped, with most of the French Army being made to lay down their arms, although it preserved the French fleet and kept the Axis out of Algeria and a third of France. The plan was to eventually negotiate a proper peace treaty which would enable the return of the POWs from Germany, although that never happened.

Petain was initially given enormous powers in the new regime and a massive personality cult developed around him (clearly a psychological reaction to the sudden, catastrophic defeat). But he was already in his mid-80s and in physical and mental decline, and became more and more of a figurehead. As time went on, the regime collaborated more and more with Germany (including deportations of Jews and forced labourers). Although he had initially been happy enough (as far as I know) with Vichy's anti-Jewish laws, things went a lot further than he would have liked but he didn't do much more about it than wring his hands and whinge.

His trial, which he returned voluntarily to face (de Gaulle would have been happy for him to end his days in exile) against a backdrop of the return of the starving forced labourers, was always a bit of a joke. It was likened at the time to the trials of Marie Antoinette and Marshal Ney. He wasn't tried for out-and-out collaboration (deportation of Jews and forced labourers etc) because so many people had been involved in that that it was thought best not to get into it. He was tried on the charges that the armistice of June 1940 had been a shameful "surrender" akin to that of Bazaine at Metz in 1870 (this in turn was a follow-on from the Riom Trials during the war at which the Vichy regime had tried to pin the blame for France's defeat on various people like Daladier and Gamelin), and on the illegality of the dissolution of the Third Republic in July 1940 (even though most French politicians who had still been around voted in favour). Some politicians attacked him in their evidence (Reynaud, Herriot) only to have their own initial sympathies for Vichy exposed. The three professional judges wanted to acquit him as the charges were unproven, but were outvoted by the lay members, who had been drawn from among former Resisters and politicians who had been opposed to the July 1940 vote.

His reputation has always been a lot more mixed than bad political rhetoric would have us believe - one of his biographers publishes opinion polls from over the years. The official line was always that he was "the shield" who stayed behind to do what he could to protect France until the storm had passed, and that his show trial was a monstrous injustice perpetrated on a frail old man. Fewer people believe that nowadays than used to be the case, but as recently as the late 1990s I had a French flatmate who told me that his grandparents were big Petain fans and had very much believed that.

The general tone of modern biographies (Griffith early 70s, Atkin 1997 etc) tends to be that he was a silly, vain old fool who knew about a lot of the stuff that was going down under Vichy but didn't do enough to stop or slow it - but not that he was an evil man or an out-and-out Nazi sympathiser. I have a lot of notes about Petain kicking around in my pile of unfinished writing projects, to which I may return one of these days, but I hope that the above is helpful for the time being.Paulturtle (talk) 23:26, 21 November 2018 (UTC) Also worth remembering that he had been a popular figure until the Liberation, widely cheered on a visit to Paris in spring 1944. It was the return of the forced labourers in winter 1945/6 which saw his reputation collapse.Paulturtle (talk) 23:34, 21 November 2018 (UTC)

A Commons file used on this page has been nominated for deletion[edit]

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I switched the image, but why bother to delete the smaller one?-- Work permit (talk) 06:31, 3 April 2019 (UTC)