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Great Clarendon Street, Oxford ox2 6dp
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Thomas J. Laub 2010
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ISBN 9780199539321

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
Abbreviations and foreign words vi
List of gures and tables xiii
Acknowledgments xv
Map of Occupied France, 15 March 1941 xviii

Introduction 1
1. The Shocking Defeat 23
2. Rivals and Scavengers 49
3. Setting the Precedent 71
4. First Measures 89
5. Resistance and Reprisals 112
6. The End of Ambiguity 134
7. Transitions 168
8. Defamation, Discrimination, and Despoliation 194
9. Racial Deportations 220
10. Labor Deportations and Resistance 247
11. Invasion and Retreat 273

Bibliography 297
Index 315
Abbreviations and foreign words

Bibliographic abbreviations
ADAP Akten zur deutschen auswartigen Politik 19181945
BAK Bundesarchiv, Abteilung Koblenz
BALW Bundesarchiv, Abteilung Reich und DDR,
Lichterfelde-West, Berlin
BAMA Bundesarchiv, Abteilung Militararchiv, Frei-
burg im Breisgau
CCDR Commission Consultative des dommages et des
DGFP Documents on German Foreign Policy
IMT Trial of major war criminals before the Interna-
tional Military Tribunal
MGFA Militargeschichtliches Forschungsamt
nfn No frame number
RG Record Group
USNA United States National Archive and Records
Administration, College Park, Maryland

Textual abbreviations
BdS Beauftragter des Chefs der Sicherheitspolizei und des
SD. Representative of the Security Police and
SD in France. After the summer of 1942, the
title shifted to Befehlshaber or Commander of
the Security Police and SD
abbreviations and foreign words

BEF British Expeditionary Force, a portion of the

British army sent to France in 1939
CGQJ Commissariat-general aux questions juives, the Gen-
eral Commissariat for Jewish Affairs
FK Feldkommandant. Field Commander (of an occu-
pied area)
Gestapo Geheime Staatspolizei, the secret state police
GFP Geheime Feldpolizei, the secret military police
HSSuPF Hoherer SS- und Polizeifuhrer. A senior SS police
KK Kreiskommandant. District Field Commander (of
an occupied area)
KSSVO Kriegssonderstrafrechtsverordnung. A decree con-
cerning special military crimes during war
KStVO Kriegsstrafverfahrensordnung. A decree concern-
ing military jurisdiction during war and special
Kripo Kriminalpolizei, criminal police
MBB Militarbefehlshaber in Belgien und nordwest Frank-
reich. The Military Commander of Belgium and
the French Nord and Pas-de-Calais departments
MBF Militarbefehlshaber in Frankreich. The Military
Commander in France
MOI Main-doeuvre immigree. A section of the French
Communist party made up of immigrant
MVW Militarverwaltungsstab. Military administration
staff directly subordinate to the MBF that
included government and economic subsections

after the fall

MVW Abt Wi Militarverwaltung Abteilung Wirtschaft, an eco-

nomic subsection of the military administration
MVW Abt Verw Militarverwaltung Abteilung Verwaltung, a govern-
ment subsection of the military administration
NSDAP Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei: the
Nazi party
Ob West Oberbefehlshaber West. Supreme (army) command
in the West
OFK Oberfeldkommandant. Senior eld commander (of
an occupied area)
OKH Oberkommando des Heeres: Army High Command
OKW Oberkommando der Wehrmacht: Armed Forces
High Command
OKW Wi. Ru. Amt Wirtschafts- und Rustungsamt: Armed Forces
High Command, Economic and Armaments
Orpo Ordnungspolizei: order police
PCF Parti Communist Francais: the French Communist
POW Prisoner of war
RSHA Reichssicherheitshauptamt, the Reich Security
Main Ofce
SA Sturmabteilungen or storm detachments. A Nazi
organization established in 1920 to help Hitler
control the streets
SCAP Service de controle des administrateurs provisoires: a
temporary administration agency
SD Sicherheitsdienst, the SS security service

abbreviations and foreign words

Sipo Sicherheitspolizei, the security police

SS Schutzstaffeln. Protection squads: an independent
organization within the Nazi party that was
under the control of Heinrich Himmler. Also
known as the Black Corps
STO Service du Travail Obligatoire: program supplying
French labor to Germany
UGIF Union General des Israelites de France: The General
Union of the Israelites of France
USSR Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Unabbreviated foreign words

Abwehr Military intelligence organization attached to
OKW until 1944
Allgemeine SS The general SS, a branch of the SS that includes
elements of the German police and operated
concentration camps
Aryan A term that refers to descendants of the people
who rst spoke the parent language of the Indo-
European family. In Nazi Germany, the noun
Aryan refers to a mythical master race that
hailed from ancient Iran and allegedly stood
behind all great European accomplishments. The
verb to Aryanize (Arisierung) means to make
something Aryan by eliminating the inuence of
allegedly inferior races. Also used as an adjective
when speaking of or pertaining to the so-called
Aryan race (e.g. Aryan art or art produced by
pure Aryans).
Attentisme Wait and see
Bezirkchef Regional commander (of an occupied area)

after the fall

Deutsch-Franzosische The Franco-German friendship association

Dienststelle Ribbentrop The foreign ofce of the Nazi party that was
run by Joachim Ribbentrop and rivaled the
ofcial Foreign Ofce
Einsatzgruppen Special action squads, small groups of SS soldiers
who executed racial opponents of the Third
Reich behind the front lines
Einsatzstab Rosenberg Special action staff Rosenberg
Exekutivbefugnisse Executive authority. The legal power to make
arrests and carry out the law
Fall Gelb Case Yellow, the German plan for the invasion
of France and the Low Countries.
Freischarlerei Hostile acts committed by civilians or illegal
Fuhrerbefehl Hitler order, an order from Hitler that could
not be questioned
Gauleiter District leader (of the Nazi party)
Geiselverfahren The hostage process
Gerichtsheer Judge Advocate General
Gleichschaltung Coordination. The nazication of professional
and social groups after Hitler seized power
Kommandostab Command staff. Section of the German military
government in France that controlled regular
troops assigned to the MBF
Kulturguter cultural artifacts
Kriegsverrath War treason

abbreviations and foreign words

Landesschutzen Reserve battalions assigned to the MBF for

routine security duties
lebensunwertes Leben Life unworthy of living. A program to kill
racially unt, handicapped Germans, and other
useless eaters
Luftwaffe German air force
Militargesetzbuch Military penal code
Militarverwaltung Government subsection of the military admin-
Abteilung Verwaltung istration
Militarverwaltung Economic subsection of the military adminis-
Abteilung Wirtschaft tration
Nacht und Nebel Erlass The Night and Fog Decree
Ortskommandant Commander of a municipal district in an occu-
pied area
Reichsfuhrer Reich leader. Refers to Heinrich Himmler
Reichsleiter Reich leader. A title granted to Alfred Rosen-
berg in 1937
Reichsmarschall Reich marshal. Refers to Hermann Goring
Reichstag The German parliament
Schwerpunkt Spearhead or main effort of an attack
Sections speciales Special courts established by the Vichy govern-
ment on 23 August 1941 to prosecute enemies
of the state. Also referred to as Cour Speciale
Verfugungstruppe Armed SS troops that Hitler could use during
an internal emergency
Waffen SS Armed SS. A branch of the SS equipped and
organized along military lines

after the fall

Wehrkreis Military district

Wehrmacht German armed forces
Wehrwirtschaftsstab War economy and armament staff
und Rustungsstab
Zehn Gebote Ten commandments. The SSAbwehr agree-
ment outlining the responsibilities of each orga-
Zentralauftragsstelle Central purchasing ofce under the joint control
of OKW and the Reich Economic Ministry
Zersetzung der A crime dened as undermining of German
Wehrkraft defense power

List of Figures and Tables

Local, district, and regional branches of the Military Commander in
France c.15 March 1941 xviii
1.1 German plans to invade France in 1914, 1939, and 1940 27
1.2 The Norwegian Campaign, 1940 29
1.3 The Western Campaign, 1940 31
1.4 Adolf Hitler being greeted in the Compiegne forest 35
1.5 The German chain of command 42
1.6 The German Military Government in France 46
2.1 Gring, Ribbentrop, Rosenberg, Goebbels, and other leading Nazis
listen as Hitler declares war on the United States, 11 December 1941 51
4.1 Crimes prosecuted by the MBF, 19401942 107
4.2 Serious crimes prosecuted by the MBF, 19401942 108
4.3 Daily life in Occupied France 110
5.1 General Otto von Stulpnagel consults Field Marshal Walter von
Brauchitsch in Paris, 21 May 1941 126
5.2 Helmut Knochen 131
6.1 The German chain of command in Nantes, 1941 152
6.2 Werner Best 153
6.3 Admiral Darlan, Marshal Petain, and Reichsmarschall Goring in
St. Florentin 156
7.1 The Nazis spring a trap, 1944 176
7.2 Prime Minister Laval and HSSuPF Oberg, 1 May 1943 185
8.1 Local, district, and regional authorities in occupied France, 1944 198
8.2 Aryanization in Marseilles. A Jewish business under new management 213
9.1 Reinhard Heydrich 229
9.2 Pithiviers internment camp c.1941 233
after the fall

9.3 Racial deportations, 19431944 239

10.1 French volunteers leaving for Germany, 19401942 252
10.2 Gauleiter Fritz Sauckel 253
10.3 French workers departing for Germany, JuneDecember 1942 255
10.4 French workers departing for Germany, 1943 260
10.5 Labor deportations, 1944 262
10.6 A German atrocity 270
11.1 Forty-four French hostages shot in Premilhat, near Montlucon, on
14 August 1944 278
The views or opinions expressed in this book, and the context in which the images
are used, do not necessarily reect the views or policy of, nor imply approval or
endorsement by, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

7.1 Arrests for serious resistance activity, October 1941May 1942 178

I could not have written this book on my own and would like thank all the
people who helped me navigate the research and writing process. A long
and distinguished list of family members, academic mentors, colleagues,
and friends provided considerable help during the course of this project. I
owe all of you a debt of gratitude and would like to express my sincere
Grounded in business and nance, the Laub family always appreciated
the value of education but viewed my foray into graduate school with a
degree of skepticism. What can you do with a degree in history? Wouldnt
a business or a law degree be more rewarding? My father, George W.
Laub, set aside his initial doubts and supported my graduate education
through thick and thin. Persuaded in no small part by my fathers vocal
support, my mother Sandra, sister Lorinda, and brother George funded
my insatiable appetite for books, encouraged me to nish this manuscript,
and helped me overcome professional challenges. This book could not
have been written without the emotional and nancial support from the
entire Laub family. I must also thank the extended Bowles family for
providing moral support during the nal stages of the revision process.
Dean and Nancy Jo Cline welcomed me into their home. David and Shirly
Bowles listened to a frustrated academic with sympathy and patience. All
four exemplied southern hospitality and overlooked my Yankee heritage.
Last but certainly not least, Laura Bowles helped me overcome numerous
bureaucratic obstacles, edited portions of this manuscript, and helped me
recover from the writing process. Both families have my heartfelt thanks.
Educators in Europe and the United States contributed to this work
in many different ways. Led by Alan Draper, the faculty of the history
and government departments at St. Lawrence University introduced me to
the rigors of academic life. Richard Breitman, W. Scott Haine, and Mark
Masurovsky revealed the nuances of French and German historiography
at the American University. Damon Chetson, Will Hay, Erin Mahan,
Christof Morrissey, and Steve Norris brightened my days at the University
of Viginia. Stephen Schuker helped a green graduate student develop
after the fall

and execute an ambitious research agenda. His sage advice, rigorous

standards, and constant encouragement shaped this work from start to
nish. A graduate student could not hope for a better friend and mentor.
Archivists at the US National Archives in College Park, Maryland, the
the Bundesarchiv Lichterfelde-West in Berlin, Militararchiv in Freiburg
im Breisugrau, and the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz all pointed me toward
the appropriate nding aids, passed along invaluable suggestions, and
helped me unearth the documentation that supports this manuscript. I
cannot understate my debt to archivists and staff at all four instituions.
Lenard Berlanstein, Dale Copeland, Alan Megill, and Philip Zelikow asked
penetrating questions during the writing process and offered invaluable
advice after my dissertation defense at the University of Virginia. My
extended academic family played a profound role in my education and
deserve a share of whatever accolades this work receives. Any blunders,
mistakes, and omissions that remain are my responsibility alone.
David Frey and Ben Shepherd counseled me during the research process.
Peter Lieb, Jeff Rutherford, Alex J. Kay, and Dave Stahel commented on
papers and can only be described as wonderful colleagues and good friends.
Christopher Wheeler, Matthew Cotton, and the staff at Oxford University
Press guided me through the publishing process with constant aplomb. In
conjunction with ve anonymous reviewers, they identied many blunders
and improved this text. All have my thanks.
Colleagues and friends at Sweet Briar College and Longwood University
helped me survive the early stages of my academic career. Phil Blaker
and Bill Harbour guided me through the mineeld of adjunct life. Lynn
Lauffenberg, Gerry Berg, and Kate Chavigny encouraged me to continue
with the revision process and served rst-class dinners with generous
helpings of merriment and sympathy. Maud Pintner, Lea Pyne, and Rachel
Moretta delighted me with discussions that ranged from the profound to the
absurd and helped me keep my own worries in perspective. Jim Schaefer,
Carol Fleming, Mike Galgano, and the staff at James Madison University
continue to support my research endeavors with advice and patience. I
owe all a debt of gratitude.
Thanks must also be extended to friends who provided respite from the
trials and tribulations of academic life. Jean Boyle, Gary Downey, Kim
Martone, Joseph Molisani, Brad Rauch, David Rickards, and Jeffrey Wrenn
all listened to my complaints on more occasions than I or they care to


remember. Christie and Joseph Martin provided genuine camaraderie while

I worked in the National Archives and remain fast friends. James Bumbalo,
Jack Hurley, George Liederhaus, Tom Pidgeon, Walter Rand, and Michael
Sladden helped me appreciate the value of hard work, taught me how to tell
a good story, and provided refuge in the woods of northern Ontario. The
study of Nazi Germany can be a dark and depressing endeavor. Without
aid and moral support from these and many other friends, I could not have
completed this manuscript.
I dedicate this book to my friend Christopher M. Morrison. Despite the
attractions of a rich home life and obligations associated with a grueling
work schedule, Chris always found time to brighten my day with a
quick phone call. With uncanny timing, he offered useful advice, heartfelt
encouragement, and the proverbial kick in the backside when necessary.
His integrity, honesty, and friendship inspire me every day. Chris passed
away while I was drafting chapter six. Although writing a book is indeed
challenging, it does not compare to eulogizing a dear friend. Survived by
his wife Kim, his parents Joe and Maureen, and many friends, Chris will
always be missed.
Thomas J. Laub

January 2009

Local, district, and regional branches of the Military Commander in France
c.15 March 1941.

Motivated by evidence of barbarism that trickled out of Europe during

World War Two, Allied leaders vowed to prosecute war criminals at
the Moscow Conference in October 1943. Toward this end, judges from
France, Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union convened
an international military tribunal in Nuremberg on 14 November 1945.
Prosecutors charged leading Nazis with committing crimes against peace,
conspiracy against peace, specic violations of the Hague and Geneva
Conventions (i.e. war crimes), and crimes against humanity. National
courts judged citizens accused of treason and German nationals who
committed crimes within their jurisdictions. In France, proceedings began
immediately after the Liberation. Local resistance cells convened ad hoc
courts and judged people who were accused of collaborating with German
forces. After the provisional French government purged the judicial system,
traditional courts handled charges like (e)ntertaining, in time of war,
relations with a foreign power or its agents in order to support this power
against France.
By the time major trials ended in 1949, French prosecutors had executed
approximately 7,000 people and sent another 26,289 to prison, but a 1950
amnesty bill pardoned many offenders. As they rendered verdicts and passed
down sentences, French jurists dened unacceptable forms of collaboration
and punished those found guilty of treason. Ofcial proceedings failed to

Peter Novick, The Resistance versus Vichy. The Purge of Collaborators in Liberated France (New
York: Columbia University Press, 1968); Philippe Bourdrel, LEpuration sauvage, 19441945 (Paris:
Perrin, 1988).
after the fall

live up to those that followed Napoleon IIIs 1851 coup detat or the
1871 Paris Commune. Although harsh during the months that immediately
followed the Liberation, French courts eventually accepted a rather narrow
denition of collaboration that, in many ways, let bygones be bygones.
The relatively moderate nature of purges may be connected to
widespread acceptance of arguments advanced by defendants during
postwar trials. In response to charges that he betrayed the Third Republic,
Marshal Henri Petain, the leader of the French state between 17 June 1940
and August 1944, testied that
I used my power as a shield to protect the French people . . . Every day, a dagger at
my throat, I struggled against the enemys demands. History will tell all that I spared
you, though my adversaries think only of reproaching me for the inevitable . . .
While General de Gaulle carried on the struggle outside our frontiers, I prepared
the way for liberation by preserving France, suffering but alive.

In his own mind, Petain assumed a thankless position as leader of a

defeated nation. From his capital in the eponymous town of Vichy, he
exchanged limited French cooperation for limited German demands. From
this perspective, de Gaulle served as a sword that struck against Nazi tyranny
from London while Petain shielded the French nation from the same
threat in Vichy. Both men employed different tactics to achieve the same
basic goal: the preservation of France. The Marshal attributed excessive
collaboration to unscrupulous politicians like Pierre Laval, fascists such as
Jacques Doriot, and adventurers like Joseph Darnand. The High Court
sentenced the Marshal to death on 14 August 1945, but judges suggested
the death sentence be suspended, ostensibly because of the perpetrators
advanced age. General Charles de Gaulle, then the provisional leader of
France, commuted Petains death sentence to life in prison. From these
meager beginnings, the sword and shield theory took root in French society
and shaped legal, popular, and academic conceptions of the Vichy regime.
Shortly after the Liberation, three sympathetic authors conrmed the
sword and shield interpretation of the Vichy era. Louis Rougiers Les Accords
PetainChurchill appeared in 1945 and Henri du Moulin de Labarthetes Le

Jean-Pierre Rioux, The Fourth Republic, 19441958, translated by Godfrey Rogers (Cam-
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 2942.
Proces du Marechal Petain (Paris: Editions Louis Pariente, 1945), pp. 1516; Jean-Marc Varaut,
Le Proces Petain, 19451995 (Paris: Perrin, 1995).
Varaut, Le Proces Petain, p. 381ff.


Temps des illusions followed a year later. Louis-Dominique Girard published

Montoire, Verdun diplomatique in 1948. All three highlighted the diplomatic
successes of the Vichy regime and implied that France might have fared
much worse without Petain. Most on the political right blamed Pierre
Laval for the excesses of Vichy, and few authors disputed the consensus.
During the ten years that followed World War Two, Petains sword and
shield argument inuenced historical analysis of the Vichy era.
Postwar politics eventually divided veterans of the resistance into two
camps. Allies of de Gaulle initially supported the trial of Petain because
the latter had symbolized capitulation and, even if he did not wish it,
collaboration with the enemy. Eventually General de Gaulle shifted his
position and attributed Petains collaboration to weakness brought on by old
age. Gilbert Renault, a condant of the general who was known as Colonel
Remy during the war, reported that de Gaulle described himself and Petain
as two strings on the same bow. Taking their lead from the general,
prominent Gaullists made amends with some former collaborators. Robert
Arons scholarly Histoire de Vichy, 19401944 exonerated many bureaucrats
who had worked for the Vichy regime and conrmed Petains sword and
shield theory. Slowly but surely, moderate and conservative Frenchmen
embraced the notion that forty million resistants had opposed Germany.
Left-wing opponents of the Vichy regime halfheartedly opposed the
sword and shield theory. LHumanite, the ofcial newspaper of the French
Communist Party (Parti Communist Francais or PCF), supported the execu-
tion of Marshal Petain. Long-time members of the resistance (as opposed to
resistants who joined during the last months of the war) condemned lenient
sentences that courts handed down to functionaries of the Vichy regime.

Henry Rousso, The Vichy Syndrome: History and Memory in France since 1944, translated by
Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), pp. 241251; Louis
Rougier, Les Accords PetainChurchill: Historie dune mission secrete (Montreal: Beauchemin, 1945);
Henri du Moulin de Labarthete, Le Temps des illusions: Souvenirs, juillet 1940avril 1942 (Geneva:
Editions du Cheval aile, 1946); Louis-Dominique Girard, Montoire, Verdun diplomatique: Le Secret
du Marechal (Paris: A. Bonne, 1948); Rene de Chambrun, France during the German Occupation,
19401944, translated by Philip W. Whitcomb (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1957);
Paul Badouin, Neuf mois au gouvernement (Paris: Editions de la table ronde, 1948); Yves Bouthillier,
Le Drame de Vichy (Paris: Plon, 1950).
Rousso, The Vichy Syndrome, p. 35.
Rousso, The Vichy Syndrome, pp. 3243; Robert Aron, The Vichy Regime 19401944 (Paris:
Fayard, 1954); Pierre Laborie, LOpinion francaise sous Vichy (Paris: Editions du seuil, 1990).
Varraut, Le Proces Petain, p. 387; Fred Kupferman, Les Premiers beaux jours, 19441946 (Paris:
Calmann-Levy, 1985); Jean Cassou, La Memoire courte (Paris: Minuit, 1953), pp. 334; Charles

after the fall

Yet the dismay of the political left may have been disingenuous. Commu-
nists avoided a thorough discussion of the past because such an endeavor
might talk about the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, widespread public
apathy during the rst years of the Occupation, and other disconcerting
facts. With skeletons in almost every closet, neither right- nor left-wing
parties pushed for a thorough examination of the Vichy era. They both
accepted the sword and shield theory as the least-worst explanation of the
Robert Paxtons Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order, 19401944
forced many to revise their understanding of the Vichy era. Using German
sources, Paxton argued that
the shield theory hardly bears close examination. The armistice and the unoccupied
zone seemed at rst a cheap way out, but they could have bought some material
ease for the French population only if the war had soon ended. As the war dragged
on, German authorities asked no less of France than that of the totally occupied
countries. In the long run, Hitlers victims suffered in proportion to his need for
their goods or his ethnic feelings about them, not in proportion to their eagerness
to please. Vichy managed to win only paltry concessions: a few months of the releve
instead of a labor draft, exemption from the yellow star for Jews in the unoccupied
zone, slightly lower occupation costs between May 1941 and November 1942,
more weapons in exchange for keeping the Allies out of the empire. Judged by its
fruits, Vichy negotiation was barren.

Paxton examined the actions of the Vichy regime and found that Petain and
his lieutenants pushed their own agenda. In 1940 Petain asked Germany
for an armistice to prevent a left-wing revolution. After hostilities ceased
in June 1940, Laval and Darlan tried to exchange economic and military
collaboration in return for an easing of restrictions outlined in the Armistice
Agreement. Although fettered by the 1940 defeat and the occupation of
two-thirds of France, Petains lieutenants used whatever autonomy they
could muster to construct a new version of La Patrie. Instead of describing
Vichys program as something imposed by Hitler, Paxton characterized

Rist, Une Saison gatee. Journal de la guerre et de loccupation (Paris: Fayard, 1983), p. 40; Pierre
Guillain de Benouville Le Sacrice du matin (Paris: Lafont, 1946); Yves Farge, Rebelles, soldats et
citoyens (Paris: Grasset, 1946).
Stephan Courtois, Le PCF dans la guerre (Paris: Ramsay, 1980); Jacques Fauvet, Histoire du
parti communist francais (Paris: Fayard, 1965), vol. II.
Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order, 19401944 (New York:
Columbia University Press, 1972), p. 372.


Petains National Revolution as another round in the virtual civil war of

the 1930s. Rather than being victims of Nazi aggression or fascist stooges,
the Vichy regime tried to rebuild France along lines developed by the
political right during the interwar era.
When they were rst published in 1972, Paxtons conclusions revived
a nasty debate about France during World War II. Admiral Paul Auphan,
a staunch supporter of Marshal Petain, argued that Paxtons book was
laced with gaps and errors and discussed a matter better kept between
Frenchmen. But the controversy did not last and, by the time Paxton
and Michael Marrus published Vichy France and the Jews in 1981, most
scholars of the Vichy era accepted his central arguments. Paxtons work
forced historians to abandon Petains sword and shield theory, rene their
denition of collaboration, and extend the search for collaborators into
groups previously exonerated by French courts.
In retrospect, Paxtons conclusions should have come as no surprise.
Eberhard Jackel published a study of Franco-German diplomatic relations
during the Second World War in 1966six years before Paxtons Vichy
France. His book, Frankreich in Hitlers Europa, also relied on German
sources and argued that Germany assumed a rather passive stance toward
Vichy France. In late 1940 and early 1941, Petains lieutenants, Pierre
Laval and Admiral Francois Darlan, offered to collaborate actively with
Germany in return for the release of French prisoners of war, a reduction
in occupation costs that were paid to Germany, permission to increase
French armed forces, a relaxation of various border restrictions, and other
political concessions that would rally support for the Marshals National
Revolution. At the time, Hitler did not believe that he needed French
help in order to win the war and did not want to offer substantial
concessions to Petain, Laval, or Darlan. Like Paxton, Jackel highlighted
French initiatives, demonstrated that Vichy ofcials did much more than

Paxton, Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order, pp. 374, 3813.
John F. Sweets, Chaque livre un evenement: Robert Paxton and the French, from briseur de
glace to iconoclaste tranquille, in S. Fishman, L. Lee Downs, I. Sinanoglou et al. (eds.), France at
War: Vichy and the Historians, translated by David Lake (New York: Berg, 2000), pp. 2134,
303307; Michael R. Marrus and Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews (New York: Basic
Books, 1981).
Eberhad Jackel, France dans LEurope de Hitler, translated by Alfred Grosser (Paris: Fayard,
1968), pp. 154179, 226258, 312326. First published as Frankreich in Hitlers Europa: Die deutsche
Frankreichpolitik im zweiten Weltkrieg (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1966).

after the fall

just respond to German demands, and discounted the sword and shield
In the same year that Jackel published Frankreich in Hitlers Europa, Paxton
published his own doctoral dissertation entitled Parades and Politics at Vichy:
The French Ofcer Corps under Marshal Petain. While Vichy France analyzed
Petains general political program, Parades and Politics focused on the French
army as an institution. Soldiers and sailors played an important political
role throughout the Vichy era. General Maxime Weygand, the French
Commander in Chief in June 1940, refused to continue ghting Nazi
Germany from North Africa and demanded an armistice. Between July
1940 and November 1942, the French army supported Petains program
of domestic reform and, as an institution, made little effort to resist Nazi
Germany. While few professional ofcers volunteered to serve in the
German armed forces after the invasion of the Soviet Union, even fewer
joined Charles de Gaulle in London before November 1942. Although
Paxtons dissertation discussed one of the most signicant institutions in
French society, few Europeans recognized the importance of Parades and
Politics. The distinguished French historian Jean-Pierre Azema claimed
that specialists were familiar with Paxtons rst book, but their awareness
was not reected in contemporary scholarly journals. The Revue francaise
de science politique published an eight-line commentary that focused on
Paxtons sources, while the prestigious Revue dhistoire de la deuxieme guerre
mondiale merely listed Paxtons rst book under works received in April
1967. Both Jackels Frankreich in Hitlers Europa and Paxtons Parades and
Politics reached conclusions that atly contradicted the established sword
and shield theory articulated by Aron and others, but they passed without
comment in France.
Paxtons Vichy France essentially destroyed the sword and shield theory
and, in light of its detailed research, has discouraged others from writing
another history of the Vichy era from the top down. Academics have
continued to focus on issues of collaboration and resistance, but most have

Robert O. Paxton, Parades and Politics at Vichy: The French Ofcer Corps under Marshal Petain
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1966), pp. 624, 142, 934, 407.
Sweets, Chaque livre un evenement: Robert Paxton and the French, from briseur de glace to
iconoclaste tranquille, in France at War, p. 21.


studied the question from the bottom up. Some analyzed specic regions
of France during the war and largely conrmed Paxtons ndingsalbeit
with variations. John Sweets scrutinized the town of Clermont-Ferrand
and concluded few people actively supported Marshal Petains regime.
By the same token, few residents of Clermont-Ferrand took actions that
directly threatened Vichy politicians or their German sponsors. Studies
of women, children, the theater, religious groups, and big business have
supported similar conclusions. Specialists of the Vichy era studied France
from the bottom up and social history dominated the eld.
After the Liberation, prosecutors used a model of collaboration and
resistance to adjudicate treason cases. Defendants either collaborated with
Germany and were guilty of treason or supported the resistance and thus
were innocent. Scholars employed a similar dichotomy to explain the
actions of French social groups and institutions during World War II. What
did a group or institution do, and did its actions advance Hitlers cause?
If the last question can be answered in the afrmative, then the subject
was probably guilty of collaboration. Authors who employ the collabora-
tionresistance dichotomy can, because of the nature of the questions they
are asking, concentrate on the activities of French men and women with
little regard for other considerations.

John F. Sweets, Choices in Vichy France. The French under Nazi Occupation (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1994). Other regional studies include Alya Aglan, La Resistance sacriee:
Le Mouvement Liberation-Nord (Paris: Flammarion, 1994); Laurent Douzou, La Desobeissance:
Histoire dun mouvement et dun journal clandestin: Liberation-Sud (19401944) (Paris: Odile Jacob,
1995); H. R. Kedward, In Search of the Maquis: Rural Resistance in Southern France, 19421944
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993); Lynn Taylor, Between Resistance and Collaboration. Popular
Protest in Northern France, 19401945 (New York: St. Martins Press, 2000); Robert Zaretsky, Nmes
at War: Religion, Politics and Public Opinion in the Department of the Gard, 19381944 (Pennsylvania,
PA: Penn State Press, 1995).
Sarah Fishman, We will wait! The Wives of French Prisoners of War 19401945 (New Haven,
CT: Yale University Press, 1991); Celia Bertin, Femmes sous loccupation (Paris: Stock, 1993); Hanna
Diamond, Women and the Second World War in France 19391948: Choices and Constraints (New
York: Longman, 1999); Francine Muel-Dreyfus, Vichy and the Eternal Feminine: A Contribution to
a Political Sociology of Gender, translated by Kathleen A. Johnson (Durham, NC: Duke University
Press, 2001); W. D. Halls, The Youth of Vichy France (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981);
Pierre Giolitto, Histoire de la jeunnesse sous Vichy (Paris: Perrin, 1991); Serge Added, Le Theatre
dans les annees Vichy (Paris: Ramsay, 1992); Jean-Pierre Bertin-Maghit, Le Cinema sous loccupation:
Le Monde du cinema francais de 19401946 (Paris: Olivier Orban, 1989); Jacques Duquesne,
Les Catholiques francais sous loccupation (Paris: Grasset, 1966); W. D. Halls, Politics, Society and
Christianity in Vichy France (Oxford and Providence, NH: Berg, 1995); Richard Vinen, The Politics
of French Business 19361945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).

after the fall

Rejecting this binary model, Philippe Burrin has developed the notion of
accommodation to explain how people adapted to changing circumstances
between 1940 and 1944.
I have made use of the notion of accommodation so as to direct attention
beyond the commonly accepted idea of collaboration that is seen in an essentially
politico-ideological perspective. That perspective may be indispensable for giving
an account of the action of the Vichy leaders and the attitude of those of their
compatriotsthe collaborationistswho adopted a position favoring entente with
the conqueror; but it is unsuitable for a satisfactory understanding of the far more
numerous choices of adaptation made by French society as a whole.

Burrins concept of accommodation uses broad, contextual analysis to

evaluate decisions made by various social groups including the Catholic
Church, captains of industry, intellectuals, and regular French men and
women who struggled to survive during the Occupation. Did French men
and women who served a German clientele, manufactured products for the
German war effort, or simply learned to speak German sympathize with
the ideological goals of the Nazi regime, support resistance efforts, or just
try to make some easy money? Without passing judgement, Burrin suggests
that many people balanced personal ideals against the necessities of life and
accommodated some German demands without necessarily endorsing Nazi
Burrins method can also shed light on political affairs. Did the Vichy
regime cooperate with various German authorities of its own accord or
under duress? Using the collaborationresistance model, Jackel and Paxton
conclude that Darlan and Laval both pursued a policy of collaboration
with initiative and enthusiam while they served as Prime Minister and
use examples of reticence and resistance to dene the limits of ofcial
collaboration. Leaders of the Vichy regime served up foreign Jews but
made halfhearted attempts to protect assimilated French Jews. The collab-
orationresistance model can identify Nazi sympathizers, but it struggles

Philippe Burrin, France under the Germans: Collaboration and Compromise, translated by Janet
Lloyd (New York: New Press, 1996), p. viii.
Burrin, France under the Germans: Collaboration and Compromise, pp. 177190, 250261,
291305. First published as La France a lheure allemande, 19401944 (Paris: Editions du Seuil,
1993); Richard Cobb, French and Germans, Germans and French. A Personal Interpretation of France
under Two Occupations, 19141918/19401944 (Hanover, NH and London: University Press of
New England, 1983).


to explain ambiguous and/or contradictory actions because it neglects

Throughout the Occupation, French leaders and state ofcials spoke
with diplomatic, military, and political leaders of the Third Reich on a
regular basis, but these talks cannot be characterized as negotiations. Hitler
did not allow subordinates to offer substantial concessions in return for
French cooperation. Playing upon French fears of Polonization, the Fhrer
insisted upon total compliance and threatened unspecied but undoubtedly
dire consequences in the event of open deance. Neither Petain, Laval,
nor Darlan dared to call Hitlers bluff. Formal negotiations may have been
barren, but circumstantial evidence of accommodation can be found in
the actions of French and German authorities. Reprisals carried out by
the military government undoubtedly claimed thousands of French lives,
but they fell short of genocidal policies applied throughout Eastern Europe
despite contrary orders from Berlin. For its part, the Vichy regime helped
German authorities impress French workers, deport foreign Jews, and
exploit French industrial resources far beyond requirements of the 1940
Armistice Agreement. Limited French cooperation and Germanys relative
moderation may be signs of accommodation.
Any search for Franco-German accommodation must begin with a
thorough understanding of German policy. What did Germany want? This
basic question raises additional lines of enquiry. Did the German Foreign
Ofce, Wehrmacht, SS, and branches of the Nazi party share a common
policy agenda? What means did they employ to secure French assistance?
Furthermore, did various German institutions achieve individual and/or
collective goals? Finally, can German success be attributed to French
collaboration and German failure be attributed to French resistance, or
may another mechanism like accommodation explain the outcome of a
particular policy? Answers to these questions may explain the actions of
the French state and improve our understanding of the Vichy era. Burrins
notion of accommodation requires a nuanced understanding of German
demands in order to explain French responses and the history of the
When applied to German institutions, Burrins concept of accommo-
dation may illuminate the inner workings of the German army and Nazi
regime. The German army remains a controversial topic of historical

after the fall

inquiry. Approximately twenty million Germans served in the armed

forces during World War Two, and thirteen million soldiers fought on
the eastern front. Conscripts who lled the ranks represented almost every
social group except the very old, the very young, and, to a lesser extent,
women. Unlike most Nazi institutions, the army included most political,
social, and economic groups within German society. If the armed forces
could be associated with the criminal policies of the Nazi regime, then a
large number of Germans could be characterized as Hitlers accomplices
and would bear some degree of responsibility for crimes committed during
World War Two. Did the German army embrace Nazi ideology and
collaborate with Adolf Hitler?
Judicial proceedings shaped initial conceptions of Nazi Germany and
the German army. The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg did
not designate German Army High Command (Oberkommando des Heeres or
OKH) or the Armed Forces High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
or OKW) as criminal institutions, but it did sentence General Alfred Jodl
and Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel to death in 1946. Publication of Liddell
Harts German Generals Talk inaugurated a wave of memoirs that blamed
Hitler for the mistakes of Germany and credited battleeld successes to
Guderian, Rommel, Manstein, and other former generals. Allied judges
and German veterans usually described the army as a group of regular
soldiers who served a criminal regime and indicted the SS for most war
crimes committed during the Nazi era.
Initial studies of the Wehrmacht accused senior leaders of undermining
the Weimar Republic, not stopping Hitlers rise to power, and not over-
throwing what they knew to be a criminal regime after 1938. Indictments

Michael Geyer, Foreword, in Hamburg Institute for Social Research (ed.), The German
Army and Genocide: Crimes Against War Prisoners, Jews, and Other Civilians, 19391944, translated
by Scott Abbott (New York: New Press, 1999), pp. 79.
Manfred Messerschmidt, Vorwartsverteidigung: Die Denkschrift der Generale fr den
Nrnberger Gerichtshof, in Vernichtungskrieg: Verbrechen der Wehrmacht, 19411944, eds. Hannes
Heer and Klaus Naumann (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 1995), pp. 531550; Rolf-Dieter
Mller and Gerd Ueberschar, Hitlers War in the East: A Critical Assessment, translated by Bruce
D. Little (New York: Berghahn, 2002).
B. H. Liddell Hart, The German Generals Talk (New York: W. Morrow, 1948); Heinz
Guderian, Panzer Leader, translated by Constantine Fitzgibbon (New York: Dutton, 1952); Erich
von Manstein, Lost Victories, translated by Anthony G. Powell (Novato, CA: Presidio, 1982).


typically charged defeated generals with a failure to act. As the fortunes of

war turned against Germany in 1942, Hitler transferred control of captured
territory from the army to the SS. Thus the SS could be blamed for the
brutal exploitation of civilians in Poland and the Soviet Union, most of the
callous anti-partisan operations throughout Europe, and the Final Solution.
War crimes that could not be blamed on the SS were attributed to superior
orders. Soldiers who shot Russian prisoners claimed that they were just
obeying a Fhrerbefehl, and they added that an order from Hitler could
not be questioned, much less disobeyed. Early accounts of the German
army drew clear distinctions between the good Wehrmacht and bad SS.
Although damaging, accusations leveled against the army did not include
direct support of Nazi racial ideology.
While interpretations of the Vichy era changed dramatically after the
publication of Paxtons Vichy France, scholarly analysis of the German
army evolved slowly. The image of the good Wehrmacht and bad SS
faded after Klaus-Jrgen Mller wrote Das Heer und Hitler in 1969. Unlike
preceding historians, Mller noted that the Nazi Party and the German
army shared many common goals. Both wanted to destroy the Weimar
Republic, escape restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles, and
expand the Third Reich to, at very least, the borders of the old Kaiserreich.
Although Hitler and leaders of the Wehrmacht often disagreed about the
methods and tactics, they managed to work together on many occasions. In
June 1934, army ofcers supplied the SS with weapons, helped neutralize
the SA (Sturmabteilungen or storm detachments), and overlooked the death
of Generals von Bredow and von Schleicher during the Night of the Long
Knives. In return, Hitler assured senior ofcers that the Wehrmacht would
be the sole bearer of arms in Nazi Germany. Ofcers helped the Fhrer
eliminate dangerous political rivals and shored up their position in Hitlers
According to Mllers analysis, the ofcer corps initially misjudged Hitler
and was later seduced by foreign policy successes in the Rhineland and
Austria. After the 1938 Blomberg-Fritsch affair, leading ofcers such as

Gordon Craig, The Politics of the Prussian Army, 16401945 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1955),
pp. 496503; John W. Wheeler-Bennett, The Nemesis of Power: The German Army in Politics,
19181945 (London: Macmillan, 1953), pp. 694700.

after the fall

General Ludwig Beck grasped the extent of Hitlers ambitions and began
to doubt his acumen. But ve years of Gleichschaltung (coordination or
Nazication) and a string of foreign policy successes allayed doubts and
prevented dissent from blossoming into opposition. The few ofcers who
understood the radical nature of the Nazi regime could not convince their
colleagues to depose the Fhrer.
Manfred Messerschmidts Die Wehrmacht im NS-Staat appeared in the
same year as Das Heer und Hitler and reached similar conclusions. Messer-
schmidt explained how National-Socialist ideas penetrated the army during
the 1930s and permeated both the ofcer corps and enlisted ranks by
the end of the war. A wave of new recruits, many of whom were
imbued with Nazi ideology that they learned as members of the Hitler
Youth, diluted the inuence of the traditionally conservative ofcer corps
during the 1930s. Senior ofcers supported Nazi propaganda to for-
tify morale and prevent another outbreak of the disorder that appeared
in 1918. According to Messerschmidt, commanding ofcers did not
oppose and in some cases abetted the development of orders that vio-
lated the laws of war. He implicated junior and senior ofcers in the
execution of Russian prisoners, the extermination of Jews, and some
of the most unsavory policies of the Third Reich. Like Klaus-Jrgen
Mller, Messerschmidt characterized the Wehrmacht as Hitlers junior
Christian Streits Keine Kameraden: Die Wehrmacht und die sowjetischen
Kriegsgefangenen 19411945 carried Mller and Messerschmidts revision
a step further. While continuing to study the Wehrmacht from the
top down, Streit accused senior army ofcers of embarking on a war
of extermination in the Soviet Union. The men in charge of OKW
and OKH helped Hitler formulate and implement the Kommissarbefehl
or Commissar Order that directed German troops to execute Red Army
political commissars and thus violated international agreements and German
military regulations. Senior German ofcers struck a Faustian bargain
with the Fhrer and did not oppose racial directives to demonstrate the
political reliability of the army. Furthermore, many ofcers believed the

Klaus-Jrgen Mller, Das Heer und Hitler: Armee und nationalsozialistisches Regime, 19331940
(Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1969).
Manfred Messerschmidt, Die Wehrmacht im NS-Staat: Zeit der Indoktrination (Hamburg:
R. v. Deckers Verlag, 1969), pp. 396422, 480491.


war against the Soviet Union would be short-lived and thus not very
incriminating. Staff ofcers who condemned the war of extermination did
so to preserve traditional military discipline and not because they truly
believed in the laws of war codied in the Hague Convention. By fully
implicating the German ofcer corps in Hitlers war of extermination,
Streit characterized the army as an equal and willing partner of the
National-Socialist regime.
Omer Bartovs studies of the German army complemented Streits work
by examining the German army from the bottom up. His rst book,
The Eastern Front, 194145: German Troops and the Barbarisation of Warfare,
scrutinized three army divisions and concluded:
Under the circumstances described in this book it [the barbarization of warfare]
can be said to have been almost inevitable. For the men who were educated in
Hitlers Germany, indoctrinated in the Wehrmacht of the Third Reich and sent
into a war of unimaginable ferocity, barbarism was normality, humanism long

Like Streit, Bartov linked regular soldiers to crimes that preceding historians
and the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg had attributed to
the SS. Bartovs second book, Hitlers Army: Soldiers, Nazis and War in
the Third Reich, provided a theoretical explanation of the barbarization
process. As casualties decimated front-line units and supplies became
scarce, most soldiers turned to Nazi ideology for spiritual support. Unlike
Streit, who argued that the German ofcer corps supported the goals
of National Socialism before the invasion of the Soviet Union, Bartov
believed that brutal conditions on the eastern front and military setbacks
during the winter of 19411942 transformed the Wehrmacht into Hitlers

Christian Streit, Keine Kameraden: Die Wehrmacht und die sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen,
19411945 (Bonn: J. W. H. Dietz, 1991), pp. 1316, 5061, 7682; Jrgen Forster, Operation
Barbarossa as a War of Conquest and Annihilation, in Militargeschichtliches Forschungsamt
(hereafter abbreviated as MGFA), eds., Germany and the Second World War, vol. IV, The Attack on
the Soviet Union, translated by Dean S. McMurry, Ewald Osers, and Louise Willmont (Oxford:
Oxford University Press Press, 1998), pp. 491513; Theo Schulte, The German Army and Nazi
Policies in Occupied Russia (Oxford: Berg, 1989), pp. 215224; Michael Burleigh, The Third Reich:
A New History (New York: Hill and Wang, 2000), pp. 513529.
Omer Bartov, The Eastern Front, 194145: German Troops and the Barbarisation of Warfare
(London: Macmillan Press, 1985), p. 6.
Omer Bartov, Hitlers Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1992).

after the fall

With few notable exceptions, scholars have gradually abandoned the

good Wehrmacht, bad SS interpretation. Current orthodoxy combines the
top-down analysis of Mller, Messerschmidt, and Streit with the bottom-
up approach of Bartov and Hannes Heer to characterize the Wehrmacht
as an institution mired in the most unsavory crimes of the Third Reich.
Yet questions of scope and timing remain open to disagreement. When
did the Wehrmacht abandon its traditional code of conduct, turn toward
the principles of National Socialism, and implement Hitlers racial agenda?
Christian Streit and Hannes Heer situate the armys turn toward National
Socialism before the invasion of the Soviet Union. Bartov argues that
conditions on the eastern front drove soldiers to embrace the radical tenets
of National Socialism and embark on a war of extermination during the
winter of 19411942.
The Polish campaign provides ambiguous evidence with regard to the
ideological proclivities of the German army at the start of World War
Two. During the 1939 campaign, some regular soldiers tormented Jews
and shot enemy civilians. Their actions displayed and personal accounts
conrmed an afnity for Nazi methods that would later dene military
operations in the Soviet Union. On the other hand, a group of senior
ofcers condemned SS and army troopers who violated the rules of war
in 1939. General August von Mackensen protested so vociferously that
superiors recalled an SS Einsatzgruppe (SS special action squad) operating
in his jurisdiction. General Ulex, the military commander of Krakow,
claimed that Einsatzgruppen had dishonored the entire German people.
Their protests forced Hitler to retroactively pardon all who were accused

No reputable historian denies widespread atrocities occured in the Soviet Union during
World War Two, but some suggest they may have been partially justied. See Andreas Hillgruber,
Zweierlei Untergang: die Zerschlagung des Deutschen Reiches und das Ende des europaischen Judentums
(Berlin: Siedler, 1986); Ernst Nolte, Der europaische Brgerkrieg, 19171945: Nationalsozialismus und
Bolschewismus (Berlin: Propylan Verlag, 1987); Richard J. Evans, In Hitlers Shadow: West German
Historians and the Attempt to Escape from the Nazi Past (New York: Pantheon, 1989); and Forever
in the Shadow of Hitler? Original Documents of the Historikerstreit, the Controversy Concerning the
Singularity of the Holocaust, edited and translated and edited by James Knowlton and Truett Cates
(Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1993).
For a range of opinions, see Heer and Naumann (eds.), Vernichtungskrieg: Verbrechen der
Hannes Heer, Die Logik des Vernichtungskrieges: Wehrmacht und Partisanenkampf, in
Vernichtungskrieg: Verbrechen der Wehrmacht, pp. 104138.
Alexander B. Rossino, Hitler Strikes Poland: Blitzkrieg, Ideology, and Atrocity (Lawrence, KS:
University Press of Kansas, 2003).


of mistreating civilians and suggested that the army was not a reliable
supporter of the kind of ideological and racial warfare that Hitler had
ordered in Poland.
At rst glance, the good army, bad SS model seems to describe the Ger-
man army in occupied France. Before the 1940 Western campaign, OKW
ordered German soldiers to obey international agreements and respect
the rights of non-combatants in no uncertain terms. While hostilities
raged, German soldiers usually treated Caucasian opponents in accordance
with the rules of war. After France and Germany signed an armistice
on 22 June 1940, Hitler placed a military commander (Militarbefehlshaber
in Frankreich or MBF) in charge of occupied France. The MBF ordered
subordinates to obey the Hague Convention and insisted that [t]he best
propagandist for the German cause is the disciplined, correct appearance
of the German soldier. As an institution, the military government dis-
played little enthusiasm for Hitlers racial agenda. The MBF from October
1940 to February 1942, General Otto von Stlpnagel, resigned his com-
mission to protest draconian reprisals ordered by Berlin. His cousin and
successor, Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel, played a signicant role in the
20 July 1944 plot to overthrow the Nazi regime. With substantial help
from the French police, SS personnel oversaw the deportation of 75,000
French and foreign Jews who ultimately perished in Auschwitz. When
viewed from this perspective, the MBF functioned as Hitlers reluctant

Helmut Krausnick, Hitler und die Morde in Polen: Ein Beitrag zum Konikt zwischen
Heer und SS um die Verwaltung der besetzten Gebiete, Vierteljahrshefte fr Zeitgeschichte 11
(1963), 196209; Richard Breitman, The Architect of Genocide: Himmler and the Final Solution
(Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1991), pp. 6972, 105108; Raffael Scheck,
Hitlers African Victims. The German Army Massacres of Black French Soldiers in 1940 (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 156.
U.S. National Archives, Washington D.C., Record Group 242 (Captured German Records),
Microlm Series T-77 (Records of the German Armed Forces High Command (OKW)), Roll
1430, frames 291297. Hereafter referred to as USNA, followed by record group number,
microlm series or entry number (if applicable), folder number (if applicable) or microlm
reel, and page or frame number. For example, USNA, RG 242/T-77/1430/291297. When
page or frame numbers are not available, author, date, title, original reference number, or
identifying characteristic will be placed in parenthesis after the abbreviation nfn (no frame
Peter Lieb, Konventioneller Krieg oder NS-Weltanschauungskrieg? Kriegsfhrung und Partisa-
nenbekampfung in Frankreich 194344 (Mnchen: R. Oldenbourg Verlag, 2007), pp. 1520;
Scheck, Hitlers African Victims, pp. 3, 645; USNA, RG 242/T-501 (Records of German Field
Commands: Rear Areas, Occupied Territories, and Others)/143/465.

after the fall

Despite the relatively benign description of the military administration

presented above, French prosecutors accused Otto von Stlpnagel of
committing war crimes and had a strong case. Shortly after arriving in
Paris, the military government issued a series of anti-Semitic decrees that
cleared the way for more severe measures subsequently implemented by
the SS. According to its own statistics, the German military administration
shot at least 471 French hostages between August 1941 and June 1942.
As they answered resistance activity with deadly reprisals, General Otto
von Stlpnagel and his successor Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel embarked
on a policy that appeared to violate article 50 of the Hague Convention.
In addition, the military administration helped the Plenipotentiary for the
Mobilization of Labor, Fritz Sauckel, impress hundreds of thousands of
French workers into the German war economy. As an institution, the
German military administration in France discriminated against, despoiled,
and deported Jews, shot civilians, and established a system of forced labor.
Some argue that policies established by the MBF in 1940 ineluctably led to
the 1944 massacre of civilians in Oradour-sur-Glane.
Evidence presented herein suggests that neither the good Wehrmacht,
bad SS nor the Wehrmacht as Hitlers willing partner interpretation
of the German army can explain the behavior of the German military
administration in France. Efforts to place the entire German army into a
single moral category may be inappropriate. Burrins notion of accommo-
dation, although intended to describe French society, may also apply to the
German military administration in France. The MBF and his subordinates
had to accommodate demands coming from political and military superiors
in Berlin, rival institutions such as the SS, French leaders in Vichy, and

The number 471 comes from Bundesarchiv-Militarchiv, Freiburg, Bestandssignatur RW

35 (Militarbefehlshaber in Frankreich und nachgeordnete Dienststellen), Archivsignatur 542,
p.121. Hereafter abbreviated as BAMA, followed by Bestandssignatur, Archivsignatur, and page
number. For example, BAMA, RW 35/542/121. When page numbers are not available, author,
date, original reference number, and like information will be placed in parenthesis after the
abbreviation nfn (no frame number).
Leon Friedman (ed.), The Laws of War: A Documentary History, vol. I (New York: Random
House, 1972), p. 322.
Ahlrich Meyer, LOccupation allemande en France 19401944, translated by Pascale Hervieux,
Florence Lecanu, and Nicole Taubes (Toulouse: Editions Privat, 2002), pp. 913; Regina M.
Delacor, Attentate und Repressionen. Ausgewahlte Dokumente zur zyklischen Eskalation des NS-Terrors
im besetzten Frankreich 1941/42 (Stuttgart: Jan Thorbecke Verlag, 2000).


French bureaucrats throughout the Hexagon (France, so called because of

its six distinct borders). All of these considerations tempered the policy
and actions of the German military administration in France during World
War Two.
At the start of the Occupation, only the army had the personnel,
resources, and mandate to supervise France. With only vague instructions
from superiors in Berlin, General Otto von Stlpnagel and the military
administration made economic collaboration their top priority. They used
French resources to repair military vehicles, manufacture transport aircraft,
ret submarines, supply food, and manufacture goods for the German
consumer market. In 1940, the MBF insisted that soldiers obey the rules of
war and made no concerted attempt to enforce the infamous Nuremberg
racial laws inside the Hexagon. To guard against sabotage, the military
administration followed traditional military doctrine and established a
reprisal policy that was designed to teach French men and women that
resistance did not pay. Left to its own devices, the military administration
established a standard of conduct that was undoubtedly severe but largely
unadulterated by Nazi ideology.
The MBF relied on assistance from Marshal Petain and French bureau-
crats. Under the terms of the 1940 Armistice Agreement, the military
administration supervised the Vichy government and indirectly controlled
France. Without technical support from French institutions, German
ofcials would have had to collect taxes, enforce laws, regulate the econo-
my, and guard against an Allied invasion by themselves. With few resources
at his disposal, the MBF simply could not afford to drive Marshal Petain
into open resistance. He urged superiors to relax onerous provisions of the
Armistice Agreement, opposed measures that disrupted economic coop-
eration, and tried to accommodate some French needs in order to secure
French assistance.
The military administration also had to consider rival Nazi party institu-
tions such as the SS. Eager to garner a share of the spoils of victory, leading
Nazis established ofces in Paris and began to pursue their respective agen-
das. The ideological chief of the Nazi party, Alfred Rosenberg, conscated
property that Jews had allegedly stolen from Germany. As acts of resistance

Jackel, France dans lEurope de Hitler, pp. 125140.

after the fall

multiplied during the fall of 1941, SS ofcers urged the MBF to restore order
by liquidating racial enemies and solving the so-called Jewish question. If
he refused to implement the Nazi racial policy, the MBF had to consider
the possibility that Hitler would view his opposition as a sign of disloyalty
and place a steadfast Nazi in charge of France. The latter would dilute the
authority of the military administration, impede the Wehrmachts ability
to exploit French resources, and demonstrate the political unreliability of
the army. The MBF had to consider the wishes of other Nazi institutions
when formulating policy.
Although initially dominant, the German military government gradually
lost control of German policy because it could not reconcile a traditional
denition of military security with Nazi racial ideas. Hitler considered
World War Two to be a struggle between Aryans and Jews; he concluded
that liquidating racial opponents would eliminate resistance activity, ensure
order, and lead to victory. On the other hand, generals who served as MBF
and inuential gures within the military administration viewed World
War Two as a struggle between traditional nation-states. In order to secure
victory, they tried to maintain order, cultivate French support for the
German cause, and place French resources at the disposal of the German
war economy. While many senior ofcers who were attached to the
military administration viewed Hitlers racial agenda as a secondary mission
or an outright distraction, dedicated Nazis believed it to be the fundamental
point of the entire war. By characterizing the military administration as
being soft on Jews, Nazi paladins won Hitlers favor, secured inuential
roles in French affairs, and expanded their respective bureaucratic empires.
Efforts to dethrone the military administration began shortly after France
and Germany signed the 1940 Armistice Agreement. Alfred Rosenberg
and subordinates on his special action staff, the Einsatzstab Rosenberg,
conscated valuable art collections from afuent French Jews. With support
from Hermann Goring and the German embassy in Paris, Rosenbergs
minions underlined the ideological nature of the war, argued that Jews used
valuable works of art to nance resistance activity, and concluded that the
military administration had an obligation to seize artwork owned by Jews.

BAMA, RW 35/698/164173.


Using similar logic, SS ofcers championed aggressive anti-Semitic policies

and organized the bombing of seven Parisian synagogues on the night of
23 October 1941. The MBF opposed conscations because they soured
Franco-German relations and did not appear to be essential to the war
effort. The synagogue bombings embarrassed the MBF, who responded by
banning the Black Corps from his headquarters in the Hotel Majestic. Hitler
disregarded the consequences of conscations and bombings, interpreted
military complaints as signs of ideological impurity, and granted rst the
Einsatzstab Rosenberg and later the SS autonomy within occupied France.
Assassinations carried out in the fall of 1941 once again brought the
question of security to the fore and highlighted disagreements between
the political leadership of the Third Reich, branches of the Nazi party, and
the military administration. In accordance with contingency plans drawn up
in 1940, Otto von Stlpnagel seized hostages and ordered a series of reprisals
that increased as resistance activity continued. After the assassination of a
German soldier, the MBF would order an investigation and then execute
a number of hostages who were somehow connected to the perpetrators
and had already been convicted of lesser crimes such as assault, sabotage,
or even curfew violations. Of dubious legality with regard to the rules of
war, collective reprisals essentially punished one person or several people
for the crimes of another and were a part of American, British, French, and
especially German military doctrine. Hitler rejected the MBFs anti-partisan
policy as much too mild and ordered a very different response. The Fhrer
believed that Jews stood behind all resistance activity and could not see
the need for a protracted investigation to identify the actual perpetrators.
Since he believed Aryan life to be inherently more valuable than that of
another race, all reprisals had to be disproportionate. Finally, Hitler viewed
reprisals as an opportunity to murder inferior races and resolve the so-called
Jewish Question or Judenfrage. Regardless of the circumstances, the Fhrer
believed immediate, disproportionate, and deadly reprisals against Jews
and their alleged associates to be an appropriate response for every act of
General Otto von Stlpnagel, the MBF from October 1940 to February
1942, could not reconcile the demands of the Nazi regime with the
dictates of his own conscience and resigned his commission. Realizing
that formal protests would accomplish nothing, his cousin and successor,

after the fall

Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel, carried out Hitlers orders with perfunctory

enthusiasm and plotted to overthrow the Nazi regime. Although they chose
to employ very different tactics, both Stlpnagels opposed Hitlers racial
agenda and their actions had far-reaching consequences. Hitler diminished
the authority of the MBF by transferring control of all German security
troops to Himmlers SS in the summer of 1942. Embittered by consecutive
defeats at the hands of the Einsatzstab Rosenberg and the SS, the military
administration made little effort to accommodate the SS agenda and played
a secondary role in the Final Solution within France. In an August 1944
message sent to a subordinate, Heinrich Himmler blamed an extremely
difcult MBF for the continued survival of a large Jewish population in
the Hexagon. The Einsatzstab Rosenberg and the SS ignored the MBFs
sensibilities, created independant satrapies, and alienated the residents of
the Hotel Majestic. By deprecating the ideological fervor of the MBF and
his military administration, both organizations secured inuential positions
within occupied France, but their respective victories came at a price.
Once ensconced in power, the SS lacked the personnel to investigate
sabotage, arrest spies, and deport racial enemies. Given past disagree-
ments with the MBF, the Black Corps could not count on much
help from the military administration. The Senior SS and Police Lead-
er (Hoherer SS- und Polizeifhrer or HSSuPF) assigned to France, Carl
Oberg, had to rely on French policemen to identify, arrest, and deport
Jews. French enthusiasm for cooperation faded as German prospects for
victory declined and anticipated concessions failed to materialize. When
they worked together, French and German institutions could achieve
formidable results. Hitlers labor czar, Fritz Sauckel, cooperated with both
the Vichy regime and the military administration as he recruited, coerced,
and impressed approximately 850,000 French workers into German fac-
toriesover ten times the number of Jews sent from France to SS
death camps. Accommodation can explain the divergent results of labor
and racial programs that various German agencies advanced during the

USNA, RG 242/T-175 (Reichsfhrer SS and Chef der Deutschen Polizei)/155/268

Commission Consultative des Dommages et des Reparations, Dommages subis par la France et
lunion francaise du fait de la guerre et de loccupation ennemie, 19391945, vol. IX (Paris: Imprimerie
Nationale, 1950), pp. 638, 85, 101, 126, 139, 144, 157.


ArmySS strife reached its zenith on the night of 20/21 July 1944.
After dissident army ofcers tried to assassinate the Fhrer, General Carl-
Heinrich von Stlpnagel arrested and prepared to execute SS personnel
who had committed war crimes. As the coup collapsed in Berlin, the MBF
and HSSuPF reversed course, began to work together, and covered up
the scope of the plot in Paris. Eager to disguise his own shortcomings,
Oberg launched a very delicate enquiry in conjunction with army ofcers
and asked questions that evoked answers which tted an improbable cover
story. Although dozens of military administration ofcers had participated
in the coup, only three perished as a result of Obergs cursory investigation.
Diplomats, soldiers, and Nazis often worked at cross-purposes as they vied
for control of occupied France, but they could achieve astonishing results
through accommodation.
Notions of collaboration and resistance, terms like good and bad, and
amboyant titles like Hitlers Willing Executioners all struggle to explain the
actions of French and German authorities in occupied France. Inuential
historians who study French society during the Occupation have already
recognized the shortcommings of such terms and adopted or adapted
Burrins notion of accommodation to suit their respective purposes.
Although designed to explain popular French reactions to the experience
of occupation, Burrins notion of accommodation can account for the
contradictory actions of the German military administration in Paris, clarify
the inner workings of the Nazi regime, and shed light on Franco-German
relations. Breaking with scholarly trends that favor social history from the
bottom up, this manuscript applies Burrins notion of accommodation to
the study of Occupied France from the top down. Focused primarily on the
military government, After the Fall studies the issues that preoccupied the
men in charge of the German military administration and the Vichy
regime between 1940 and 1944. Eschewing propaganda, prostitution, and
other topics that have been analyzed in the recent past, it examines the

Daniel Goldhagen, Hitlers Willing Executioners. Ordinary Germans and The Holocaust (New
York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996).
Robert Gildea, Marianne in Chains: In Search of the German Occupation 19401945 (New
York: Macmillan, 2002), pp. 113; Julian Jackson, France. The Dark Years 19401944 (New York:
Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 239245; Richard Vinen, The Unfree French: Life under the
Occupation (New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 2006).
Denis Peschanski, Vichy 19401944: Controle et exclusion (Brussels: Editions Complexe,
1997); Laurent Gervereau and Denis Peschanski, La Propagande sous Vichy 19401944 (Nanterre:

after the fall

economic, labor, military, political, racial, and security issues that consumed
the German military administration and leading gures of the Vichy regime
during World War Two.

Bibliotheque de documentation internationale contemporaine, 1990); Insa Meinen, Wehrmacht et

prostitution sous lOccupation, translated by Beate Husser (Paris: Editions Payot and Rivages, 2006).

The shocking defeat

Europeans dared not cheer the start of hostilities in September 1939.

Memories of the Great War remained fresh in the public mind and most
believed a future conict, regardless of the outcome, would be long
and brutal. Advances in technology threatened to extend the horrors of
modern war into the very homes of average Europeans. On the rst day
of hostilities, residents of London, Berlin, and Paris huddled in air-raid
shelters and prepared to endure World War Two. Trepidation pervaded
military circles as well. Before the war, French generals had promised to
attack Germany by the fteenth day of mobilization. While elite units
of the German army raced toward Warsaw, rst-class French divisions
launched a halfhearted assault along the Franco-German border. Second-
class German divisions stemmed the Gallic tide with little loss of life on
either side. Fearing that a hasty offensive could only produce casualties
that La Patrie could ill afford, General Maurice Gamelin, the French
commander-in-chief, preferred to wait for the arrival of British troops and
modern equipment before launching a major offensive.
Geography and the defensive outlook of Allied leaders limited western
assistance to Poland. Obsolescent Polish airplanes and outmoded cavalry

Alistair Horne, To Lose a Battle: France 1940 (Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company,
1969), p. 94; R. A. C. Parker, Struggle for Survival: The History of the Second World War (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1989), pp. 1920.
Guy Chapman, Why France Fell: The Defeat of the French Army in 1940 (New York: Holt,
Rinehart and Winston, 1968), pp. 5961; Hans Umbreit, The battle for hegemony in western
Europe, in Germany and the Second World War, vol. II, Germanys Initial Conquests in Europe,
pp. 265271.
after the fall

divisions could not stop German forces that were equipped with modern
weapons. In a replay of Guernica in April 1937, German planes bombarded
Warsaw for ten days and the capital surrendered on 27 September 1939.
Rather than holding out until the spring of 1940 as General Gamelin
expected, Poland succumbed to the German onslaught in four short weeks.
The sudden defeat of Poland reinforced an image of German strength and
suggested the Allies had good reason to fear the Wehrmacht.
Despite their victory over Poland, German generals remained pessimistic.
After-action studies noted serious deciencies in the training, equipment,
discipline, and personnel of German formations. But Hitler saw things
differently. Citing advantageous political and military conditions, the Fhrer
ordered Army High Command (OKH) to prepare an immediate offensive
against Holland, Belgium, and northern France. The 9 October 1939
directive aimed to capture bases in the Low Countries for subsequent
operations against Great Britain and protect vital German industries in the
Ruhr. OKH quickly churned out an appropriate plan, dubbed Case Yellow
or Fall Gelb, but it did not inspire condence among eld commanders.
In a 24 September 1939 memorandum, the deputy chief of the Army
General Staff in charge of operations, Major-General Carl-Heinrich von
Stlpnagel, argued that Germany lacked the weapons and ammunition
necessary to breach fortications in France or Belgium. The chief of the
war economy staff added that the economy could not sustain the army in a
prolonged war.
After two days of discussions with senior eld commanders, Generals
Walter von Brauchitsch and Wilhelm Keitel, the heads of OKH and
Armed Forces High Command (OKW) respectively, met with Hitler on
5 November 1939. The 58-year-old Brauchitsch argued that the 1939
German army was in many ways inferior to the Imperial Army of 1914 and

Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, LAbme, 19391945 (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1982), pp. 2326;
Anna M. Cienciala, Poland and the Western Powers, 19381939 (London: Routledge and Kegan
Paul, 1968), pp. 22437, 2445, 2589; Simon Newman, March 1939: The British Guarantee to
Poland: A Study in the Continuity of British Foreign Policy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976); Jon
Kimche, The Unfought Battle (New York: Stein & Day, 1968), p. 146.
Williamson Murray, The German response to victory in Poland: A case study in profes-
sionalism, Armed Forces and Society, 2 (winter 1981), pp. 28598; Documents on German Foreign
Policy (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Ofce, 1954), ser. D., vol. VIII, pp. 248250
(hereafter abbreviated as DGFP).
Umbreit, The battle for hegemony in western Europe, pp. 23840, 2326.

the shocking defeat

could not withstand the rigors of an attack in the West without further
training and new equipment. Eager to attack, Hitler responded with a
tantrum. The Fhrer could not understand why his chief military advisor
worried about a little indiscipline, accused his generals of defeatism, and
stormed out of the meeting. Brauchitsch and Keitel lost on two fronts; they
failed to delay the invasion of France as their subordinates had demanded,
and damaged their relationship with the Fhrer.
Although they shared some common goals, Hitler and many German
generals did not enjoy a cordial relationship. The Fhrer believed that many
of his foreign policy victories had been attained despite military resistance.
Minister of War Werner von Blomberg had opposed the introduction of
conscription and the occupation of the Rhineland. Formal and widespread
disapproval of Hitlers plans for Czechoslovakia surfaced at a 5 November
1937 conference with the Foreign Minister and the three service chiefs.
After the January 1938 BlombergFritsch affair, Hitler replaced skeptical
generals with ofcers who would carry out orders without question.
The Fhrer removed senior generals who had questioned his plans for
expansion before the war, but discontent simmered just below the surface
of the German ofcer corps. From Hitlers perspective, opposition to his
plan for the immediate invasion of France appeared to be another skirmish
in his war against conservative generals.
Opposition to the original version of Fall Gelb emerged in two forms
during what General Erich von Manstein called the winter of discontent.
Educated in the tradition of the Imperial General Staff, ofcers like
Stlpnagel lacked faith in Hitlers political judgment and saw no military
way to defeat Allied armies. Many failed to realize the potential of tanks
and offensive tactics championed by General Hans von Seeckt during
the Weimar era. The original version of Fall Gelb would not defeat
France and postponed a decisive land battle until the summer of 1941 or
perhaps 1942. Not by accident, the latter date coincided with Stlpnagels
re-armament estimates. Staff ofcers like Stlpnagel believed that Germany

Walter Gorlitz (ed.), The Memoirs of Field-Marshal Keitel, translated by David Irving (New
York: Stein and Day, 1966), pp. 101102.
Craig, The Politics of the Prussian Army, pp. 486495.
Manstein, Lost Victories, pp. 127147; James S. Corum, The Roots of Blitzkrieg: Hans von
Seeckt and German Military Reform (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1992), pp. 199202.

after the fall

was not prepared for a long war and tried to delay major offensive
Younger ofcers like Manstein also questioned the merits of the orig-
inal version of Fall Gelb and searched for a military strategy to overcome
French defenses. Manstein proposed to shift the point of attack (Schw-
erpunkt) from Army Group B opposite Holland and Belgium to Army
Group A in the center of German lines opposite the Ardennes for-
est. General Gerd von Rundstedt would lead Army Group A across
the Meuse near Sedan, threaten the rear of the Maginot line, endanger
Paris, strike toward the English Channel, and cut off Allied forces in
Belgium. Mansteins new strategy had never been tried before, satised
Hitlers penchant for bold operations, and offered a chance to win a
decisive victory. With Hitlers support, Mansteins ideas eventually won
over some senior generals who had previously favored delay, discouraged
anti-Nazi conspiracies, and provided the basis for German operations in
May 1940.
While German generals developed a bold new plan of attack, Allied
leaders prepared to wage a long war of attrition. Citing a shortage of
modern equipment, French and British generals did not intend to invade
Germany proper in 1939 or 1940. Instead, they prepared to cut Germany off
from strategic raw materials by attacking the Soviet Union in the far north
and far south. After the Red Army invaded Finland on 30 November 1939,
French politicians wanted to land Allied troops in the Finnish town of
Petsamo, cut off Germany from vital nickel mines, and cripple German
armor production. Another proposal called for French forces in Syria to
advance toward Baku and destroy oil wells in southern Russia. In theory,

Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal, vol. XXVI (Nurem-
berg, 19471949), pp. 32736 (hereafter cited as IMT ); IMT , vol. XXXIV, pp. 2669; Manstein,
Lost Victories, pp. 94101; Gerhard Weinberg, A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II
(New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 108111; Liddell Hart, The German Generals
Talk, pp. 107111.
Weinberg, A World at Arms, pp. 111112; Manstein, Lost Victories, pp. 119, 120126; F. W.
von Mellenthin, Panzer Battles, translated by H. Betzler (New York: Ballantine Books, 1956),
pp. 1415; Liddell Hart, The German Generals Talk, pp. 112117; Joachim Fest, Plotting Hitlers
Death. The Story of the German Resistance, translated by Bruce Little (New York: Metropolitan
Books, 1996), pp. 139144.
Martti Haikio, The race for northern Europe, September 1939June 1940, in Scandinavia
during the Second World War, ed. Henrik S. Nissen, translated by Thomas Munch-Petersen
(Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1983), pp. 6697.

Figure 1.1. German plans to invade France in 1914, 1939, and 1940.
after the fall

Stalin would be forced to break the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact

and stop delivering oil to Germany. Ensuing shortages would fuel civil
unrest in the Reich, hamstring the German economy, and encourage a
reprise of the November 1918 Revolution. Some Allied leaders believed
Nazis and Bolsheviks to be two sides of the same coin and pressed for
attacks against what they believed to be the weaker enemy, but cooler
heads eventually prevailed. The Supreme Allied War Council declared
the Petsamo campaign impracticable on 5 February 1940 and the 10 May
invasion of France precluded operations in southern Russia.
Allied leaders had little time to formulate a practical strategy during
the so-called Phony War or the period between Polands surrender and
the invasion of France. Germany invaded Denmark and Norway on
9 April 1940. Using troops originally earmarked for operations in Finland,
France and Britain landed 12,000 soldiers on either side of Trondheim in
the Norwegian villages of Aandelsnes and Namsos. Without air support
or heavy weapons, they faced a comparable number of German troops
equipped with tanks and supported by the Luftwaffe. German forces
compelled the Allies to withdraw from southern Norway by 3 May, but
operations in the north fared slightly better. The Royal Navy sank ten
German destroyers while land forces pushed Axis soldiers out of Narvik,
but the Allies themselves retreated on 7 June and redeployed the remaining
forces in France. Allied plans for an offensive came to naught during the
Phony War.
Aside from Hitler, most Europeans began the war with a similar outlook.
Politicians dreaded the cost of war, citizens feared widespread destruction,
and military leaders believed their troops to be unprepared and ill-equipped.
But Axis and Allied leaders embarked on different paths after the outbreak
of hostilities. Under pressure from Hitler, German generals trained reservists
in the art of mobile warfare, rushed new equipment to the front, launched
a series of offensives, and developed an innovative plan for the invasion of
France. In contrast, the Allies spent most of the Phony War reacting to
German maneuvers and failed to address serious shortcomings in training,
equipment, or operational planning. Allied performance in the battle of

Jean-Pierre Azema, 1940: LAnnee terrible (Paris: Edition du Seuil, 1990), pp. 557. Francois
Bedarida (ed.), La Strategie secrete de la drole de guerre (Paris: Editions du CNRS, 1979), pp. 235243,
Weinberg, A World at Arms, pp. 114119.

Figure 1.2. The Norwegian Campaign, 1940.
Map courtesy of the United States Military Academy at West Point.
after the fall

France suggested that Allied leaders learned little from defeats in Poland,
Denmark, or Norway.
The invasion of France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Holland on 10 May
1940 marked the beginning of the Western campaign. After learning that
German troops had crossed into the Low Countries, General Gamelin, com-
mander of Allied forces in France, immediately set the Dyle plan into oper-
ation. Based on the assumption that the German Schwerpunkt would strike
near Liege and then turn southwest toward Paris, the Dyle plan called for
mobile elements of the French army and British Expeditionary Force (BEF)
to rush north, link up with the Belgian army near Antwerp, and defend a line
running along the Dyle river, past Louvain, and ending in Belgian fortresses
near Namur. Gamelin hoped the Dyle plan would keep Belgium in the
war against Germany, shelter essential heavy industries in northeast France,
protect the Channel ports, and provide forward bases for the Royal Air
Force. The French commander ordered 30 divisions (including two of the
three armored, ve of the seven motorized, all three of the light mechanized
French divisions, and the BEF) to advance and support Belgian troops.
Although the Dyle plan might have countered the original version of
Fall Gelb, it proved to be a fatal blunder in the spring of 1940. Allied
forces advanced slowly over roads clogged by frightened refugees and faced
German troops from ill-prepared positions. Poor liaison between British,
French, and Belgian forces further undermined defensive efforts. The
German army also enjoyed several psychological advantages. It assumed the
offensive and launched commando operations whose success undermined
Allied morale. German paratroopers capture of the Belgian fortress Eben
Emael and seizure of vital bridges across the Maas river led many to
suspect that a fth column had aided the Nazi soldiers. English and French
newspapers began to speculate about secret weapons and nuns in hobnailed
shoes. The German juggernaut rolled slowly but surely through the Low
Countries despite facing the best divisions that the Allies had to offer.

Umbreit, The battle for hegemony in western Europe, p. 281; Azema, 1940: LAnnee
terrible, pp. 669.
Horne, To Lose a Battle, pp. 124132; Chapman, Why France Fell, pp. 748; Umbreit, The
battle for hegemony in western Europe, pp. 265271.
Jeffery A. Gunsberg, Divided and Conquered: The French High Command and the Defeat of the
West, 1940 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1979), pp. 140141, 215216, 267.
Louis De Jong, The German Fifth Column in the Second World War, translated by C. M. Geyl
(Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1956), pp. 8081, 205206.

the shocking defeat

Figure 1.3. The Western Campaign, 1940.

Map courtesy of the United States Military Academy at West Point.

The revised version of Fall Gelb called for two major attacks in the
spring of 1940. Army Group B carried out the rst assault and advanced
through the Low Countries toward Rotterdam and Antwerp. While
the success of this drive compromised Allied positions, a second attack
launched through the Ardennes forest by Army Group A delivered the
coup de grace. French and Belgian cavalry divisions in the Ardennes fell
back sooner than expected and compounded their dismal performance by
not providing senior commanders with an accurate picture of the strong
German formations approaching the Meuse river. Two German panzer
corps exited the dense Ardennes forest and attacked across the Meuse at
Sedan and Dinant on 13 May. Three of the initial six assaults launched by

Robert Allen Doughty, The Breaking Point: Sedan and the Fall of France, 1940 (Hamden, CT:
Archon Books, 1990), pp. 4653; Chapman, Why France Fell, pp. 112113, 116117.

after the fall

one corps failed to reach the western bank of the river, but German generals
adapted to changing conditions and built on success. They attacked from
successful bridgeheads, dislodged remaining French defenders on 14 May,
and crossed the last major geographic barrier between them and the English
Channel. While Army Group B distracted elite French and British forces
in the Low Countries, Army Group A broke through a thinly defended
section of French lines. With their best divisions engaged in Belgium and
few units in reserve, the Allies could not plug the hole.
When the Western campaign began on 10 May, German and Allied forces
faced each other on essentially equal ground. German airpower offset Allied
advantages in both tank and infantry divisions. General Gamelin estimated
that the French lost 17 infantry, 6 motorized, 3 armored, 1 heavy armored,
and 2 cavalry divisions by the time German forces captured Dunkirk, but
Germany did not suffer comparable losses and began the second phase of the
Western campaign with a signicant advantage. Although outnumbered
and outclassed, French soldiers put up stiff resistance during the second
phase of the Western campaign that began on 5 June. Infantry divisions
arranged in a checkerboard pattern held their ground against German
armored forces, but losses incurred in May limited the depth of French
defenses. Once German tanks broke out of their initial bridgeheads along
the Somme river, the French army could not stop the German drive south.
The commander in chief of the French Army since 20 May, General
Maxime Weygand, announced that he would defend the French capital on
4 June, but ofcial reassurances deceived few. Clouds of smoke billowed
from government ofces as bureaucrats burned secret records. The French
government retreated to Tours on 10 June and a wave of civilians followed
their example the next day. Parisians joined Belgians and their fellow
countrymen from northern departements on roads heading south. With
only 10,000 troops and 30 tanks to defend the capital, General Weygand
announced the obvious on 13 June. Speaking through the American

Chapman, Why France Fell, pp. 109123; Doughty, The Breaking Point, p. 164.
Chapman, Why France Fell, pp. 170174; Doughty, The Breaking Point, pp. 266293.
Umbreit, The battle for hegemony in western Europe, pp. 2789; R. H. S. Stol,
Equipment for victory in France, 1940, History 55 (February 1970) 20, pp. 120; Ernest R.
May, Strange Victory: Hitlers Conquest of France (New York: Hill and Wang, 2000), pp. 476480.
Horne, To Lose a Battle, pp. 5556; Umbreit, The battle for hegemony in western Europe,
Mellenthin, Panzer Battles, pp. 246; Chapman, Why France Fell, pp. 2356.

the shocking defeat

Charge dAffairs in Berne, the French government declared Paris an open

city. German troops entered the City of Light early on the morning of
14 June and Paris fell with nary a shot red. Three days later, the French
government requested an armistice.
The Franco-German armistice completed a process of rapid diplomatic
change that began in the spring of 1939. Depending upon who was in
power, throughout the 1920s and 1930s French foreign policy varied
between Aristide Briands strategy of Franco-German reconciliation and
Raymond Poincares calls for a strict enforcement of the treaty of Versailles.
This rough political balance collapsed after Hitler violated the Munich
Agreement and occupied Bohemia and Moravia on 15 March 1939.
Moderate right- and left-wing parties in France and Britain responded
by supporting accelerated rearmament programs. The 1939 Nazi-Soviet
Non-Aggression Pact transformed the French political landscape a second
time. Traditionally a proponent of a united front against fascism, the
Parti Communist Francais (PCF) reversed course on the eve of World
War Two, extolled the virtues of progressive Germany, and condemned
corrupt Allied plutocracies. Although individual communists disobeyed
Stalins orders and supported the French war effort in 1939, the PCF
opposed Frances entry into World War Two. Spectacular policy shifts
in March and August 1939 acclimatized some Frenchmen to dramatic
A policy of war against Nazi Germany enjoyed support from all but
the most extreme parties in the fall of 1939. Conservatives like General
Weygand, the commander of French forces in the Levant during the
Phony War, urged the government to bomb Soviet oil elds in Baku.
Leon Blum, the former leader of the Popular Front, beseeched the Daladier
government to help Finland against the Soviet Union. Even if France
lacked the strength to attack the Reich directly, many thought she could
undermine the German war effort by attacking the Soviet Union in the

DGFP, ser. D, vol. IX, pp. 5601; Azema, 1940: LAnnee terrible, pp. 100108; David
Pryce-Jones, Paris in the Third Reich. A History of the German Occupation, 19401944 (London:
William Collins and Sons, 1981), pp. 36.
Angelo Tasca, Les Communistes francais pendant la drole de guerre (Paris: Les Iles dOr, 1951);
Ronald Tiersky, French Communism, 19201972 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1974);
Stephane Courtois, Le PCF dans la guerre (Paris: Ramsay, 1980).
Francois Bedarida, Huit mois dattente et dillusion: la drole de guerre, in La France des
annees noires, ed. Jean-Pierre Azema and Francois Bedarida (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1993), vol. I,
pp. 3767.

after the fall

north or south. Both proposals assumed that the Soviet Union and Nazi
Germany were allied in a war against Britain and France. In retaliation
for not pursuing an aggressive military strategy and aiding Finland, Blums
Socialist Party declined to support the Daladier government in a vote
of condence on 20 March 1940. The following day, Edouard Daladier
tendered his resignation and Paul Reynaud became the French Prime
The Reynaud government fared little better as the scope of Frances
defeat became apparent. While French and British troops retreated toward
Dunkirk, Reynaud invited Marshal Henri Petain to join his government
and fortify ministerial resolve. By 12 June, the French Commander in Chief
said that it was impossible to continue a coordinated defense of French
territory. Weygands appraisal left the government, for the moment in
Tours, with two choices: reach an agreement with Germany or abandon
metropolitan France and continue to ght from North Africa. Following
the strategy that brought him to power in March, Reynaud favored an
aggressive policy of continued resistance.
Political considerations drove others to favor an armistice with Germany.
On 13 June General Weygand told the cabinet that serious disturbances
have broken out in Paris and that (PCF leader Maurice) Thorez has installed
himself in the Elysee. The report proved to be false, but it conjured
memories of the 1870 Paris Commune and terried conservatives. With
support from General Weygand, Petain urged the government to accept
responsibility for defeat on behalf of the entire nation, called for negotiations
with Nazi Germany, and betrayed Prime Minister Reynaud. Unable to
settle on a common policy, the cabinet retreated from Tours to Bordeaux
on 14 June.
Once ensconced in Bordeaux, the French cabinet split into factions.
Petain, Weygand, Baudouin, Chautemps, and Ybarnegaray pressed for an

Bernd Stegemann, Politics and warfare in the rst phase of the German offensive, in
Germany and the Second World War, vol. II, Germanys Initial Conquests in Europe, pp. 1315;
Bedarida (ed.), La Strategie secrete de la drole de guerre, pp. 235243, 289293, 296301.
Azema, 1940: LAnnee terrible, pp. 569; Bedarida (ed.), La Strategie secrete de la drole de guerre,
pp. 2826.
Azema, 1940: LAnnee terrible, pp. 140141. Paul Reynaud, In the Thick of the Fight, 19301945,
translated by James D. Lambert (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1955), pp. 379380.
Reynaud, In the Thick of The Fight, pp. 484491.
Horne, To Lose a Battle, pp. 5689; Proces du Marechal Petain, pp. 2023; Philippe Simonnot,
Le Secret de larmistice 1940 (Paris: Plon, 1990), pp. 2236.

the shocking defeat

Figure 1.4. Adolf Hitler being greeted in the Compiegne forest.

Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress.

agreement with Germany while Mandel, Campinchi, Marin, and de Gaulle

vowed to ght on. The divided cabinet never considered Churchills hasty
proposal for a political union with Great Britain or ghting Germany
from North Africa. Unable to build a consensus, Reynaud submitted his
resignation to President Lebrun on 16 June. As a member of the Reynaud
government and Marshal of France, Petain appeared to be the obvious
successor. Two hours after Reynaud tendered his resignation, President
Lebrun asked the aged Marshal to form a government. Without missing
a beat, Petain handed a list of ministers to the President. Obviously the
Victor of Verdun had planned ahead.
The new government of sixteen ministers (including eleven holdovers
from the Reynaud cabinet) wasted little time debating policy. On the same
day that he assumed power, 17 June, Petain asked Hitler for an armistice
through the Spanish ambassador, Senor de Lequerica. Three days later, a

Horne, To Lose a Battle, pp. 568577; Henri Michel, Vichy annee 40 (Paris: Robert Lafont,
1966), pp. 316; Charles de Gaulle, The Complete War Memoirs of Charles de Gaulle, translated
by Jonathan Grifn and Richard Howard (New York: Carroll and Graff Publishers, 1998),
pp. 6480; Jean Lacouture, De Gaulle: The Rebel 18901944, translated by Patrick OBrian
(London: Collins Harvill, 1990), pp. 201207.

after the fall

French delegation crossed into occupied France during a local ceasere,

arrived in Compiegne, and boarded the same railroad car in which Marshal
Foch and General Weygand had received a German armistice delegation a
generation earlier. The leader of the French delegation, General Charles-
Leon Huntziger, relayed Germanys terms back to the French government
in Bordeaux on the evening of 21 June. The French delegation signed
the Armistice Agreement on 22 June, but the twenty-four articles did not
come into force until France reached a comparable agreement with Italy.
Fighting ceased at 1:35 a.m., 25 June 1940. Eight days later, the French
government moved to the eponymous town of Vichy and the era began in
The March 1939 occupation of Bohemia and Moravia discredited
appeasement and created support for rearmament in France and Britain. The
August 1939 Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact pushed obedient French
communists into an alliance with reactionaries who refused to die for
Danzig, undermined the Union Sacree, and destroyed another foreign poli-
cy shibboleth. Defeat on the eld of battle seemed to vindicate opponents
of the war and simply overwhelmed many French men and women. Disori-
ented by a long period of dramatic change and exhausted by defeat, many
Frenchmen adopted a wait and see or attentiste attitude. They accepted
terms of the 1940 Armistice Agreement by default.
The Armistice Agreement shaped Franco-German relations for the next
four years. General articles required French troops to lay down their
arms, dened the zone of occupation, and obliged French ofcials to
obey German orders in the occupied zone. Specic clauses ordered the
French high command to surrender fortications (article 7), compelled
the French merchant marine to return to port (article 11), and grounded
French aircraft (article 12). Drafts called for the demobilization of all
French soldiers, but revisions allowed the French government to keep
100,000 men under arms, albeit without heavy weapons, modern airplanes,
or tanks. By winning the right to maintain a small army, Marshal Petain
preserved the regimes ability to suppress a communist insurrection and
thus accomplished an initial goal of the Vichy regime. In return, France
agreed to help Germany maintain order. German authorities could reduce
the number of troops stationed in the Hexagon because they could count

DGFP, ser. D, vol. IX, pp. 590, 643654, 662671.

the shocking defeat

on French support. Clauses pertaining to the French army beneted both

Without a large surface navy of his own, Hitler could not destroy the
French eet by force. If ghting between Germany and France dragged on,
Admiral Jean Francois Darlan, the long-time commander-in-chief of the
French navy, could transfer his beloved eet to French colonial or British
bases and provide the Royal Navy with valuable reinforcements. Article
eight called for units of the French eet to return to their peace-time
ports for demobilization and disarmament. From a German perspective,
the agreement neutralized the French navy at no cost to the Reich. In later
paragraphs of article eight, the German government promised not to use
the French eet for the duration of the war.
Marshal Petain and Admiral Darlan saw article eight as an important
diplomatic victory. Although some ships had to return to France and be
disarmed, other vessels remained in colonial waters and could either be used
as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Germany or deployed to protect
French colonies from foreign depredation. If the German occupation
became too oppressive, Marshal Petain could extract concessions from
Hitler by threatening to send French vessels to British or American ports.
During the Occupation, Petain, Laval, and Darlan never brandished this
stick and preferred to curry German favor with concessions. When German
forces crossed the demarcation line in response to the Allied invasion of
North Africa in November 1942, few French naval ofcers joined the
Allied cause and chose instead to scuttle the eet. Attitudes of naval ofcers
and the Vichy government, not the language of article eight, neutralized
the French eet as a factor in World War II.
The Armistice Agreement also shaped Franco-German economic rela-
tions. The Vichy government agreed to allow the trans-shipment of goods
across metropolitan France (article 15), prevent economic assets from
leaving the country (article 17), and bear the cost of maintaining Ger-
man troops on French territory (article 18). Article 22 created a joint

A copy of the Armistice Agreement appears in DGFP, ser. D, vol. IX, pp. 6719.
Paxton, Parades and Politics at Vichy, pp. 78, 121; George E. Melton, Darlan: Admiral and
Statesman of France, 18811942 (Westport, CT: Prager, 1998), pp. 747, 826.
Paul Auphin and Jacques Mordal, La Marine francaise dans la seconde guerre mondiale (Paris:
Empire-France, 1967), pp. 235, 3840; Paxton, Vichy France, pp. 110111; Joachim Fest Hitler,
translated by Richard and Clara Winston (New York: Vintage, 1975), pp. 6346.
Duroselle, LAbme, pp. 390391.

after the fall

Franco-German commission that would turn principles outlined in the

Armistice Agreement into specic regulations. Although usually inconse-
quential, the Armistice Commission did enhance German economic power
by establishing a favorable rate of exchange. Using an inated reichsmark,
some German companies bought French industrial concerns outright or
purchased stock at a very reasonable price and exercised indirect control
over French businesses. As the war dragged on, German industrialists and
Nazi bureaucrats used articles 15, 17, and 18 to rst inuence, later regulate,
and nally control strategic French industries. Working behind the facade
of a liberal economy, Nazi leaders exploited ambiguities of the Armistice
Agreement and integrated large chunks of the French economy into the
German war effort.
Articles that discussed political relations worked in much the same
way. Article 3 granted German authorities all the rights of an occupying
power in territory occupied by the German army. In an unsigned note
attached to the agreement, Hitler agreed that the requirements of the
conduct of the war against England and everything . . . that was militarily
necessary would dene Germanys rights as an occupying power. Later
sections declared that it [Germany] did not intend to burden itself with
civil administration and with caring for the population. In that respect
the French authorities were to continue to carry on the administration.
Terms of the Armistice Agreement and associated memoranda could be
interpreted in several different ways.
The phrase rights of an occupying power connected the Armistice
Agreement with the Hague Convention on the Rules of Land Warfare.
The Convention, particularly articles 42 through 54, established what
an army could and could not do in occupied territory. For example,
rules of the Hague Convention allowed an occupying army to collect
taxes necessary for the maintenance of the army of occupation and take
appropriate measures to ensure the safety of occupying soldiers, but they
did not allow conquerors to seize private property without compensation
or tamper with the religious customs of local inhabitants. Language of the

Jackel, France dans lEurope de Hitler, pp. 107108, 110; Alan S. Milward, The New Order and
the French Economy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970), pp. 4258; Norman Rich, Hitlers
War Aims, vol. II (New York: W. W. Norton, 1974), pp. 205207.
DGFP, ser. D, vol. IX, pp. 6767.
USNA, RG 153 (Records of the Ofce of the Judge Advocate General, U. S. Army)/135
(JAG Law Library, 194449)/21/3135.

the shocking defeat

Armistice Agreement suggested that Germany intended to obey the Hague

Although noble in design, the Hague Convention anticipated neither
the scope of modern economic warfare nor the twentieth-century concept
of total war. Terms of the Hague Convention established one set of rules
for private property and non-combatants while a second set of regulations
governed the treatment of soldiers and property of belligerent governments.
During the First and particularly Second World Wars, political and military
leaders alike understood that modern warfare blurred distinctions central
to the Hague Convention. Axis and Allied powers both hoped to turn the
rules of war to their own advantage.
The Armistice Agreement proved to be a exible document. Germanys
promise not to seize the French eet, permission to retain a 100,000
man French army, and assurances that the Reich would not tamper with
the internal administration of France induced Marshal Petain to sign an
accord with the Third Reich. But qualications tempered many of the
assurances that Petain found so attractive. Hitler designed the treaty to
appear benign while reserving the option to exploit France through an
intrusive occupation if necessary. As the war turned against Germany, the
Fhrer ordered subordinates to take advantage of ambiguities within the
Armistice Agreement.
Neither French nor German leaders intended the Armistice Agreement
to serve as a lasting settlement. Marshal Petains Foreign Minister, Paul
Baudouin, initially asked for an armistice but expected to negotiate a
peace treaty in short order. Acting on orders from the Fhrer, German
diplomats ignored French peace proposals. Hitler informed members of
his entourage, many of whom were dismayed by the lenient terms of
the Armistice Agreement, that a nal agreement with France would be
inspired by the Treaty of Versailles and include territorial annexations.
He promised to undo 400 years of robbery and oppression by restoring
Flanders, Alsace, Lorraine, the Ardennes, and the Argonne regions to the
Reich. The Fhrer viewed France as an implacable enemy of Germany

USNA, RG 242/T-501/101/1113. BAMA, RW 35/246/513.

DGFP, ser. D, vol. IX, pp. 590, 680681; Michel, Vichy annee 40, pp. 4045.
Walter Warlimont, Inside Hitlers Headquarters, translated by R. H. Barry (New York:
Frederick A. Praeger, 1964), pp. 102103.
Wolfgang Schumann and Ludwig Nestler (eds.), Die faschistische Okkupationspolitik in
Frankreich, 19401944 (Berlin: VEB Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, 1990), pp. 111113;

after the fall

and wanted to eliminate France as a great power. Although his plans for
France were less extreme than those being prepared for Poland or later the
Soviet Union, Hitler could not afford to reveal his intentions before a total
German victory. Disclosure would only encourage resistance.
The Vichy and Nazi regimes beneted from the Armistice Agreement.
The Vichy regime avoided the total occupation and won several apparent
concessions like the right to retain a small military organization. The
shock of defeat, domestic political considerations, German concessions, and
bleak prospects for an Allied victory made the Armistice Agreement seem
palatable to many Frenchmen. For his part, Hitler nullied the French eet
as a military force and turned an active belligerent into a helpful neutral that
later contributed to the German war effort. In return for vague promises
of benevolent treatment, Hitler won a substantial diplomatic victory that
complemented battleeld successes.
If defeat struck France as lightning strikes a tree, then many Germans
were startled by the thunder. Neither staff ofcers nor eld commanders
had much faith in the original version of Fall Gelb, and everyone except
Hitler viewed the revised plan as a desperate gamble. As a result, civil
and military leaders did not plan an elaborate occupation. Hitler issued a
two-page directive in November 1939 that placed the commander-in-chief
of the army in charge of all occupied territories in the West. He instructed
General von Brauchitsch to establish a military government, suppress talk
of territorial annexations, obey the Hague conventions, and place captive
economies at the disposal of the Reich. Political work-stoppages, passive
resistance, sabotage, and guerrilla warfare were to be suppressed with the
utmost severity. Finally, the Fhrerbefehl denied civilian and Nazi party
agencies access to conquered lands without explicit permission from senior
military authorities.

IMT , vol. XXXVII, pp. 218223; IMT vol. VI, pp. 427430; Bundesarchiv, Abteilung Reich
und DDR, Lichterfelde-West, Berlin; Bestandssignatur R 43 II (Reichskanzlei), Archivsignatur
675, pp. 1820. Hereafter abbreviated as BALW (Bundesarchiv Lichterfeld-West), followed by
Bestandssignatur, Archivsignatur, and page number. For example, BALW R 43 II/675/1820.
Rich, Hitlers War Aims, vol. II, pp. 197198. Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, translated by Ralph
Manheim (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifin Company, 1971), pp. 619620, 653, 674.
DGFP, ser. D, vol. IX, pp. 6767; Umbreit, The battle for hegemony in western Europe,
pp. 313316.
Burrin, France Under the Germans, p. 5; May, Strange Victory, pp. 2678.
Lucien Steinberg and Jean-Marie Fitere, Les Allemands en France, 19401944 (Paris: Albin
Michel, 1980), p. 21; IMT vol. XXX, pp. 211220, 2326; Hans Umbreit, Towards continental

the shocking defeat

OKW and OKH intended to establish a traditional military government

and present a benign appearance. Generals in Berlin ordered eld com-
manders to obey international agreements and care for needy residents.
Civil authorities would be allowed to continue about their business once
the ghting ceased. General Keitel instructed eld commanders to respect
private property, cited specic articles of the Hague agreement, and threat-
ened to punish plundering with death. Initial military regulations called for
a modest, three-tiered military government and appear to be unadulterated
by Nazi ideology.
Initial plans unraveled as troops encountered catastrophic success and
captured far more land than their original military government could absorb.
Six days after the start of the Western campaign, OKH placed General
Alexander von Falkenhausen in charge of the Netherlands. On 21 May,
Hitler replaced Falkenhausens military government in Holland with a civil
government led by Reichskommissar Arthur Seyss-Inquart. Ten days later,
OKH installed Falkenhausens military government in Belgium and the
French departements of Nord and Pas-de-Calais. Falkenhausen became the
Military Commander in Belgium and northwest France (Militarbefehlshaber
in Belgien und nordwest Frankreich or MBB) and supervised local, district, and
senior (regional) commanders.
Brauchitsch eventually installed a similar government in occupied
France. Designated the Military Commander in France (Militarbefehlshaber
in Frankreich or MBF) on 17 June, General Johannes Blaskowitz controlled
a four-tiered military government that included regional commanders
(Bezirkchefs) who typically governed several departements, eld comman-
ders (Feldkommandanten) in charge of individual departements, and town
commanders (Ortskommandanten) who oversaw French authorities in sig-
nicant urban areas. The MBB and MBF both had the authority of an
army commander, answered directly to Brauchitsch, and served as the

dominion, in Germany and the Second World War, vol. V, Organization and Mobilization of
the German Sphere of Power, part 1, Wartime Administration, Economy, and Manpower Resources
19391941, pp. 1121; USNA, RG 242/T-77/1430/296297.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1430/291295; USNA, RG 242/T-501/166/6770; USNA,
RG 338 (Records of the United States Army Commands, 1942)/Foreign Military Studies/P-033
(German Military Government, Volume I)/che 155/31; Steinberg and Fitere, Les Allemands en
France, pp. 213.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/93/78, 1922, 3739; Umbreit, Towards continental dominion,
pp. 728.

after the fall

Figure 1.5. The German chain of command.

ultimate legal authority within their respective domains. By the end of

1940, the MBF controlled 4 regional commanders, the commandant of
greater Paris (who was equivalent to a regional commander), 47 eld com-
manders, and 144 town commanders. It was a far cry from the original
system of two senior-, two eld-, and six local commanders envisioned
in 1939.
Brauchitsch placed dubious men in charge of improvised military gov-
ernments. Known as an opponent of the Nazi regime before the war,
General Blaskowitz lost his command in eastern Poland after criticizing
Himmlers Einsatzgruppen in two reports that eventually reached Hitler.
His denunciations united anti-SS army ofcers and probably contributed
to irregular SS formations being excluded from the German order of battle

USNA, RG 242/T-501/93/73, 7879; USNA, RG 242/T-77/1587/folder 7/nfn. (Ob

d H, Gen St d H, Generalquartermeister, Nr. 15645/40 dated 13.7.40); USNA, RG 242/
T-501/143/621; BALW, R 43 II/675/7686.

the shocking defeat

in France. To cover up the scandal, Hitler had to pardon everybody

accused of shooting prisoners, illegally seizing property, and mistreating
civilians in Poland. Given Hitlers racial agenda and Blaskowitzs recent
behavior, Blaskowitzs appointment as the Militarbefehlshaber in Frankreich
seems impolitic; it lasted just 13 days.
General Alfred Streccius succeeded Blaskowitz as MBF on 30 June 1940.
Commissioned in 1894, Streccius served in China during the Weimar era
and earned a reputation for a lack of ethical restraint stemming from Eastern
inuences. As an admirer of Taoism, Streccius often quoted Lao-Tzu and
preferred the status quo. General Otto von Stlpnagel succeeded Streccius
on 25 October 1940 and governed France for almost 16 months. Although
he appeared to be the stereotypical Prussian ofcer with a monocle, narrow
moustache, and humorless demeanor, Stlpnagel also took an interest in
airplanes before World War One and loved to speed through the streets
of Paris in a red convertible during the Occupation. During World War
One, he served in a variety of staff positions on the western front and
received three nominations for Germanys highest military decoration, the
Pour le Merite. Once hostilities ceased, Stlpnagel angrily defended the
army against charges of war crimes and, together with Kurt von Schleicher
and Freiherr von Bussche, played an integral role in the Reichswehr until
he fell from grace before the Nazi seizure of power. After the Anschluss,
Stlpnagel returned to active duty and assumed command of German forces
in Austria.

Christopher Clark, Johannes BlaskowitzDer christliche General, in Ronald Smelser

and Enrico Syring, eds., Die Militarelite des Dritten Reiches (Berlin: Ullstein Buchverlage, 1997),
pp. 2850; Richard Giziowski, The Enigma of General Blaskowitz (New York: Hippocrene, 1997),
pp. 483504; Breitman, The Architect of Genocide, pp. 105115; de Chambrun, France during the
German Occupation, vol. III, p. 1774.
Helmut Krausnick, Hitler und die Morde in Polen, Vierteljahrshefte fr Zeitgeschichte 11
(1963), pp 196209; BAMA, RW 35/209/8788; Giziowski, The Enigma of General Blaskowitz,
pp. 117, 130, 1438, 2229.
Steinberg and Fitere, Les Allemands en France, p. 23; Rich, Hitlers War Aims, vol II,
p. 201; Bundesarchiv Koblenz, Bestandssignatur N 1023 (Nachla Best), Archivsignatur 1, p. 4.
Hereafter abbreviated as BAK, followed by Bestandssignatur, Archivsignatur, and page number.
For example, BAK, N 1023/1/4.
BAMA, N 5 (Depot Stlpnagel)/26/11, 2629; BAMA, RW 35/1/100105; Martin
Kitchen, A Military History of Germany (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1975), p. 267.
Otto von Stlpnagel, Die Wahrheit ber die deutschen Kriegsverbrechen (Berlin: Staatspolitischer
Verlag, 1921); USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/442; Walter Bargatzky, Hotel Majestic: Ein Deutscher
im besetzten Frankreich (Freiburg: Verlag Herder, 1987), pp. 523.

after the fall

The man in charge of occupied Belgium, General Alexander von Falken-

hausen, enjoyed an even more suspicious reputation. After holding a variety
of diplomatic and military posts during World War One, Falkenhausen
served as chief of the infantry training school during the Weimar era. When
his brother perished during the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, Falken-
hausen left the German army, advised Chiang Kai Shek, and designed the
strategy that obliged Mao to begin his Long March. Falkenhausen returned
to Germany after the Nazi regime, acting under pressure from the Japanese
government, made it clear that the welfare of his family was in danger.
The men in charge of Belgium and France all served with distinction
in World War One, viewed the collapse of the Kaiserreich with dismay,
and displayed enough talent to avoid retirement in 1919. They had little
sympathy for the Weimar Republic and shared Hitlers desire to redraw the
map of Europe but disdained the Bohemian corporal. Because of their
traditional background, these soldiers were not well suited to rule France
or Belgium in a manner that would please Hitler. All four appointments
highlight Brauchitschs political ineptitude.
The MBF divided his staff into two separate parts: a command staff
(Kommandostab) and a military administration staff (Militarverwaltungsstab or
MVW). The command staff directed reserve battalions (Landesschtzen)
stationed in their respective domains and supervised the secret military
police (Geheime Feldpolizei or GFP). Men serving in reserve battalions were
past their prime as ghting soldiers, but they could carry out missions that
did not involve heavy combat. Secret military police units searched for
enemy agents and investigated crimes committed by or against German
soldiers. Regional, eld, and local commanders copied the MBF and
divided their respective staffs into command and military administration
The military administration staff included two subsections. The govern-
ment subsection (Militarverwaltung Abteilung Verwaltung) oversaw the regular

Richard Cavell Fattig, Reprisal: The German Army and the execution of hostages during
the Second World War (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, San Diego, 1980),
pp. 3335; John A. Nagl, Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago
Press, 2005), p. 21.
Craig, The Politics of the Prussian Army, pp. 4824. Klaus-Jurgen Mller, The Army, Politics and
Society in Germany, 19331945: Studies in the Armys Relation to Nazism (Manchester: Manchester
University Press, 1987).
USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/434, 442, 470. BAMA, RW 35/245/14.

the shocking defeat

operations of the Vichy government, ensured that French bureaucrats took

German interests into account, supervised the local police, approved French
legislation, assisted refugees, distributed propaganda, protected French
artistic treasures, and supervised highway and railroad construction.
The economic subsection of the military administration (Militarverwaltung
Abteilung Wirtschaft) usurped economic controls established by the French
government after the start of World War Two. In conjunction with the
Vichy government, the economic subsection of the MVW allocated raw
materials, installed price regulations, issued export and import licenses,
conscated Jewish businesses, and generally exploited French economic
resources to the benet of the German war economy.
MVW ofcers had little or no military experience, wore unique military
uniforms, and held ofcer status based on their civil service rank. Some
veterans of the MVW reported friction between regular military ofcers
serving on the Kommandostab and newcomers seconded to the military
administration. Regular ofcers who slowly worked their way up through
the ranks resented interlopers granted the rank and pay of a captain, major,
or colonel. The number of men (excluding clerks, drivers, secretaries, and
translators) assigned to the MVW reached 1,600 in the winter of 1941/42
but usually hovered around 1,200. The average age of MVW ofcers
increased during the war as younger ofcials were sent to the Eastern
front. By 1943, 80 per cent of the ofcers serving with the MVW were
over 37 years old. Those who remained were typically too young to
have served in World War One but too old for front-line duty in World
War Two.
Gorings Ofce of the Four-Year Plan, the Ministry of the Interior,
Himmlers SS, and other government ofces all seconded ofcials to
serve with the military administration. Some ministries probably used the
opportunity to get rid of unwanted administrators. The case of Werner Best
may not have been unusual. After losing a power struggle with Reinhard
Heydrich, Best left the Reich Security Main Ofce (Reichssicherheitshauptamt

BAMA, RH 3 (OKH Generalquartermeister)/198/718.

USNA, RG 242/T-77/1587/nfn (Ob d H, Gen St d H, Gen Qu, Nr. 15530/40, dated
BAMA, RH 3/198/1012; BAMA, RW 35/245/34; Umbreit, Towards continental
dominion, p. 74 (note 174), p. 136.
BAMA, RH 3/198/5253; USNA, RG 252/T-78/32/706119706154.
BAMA, RH 3/164. BAMA, RW 35/244/56.

after the fall

Figure 1.6. The German Military Government in France

or RSHA) and volunteered for military service after the Polish campaign. At
37 years of age, he was too old for front-line service, but his legal training and
experience in RSHA qualied him to serve as the head of the government
subsection of the military administration. Active soldiers assigned to the
military government came from a similar background. Falkenhausen and
Streccius had been cashiered before the war and were recalled to active duty
after the invasion of Poland. Political disagreements with the Nazi regime
ensured that Hitler would never promote either Blaskowitz or Otto von
Stlpnagel. The head of the economic subsection noted that personnel were
carefully selected for important positions within the military administration,
but another ofcial remarked that unt administrators, particularly at the

Ulrich Herbert, Best. Biographische Studien ber Radikalismus, Weltanschauung und Vernunft
19031989 (Bonn: J. H. W. Dietz, 1996), pp. 230237, 2556.

the shocking defeat

lower levels, often caused trouble. Some people assigned to the military
government had marginal prewar careers.
The military administration identied refugees as a serious problem in
need of immediate attention. Military kitchens and the relief train Bavaria
served 42.6 million meals between 6 June and 20 August, and army hospitals
treated 93,000 French patients. A few supply ofcers allowed refugees to
use military transportation while others doled out scarce gasoline to French
civilians. German troops restored essential public services and conjured
an illusion of benevolence by helping peasants bring in the harvest.
Under orders from Berlin, German soldiers helped French refugees return
home, but other measures exacerbated the refugee problem. To keep
plans for the invasion of England secret, eld commanders expelled enemy
citizens (Belgians, British citizens, etc.), people without citizenship (e.g.
Czechs and Poles), and racial enemies (gypsies and Jews) from nine French
departements along the Atlantic coast. To make matters worse, Hitler
placed Alsace and Lorraine in the hands of Robert Wagner and Joseph
Brckel on 2 August 1940. As they integrated both provinces back into
the Reich, the two district leaders (Gauleiters) dumped approximately
105,000 Jews and French nationalists in unoccupied France by the end
of 1940.
Large numbers of French and British prisoners of war created another
security problem. During the 1940 Western campaign, advancing German
soldiers frequently disarmed white prisoners and ordered them to march
toward the rear without escort. Although many obediently marched into
captivity, others simply melted into the countryside. The military govern-
ment spent considerable time rounding up French and particularly British
prisoners of war because they constituted a potential asset during peace

BAMA, RW 35/244/5; BAMA, RW 35/245/14; Bargatzky, Hotel Majestic, pp. 456.

Jackson, France. The Dark Years, pp. 118121; Vinen, The Unfree French, pp. 2944;
Pierre Miquel, LExode, 10 mai20 juin 1940 (Paris: Plon, 2003); Azema, 1940: LAnnee terrible,
pp. 119128; USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/362.
Charles W. Sydnor, Soldiers of Destruction (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990),
pp. 120127; USNA, RG 242/T-77/1587/folder 7/nfn (Chef des MVW Bezirkes Swfr., Anzug
aus den Besprechungen beim Chef der MVW Frankreich am 31 July 1940, Tgb. Nr. Qu 173/40,
dated 7.8.40).
BAMA, RW 35/353/nfn (MBF Kdostab Abt Ia/Org 2/Ic, Tgb. Nr. Ia 127/40, dated
DGFP, ser. D, vol. X, pp. 4989; DGFP, ser. D, vol. XI, pp. 4489; 456, 570571,
578581, 885; Rich, Hitlers War Aims, vol. II, pp. 2319; Azema, 1940: LAnnee terrible,
pp. 2858.

after the fall

negotiations. Once collected, prisoners had to be identied, sorted, and

transported to the Reich for service on German farms and in factories.
Members of the military administration also prepared for the occupation
of Great Britain. The MBF built 7 concentration camps to accommodate
10,000 prisoners of war that OKH expected to capture during the invasion.
Ofcers assigned to the military administration prepared a rudimentary
military government for the British Isles. Army divisions trained for
contingencies including the invasion of unoccupied France and later the
Soviet Union. Neither the MBF nor regular army units had time to
remodel France in accordance with Nazi ideology.
Refugees, Allied prisoners of war, and military contingency plans repre-
sented only three of the most immediate problems that faced the military
government. The MBF had to establish a regular system of occupation,
protect German forces scattered across France, and monitor every level of
the French government. Translators, prisoner of war guards, and capable
administrative personnel remained in short supply. Pragmatic concerns
like the procurement of food and housing also took up valuable time.
With twenty-three million French civilians in thirty-seven fully and twelve
partially occupied departments, the MBF had his hands full. Keitel, Brau-
chitsch, and other leading generals in Berlin spent most of their time
planning for the invasion of Great Britain, Yugoslavia, Greece, and the
Soviet Union between the fall of 1940 and spring of 1941; they wasted little
time worrying about administrative details in France. Hitlers long-term
plans remained opaque to even his closest associates in the summer of 1940.
Passages of Mein Kampf and remarks delivered to his entourage later in the
war suggest that Hitler had little love for the French. He certainly wanted
to weaken France so that it could never threaten his thousand-year Reich,
but how he would do so remained an open question. Hitler preferred
to leave terms of a nal Franco-German peace settlement uncertain until
military operations defeated Great Britain and later the Soviet Union. With
minimal guidance from Berlin, the MBF remained free to govern France
as he saw t.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/350353.
BAMA, RW 35/243/759; USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/525.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/339340.

Rivals and scavengers

After becoming the Chancellor of Germany, Hitler shared power with con-
servative and independent politicians. Within his rst cabinet, the Fhrer
could only rely on support from Hermann Goring (Minister without Port-
folio) and Wilhelm Frick (Minister of the Interior). While the departure
of Alfred Hugenberg (Minister of Agriculture and Economics) and Franz
von Papen (Vice-Chancellor) limited conservative inuence, Nazis did not
gain unfettered command of the government until Joachim Ribbentrop
replaced Konstantin Freiherr von Neurath as Foreign Minister and Hitler
assumed personal control of the Wehrmacht in 1938. Between 1933 and
1939, leading Nazis like Heinrich Himmler and Hermann Goring outma-
neuvered political rivals, seized the levers of power, developed extensive
bureaucratic empires, and occupied all available political Lebensraum or
living space. By 1939, Nazi paladins could only expand their respective
bailiwicks within Germany at the expense of other inuential Nazis.
Military victories gave ambitious Nazis another opportunity to expand
their bureaucratic satrapies. To capture a share of the spoils, Goring,
Himmler, and Ribbentrop had to play a part in the war effort and nd
a raison dtre in newly occupied territories. Conquests also offered people
like Alfred Rosenberg another chance to secure an inuential position. The
leader of the Nazi Party while Hitler languished in prison, Rosenberg did
not obtain a ministerial position after the Nazi seizure of power. Regarded
as an expert on race and foreign policy, he had reason to expect that a

Martin Broszat, The Hitler State: The Foundation and Development of the Internal Structure of the
Third Reich, translated by John W. Hiden (New York: Longman, 1981), pp. 2623, 270280.
after the fall

position of inuence would come his way as German armies conquered

Lebensraum. With an industrialized economy, skilled workforce, and a wide
range of assets, France was indeed a rich prize for an ambitious Nazi.
Hitlers October 1939 directive and the terms of the Armistice Agreement
placed occupied France squarely in the hands of the army. As the sole
organization with executive authority (Exekutivbefugnisse), only the MBF
could make arrests and conscate property. Immediately after the Armistice,
the German army secured a dominant role in occupied France by citing
military necessity and emphasizing the need for security. However, most
soldiers lacked the legal, technical, and administrative expertise to supervise
the entire French government. OKH overcame this limitation by placing
civilian bureaucrats in uniform and integrating administrators into the
military government. After serving together for several months, most regular
ofcers and bureaucrats seconded to the Militarverwaltungsstab (military
administration staff or MVW) worked as a team and developed an esprit de
corps, but some former civilians never overcame their parochial background.
On occasion, bureaucrats continued to advance the interests of their
former agencies and operated as a fth column inside the MVW.
By exploiting the loyalty of some former bureaucrats, civil ministries
in Berlin gained a toehold inside the MBFs headquarters in the Hotel
Conservative French leaders feared a reprise of the 1870 Paris Commune
and signed the Armistice Agreement in part to prevent a communist insur-
rection. Sharing similar concerns, OKH stationed one Waffen SS division
and four army divisions around Paris in the fall of 1940. Throughout
the Occupation, the MBF worried about security and vigorously pursued
cases of anti-German propaganda, espionage, and sabotage. Hitler shared
many of their concerns but employed an expansive denition of security.
In keeping with his radical views of race and anti-Semitism, the Fhrer
ordered subordinates to rst study and later attack racial opponents in order
to prevent any potential resistance. Some ofcers educated in the tradition
of the Imperial Army ignored directives that fell outside their traditional
conception of security. Eager to expand their respective empires, Himmler,
Goring, Ribbentrop, and Rosenberg stepped into the breach and carried

BAMA, RW 35/245/34.
BALW, R 19 (Ordnungspolizei)/401/8182; BAMA, RW 5 (Auslander Amt/Abwehr)/

rivals and scavengers

Figure 2.1. Goring, Ribbentrop, Rosenberg, Goebbels, and other leading Nazis
listen as Hitler declares War on the United States, 11 December 1941.
Photograph courtesy of the Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1987-0703-507.

out racial security missions that were beneath the Wehrmachts dignity.
By underestimating the importance of Hitlers radical security directives,
ofcers imbued with traditional military values allowed civilian rivals to
establish a substantial presence in occupied France.
In theory, the French government remained sovereign under terms of
the 1940 Armistice Agreement. Germany could exercise all the rights
of the occupying power but did not intend to burden itself with the
civilian administration of France. Gorings failure to crush Britain during
the fall of 1940 ensured that hostilities would continue for some time,
and Hitler refused to negotiate a peace agreement with France alone.
Orders dated 3 August and 20 November 1940 placed the Foreign Ofce
in charge of political discussions with the French government and left

DGFP, ser. D, vol. IX, pp. 672, 677; Jackel, France dans lEurope de Hitler, pp. 7780.

after the fall

military affairs in the hands of the army. Directives from Berlin gave
Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and his representative in Paris,
Ambassador Abetz, permission to to manage diplomatic relations between
France and Germany.
Joachim von Ribbentrop joined the party in May 1932 and operated as
Hitlers personal diplomat after the Nazi seizure of power. He later served as
the Ambassador to the Court of St. James but failed to negotiate a political
agreement with Great Britain. In the aftermath of the BlombergFritsch
affair, Hitler placed Ribbentrop in charge of the Foreign Ministry to limit
conservative inuence. After negotiating the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression
Pact on 24 August 1939, the Foreign Minister assured Hitler that Britain
would not support Poland. When the latter proved false, Ribbentrops rep-
utation declined precipitously. Throughout the Phony War, the Foreign
Minister bickered with Joseph Goebbels and smoothed feathers that had
been rufed by the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. During the Nor-
wegian campaign, Ribbentrop bungled talks with King Haakon VII and
backed the unpopular Vidkun Quisling over other potential collaborators
who were more acceptable to the Norwegian public. In the aftermath of
the debacle, Hitler literally distanced himself from his Foreign Minister;
Ribbentrop observed the Western campaign several miles away from his
beloved Fhrer. The rst nine months of the war did not treat the former
spirits salesman well.
On the same day that German troops occupied Paris, Ribbentrop
selected Otto Abetz to represent the interests of the Foreign Ofce in
France. Born in 1903, Abetz was too young to serve in World War One.
During the Weimar era, he played a signicant role in youth organizations
that promoted better relations between France and Germany. Although
commonly described as a Francophile, Abetz had a lovehate relationship
with France. On the one hand, he raged against French pilots who
killed civilians during World War One bombing raids over Karlsruhe

DGFP, ser. D, vol. X, pp. 4078; DGFP, ser. D, vol. XI, pp. 6389.
Michael Bloch, Ribbentrop (New York: Crown Publishers, 1992), pp. 236; John Weitz,
Hitlers Diplomat (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1992), pp. 140146; Gerhard L. Weinberg,
The Foreign Policy of Hitlers Germany: Starting World War II, 19371939 (Chicago, IL: University
of Chicago Press, 1980), pp. 457.
Bloch, Ribbentrop, pp. 251276; Gerhard Schreiber, Political and military developments in
the Mediterranean area, 19391940, in MGFA, ed., Germany and the Second World War, vol. III,
The Mediterranean, South-east Europe, and North Africa, 19391941, pp. 925.
DGFP, ser. D, vol. IX, pp. 1424, 159164, 1957, 2638; Bloch, Ribbentrop, pp. 278281.

rivals and scavengers

and fulminated against black soldiers sent to occupy the Rhineland. Yet
Abetz also supported the policies of rapprochement favored by Briand and
Stresemann during the Weimar era and appreciated European international
culture as expressed by Stefan George and Rainer Maria Rilke. He
may have resolved his contradictory attitude by blaming anti-German
sentiments on Jews and Freemasons. After the Nazi seizure of power,
Abetz set aside doubts about the Nazi regime and promoted amicable
relations between the two nations. He allayed French fears by arranging
cultural exchanges between French and German veterans associations and
expanding contacts with diverse intellectuals like Bertand de Jouvenel,
Jean Luchaire, and Jules Romains. Although not yet a member of the
Nazi party, Otto Abetz proved to be a useful tool and advanced the Nazi
Service as Hitlers translator and modest success in fostering Franco-
German reconciliation brought Abetz to the attention of senior Nazi
leaders including Joachim von Ribbentrop. The latter asked Abetz to join
the Dienststelle Ribbentrop, a Nazi party organization that rivaled the ofcial
Foreign Ofce, and eventually placed him with the Deutsch-Franzosische
Gesellschaft, an organization that arranged cultural exchanges, promoted
international understanding, and distributed propaganda. Expelled from
France shortly before the invasion of Poland, Abetz received a promotion
and supervised the distribution of propaganda in western Europe during
the Phony War. Ribbentrop appointed Abetz to serve as Representative of
the Foreign Ministry with the Military Commander in France on 15 June
1940, and he acted as Germanys chief diplomat in France throughout the
Following instructions from Hitler and Ribbentrop, Abetz pursued
a general strategy of collaboration along three specic avenues. First,
he met with potential collaborators from across the political spectrum.
On 15 July he sent the military government a list of politicians and
political movements that are accessible to us. Old contacts from the
Deutsch-Franzosische Gesellschaft and new-found friends placed Abetz in

Otto Abetz, Das offene Problem: Ein Rckblich auf zwei Jahrzehnte deutscher Frankreichpolitik
(Koln: Greven Verlag, 1951), pp. 1534; Barbara Lambauer, Otto Abetz et le Francais ou lenvers
de la collaboration (Paris: Fayard, 2001), pp. 22, 5963.
Lambauer, Otto Abetz et le Francais, pp. 823, 925, 127; Abetz, Das offene Problem, pp. 413,
108, 1325.

after the fall

touch with the Vichy regime and all major political parties of the
Third Republic. Second, the Paris embassy assumed direct control over
the newspaper LIllustration and placed sympathizers in charge of La
France au Travail, La Gerbe, and La Vie Nationale. The four papers
each courted a different segment of the political spectrum and operat-
ed as points around which public opinion could coalesce in favor of
the Reich. Abetzs propaganda efforts continued along the lines of the
old Deutsch-Franzosische Gesellschaft and tried to foster Franco-German
Attacks on racial opponents formed the third component of Abetzs
policy. On 5 July 1940, Hitler ordered the Einsatzstab Rosenberg, a
small Nazi party organization with interests in foreign affairs, ideological
education, and Aryan culture, to search through state libraries, archives,
churches, and masonic lodges for evidence of anti-German conspiracies.
On his own initiative, Abetz supported the Einsatzstab Rosenberg as part
of his campaign to eliminate anti-German inuences. He expanded his
mission beyond the written materials targeted in Hitlers 5 July order and
pursued tapestries, sculptures, paintings, and other objets dart owned by
Jews. At various times, Abetz described seizures as a bargaining chip that
could be used during nal peace negotiations, an attempt to impoverish
French Jews, and an effort to protect cultural assets from the ravages of
war. Seizures of Jewish property, particularly objets dart, played a major
part in Abetzs campaign against anti-German elements within French
After six weeks in France, Abetz discussed German policy with Hitler
in early August 1940. In hopes of fostering French support for the Vichy
regime and encouraging pro-German sentiments, Abetz asked the Fhrer
to liberate French prisoners of war and rescind travel restrictions between
occupied and unoccupied France. Angered by stories that French police had
mistreated German prisoners during the Western campaign, Hitler refused
both requests and ruled that [t]he treatment of the demarcation line
between the occupied and unoccupied parts of France must correspond
to the requirements of Germanys conduct of the war. The security of

DGFP, ser. D, vol. X, pp. 215217; Abetz, Das offene Problem, pp. 6074, 8997.
BAMA, RW 35/698/1; USNA, RG 242/T-501/196/627; see also Chapter 3 this volume.
Abetz, Das offene Problem, p. 137; Bargatzky, Hotel Majestic, pp. 657.

rivals and scavengers

military operations takes rst place. Hitler insisted that the French rst
prove themselves to be loyal allies before he would grant any concessions.
Hitlers refusal undermined Abetzs attempts to expand Franco-German
collaboration, but it did not apply to the military administration. If the
Vichy government allowed Germany to inuence the administration and
economy of France and the French empire beyond limits set forth in the
Armistice Agreement, then the MBF could relax the enforcement of exist-
ing travel and trade restrictions. The process also worked in reverse. After
Petain red Pierre Laval on 13 December 1940, the military administration
did not allow French civil servants to cross the demarcation line. Because
soldiers manned checkpoints and physically regulated trafc, the military
could exert inuence without making a rm commitment. Although vested
with comparable authority, the Foreign Ofce had less real power than the
MBF because the latter implemented German policy.
Abetz left his 3 August meeting with Hitler under the impression that the
Fhrer mistrusted the French but had not yet decided on a specic course of
action. He returned to Paris and carried out duties that included representing
the Nazi government, advising military authorities on political questions,
censoring the press and radio, and securing public artistic properties . . .
especially Jewish artistic properties in accordance with special directives
issued on that subject. The last mission alienated sympathetic Frenchmen
because Germany appeared to be robbing Frances artistic patrimony.
Citing changed circumstances, the ambassador eventually abandoned efforts
to seize objets dart from racial enemies to protect his fundamental goal of
Franco-German collaboration. When forced to make a choice, Abetz
favored collaboration over robbery.
Other diplomats supported Abetzs policy of Franco-German collabor-
ation. An ofcial in Ribbentrops entourage drafted a protocol that guar-
anteed France her rightful place in a reorganized Europe if the French
government helped Germany defeat Great Britain. A member of the

Jackel, France dans lEurope de Hitler, pp. 100102; DGFP, ser. D, vol. X, pp. 251, 468470;
Abetz, Das offene Problem, pp. 1414.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1587/folder 20030/nfn (Der Chef der Militarbefehlshaber in Frank-
reich, Kommandostab Ia, Paris 11.8.40, Betr. Zusammenarbeit im Dienste der Militar-
verwaltung); Jackson, France. The Dark Years 19401944, pp. 1745.
Abetz, Das offene Problem, pp. 1414; DGFP, ser. D, vol. X, pp. 407408.
Bargatzky, Hotel Majestic, p. 66; BAMA, RW 35/705/2728; BAMA, RW 35/712/131

after the fall

Franco-German Armistice Commission outlined a series of concessions

including a reduction in occupation costs that France paid the Reich.
But Hitler did not discuss either proposal with Laval and Marshal Petain
in Montoire on 22 and 24 October 1940. Both French leaders repudiated
Frances declaration of war on Germany, urged the Fhrer to avoid the
mistakes of 1918, and pleaded for a generous settlement. Hitler observed
that somebody would have to pay for the war and implied that Britain
would bear the majority of the bill if France furnished substantial aid to
Eager to score a diplomatic coup, Abetz pursued vague calls for
full-blown collaboration that Hitler expressed in Montoire with reck-
less enthusiasm. Subsequent discussions between Abetz and the French
government produced the Protocols of Paris that allowed Germany to
purchase supplies for the Africa Korps and use French bases in Syria,
Iraq, Bizerte, and Dakar. In return, France would receive the release of
approximately 80,000 prisoners of war, a reduction in occupation costs
charged to the French government, relaxed trade and travel rules, and
permission to expand French military forces. Initialed on 27 and 28
May 1941, the Protocols offered concessions that Nazis in Berlin were
not prepared to deliver. With Hitlers approval, Ribbentrop condemned
these nave French attempts at blackmail and consigned Abetzs policy to
The Protocols of Paris established the limits of Abetzs inuence. After the
invasion of the Soviet Union, Hitler refused to discuss political concessions
or a nal peace settlement before France declared war on Great Britain
and the United States. The Vichy regime wanted political and military
concessions before formally declaring war on the Allies. Both parties
tried to get the other side to deliver benets before giving anything
in return. Abetz could not convince either party to take the rst step.
Unable to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement, Abetz expanded
links with ultra-fascists like Jacques Doriot, Marcel Deat, and Eugene

DGFP, ser. D, vol. XI, pp. 346351; Jackel, France dans lEurope de Hitler, pp. 1637.
DGFP, ser. D, vol. XI, pp. 354361, 385392; Jackel, France dans lEurope de Hitler,
pp. 1637, 169176; Lambauer, Otto Abetz et les Francais, pp. 204209.
DGFP, ser. D, vol. XII, pp. 892900; DGFP, ser. D, vol. XIII, pp. 1423; Lambauer,
Otto Abetz et les Francais, pp. 329350; Jackel, France dans lEurope de Hitler, pp. 242251; Paxton,
Vichy France, pp. 116120.
DGFP, ser. D, vol. XIII, pp. 1439, 930934; ADAP, ser. E, vol. I, p. 173.

rivals and scavengers

Deloncle who would support the Nazi cause without asking for any
substantial concessions in return but had minimal support among the
French public.
Acting with Hitlers approval, Ribbentrop scotched the Protocols of
Paris on 16 July 1941. Two months later, Hitler once again met with
Abetz and characterized the French as a decent people who could nd
a place in his new order if they contributed to the German war effort
without reservation. While speaking with his ambassador, the Fhrer
claimed that his territorial ambitions were limited to Alsace, Lorraine, and
a special security arrangement for Calais. Limited annexations discussed
with Abetz contradict passages of Mein Kampf that describe France as
the mortal enemy. In a conversation on 31 January 1942, Hitler echoed
passages of his rst book and assumed a hard line against France. France
remains hostile to us. She contains, in addition to her Nordic blood, a
blood that will always be foreign to us. One month later, Hitler reconciled
the soft policy described to Abetz and the hard line set forth in Mein
Kampf :
Abetz is too exclusively keen on collaboration, to my taste. Unfortunately, I cant
tell him precisely what my objects are, for he has a wife. The fact is, I know of
a man who talks in his sleep, and I sometimes wonder whether Abetz doesnt do
the same. But hes intelligent at organizing resistance in Paris against Vichy, and
in this respect his wife is useful to him. Thus things take on a more innocent

The Fhrer mistrusted France and his ambassador for similar reasons. Abetz
married a French woman and could not be trusted because he might
talk in his sleep. Frenchmen carried non-Aryan blood and might sabotage
Hitlers war against Jews. Neither could be trusted. While the war lasted,
the Fhrer used Abetz to pacify France with seductive words. Hitlers
long-term intentions toward France would resemble ideas in the Stuckart
Memoranda and Mein Kampf . Once victorious, Hitler probably planned to

Bertram M. Gordon, Collaborationism in France during the Second World War (Ithaca,
NY: Cornell University Press, 1980), pp. 2741, 612; Lambauer, Otto Abetz et les Francais,
pp. 229231.
DGFP, ser. D, vol. XIII, pp. 518520.
Hitler, Mein Kampf , pp. 619, 624, 671, 674; H. R. Trevor-Roper (ed.), Hitlers Table
Talk, 19411944, translated by Norman Cameron and R. H. Stevens (London: Weidenfeld and
Nicolson, 1953), pp. 2645, 3445.

after the fall

strip France of all territory lying north of a line that ran from Lake Geneva
in Switzerland to the Somme estuary on the Atlantic coast.
Events surrounding the end of World War One inspired Hitlers basic
policy toward France. The 1940 Armistice Agreement mimicked Woodrow
Wilsons Fourteen Points. Both ended hostilities and appeared benign but
exercised little inuence on subsequent events. Just as French troops seized
control of Alsace and Lorraine before either France or Germany had ratied
the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler ordered the same provinces reintegrated into
the Reich shortly after signing the 1940 Armistice Agreement. The Fhrer
signed the 1940 Armistice in Marshal Fochs railroad coach to humiliate
France, and the ceremony indicated the heading that Hitler would follow
after Germany won the wara course that included territorial annexations
and the destruction of France as a great power.
Hitler pursued a schizophrenic policy toward France throughout the
Occupation. During the October 1940 Montoire conference, he assured
Laval that Germany was not seeking a peace inspired by arrogance or
vengeance and suggested that France could avoid the suffering which
she herself had inicted on Germany in 1918. The Fhrer satiated French
opinion by making vague promises and returning the remains of Napoleons
son to Paris, but he refused to offer substantial concessions or limit his
postwar plans. After the war turned against Germany, Hitler would not
negotiate from a position of weakness. Passages from Mein Kampf and
conversations with trusted cronies suggest that Hitler had ominous long-
term plans for France. The Fhrer used Abetz as a pawn when collaboration
suited his interests but relied upon brute force to determine Franco-
German relations. Ambassador Abetz distracted the Vichy regime with
promises of benign treatment, but his words carried no weight. Without
Hitlers trust or the means to act independently, neither Ambassador
Abetz nor Foreign Minister Ribbentrop could determine German policy
in France.

Umbreit, The battle for hegemony in western Europe, pp. 3214; Lambauer, Otto Abetz
et les Francais, pp. 1757.
Joseph Goebbels, The Goebbels Diaries, 19391941, translated by Fred Taylor (New York:
G. P. Putnam and Sons, 1983), p. 123; BALW, R 43 II/675/1820.
DGFP, ser. D, vol. XI, pp. 356, 359; Abetz, Das offene Problem, pp. 1746; DGFP, ser. D,
vol. XI, p. 866 note 2, 8918, 9512.
Trevor-Roper (ed.), Hitlers Table Talk, p. 265; Gordon, Collaborationism in France during the
Second World War, pp. 2741, 612.

rivals and scavengers

As the Second Man in the Third Reich, Reichsmarschall Hermann

Goring expected to play a signicant role in occupied France. A year after
he joined the Nazi party, Goring participated in the November 1923 Beer
Hall Putsch and served as National Commissar for the Prussian Ministry of
the Interior, National Commissioner for Air Trafc, and Minister without
Portfolio in Hitlers rst government. He eventually stepped down as
Minister President of Prussia and relinquished control of the Gestapo in
exchange for appointments as Minister of Economic Affairs and Leader
of the Four-Year Plan. The latter placed large sections of the German
economy under his control and secured his position near the top of the
Nazi hierarchy.
In addition to his economic responsibilities, Goring advised Hitler
on diplomatic questions in Italy and Eastern Europe. The Fhrer used
Ribbentrop to execute routine diplomatic business but consulted his
most loyal paladin before annexing Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia.
Goring backed away from the Fhrers bellicose foreign policy in 1939
and maintained contact with the British government through the Swedish
industrialist Birger Dahlerus in a halfhearted attempt to prevent war with
Great Britain. Not to be thwarted, the Fhrer used the ever-pliant Joachim
von Ribbentrop to ignite World War Two. After France requested an
armistice, the Foreign Ofce asked ministers to submit a list of wishes and
suggestions within their respective areas of expertise that could be used
during the negotiation of a nal peace agreement. Goring curtly replied
that he, not the Foreign Minister, would negotiate economic tenets of a
general settlement. The dispute proved to be academic because Germany
never signed a treaty with France, but it guaranteed the Reichsmarschall a
degree of inuence in the Hexagon.
Terms of the Armistice Agreement created two avenues for inuencing
the French economy. Article 22 established an Armistice Commission to
hammer out details of the accord. General Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel

Richard Overy, Goring: The Iron Man (Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984); Alfred
Kube, Hermann Goering: second man in the Third Reich, in Ronald Smelser and Rainer
Zitelmann, eds., The Nazi Elite (New York: New York University Press, 1993), p. 65.
Overy, Goering: The Iron Man, pp. 7680; Kube, Hermann Goering: second man in the
Third Reich, p. 67; Broszat, The Hitler State, pp. 300306.
Leonard Mosley, The Reich Marshal: A Biography of Hermann Goering (New York: Doubleday
& Company, 1974), pp. 236245.
DGFP, ser. D, vol. X, pp. 24, 93, 115, 170173, 213215.

after the fall

led the entire commission while Hans Hemmen, a veteran diplomat, took
charge of the economic subsection. Goring won the right to approve
Hemmens appointment and formulate his instructions in conjunction with
the Foreign Ofce, but the victory proved hollow because the Armistice
Commission accrued little real power. With advance knowledge of French
bargaining positions, Hemmen ran his delegation with equanimity. Using
diplomatic means, Hemmen transferred the economic prerogatives of the
French state to OKW. Goring could inuence the French economy via
Hemmen and the economic subsection of the Armistice Commission.
A central purchasing ofce (Zentralauftragsstelle) under the joint control
of OKW and the Economic Affairs Ministry carried out most of the
detailed exploitation of the French economy. Headquartered in Paris,
the ofce drew personnel from all three branches of the armed services,
Gorings economic empire, and Fritz Todts Armaments and Munitions
Ministry. It approved all large German government contracts placed with
French concerns and distributed scarce raw materials. The Reichsmarschall
placed Major-General Bhrmann in charge of the ofce, but his inuence
proved to be short-lived as Bhrmann died shortly after arriving in France.
After a desultory exchange of letters, the Reichsmarschall allowed General
Georg Thomas, an ofcer currently in charge of the OKW Economy and
Armaments ofce (Wirtschafts- und Rstungsamt or OKW Wi. Ru. Amt),
to take over the central purchasing ofce.
The military administration economic section (Militarverwaltung Abteilung
Wirtschaft) ensured compliance with the Armistice Agreement and wielded
considerable inuence over economic planning and resource allocation in
occupied France. Dr. Elmar Michel, a veteran of the Ministry of Economic
Affairs, ran the MVW economic section and cooperated with the OKWs
central purchasing ofce because he and many of his subordinates held
positions in both organizations. Their dual service allowed ofcers to don
mufti and travel through unoccupied France as arms control inspectors,
agents of the Economics Ministry, or representatives of the Four-Year
Plan. In conjunction with OKW, the economic section of the MVW

Milward, The New Order and the French Economy, pp. 489, 56; DGFP, ser. D, vol. X,
pp. 213215; Jackel, France dans lEurope de Hitler, pp. 107110.
BALW, R 43 II/675/1416; Milward, The New Order and the French Economy, pp. 659.
BALW, R 43 II/609/9, 12, 47; Georg Thomas, Geschichte der deutschen Wehr- und
Rstungswirtschaft (Boppard am Rhein: Harald Boldt Verlag, 1966), pp. 2216.

rivals and scavengers

rst restored French industrial capacity and then used French factories
to augment the German war effort. German agencies in command of
the French economy were able to coordinate their activities because
leading ofcials held multiple posts. Personal relations between inuential
bureaucrats and ofcers dictated relations between the MVW economic
section, OKW, the Ministry of Economics, and the Ofce of the Four
Year Plan.
Hitler granted the Reichsmarschall authority to settle all economic
disputes between civil and military agencies during the spring of 1941,
but Goring used that power sparingly. As the economic tsar of the
Third Reich, Goring could have played a leading part in removing Jewish
inuences from the French economya process Nazis called Arisierung,
or Aryanization. Just as he let OKW and the military administration
allocate raw materials and negotiate contracts, the Reichsmarschall allowed
the Foreign Ofce and Einsatzstab Rosenberg to identify, conscate, and
redistribute rms owned or controlled by Jews. He let others act in his
stead and played an indirect role in the so-called Aryanization process, but
he fought scrupulously for the right to enforce his will.
The Reichsmarschall played an active role in the conscation of works
of art owned by wealthy Jewsa task that Nazis regarded as a subsection
of economic Aryanization. Before her death, Gorings rst wife Carin
had taught her husband to appreciate Renaissance painters and the Dutch
school. Throughout his tenure in power, he followed the art market
and ordered staff members to search for bargains. Unlike Hitler, Goring
spent time enjoying collections displayed in his four mansions and a
hunting lodge outside Berlin. The conquest of western Europe created
new opportunities for the Reichsmarschall to expand his holdings by
creating a group of motivated sellerswealthy Jews trapped in conquered
territories. The Reichsmarschall instructed a subordinate on his staff to
forget about the racial background of the [art] dealers with whom you
come in contact and did not hesitate to exploit the misfortunes of
others. On occasion, Goring helped obliging Jewish art dealers escape

BAK, N 1023/1/19; BALW, R 43 II/623a/3; Milward, The New Order and the French
Economy, pp. 269297.
BAMA, RH 3/202/1018.
BAMA, RW 35/2/nfn (Abschrift, Der Reichsmarschall des Grossdeutschen Reiches,
Beauftragter fr den Vierjahresplan, Der zweite Staatsekretar; VP 19 002/5; Berlin 4.12.40).
BAMA, RW 35/712/83.

after the fall

Nazi territory. With breathtaking cynicism, he played upon Jewish fears,

created a group of motivated sellers, and expanded his own personal art
Goring worked with private art dealers in the Low Countries but turned
to the Einsatzstab Rosenberg for help in obtaining works of art owned
by French Jews. In conjunction with ofcials from the Paris embassy,
the Einsatzstab Rosenberg located several large collections of artwork that
were owned by French Jews such as the Rothschilds and discovered
others that had been transferred to state institutions like the Louvre.
The MBF vehemently opposed plans to transfer public or private property
back to the Reich for safe keeping and later forced Goring to absolve
the military of all responsibility for any criminal charges stemming from
conscations. Hitler, who regarded Jewish property as ownerless, overruled
military opposition to conscations and allowed agents of the Einsatzstab
Rosenberg to seize Jewish assets. On 3 November 1940, Goring issued
a decree that placed the Einsatzstab Rosenberg in charge of discovering,
cataloging, collecting, and packing art that would in turn be shipped back
to the Reich by the Luftwaffe. Preoccupied by the Battle of Britain and
discredited by his inability to stop the British escape from Dunkirk, Goring
allowed the Einsatzstab Rosenberg to ght military gures who opposed
the conscation of Jewish property but secured a share of the spoils for
The Reichsmarschall also dabbled in Franco-German diplomacy. He
met Laval at Marshal Pilsudskis funeral in 1935 and spoke with Prime
Minister Daladier during the 1938 Munich conference. At a meeting on
1 December 1941 with Marshal Petain in Saint Florentin, Goring repeated
Hitlers basic policy toward France and failed to persuade Petain to move
toward Berlin. Hans Speidel, the MBFs Chief of Staff between 1940
and 1942, reported that Goring stood up in the middle of an important

Mosley, The Reich Marshal, pp. 2635; Jonathan Petropoulos, Art as Politics in the Third Reich
(Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1996), pp. 187195; Lynn H. Nicholas,
The Rape of Europa. The Fate of Europes Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War
(New York: Vintage Books, 1995), pp. 35, 107.
BAMA, RW 35/698/2223, 143.
BAMA, RW 35/1/47; BAMA, RW 35/712/109110; USNA, RG 242/T-77/1624/810;
Robert Cecil, The Myth of the Master Race: Alfred Rosenberg and Nazi Ideology (London: B. T.
Batsford, 1972), pp. 159160; USNA, RG 242/T-501/196/649651.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/347348.
DGFP, ser. D, vol. XIII, pp. 914927; BAMA, RW 35/542/7376.

rivals and scavengers

meeting concerning food distribution and abruptly declared now I will

go to Maxims, Pariss premier restaurant, and abruptly left the room.
In 1943 he issued directives to combat the black market and improve
air raid defenses but left day-to-day operations to military ofcials. The
Reichsmarschall could inuence Franco-German relations, but he chose
to do so only when protecting his own authority and often behaved
Often driven by self-interest, Goring focused on personal matters and
usually allowed others to act in his stead. He exercised a haphazard inuence
over French affairs and infuriated the military government on several occa-
sions. General Otto von Stlpnagels letter of resignation highlighted the
Reichsmarschalls baneful inuence. Like Foreign Minister Ribbentrop
and Ambassador Abetz, Hermann Goring possessed considerable powers
and could not be ignored, but he did little more than disrupt military
While Hermann Gorings star waned within the political constellation of
the Third Reich, Heinrich Himmler improved his standing within the Nazi
hierarchy. Born in 1900, Himmler joined the NSDAP in 1925 and worked
for Gregor Strasser. A year later he moved to Munich and worked in the
Nazi Partys propaganda section. Himmlers career as an independent leader
began with his appointment to head the Schutzstaffeln, better known by the
abbreviation SS, in 1929. Also known as the Black Corps, the SS protected
Nazi leaders, battled political opponents, and became an elite organization
loyal only to Hitler. Himmler established an SS intelligence branch in
1932 and an ofce dealing with racial matters one year later. By 1939 the
Reichsfhrer controlled police forces throughout the Reich, ran a network
of concentration camps, collected intelligence inside Germany and abroad,
and had a small armed section (the Waffen SS) that was equipped with
heavy weapons. Only the Waffen SS could participate in regular military
operations and garner laurels, but secret decrees issued in August 1938 and
May 1939 limited the size of the Waffen SS relative to the regular army.

Hans Speidel, Aus unserer Zeit. Erinnerungen (Berlin: Verlag Ullstein GmbH, 1977), p. 105;
BAMA RW 35/826.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/438; BAMA N 5/24/2628.
Robert Lewis Koehl, The Black Corps. The Structure and Power Struggles of the Nazi SS
(Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983), pp. 2130; Bernd Wegner, The Waffen
SS. Organization, Ideology and Function, translated by Ronald Webster (Cambridge, MA: Basil
Blackwell Ltd, 1990), pp. 614.

after the fall

In general, Himmler designed the SS to ght clandestine opponents and

prevent a reprise of the 1918 Revolution.
The Second World War focused public attention squarely on mil-
itary leaders but encouraged Hitler to embrace radical solutions that
only the SS could or would carry out. Using military operations as a
cover, SS special action squads (Einsatzgruppen) executed political and
racial opponents in Poland, and SS doctors killed handicapped Ger-
mans through the life unworthy of living (lebensunwertes Leben) program.
The conquest of western Europe created another opportunity to battle
racial enemies, but a need for absolute secrecy forced the Reichsfhrer
to proceed with caution. In order to carry out his secret mission,
Himmler had to create a palatable justication for the SS in western
Himmler had few allies among the upper ranks of the army hierarchy
in 1939. SS critics like Generals Blaskowitz, Leeb, Kchler, and Ulex
outnumbered SS proponents such as General Reichenau. The majority
of the ofcer corps mistrusted the SS and viewed the Waffen SS as a
dangerous rival. Military opposition to the SS took concrete form in protests
stemming from the execution of Jews during the campaign in Poland and
Himmlers 28 October 1939 speech that urged members of the SS to father
children in or out of wedlock. Himmler delivered a conciliatory speech
to senior military gures in March 1940, and General Keitel minimized
military opposition by listening to the complaints from subordinates but
not passing on grievances to Hitler or taking concrete measures against the
Reichsfhrer. Himmlers conciliatory tactics and Keitels spineless nature
tamped down open dissent but did not eliminate military opposition to
SS activities. General von Brauchitsch barred Allgemeine SS units from
entering France, and Waffen SS divisions remained under military control
during the 1940 Western campaign. Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei or
Sipo), Secret State Police (Geheime Staatspolizei or Gestapo), Order Police
(Ordnungspolizei or Orpo), and SS Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst or SD)
ofcers could only watch from a distance as soldiers enjoyed the fruits

Koehl, The Black Corps, pp. 1415; Wegner, The Waffen SS, pp. 109119; Edward B.
Westermann, Hitlers Police Battalions. Enforcing Racial War in the East (Lawrence, KS: University
Press of Kansas, 2005), pp. 3640, 557.
Breitman, Architect of Genocide, pp. 6772, 85104; Peter Padeld, Himmler: Reichsfhrer-SS
(New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1990), pp. 260262; Robert Proctor, Nazi Doctors
(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988); Rossino, Hitler Strikes Poland.

rivals and scavengers

of victory along the Champs Elysees. At the start of the Occupation,

Himmler played an inconsequential role in France.
In the chaos surrounding the fall of Paris, Reich Security Main Ofce
(Reichssicherheitshauptamt or RSHA) covertly installed twenty SS intelligence
specialists (SD) in two buildings along the Avenue Foch. Later joined by
Gestapo agents who evaded travel restrictions by masquerading as military
policemen, the SS accomplished almost nothing because military ofcers
would not allow the Black Corps to talk with RSHA via the military
communications network during the summer of 1940. A third detachment
of criminal police (Kriminalpolizei or Kripo) arrived to provide security for
Hitlers victory parade through the Arc de Triomphe. Although the parade
was canceled, all three SS groups remained in Paris. SS Brigadefhrer
Dr. Max Thomas led the entire contingent while his executive ofcer,
Sturmbannfhrer Helmut Knochen, negotiated with military authorities for
permission to operate in France. In his rst substantial report to superiors in
Berlin, MBF General Streccius asked superiors to clarify the role of civilian
agencies like the SS, but his request went unanswered. The confusion
helped RSHA establish a foothold in Paris.
SS policemen arrived in Paris without permission or a raison dtre,
but they were led by two ambitious ofcers. Knochen surmounted the
most formidable impediment by securing ofcial permission to operate in
France. On 4 October 1940 Field Marshal von Brauchitsch authorized Sipo
and SD agents to investigate anti-German activities carried out by Jews,
immigrants, communists, and church groups in the occupied zone. SS
ofcers could wear their black SS uniforms and register the possessions
of groups hostile to the Third Reich. Thomas had to inform the MBF
of SS strength and Himmler agreed to tell OKH about any orders that
had political implications. Only subordinates of the MBF, specically the
Abwehr and GFP, had executive authority or the power to make arrests

Breitman, Architect of Genocide, pp. 105115; Mller, Das Heer und Hitler, pp. 458466.
BAK, All. Proz. 21/Proces Oberg-Knochen/67; Steinberg and Fitere, Les Allemands en
France, 19401944, pp. 3945.
BALW, R 70 Frankreich (Polizeidienststellen in Frankreich)/33/318; Helmut Knochen,
Reich Service VI in Paris, in de Chambrun, France during the German Occupation 19401944,
vol.III, pp. 16351644; USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/422423; BAK, N 1023/1/20.
BALW, R 70 Frankreich/33/45.
Although they were two separate organizations inside the Third Reich, the Sicherheitspolizei
(Sipo) and Sicherheitsdienst (SD) acted as a single organization in France until 1942. USNA, RG

after the fall

and conscate private property in occupied France, but the SS had some
leeway. They received their orders directly from RSHA and could not
be punished by military courts-martial. As a result, military authorities
could not discipline SS ofcers who violated the HimmlerBrauchitsch
With ofcial permission in hand, Thomas and Knochen opened a
central ofce in Paris and branches in Bordeaux, Dijon, and Rouen.
By 1944, branches employed approximately 140 German men and 50
German women per ofce. Organized like RSHA in Berlin, SS ofces
worked alongside branches of the military government by the end of 1940.
Intelligence specialists continued their prewar efforts collecting information
and assessing the inuence of Jews. Racial experts oversaw and tried to
control the Aryanization of the French economy. Another contingent
searched for evidence of an anti-German conspiracy among Synagogue and
Masonic records. Others helped the Einsatzstab Rosenberg concentrate
Jewish possessions in the Louvre. In conjunction with Ambassador Abetz,
the SS dabbled in politics and championed Adrien Marquet and Eugene
Deloncle in an attempt to enlist ardent French collaborators in Hitlers
cause. The SS also established a direct link with the French government
through SS Hauptsturmfhrer Kurt Geissler in Vichy. The SS maintained
an innocuous prole while building a far-reaching organization.
Although Nazi ideology regarded the French Communist Party (Parti
Communist Francais or PCF) as a subversive organization that was under the
control of international Jewry, the SS spent little time persecuting French
communists. In response to the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, the
Daladier government outlawed the PCF and forced the party underground.
After the Armistice, PCF representatives asked SS ofcers to persuade the
Vichy regime to rescind the ban, but SS delegates claimed that they could
not interfere in internal French affairs and assumed a neutral stance. Before
negotiations could continue, French police arrested the communist agents.
When it suited their interests, the SS could eschew Nazi ideology and

USNA, RG 242/T-501/196/655656; BAMA, RW 35/209/211213.

USNA, RG 242/T-501/196/655656, 647; BAK, All. Proz. 21/Proces Oberg-Kno-
chen/1213; BALW, R 70 Frankreich/31/5960; BALW, R 70 Frankreich/33/45, 1517;
Lieb, Konventioneller Krieg oder NS-Weltanschauungskrieg, pp. 6373.
BAK, All. Proz. 21/Proces Oberg-Knochen/1718, 13; BALW, R 70 Frankreich/33/
1718; Gordon, Collaborationism in France, pp. 57, 68, and Chapter 6 of that volume; Marrus and
Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews, p. 18.

rivals and scavengers

adopt a laissez faire attitude. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union in
1941, the SS abandoned its neutral stance and, in conjunction with French
police, attacked the PCF with gusto.
During the rst year of the Occupation, the SS ofce in Paris established
itself as an expert on Jewish affairs and limited itself to research activities.
Before the 20 January 1942 Wannsee conference, such activities caused only
minor irritation among military circles in Paris. After the invasion of the
Soviet Union, Stalins Communist International (Comintern) ordered the
PCF to attack Germany and sabotage Hitlers war effort. Nazi ideology
assumed that Jews controlled the PCF and were implacable enemies of the
Third Reich. With several years of experience studying Jewish groups, the
Black Corps stood ready to lead the ght against resistance organizations.
The radicalization of the German war effort favored the Black Corps in
its struggle for power and inuence, and unlike Ribbentrop and Goring,
Himmler eventually seized a position of considerable inuence inside
occupied France.
Alfred Rosenberg joined the Nazi party in 1919 and assumed control
of the organization while Hitler served time in Landsberg prison, but he
failed to secure an inuential job after the Nazi seizure of power. Although
he edited the Nazi party newspaper, he remained a step below Goring,
Himmler, and Ribbentrop in terms of power and inuence. Despite his
relatively inconsequential status, Rosenberg played an important role in the
occupation of France during World War Two. The organization that he led
there, the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, deed military authorities,
secured a degree of autonomy, and set an important precedent. Rosenberg
failed to capitalize on his initial success, but Himmler used Rosenbergs
precedent to build a bureaucratic empire that operated beyond military
The son of a successful Baltic artisan turned businessman, Rosenberg
studied in Riga and Moscow before returning home to Reval in 1918 with
a diploma in architecture. That same year he moved to Munich but pursued
his chosen profession with little enthusiasm. Instead, the 25-year-old turned
his energies toward the formulation of an all-encompassing ideology. After

Maurice Agulhon, The French Republic, 18791992, translated by Antonia Nevill (Oxford:
Blackwell, 1995), pp. 290292; Tasca, Les Communistes francais pendant la drole de guerre,
pp. 322336.
Jackson, France. The Dark Years 19401944, pp. 4235.

after the fall

joining the party, he began to write full-time for the party newspaper, the
Volkischer Beobachter, and became the editor two years later. Crude social
Darwinism, anti-Semitism, and anti-communism served as the basis for
much of his early work, summed up in his 1930 book The Myth of the
Twentieth Century in which Rosenberg contended that pernicious Jewish
inuences stood behind the decline of ancient Greece, the Fall of the
Roman Empire, and the destruction of the Romanov dynasty in Russia.
Turning toward the future, he argued that Germany, perhaps in an alliance
with Great Britain, should invade the Soviet Union, destroy the alleged
Jewish menace that supposedly controlled the Soviet government, and seize
living space for the so-called Aryan race. Publication of The Myth of the
Twentieth Century in 1930 cemented Rosenbergs position as the ideological
leader of the Nazi party.
Rosenberg met Hitler in 1919 and joined the NSDAP toward the end
of that year with party number 623. In the chaotic aftermath of the 1923
Beer Hall Putsch, Rosenberg took charge of the Nazi party while Hitler
served time in prison but failed to control party factions. The Fhrer
sharply criticized Rosenbergs leadership and relations between the two
remained strained thereafter. After his release in late 1924, Hitler rebuilt the
Nazi party and reappointed Rosenberg managing editor of the Volkischer
Beobachter but demoted him to publisher after a 1937 quarrel with
Goebbels. Fancying himself to be an intellectual, Rosenberg organized the
Fighting League for German Culture and attended anti-Semitic congresses
in 1927 and 1928. After the September 1930 elections, he served on the
Reichstag foreign policy committee. Hitler later awarded Rosenberg the
title of Reichsleiter, Leader of the Foreign Policy Ofce of the Nazi party,
and the Fhrers Commissioner for the supervision of all intellectual and
ideological education and training in the NSDAP. As the ideological leader
of the Nazi movement, Rosenberg occupied a tenuous position within a
party that valued instinct and action over philosophy.
Rivals such as Goebbels and Ribbentrop limited the positions available
to Rosenberg. Joseph Goebbels became Minister of Propaganda after the

Reinhard Bollmus, Alfred Rosenberg: National Socialisms chief ideologue? in The

Nazi Elite, ed. Ronald Smelser and Rainer Zitelmann, pp. 183193; Cecil, The Myth of the Master
Race, pp. 2131.
Andreas Molau, Alfred Rosenberg: Der Ideologue des Nationalsozialismus (Koblenz: Verlag
Siegfried Bublies, 1993), pp. 2430.

rivals and scavengers

Nazi seizure of power and assumed control of the press. Hitler demoted
Rosenberg from managing editor to editor in 1937 because the ideological
leader of the Nazi party would not follow Goebbels editorial policy in
the pages of the Volkischer Beobachter. Based on his service as the Nazi
delegate to the Reichstag foreign policy committee, his writings on race
and foreign policy, and his experience as head of the partys foreign
policy ofce, Rosenberg also coveted the Foreign Ministry after the Nazi
seizure of power. Neurath served as Hitlers Foreign Minister until 1938 to
placate conservative interests, and then the post passed to the more pliant
Ribbentrop in order to concentrate power in the hands of the Fhrer.
Positions of inuence in the Foreign and Propaganda Ministries remained
just beyond the Reichsleiters grasp.
Rosenberg eventually carved out a satrapy in the eld of education.
Hitler signed a decree on 29 January 1940 that enabled the Reichsleiter
to organize a central point for National Socialist research, doctrine, and
education. Although Hitler forbade construction until the end of the
war, Rosenberg planned to establish ten branches of what can best be
described as the Nazi party analog to military staff colleges. Schools,
complete with libraries, would be established inside existing universities to
train the next generation of party leaders. The Fhrer later authorized
the formation of the Einsatzstab Rosenberg, a small group under the
direct control of Rosenberg, to advance behind victorious German armies
and collect educational materials from state archives, libraries, church
ofces, and Masonic lodges that pertained to Germany and anti-German
conspiracies. The 5 July 1940 directive allowed the Einsatzstab Rosenberg
to set up shop in occupied France and operate outside of military control.
Although it seemed inconsequential, the order established an important
Himmler, Ribbentrop, Goring, and Rosenberg all had representatives
in Paris shortly after German troops entered the City of Light, but their
organizations faced a comparatively better-organized military government
that did not appreciate civilian interference. All four paladins searched for a

Bollmus, Alfred Rosenberg: National Socialisms chief ideologue?, p. 184.

Petropolous, Art as Politics in the Third Reich, pp. 20, 345, 6470; Willem de Vries,
Sonderstab Musik: Music Conscations by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg under the Nazi
Occupation of Western Europe, translated by UvA Vertalers and Lee K. Mitzman (Amsterdam:
Amsterdam University Press, 1996), pp. 219.
Cecil, The Myth of the Master Race, p. 158. BAMA, RW 35/698/1.

after the fall

way to secure a share of the spoils of victory, but rst they needed an appro-
priate mission. Oddly enough, the brouhaha over conscated Jewish art
provided the pretext that they needed. Himmler, Ribbentrop, and Goring
established a bureaucratic presence in France in order to help the Ein-
satzstab Rosenberg collect educational materials. Working together, they
carved out a position for their respective satrapies, broke the Wehrmachts
monopoly of power, and undermined the rational exploitation of occupied
France. Although largely irrelevant to a general history of occupied France,
the Einsatzstab Rosenberg set a critical precedent.

Setting the precedent

Throughout World War Two, Hitler periodically issued orders that under-
mined the war effort but advanced the ideological goals of National
Socialism. For example, Ambassador Abetz and General von Stlpnagel
advised Hitler to rescind travel and trade restrictions that divided occupied
France, unoccupied France, and the two northern departments of Pas
de Calais and Nord to facilitate industrial production and, by extension,
Frances contribution to the German war effort. Citing security concerns,
Hitler refused to lift the restrictions. While generals favored a policy of
ruthless economic exploitation that would contribute to military victory,
the Fhrer pushed an agenda driven by race and considered the ght
against Jews to be a fundamental part of his strategy. Unwilling or unable to
appreciate the Fhrers thinking, some German ofcers ignored orders that,
in their opinion, did not contribute to the war effort. In France, directives
calling for the conscation of Jewish assets, particularly works of art, were
often viewed as an unwelcome distraction.
OKW issued detailed orders that governed the sort of property soldiers
could seize and described how conscations should be carried out by
troops. Signed by General Keitel, the rst directive complied with German
law and the Hague Convention. After the conquest of France, however,
Hitler ordered branches of the German government and Nazi party to seize
property in a fashion that violated Keitels original regulations. Two ethical

DGFP, ser. D, vol. X, pp. 238242, 468470; Milward, The New Order and the French
Economy, pp. 523; BAMA, RW 35/708/4.
after the fall

codes emerged during the ensuing debate over conscations. Most army
ofcers did not hesitate to exploit French resources, but they did so within
the bounds of custom, German law, and international agreements. Personnel
shortages also made the military commander in France (Militarbefehlshaber
in Frankreich or MBF) rather dependent on French support and sensitive
to French objections. Adhering to an older tradition, Hitler, Rosenberg,
Himmler, and Goring disregarded Gallic sensibilities and argued that the
spoils of war belonged to the victor.
Debate over German conscation policy had signicant political impli-
cations. By opposing Hitlers wishes, generals in France proved themselves
to be, in the eyes of the Fhrer, dangerous reactionaries. Since they were
out of step with Hitlers new order, conservative generals had to be pushed
aside. To advance the ideological goals of the Nazi regime, Hitler placed
the Einsatzstab Rosenberg beyond military control and ordered the Nazi
party organization to conscate Jewish property in occupied France. In a
narrow sense, the ruling had little signicance: it did not dramatically alter
the course of the war or lead to moral outrages characteristic of the Nazi
regime in the East, but it diluted the authority of the MBF and set an
important precedent that the SS used to secure its own freedom of action.
Once free from military oversight and armed with executive authority, the
SS could resolve the so-called Jewish Question to Hitlers satisfaction.
German conscation policy also affected Franco-German relations. Dur-
ing the summer of 1940, the Vichy regime tried to preempt German
conscations by launching an equivalent program in order to preserve
the principle of French sovereignty. Once this tactic failed, French of-
cials complained to the military administration, but to no avail. The
MBF could not explain Rosenbergs conscation program to the Vichy
regime because it was classied top secret and, as a political matter, fell
outside his purview. Disregarding advice from the MBF, Hitler ignored
French protests, allowed the pillage to continue, and demonstrated his utter
contempt for France.
Debate surrounding German conscation policy also revealed differences
in the way Germans in Paris and Nazis in Berlin regarded the Vichy regime.
Ambassador Abetz eventually realized that expropriations strained Franco-
German relations, joined forces with the MBF, and tried to rein in
the Einsatzstab Rosenberg. Both the German embassy and the military
administration appreciated the value of French cooperation and acted

setting the precedent

accordingly. Superiors in Berlin saw only booty and an opportunity to

introduce the new Nazi order. Differences of opinion emerged on both
horizontal (MBF, German embassy, SS, and Einsatzstab Rosenberg in
Paris) and vertical (ParisBerlin) axes of the German hierarchy. As the
war progressed, divisions became more pronounced and culminated in the
20 July 1944 coup against the Nazi regime.
Six months before the invasion of France, General Keitel issued basic
orders delineating what sort of property could be conscated and how
troops should go about seizing goods. The directive cited the Hague Con-
vention and allowed division, corps, and army commanders to expropriate
state property. Junior ofcers could conscate military equipment, but they
could not strip personal possessions from prisoners of war in accordance
with article six of the 1929 Geneva Convention. Private property could
only be seized through German military courts unless military necessity
dictated otherwise. In any event, German law and Keitels 9 November
1939 order required ofcers to consider the needs of the local population
when taking items such as food and gasoline. Commanders could seize
mementos of slight value as trophies of war but were not free to pillage
the countryside. In closing, Keitel threatened to punish plundering with
prison or, in extreme cases, death.
At Hitlers behest, Keitel revised his 1939 order on 5 July 1940. Changes
allowed agents of the Einsatzstab Rosenberg to search through church
documents, Masonic records, public libraries, and state archives for evidence
of anti-German conspiracies. The revision also required the Einsatzstab
Rosenberg to work with SS police forces before the latter had ofcial
permission to enter France. On the basis of Keitels 5 July directive, SS
Brigadefhrer Thomas established ofces throughout occupied France and
argued that SS ofcers had executive authority, but Army leaders in Berlin
informed the MVW that the SS could only observe, advise, and coordinate.
To complete their missions, the Einsatzstab Rosenberg and the SS had to
use military police ofcers. Keitels directive specied the sort of property
that could be seized, but it did not place a single agency in charge of the
entire conscation process.
The 5 July 1940 directive allowed Rosenberg to search for evidence
of an anti-German conspiracy among clerical and Masonic archives. Nazi

USNA, RG 242/T-501/166/6770. USNA, RG 242/T-501/196/623624.

after the fall

demonology placed Jews in the center of this alleged plot, but the 5 July
order did not explicitly mention Jews, Jewish organizations, or synagogues.
The text of Keitels order noted that inspiration for the conscation project
came from Rosenberg but corresponded to the will of the Fhrer, who
may have wanted to proceed with caution while the Battle of Britain
remained undecided. OKW sent copies of the conscation order to senior
military commanders throughout western Europe.
Rather than distributing a copy of Keitels secret decree to subordinates,
the MBF published his own version in the ofcial gazette of the MBF.
Junior ofcers in charge of local and regional branches of the military
administration remained unaware of Keitels original decree. The MBFs
15 July 1940 directive emphasized that conscations could only be car-
ried out with explicit authorization from the MBF or members of his
staff. Those who violated the directive could be ned and/or imprisoned.
To carry out this ordinance, the MBF created an art group inside the
government subsection of the MVW under the command of Franz Graf
Wolff Metternich, a scion of the famous Austrian diplomat and a dis-
tinguished art historian in his own right. During the last months of the
war, a senior MVW ofcial described the art groups mission as having
two parts: helping the French government store objets dart (e.g. paint-
ings and sculptures) and ensuring that collections remained away from
military installations and combat operations. Metternich embodied these
lofty ideals and was eventually red in 1942reportedly on Hitlers
express ordersas a result of his intransigence. Metternich evinced little
enthusiasm for pillage.
Rival groups quickly joined the race for control of French art treasures.
Joseph Goebbels, the dominant force in cultural politics before the war,
appeared to hold an early lead. Before the war, the Minister of Propaganda
had ordered two art historians to examine French archives and compile a list
of works of art and valuable objects which since 1500 have been transferred
to foreign ownership, either without our consent or by questionable legal
transactions. After reading the 300-page report, Dr. Otto Kmmel, the

Bargatzky, Hotel Majestic, p. 64. The art group (Gruppe Kunstschutz) stood subordinate
to Bests government subsection (Abteilung Verwaltung), itself a division of Schmids military
administration staff (Militarverwaltungsstab), underneath the MBF.
BAMA, RW 35/712/7173; Nicholas, Rape of Europa, p. 119; Petropolous, Art as Politics
in the Third Reich, p. 129; USNA, RG 242/T-77/1598/folder 4/nfn (Verordnungsblatt fr die
franzosischen Gebiete, Nr. 3, 15 Juli 1940).

setting the precedent

director of the Berlin Museum, noted that it is questionable, if the

entire French patrimony will sufce to replace these losses. On 13 July
Dr. Kmmel asked the Foreign Ofce to help collect unspecied materials
in occupied France. Allegedly acting on direct orders from Foreign Minister
Ribbentrop, Otto Abetz placed Legation Secretary Baron von Knsberg,
a veteran of similar operations in Poland and Norway, in charge of a
repatriation campaign. The German embassy in Paris eagerly participated
in the conscation of cultural assets from the start. Throughout June and
July, Knsberg and agents of the German embassy in Paris quietly gathered
artwork from the Wildenstein, Seligmann, Paul Rosenberg, and Bernheim-
Jeune galleries in a house next door to the ambassadorial residence on the
rue de Lille.
The military remained unaware of Knsbergs activities during the rst
weeks of the Occupation. Once he discovered that Knsberg planned to
move approximately 1,500 works of art from castles in the Loire valley to
the Louvre on 11 August, Metternich immediately told the commander-
in-chief of the German army about the illegal transfers, and Brauchitsch
issued a general order forbidding such conscations on the same day. All
works of art that the French government had placed in protective custody
before the Western campaign were to be cataloged and placed under strict
guard. Brauchitschs order forbade all transfers of objets dart and left the fate
of previously seized works in the hands of the Fhrer. Ofcers attached to
the MBF immediately told Abetz about Brauchitschs decision.
The day after Brauchitsch issued his no-evacuation order, Kmmel,
Knsberg, and the MVW art group attended a meeting chaired by Abetz.
Diplomats suggested that artwork stored in French castles be transferred to
the Louvre because some paintings had allegedly been improperly packed
by the French government. A selection of valuable works could then be
diverted to Germany, perhaps because of a shortage of space in the Louvre.
This second tactic failed when experts from the Berlin Museum and MVW
art group reported that artwork had been packed awlessly. Knsberg
could not provide contradictory evidence or obtain written permission for

Nicholas, The Rape of Europa, pp. 121, 122.

BAMA, RW 35/698/4; Bargatzky, Hotel Majestic, p. 64; Petropolous, Art as Politics in the
Third Reich, p. 129; Abetz, Das offene Problem, p. 137.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/196/642643; Nicholas, Rape of Europa, p. 125.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/196/638; Bargatzky, Hotel Majestic, p. 66.

after the fall

a transfer that Metternich demanded. He needed another excuse to ship

valuable pieces of art back to Germany.
Not to be deterred, Abetz argued that French art holdings had to be
audited so that items stolen during periods of German weakness could
be identied and returned to their rightful owners. He proposed that
experts from the Paris embassy and MVW be allowed to select 20 to 25
works of outstanding value and determine if they had been obtained
unfairly. Brauchitsch rejected the ambassadors third proposal and refused
to subordinate the MVW art group to the Paris embassy. OKH and Abetz
agreed to share information about artwork located by their respective
ofces, but the exchange only revealed that artwork conscated by the
German embassy in Paris had been poorly stored and, in some cases,
damaged in transit. Furthermore, many items had not been marked with
the names of their owners and thus violated Keitels 5 July 1940 directive.
Metternich was not alone in his ght against conscations. Otto von
Stlpnagel, the MBF from October 1940 to February 1942, set the tone
when he promised to oppose conscations that could not be justied
by military necessity. Werner Best, a senior SS ofcer before the war,
resisted seizures because they antagonized the Vichy regime. Responsible
for overseeing the French government between 1940 and 1942, Best relied
on the goodwill of French bureaucrats in order to coordinate Vichy
policy with German needs. Setting aside his latent hostility toward France,
he opposed conscations that upset the French without strengthening
Germany. Major Greiner, the head of the Secret Military Police (GFP) in
Paris, condemned expropriations on principled grounds. He argued that the
unlawful removal of artwork dishonored the German army, but he agreed
to subordinate GFP ofcers to the Paris embassy as long as conscation
operations were approved by the MVW. The MBF, heads of the MVW,
MVW government subsection, and leaders of the art and police divisions
all objected to the conscation of French and Jewish art.
Army ofcers obstructed conscations by withholding logistical support
and authorized personnel. Only the GFP had executive authority in
occupied France. Neither the Einsatzstab Rosenberg, the SS, nor the Paris

BAMA, RW 35/698/1415; Lambauer, Otto Abetz et les Francaise, pp. 151160.

USNA, RG 242/T-501/196/640642; BAMA, RW 35/698/16.
Bargatzky, Hotel Majestic, p. 67; Herbert, Best, p. 262.
BAMA, RW 35/698/12; Herbert, Best, pp. 260262. BAMA, RW 35/698/56.

setting the precedent

embassy could lawfully conscate property. Some agencies circumvented

legal restrictions by blufng their way into museums or private residences
and taking whatever they wanted, but this tactic often failed when French
ofcials mounted a determined resistance. The Paris embassy and branches
of the Nazi party also suffered from a shortage of competent people.
Without assistance from the army, the Paris embassy could only pillage a
limited number of buildings. From the start, military ofcials hamstrung
opponents by cutting off their access to army vehicles, translators, and
police ofcers.
In the face of determined military opposition, Abetz abandoned his
campaign to pillage French art collections at the end of August 1940. Since
their arrival in Paris, diplomats had stood at the forefront of efforts to
collect and transfer French art collections, but their meager success came
at a price. Verbal complaints and notes sent by the Vichy government to
both the Armistice Commission and MBF in December 1940 and January
1941 suggest that conscations upset ofcial relations between the two
governments at a time when continued British resistance increased the
value of French cooperation. News of the conscations leaked to the
American press and tarnished the image of Germany in neutral countries.
During the fall of 1940, Abetz realized that his practice of seizing art
collections had damaged relations with the Vichy government, alienated
the MBF, and created a propaganda disaster. He had to change course to
achieve his basic goal of Franco-German collaboration.
The Einsatzstab Rosenberg quickly stepped into the void left by the
Paris embassys retreat. Holding press credentials from the Ministry of
Propaganda, Dr. Georg Ebert arrived in Paris in mid-June, discovered a
rich trove of Masonic and Jewish records, and reported his ndings to
Alfred Rosenberg. With support from Martin Bormann, Rosenberg asked
Hitler for permission to conscate anti-German materials, and his request
culminated in Keitels 5 July 1940 order. The directive placed conscations
squarely in the hands of Alfred Rosenberg and the SD, but the Einsatzstab
did not have the resources to carry the mission. With approximately 60
agents in Paris, the SD could provide little assistance and had its own
problems with the Wehrmacht. Rosenberg cooperated with the German

USNA, RG 242/T-501/362/105; BAMA, RW 35/705/91; BAMA, RW 35/698/141.

BAMA, RW 35/712/109110, 132; Bargatzky, Hotel Majestic, p. 66.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/196/643; de Vries, Sonderstab Musik, pp. 869.

after the fall

embassy in Paris, but the MVW art group blocked diplomatic conscations
by the end of August. As Metternich struggled against Abetz and Knsberg,
Rosenberg built a small but effective organization in Paris. Dr. Ebert
initially ran Rosenbergs operation in western Europe but was replaced by
Gerhard Utikal in 1941. Baron Kurt von Behr took charge of the Paris
ofce. By September 1940 the Einsatzstab Rosenberg stood ready to carry
out the Fhrers orders.
Initial conversations between the MVW and Einsatzstab Rosenberg
proceeded without a hitch. Speaking for the MVW on 28 August, Werner
Best emphasized that conscations could not take place without the
approval of the MVW because only the military government had executive
authority. Agents of the Einsatzstab Rosenberg agreed to respect private
property laws but stated their intention to register Jewish valuables. They
described the registration of art as a measure comparable to military decrees
ordering Frenchmen to register arms that could be used in a future conict.
Both sides spoke past one another, but they struck an amicable tone. In
a letter that began Dear Party-comrade Rosenberg further explained his
mission to Best on 5 September 1940. The Reichsleiter stated that Hitlers
order authorized him to search libraries, archives, and Masonic lodges for
evidence of anti-German conspiracies, but he promised to deal exclusively
with abandoned (herrenloser) Jewish property for the present. Furthermore,
he agreed to provide the MVW with a list of all items shipped to Germany.
Rosenberg argued that these items needed to be protected from robbery,
destruction, or damage and told Best that Hitler would decide the fate
of conscated goods. In a memorandum attached to Rosenbergs letter,
Best remarked that unauthorized conscations, including the seizure of
archives or libraries, would discredit the MVW and had to be prevented.
He concluded that the commander of the army would have to issue new
orders to avoid an incident.
The incident that Best feared unfolded on 7 September. Without
warning, Rosenbergs agents broke into the Turgenev and Polish libraries
that had been sealed by the MVW and, with assistance from Knsberg,
began shipping both collections back to Germany. The Polish library
in Paris held the largest collection of Polish-language works outside of

Hans Umbreit, Der Militarbefehlshaber in Frankreich, 19401944 (Boppard am Rhein: Herald

Boldt Verlag, 1968), pp. 184194; de Vries, Sonderstab Musik, pp. 3031, 8590, 94.
BAMA, RW 35/689/78, 12; USNA, RG 242/T-501/196/635.

setting the precedent

Poland. Founded in 1875, the Turgenev library owned a comparable

collection of Russian-language books. Even though he was a Slavophobe
and devout Nazi, Best followed the policy of the military administration and
immediately sent policemen to both libraries, but his subordinates found
only empty rooms. The seizures violated the 28 August understanding
because they involved non-Jewish property and were not carried out by
representatives of the MVW. Unlike the Foreign Ofce, the Einsatzstab
Rosenberg made no attempt to collaborate with the MVW and robbed
both libraries before the military could react. The pillage of the Polish
and Turgenev libraries aggravated a subject rst made sore by Abetz,
embarrassed Best, and antagonized the MVW.
The MVW responded without delay. Dr. Bahnke, an ofcial in the
justice division of the government subsection of the MVW, red off a long
letter to Brauchitsch on 13 September that summarized the administrations
struggle with the Paris embassy and Einsatzstab Rosenberg. Bahnke noted
that only the MVW had the executive authority and asked the commander
of the German army to clarify the situation. Best personally approved
Bahnkes letter, and at least six other senior members of the military
government contributed to its drafting. Conict between the MVW art
group and Paris embassy played out between Metternich and Best on one
side and Knsberg and Abetz on the other. Bahnkes letter forced senior
authorities in Berlin to deal with the problem and raised the stakes for all
Bahnkes letter came to Hitlers attention via Field Marshal von Brau-
chitsch. After discussing the matter with the Fhrer, Keitel issued another
order on 17 September. He informed the MVW that all private property
that had been transferred to the French state after 1 September 1939 would
be subject to conscation. The regulation allowed Rosenberg to transfer
property back to Germany and listed the Polish library, art collections in
the Palais Rothschild, and other abandoned (herrenloser) Jewish properties
as examples of items subject to seizure. Anticipating a negative reaction
from the Vichy government, Keitel directed subordinates to acknowledge
neither the registration, seizure, nor transport of conscated property.
Brandishing Keitels directive, Dr. Wilhelm Grau, an ofcial with the Paris

Bargatzky, Hotel Majestic, p. 68; BAMA, RW 35/712/90; USNA, RG 242/T-501/362/64.

USNA, RG 242/T-501/196/637643; BAMA, RW 35/698/1319.

after the fall

branch of the Einsatzstab Rosenberg, ordered Best to help the Einsatzstab

seize art collections stored at fteen specic addresses. Targets included
the Librairie Lipschutz, Ecole Rabbinique, Grand Orient de France, var-
ious houses owned by the Rothschild family, and the Alliance Israelite
Universelle. The MVW had to comply with an order that clearly violated
articles 46 and 56 of the 1907 Hague Convention which protected private
property and forbade the seizure of works of art respectively.
Keitels 17 September directive broke the militarys monopoly of power
in France. The 5 July order targeted the records of anti-German groups
and written materials housed in Masonic lodges, libraries, archives. It did
not mention Jews, synagogues, or Jewish organizations. The 17 September
regulation used similar language but included the addresses of fteen
prominent French Jews and Jewish organizations. Although the 5 July order
may have applied to Jewish property, the 17 September regulation explicitly
approved the expropriation of cultural goods (Kulturgter) that were owned
by Jews. Adding insult to injury, the MVW had to support the Einsatzstab
Rosenberg by supplying the latter with GFP ofcers. Keitels 17 September
regulation authorized Rosenberg to pillage France with impunity.
The 17 September order also gave the SS an ofcial mission in occupied
France. It directed the Gestapo to assist the Einsatzstab Rosenberg and
required the army to reach an understanding with the Black Corps.
Himmler and Brauchitsch signed an agreement that outlined the mission and
responsibility of SS personnel in France on 4 October. The accord denied
SS agents executive authority that they needed to conscate property, but it
directed GFP to act as the executive organ of the SS. In addition, SS agents
received permission to study Jews, Freemasons, and anti-German elements
in France. The 4 October agreement gained signicance as resistance
increased in 1941.
MVW ofcers continued to squabble with the Einsatzstab Rosenberg.
Werner Best argued that expropriations were beneath the dignity of the
Reich and should be dealt with in nal peace negotiations. He direct-
ed subordinates not to help other German agenciesnamely the Paris
embassyseize objets dart. The Einsatzstab Rosenberg abandoned allies
in the Paris embassy, sided with Best, and gained exclusive control of

BAMA, RW 35/698/23; USNA, RG 242/T-501/196/647.

BAMA, RW 35/698/23; BAMA, RW 35/712/87, 118119.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/196/655656.

setting the precedent

the expropriation process. Two junior ofcials attached to the MVW

justice division analyzed German conscation policy and concluded that
they could do little to change the situation. They understood that Kei-
tels 17 September order gave the Einsatzstab Rosenberg autonomy and
realized that further clarication would only diminish the authority of
the MVW. They advised colleagues to work with the Einsatzstab and
exhort its members (1) not to embark on any conscation drives with-
out agreement from the MVW, (2) to stick to their core mission, and
(3) to obey proper procedure. Without support from superiors in Berlin,
MVW ofcers tried to collaborate with and eventually tame the Einsatzstab
Comradely cooperation between the MVW and Einsatzstab Rosenberg
disintegrated between September and October 1940. The MVW assigned
few GFP ofcers to the Einsatzstab Rosenberg and limited the number of
conscations that could legally be carried out. The Commandant of Greater
Paris, the fount of all supplies in the French capital, did not provide the
Einsatzstab with enough trucks or gasoline. On occasion, OKH reminded
subordinates that Rosenbergs work was essential to the German war effort
and ordered ofcers to cooperate. In response to military obstruction,
the Einsatzstab Rosenberg wielded Keitels 17 September directive like
a club and acted without regard for the legal, political, or diplomatic
consequences of its actions. By 1942 the leader of the Paris branch of
the Einsatzstab Rosenberg went so far as to order military commanders to
report any valuable objets dart in buildings used by the military government.
MVW ofcials and Einsatzstab Rosenberg engaged in a nasty cold war that
continued until Germanys surrender.
Although many army ofcers opposed unilateral expropriations, there
were some exceptions. Dr. Hermann Bunjes, a young art historian, initially
worked for the MVW art group in the Louvre and searched for paintings
that had been stolen by Jews and thus were subject to conscation.
He passed this information on to Reichsmarschall Goring who, in turn,
frequently added the objets dart to his own personal collection. Superiors in
the military administration regarded Bunjes as a black sheep and shunned

USNA, RG 242/T-501/196/650651; BAMA, RW 35/698/39; Lambauer, Otto Abetz et

les Francais, pp. 1612.
BAMA, RW 35/698/3841.
BAMA, RW 35/712/94; BAMA, RW 35/705/7880; BAMA, RW 35/708/1011, 17.

after the fall

him whenever possible. In 1942, Bunjes transferred to the Luftwaffe and

worked exclusively for Goring until the war ended. Leading MVW
ofcials opposed conscations, but a minority of subalterns like Bunjes
operated as a sort of fth column, undermined Metternichs efforts, and
provided rivals like Goring with invaluable information.
Reichsmarschall Goring weighed in on the conscation question and
issued another set of regulations on 3 November. Since Keitels 17 Septem-
ber order dictated what property could be conscated, the Reichsmarschalls
directive focused on the division of the spoils. Hitler received rst choice,
followed by Goring. Afterwards, Reichsleiter Rosenberg could select edu-
cational materials for libraries, schools, and museums that would be built
after the war. Remaining items would be sold on the open market and the
proceeds disbursed to needy Frenchmen. Additional paragraphs specied
that conscated goods would be seized by the Einsatzstab Rosenberg with
help from the GFP, cataloged by the Einsatzstab alone, and shipped to the
Reich by the Luftwaffe. In a handwritten note at the bottom of his order,
Goring indicated that his regulations had been discussed with Hitler and
corresponded to the Fhrers wishes.
Gorings intervention had broad implications. First, both Keitels
17 September and Gorings 3 November decrees indicated that Hitler
stood behind Rosenbergs efforts. Those who continued to oppose seizures
carried out by the Einsatzstab Rosenberg would be going against the
will of the Fhrer and would receive no support from Goring, Keitel,
or Brauchitsch. Second, the Reichsmarschall oversaw the shipment of art
from France to Germany and secured a share of the spoils for himself
and the Fhrer. Although their participation ensured that the conscation
program would continue despite military opposition, it also diluted
the prots available to Rosenberg. Third, Gorings order provided the
French government with an incentive to participate in the operation by
offering Vichy a share of the spoils. The Reichsmarschalls decree further
discouraged those who wanted to stop illegal conscations.
Dr. Hans Lammers, the head of the Reich Chancellery and a major
power-broker in the German government, voiced his opinion on the
conscation debate in an 18 November 1940 letter to the MBF. Lammers

Bargatzky, Hotel Majestic, pp. 7071; BAMA, RW 35/705/123; Umbreit, Der Militar-
befehlshaber in Frankreich, p. 191.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1624/11; BAMA, RW 35/1/1217.

setting the precedent

rst noted that German troops had conscated works of art in Austria so
that assets could not be misused by enemies of the regime. He described
conscations in France as analogous to preceding events in Austria and
ignored the fact that the 1940 Armistice Agreement guaranteed French
sovereignty. Lammers declared that the German government did not care
who actually seized objets dart, but he argued that German directives
always took precedence over French laws. He concluded by denying that
Hitler had authorized any expropriations and noted that the Fhrer merely
determined the fate of works that others had seized. A Nazi rst and a
lawyer second, Lammers disregarded legal arguments raised by eld ofcers.
His letter may have been a feeble attempt to obscure Hitlers role in the
affair, but it revealed that the MBF could not count on support from the
state bureaucracy.
Despite the forces arrayed against them, the MBF and subordinates in
the MVW continued to gripe. They raised a series of legal objections to
Goring when he visited Paris in November 1940. The Reichsmarschall
declared himself to be the supreme legal authority in the Third Reich
and summarily dismissed all objections. Continued opposition to the
Einsatzstab Rosenberg did produce one concrete result. To silence military
opposition, the Reichsmarschall issued a written order that released the
military administration from tenets of the Hague Convention that protect-
ed private property. The decree quelled arguments voiced by military
ofcers that were based on legal grounds, but the debate did not end.
Instead, it shifted to address the question of how to respond to French
Frenchmen had reason to condemn German seizures. Reichsmarschall
Goring hitched two wagons full of objets dart to his personal train when
he left Paris in February 1941. By September, the Einsatzstab Rosenberg
had shipped fty-two boxcars of objets dart that were seized from mostly
Jewish residences back to Germany. Expropriations worth an estimated
one billion Reichsmarks soon exhausted the supply of artistic treasures, but
the Einsatzstab did not relent. Instead, it began to conscate furniture and
household goods for distribution among Germans made homeless by Allied
bombing raids. By 1943, the Einsatzstab Rosenberg sent 8,642 boxcars

BAMA, RW 35/698/106.
Herbert, Best, p. 261. Goring declared Der hochste Jurist im Staate bin Ich.
BAMA, RW 35/712/121124; BAMA, RW 35/705/8788.

after the fall

to the Reich. Sales in Germany generated a tidy prot that was divided
between the Ministry of Finance and the Einsatzstab Rosenberg.
The Vichy regime did not stand by while the Einsatzstab Rosenberg
robbed France blind. Nine days after the MBF published his 15 July con-
scation decree, the Vichy regime passed a comparable law that allowed
French ofcials to take control of abandoned assets as part of a general policy
to assert French sovereignty throughout the Hexagon. On 10 September
1940 the government went a step further and allowed ofcials to conscate
the property of denaturalized Jews. Using the 24 July and 10 Septem-
ber 1940 regulations, the French government tried to preempt German
conscations and preserve the illusion of sovereignty. In many ways, this
strategy played into Germanys hands by providing the appearance of due
process. German authorities in Bordeaux reported that friction between
the two governments developed as a result of competing conscation
policies. Germany ultimately prevailed, but not before generating much
Raphael Alibert, the Minister of Justice between July 1940 and February
1941, condemned German conscations during a 21 October 1940 conver-
sation with the MBF. Alibert noted that France had lost the war, deserved
to pay a penalty, and believed that Germany had a right to receive a share
of any prots generated by the sale of expropriated property. The Minister
did not oppose the conscation of Jewish property in principle, but he
insisted that all seizures should be carried out by French authorities in
accordance with French law. A second protest arrived on 18 December in
the form of a verbal note. The message continued to accept the fundamen-
tal legitimacy of expropriations but argued for a share of the spoils. The
Vichy regime wanted to alleviate widespread shortages by selling seized
Jewish property and using the proceeds to fund a winter relief program,

BAMA, RW 35/698/174; BAMA, RW 35/712/130; BALW, NS 8/131/88; Herbert,

Best, p. 262; Bargatzky, Hotel Majestic, p. 77; Commission Consultative des Dommages et des
Reparations, Dommages subis par la France et lunion francaise du fait de la guerre et de loccupation
ennemie, 19391945 (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1950), vol. I pp. 367372; vol. VII, monograph
P.F. 5, Oeuvres dArt; Gotz Ally, Hitlers Beneciaries: Plunder, Racial War and the Nazi Welfare
State, translated by Jefferson Chase (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2005).
BAMA RW 35/698/61; Dominique Remy, Les Lois de Vichy (Paris: Romillat, 1992), p. 79;
Joseph Billig, Le Commissariat general aux questions Juives, 19411944, vol. III (Paris: Editions du
centre, 1960), pp. 747.
Marrus and Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews, pp. 38; Richard H. Weisberg, Vichy Law
and the Holocaust in France (New York: New York University Press, 1996), pp. 250252; BAMA,
RW 35/698/61, 69; BAMA, RW 35/712/125126.

setting the precedent

the Secours National. The French delegation that was responsible for the sale
of conscated property wanted to catalog art that Rosenberg had concen-
trated in the Louvre and Musee du Jeu de Paume. In closing, the French
communique asked Otto von Stlpnagel, the MBF since 25 October 1940,
to grant French ofcials access to both museums and release any proceeds
generated by the sale of expropriated art. When the German government
failed to respond to Aliberts 21 October comments or the 18 December
1940 verbal note, the French government delivered a third protest to the
MBF on 27 January 1941. It covered much of the same ground and asked
German authorities to establish a system for handling similar conicts in
the future.
The French government assumed that the German army stood behind the
seizure of French art collections and directed their complaints to the MBF
and, later, the German embassy in Paris. They remained unaware of inter-
agency struggles and did not negotiate with the Einsatzstab Rosenberg
directly. The MBF could not answer French protests because Keitels
17 September regulation remained secret. The military administration
shouldered the blame for the activities of the Einsatzstab Rosenberg.
Werner Best met with members of the Einsatzstab Rosenberg, the SS, and
subordinates in the justice and art divisions of the military administration
to decide on a course of action. Almost one month after receiving the rst
French verbal note, the committee advised Otto von Stlpnagel to pass the
question to Berlin.
The Einsatzstab Rosenberg viewed French complaints as evidence that
the anti-German conspiracy was stronger than ever. In a 24 January 1941
analysis sent to Best, two senior Einsatzstab ofcials argued that Jews and
Freemasons had stood behind the 1914 assassination of Franz Ferdinand,
built the ignominious World War One memorial at Compiegne, and
arranged a boycott of German goods after the Nazi seizure of power.
The memorandum described Jews as implacable enemies of the German
people who would ght the Reich with every available weapon. They
were related by blood and tactics to the Belgian partisans of World War
One and Polish bandits who supposedly instigated the current struggle.
The Einsatzstab argued that Jews used objets dart to nance attacks against

BAMA, RW 35/698/61, 8384, 96.

Bargatzky, Hotel Majestic, pp. 6870; BAMA, RW 35/698/140.
BAMA, RW 35/698/9295.

after the fall

German soldiers. Valuable paintings were weapons in the hands of Jews

and thus subject to conscation. Rosenbergs minions urged the MBF to
ignore French protests and to treat the Vichy regime with suspicion. They
argued that Germany should not return Jewish property unless the Vichy
regime rigorously enforced anti-Semitic legislation formulated by Alibert.
The memorandum adopted a hard line that matched both Hitlers racial
anti-Semitism and Dr. Lammers 18 November 1940 letter.
Disdaining advice from the Einsatzstab Rosenberg, Stlpnagel followed
Werner Bests suggestion and asked Berlin for guidance. His request trav-
eled up the chain of command and landed on the desk of the General
Quartermaster of OKH. After considering the matter for several months,
OKH issued a classic bureaucratic response and advised the MBF to tell
the French government that the matter was being studied in Berlin. Field
Marshal von Brauchitsch nally mentioned Stlpnagels case to Hitler in
a letter on 18 September 1941. The commander of the German army
observed that the French government assumed the army, specically
the MBF, stood behind conscation operations. Orders from Keitel and
Goring placed the operations squarely in the hands of the Einsatzstab
Rosenberg, but both directives were secret and thus could not be dis-
cussed with the Vichy regime. The Field Marshal concluded that the
MBF should be absolved of responsibility and the entire matter handled
by the Foreign Ofce. Transxed by battles on the eastern front, nei-
ther Hitler nor Keitel replied to Brauchitschs missive. Leaders in Berlin
ignored French objections and cared little if this tactic damaged the armys
Vichy ofcials took the matter very seriously. Aliberts conversation and
the two verbal notes indicate that some people in the Vichy government
considered the issue important because it had turned public opinion against
the regime. Admiral Darlan raised the matter with Stlpnagel on 11 August
1941 and described its resolution as a major goal of his government.
When notes sent directly to the MBF failed to produce results, the
Vichy government contacted General Vogl, the head of the Armistice
Commission, and Hans Hemmen at the economic branch of the Armistice
Commission, in 1942. Xavier Vallat, the head of the Commissariat-general

BAMA, RW 35/698/164173, 106107. For Hitlers views, see BAMA, RW 35/708/34.

BAMA, RW 35/698/94, 104105; BAMA, RW 35/705/51.

setting the precedent

aux questions juives (CGQJ) also tried to resolve the problem by speaking
with Werner Best. Taken as a group, the letters indicate the Vichy
governments view of the conscations.
French protests eventually reached the ears of Abetz. The ambassador
asked the MBF for a summary of correspondence that pertained to the
conscation of Jewish art in February 1941 and pondered the matter
for another eight months before proposing a solution. He met with his
former nemesis in the MVW art group, Count Metternich, on 17 October
1941 and suggested that a commission of French and German ofcials
be established to catalog items seized by German authorities. The value
of items conscated by Germany, less the amount given back to Vichy
for the Secours National, would then be subtracted from any reparations
included in a Franco-German peace treaty signed at the end of hostilities.
Abetzs plan sought to place conscations on a legal footing and thus
placate the French government without costing Germany any real money
or returning conscated objects. Ofcers in Paris supported the plan, but
military superiors in Berlin claimed that it was a political matter and thus
not the responsibility of military authorities. Senior ofcials in Berlin once
again ignored the issue, and Abetzs proposal fell by the wayside.
Hitler ended the conscation debate by issuing an order to all branch-
es of the party, army, and state bureaucracy on 1 March 1942. The
Fhrer declared that attacks against Jews, Freemasons, and their allies were
essential to the German war effort. He granted Reichsleiter Rosenberg
the right to dispose of Jewish property, goods of uncertain ownership,
and abandoned possessions. The Fhrer ordered OKW to cooperate with
Rosenberg against Jews and other ideological opponents of the regime.
Hitler signed the Fhrerbefehl and no longer bothered to conceal his role in
the seizures. His personal intervention, in conjunction with the advent
of armed resistance movements in France and ghting on the Eastern
Front, pressed conscations into the background. Resistance, reprisals, and
hostage executions overshadowed expropriations in the fall of 1941.
Before the 1940 Western campaign, Hitler and Keitel expected to ght
a long war and proceeded with a degree of caution. After defeating France,

BAMA, RW 35/705/4548, 104109, 114115, 2127.

BAMA, RW 35/698/176; BAMA, RW 35/705/5568.
BAMA, RW 35/705/122; BAMA, RW 35/712/132, 133.
BAMA, RW 35/708/34.

after the fall

the military administration in Paris planned to obey the laws of war,

cultivate French support, and foster economic collaboration, but Hitler had
other ideas. At the Fhrers behest, Keitel revised directives governing the
conscation of property and unleashed a wave of pillage. With support from
Brauchitsch, ofcers in Paris eventually stopped diplomatic expropriations,
but the Einsatzstab Rosenberg took over the operation and embarked on
a campaign of organized robbery that far surpassed depredations carried
out by Napoleon. Condent of victory, Hitler eventually acknowledged
his role as the architect of the entire operation. Generals Streccius and
Stlpnagel had no intention of treating France with kid gloves, but they
tried to follow articles of the Armistice Agreement and obey rules of war.
When faced with orders that violated their own sensibilities and could
not be justied by military necessity, the MBF complained to superiors in
Berlin. Nazi sympathizers and sycophants dominated the highest echelons
of OKW and OKH after the BlombergFritsch affair, but pockets of dissent
survived in the middle ranks of the army. Complaints raised by members
of the military administration suggest that some ofcers in Paris did not
embrace every point of the Nazi agenda.

First measures

Disagreement over the conscation of Jewish art anticipated debates about

anti-partisan policy in France. Just as they sparred for control of Jewish
property in the latter half of 1940, several German agencies fought for
the right to regulate anti-partisan policy. At the start of the Occupation,
resistance activity amounted to little more than occasional sabotage and
helping British soldiers evade capture. Even though he faced only minor
security threats, the MBF issued regulations that outlined German anti-
partisan policy on 12 September 1940. After resistance groups began
to assassinate German soldiers in the fall of 1941, the MBF followed
long-standing guidelines and answered resistance activity with gradually
increasing reprisals that included the execution of hostages who were
somehow related to the suspected perpetrators. Speaking through Field
Marshal Keitel, Hitler condemned the response as much too mild and
ordered the MBF to execute at least fty hostages immediately after every
lethal attack. Military intransigence led Hitler to place the conscation of
Jewish property in Alfred Rosenbergs hands: the Fhrer faced a similar
problem with regard to security and imposed a comparable solution.
After the MBF balked at mass executions, the Fhrer placed the SS in
charge of German anti-partisan policy, which meant that the issue of
anti-partisan policy enhanced the power of Himmlers Black Corps in
Nazis in Berlin and the military administration in Paris proposed disparate
anti-partisan policies. Speaking through Keitel, Hitler ordered the MBF to
after the fall

carry out immediate, deadly, and disproportionate reprisals that targeted

Jews. Hitlers policy used resistance to justify genocide and enmesh the army
in the Final Solution. Although he too supported harsh security measures
that included hostage executions in principle and practice, the MBF
preferred to investigate attacks and focus German retribution on actual
partisans or criminals who could be linked with suspected perpetrators.
The military administration encouraged Franco-German collaboration,
tried not to alienate neutral Frenchmen, and used gradually increasing
reprisals to teach partisans that resistance did not pay. When compared to
historical precedents, the practices of other European armies, and common
interpretations of the rules of war, the MBFs reprisal policy stands just
beyond or at the very edge of normal military behavior in a modern
guerrilla war. Hitlers anti-partisan policy amounted to little more than a
thinly veiled attempt to exterminate an alleged race and, when placed in
the context of the laws of war and historical precedents, stands far beyond
the pale of traditional military conduct.
In theory, the laws of war (jus in bello) govern the behavior of soldiers in an
armed conict. They consist of specic international agreements negotiated
by sovereign states and an amorphous group of historical precedents
established over an indeterminate period of time. In the modern era,
belligerent and neutral governments alike recognized that wounded soldiers
suffered needlessly during the Crimean War (18541856). To resolve the
problem, diplomats from twelve European countries signed the Red Cross
Convention, alternatively known as the rst Geneva Convention, in 1864.
The ten articles of the treaty bound signators to treat all medical personnel
and civilians engaged in helping the wounded as neutral.
Efforts to render military customs into written treaties continued
throughout the nineteenth century. In the 1868 St. Petersburg Declaration,
representatives of sixteen states agreed
That the only legitimate object which states should endeavor to accomplish during
war is to weaken the military force of the enemy;
That for this purpose, it is sufcient to disable the greatest possible number of
That this object would be exceeded by the employment of arms which uselessly
aggravate the sufferings of disabled men, or render their death inevitable;

Friedman (ed.), The Laws of War, vol. I, pp. 151, 187191; Geoffrey Best, Humanity in
Warfare (New York: Columbia University Press, 1980), p. 151.

first measures

That the employment of such arms would, therefore be contrary to the laws of

Attempts to recast vague military traditions did not always succeed. Diplo-
mats, lawyers, and soldiers from fteen countries failed to reach an
agreement during the 1874 Brussels conference, but the desire to co-
dify the laws and customs of war remained popular among the European
In 1898, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs proposed another
meeting to consider a possible reduction of the excessive armaments
which weigh upon all nations. At the conference, Colonel Gross von
Schwarzhoff, a member of the German delegation and informal spokesman
for all opponents of arms control agreements, replied that the German
people were not crushed beneath the weight of armament expenditures
and, with the support of American and British ofcers, blocked further
attempts to restrict military spending. Yet the meeting did not end in total
failure. Participants signed treaties concerning belligerency, prisoners of
war, and military authority over hostile territory. They also prohibited the
use of expanding (dum-dum) bullets and banned the use of projectiles
the object of which is the diffusion of asphyxiating or deleterious gases.
Twenty-six nations eventually ratied what eventually became known as
the 1899 Hague Convention.
With support from American President Theodore Roosevelt, Tsar
Nicholas II convened another major international conference at The
Hague in 1906. Forty-four states revised the 1899 accords and passed a total
of fourteen conventions but broke little new ground. Section III of the
Laws and Customs of War on Land provoked considerable debate. Some
participants argued that local inhabitants had a right to resist an invading
army, while others believed that such resistance merely prolonged the war
and confused otherwise clear distinctions between soldiers and civilians.

Friedman (ed.), The Laws of War, vol. I, pp. 1923.

Friedman (ed.), The Laws of War, vol. I, pp. 149155.
James Brown Scott (ed.), The Hague Conventions and Declarations of 1899 and 1907 (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1915), pp. xivxv; Friedman (ed.), The Laws of War, vol. I, pp. 153,
204250; Calvin DeArmond Davis, The United States and the First Hague Peace Conference (Ithaca,
NY: Cornell University Press, 1962), pp. 1214, 289302; Alfred Vagts, A History of Militarism
(Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981), pp. 399403.
Scott (ed.), The Hague Conventions and Declarations of 1899 and 1907, pp. vivii; Calvin
DeArmond Davis, The United States and the Second Hague Peace Conference: American Diplomacy and
International Organization, 18991914 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1975), pp. 200207.

after the fall

Diplomats surmounted the disagreement by retaining ambiguous language

used in the 1899 treaty and made few substantive changes to the sections
dealing with occupied territory.
In order to limit the carnage of war, the Hague Convention tried
to distinguish civilians from soldiers, militiamen, and lawful combatants.
Articles of the 1907 Hague Convention specied that soldiers had to (1) be
commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates, (2) wear a xed
distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance, (3) openly bear arms, and (4)
conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
As a hostile army approached, civilians could defend their homes and still
be considered legitimate belligerents as long as they carried their weapons
openly, tried to wear some sort of uniform, and obeyed the rules of war.
Once invading troops seized control of enemy territory, civilians lost their
right to revolt and owed a degree of loyalty to the occupying army.
Unlike soldiers and militiamen, the inhabitants of an occupied territory
existed in a grey area of international law. According to section III
of the 1907 Hague Convention (Military Authority over the Territory
of the Hostile State), an occupying power could not force civilians to
swear allegiance to the occupying power (article 45) nor compel them to
furnish information about another states army (article 44). An occupying
army had to respect the family honor, family rights, religious convictions,
and the private property of local residents (article 46). Article 47 simply
stated that (p)illage is formally forbidden. But inhabitants of an occupied
territory could not embark on a guerrilla campaign against their conquerors.
According to the Hague Convention, those who did could be considered
war criminals because they did not wear a uniform or bear their arms
openly. If found guilty of war treason, war rebellion, or similar war
crimes, civilians could be punished as war criminals.
The remaining eleven articles of section III protected civilians who lived
in occupied territory, but they contained ambiguous phrases. Article 43

Adam Roberts, Land warfare: from Hague to Nuremberg, in Michael Howard, George
J. Andreopolos, and Mark R. Schulman (eds.), The Laws of War: Constraints on Warfare in the
Western World (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994), pp. 1213.
Friedman (ed.), The Laws of War, vol. I, pp. 308323; Manual of Military Law (London:
His Majestys Stationery Ofce, 1914), chapter XIV; BAK, All. Proz. 21/208/3543; Lieb,
Konventioneller Krieg oder NS-Weltanschauungskrieg, pp. 233258.
USNA, RG 153 (Records of the Ofce of the Judge Advocate GeneralArmy)/entry
135/91/folder L-512/28126.

first measures

recognized that legitimate power passed into the hands of an occupying

army when the latter assumed control of enemy territory. While grant-
ing an occupying army what amounted to sovereignty, the same article
bound a military governor to take all measures in his power to restore,
and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting,
unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country. Article 48
allowed an occupying army to collect taxes, but only as far as possible, in
accordance with the rules of assessment and incidence in force. Article 49
permitted an occupying army to levy additional funds from an occupied
territory, but only for the needs of the army or of the administration of
the territory in question. The phrases as far as possible and unless abso-
lutely prevented crippled article 43 and injected ambiguity into successive
At rst glance, article 50 appeared to outlaw collective punishments:
No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inicted upon the population
on account of the acts of individuals for which they cannot be regarded as jointly
or severally responsible.

According to the letter or the law, article 50 outlawed punishments for

which the population could not be regarded as jointly responsible. The
legality of collective reprisals depended on the perspective of the person
doing the regarding. Comparable linguistic aws in articles 48 and 49
implicitly sanctioned extraordinary taxes and nes levied for alleged crimes
supposedly carried out by an entire community. During World War Two,
Nazis used ambiguous phrases in the Hague Convention to justify collective
Articles 4 through 20 of the 1899 and 1907 Hague Conventions estab-
lished rough guidelines for the treatment of prisoners of war, but the
experience of World War One proved them to be inadequate. To rem-
edy these shortcomings, diplomats expanded the Hague rules in the 1929
Geneva Convention. Sections with titles like Prisoners-of-War Camps,
Food and Clothing of Prisoners of War, and Labor of Prisoners of War
eshed out standards alluded to in the 1907 Hague Convention. Specif-
ic articles of the 1929 agreement outlawed collective punishments and
established arrest for a duration of thirty days as the most severe penalty

Friedman (ed.), The Laws of War, vol. I, p. 322.

BAMA, RW 35/312/1519, 2159.

after the fall

that could be applied to prisoners of war. The 1929 Geneva Convention

protected prisoners of war from collective reprisals, but it did not apply to
Agreements negotiated between 1864 and 1929 codied the unwrit-
ten rules of war, but many provisions were riddled with vague terms.
Contentious provisions employed equivocal language to overcome dis-
agreements between large and small nations. Public opinion compelled
governments to participate in the talks, and no government wanted to
appear to be responsible for their failure, but diplomatic and military nego-
tiators refused to accept precise wording that might limit their actions during
an armed conict. In order to secure widespread acceptance, international
agreements had to be ambiguous.
In an attempt to overcome the limited scope of the Hague Convention,
diplomats inserted the Martens clause into the preamble of both the 1899
and 1907 Hague agreements:
Until a more complete code of the laws of war has been issued, the High
Contracting Parties deem it expedient to declare that, in cases not included in the
Regulations adopted by them, the inhabitants and belligerents remain under the
protection and the rule of the principles of the law of nations, as they result from
the usages established among civilized peoples, from the laws of humanity, and the
dictates of the public conscience.

Named in honor of the jurist who advised the Tsar during the 1899 and
1907 conferences, the Martens clause admonished participants to adhere
to the unwritten traditions of warfare and let historical precedent shape
military conduct. In so doing, it opened up a Pandoras box of both good
and bad historical precedents that belligerents could use to support almost
any policy.
European soldiers had developed an elaborate code of conduct during
the early modern era. Detailed but largely unwritten rules governing
the capitulation of fortresses supplemented the earlier code of chivalry.
Townsmen who refused to surrender might be put to the sword, but
citizens who capitulated before a breach in the defenses had been effected
could expect to pay a ne and escape with their lives. Similar traditions
facilitated the exchange of prisoners and protected eld hospitals in the

Friedman (ed.), The Laws of War, vol. I, pp. 488522.

Friedman (ed.), The Laws of War, vol. I, p. 309.

first measures

early modern era. Although often honored in breach, custom encouraged

belligerents to distinguish soldiers from civilians and usually exempted the
latter from bloody retribution.
The French Revolution introduced a new set of military customs. The
Convention renounced wars of aggression in the constitution of 3 Septem-
ber 1791 and expected French armies to be welcomed as liberators when
they invaded neighboring states. Initially French troops tried to persuade
opposing soldiers to abandon corrupt monarchs and join the French cause.
When their efforts proved fruitless, war of liberation became a terrorist
war against slaves of despots who deserved no pity. Fanatical French
soldiers established an unsavory precedent as they massacred captured
Soldiers recruited during the levee en masse eventually honored many
traditional standards of conduct, but circumstances often impeded this
process. While deployed in France, French armies enjoyed relatively short
lines of communication and requisitioned supplies without resorting to
violence. As armies advanced beyond the Hexagon, successive French
governments failed to supply troops with adequate food and money. Out
of necessity, French troops often resorted to pillage. General Custine,
the commander of the Army of Moselle, initially punished soldiers for
despoiling the Palatinate, but he eventually bowed to military necessity and
instituted a system of organized pillage to feed his army. As they swept
across Europe, French armies often resorted to pillage and set another
dangerous example.
During the Spanish campaign, French armies established a third precedent
that haunted resistance groups during World War Two. In March 1808,

B. H. Liddell Hart, Revolution in Warfare (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1947),
pp. 3895; Geoffrey Parker, Early modern Europe in Howard et al., The Laws of War: Constraints
on Warfare in the Western World, pp. 4058. Stephen C. Neff, War and the Law of Nations: A
General History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).
Sydney Seymour Biro, The German Policy of Revolutionary France: A Study in French Diplomacy
during the War of the First Coalition, 17921797 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957),
pp. 245, 94.
Jean-Paul Bertaud, The Army of the French Revolution: From Citizen-Soldiers to Instrument of
Power, translated by R. R. Palmer (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988), pp. 1536,
856; Alan Forest, The nation in arms I: the French wars, in Charles Townsend (ed.), The
Oxford History of Modern War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 5966.
Best, Humanity in Warfare, pp. 80, 115118; Bertaud, The Army of the French Revolution,
pp. 1445, 286291; Gunther E. Rothenberg, The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon (London:
B. T. Batsford, 1977), pp. 857.

after the fall

approximately 100,000 French troops invaded Spain and defeated the

regular Spanish army in short order, but their system of supplyorganized
pillagefomented unrest. French troops suppressed a bloody uprising in
Madrid, but they failed to stop the insurrection from spreading to the
countryside. Spanish guerrillas attacked small bands of French soldiers
and often killed prisoners but dispersed when they encountered large
groups of regulars. French soldiers responded by burning villages and
seizing hostages. When French troopers continued to disappear, Napoleons
marshals embarked on a campaign of collective reprisals and hostage
executions. Spanish guerrillas, British regulars, and French conscripts all
committed atrocities that harkened back to the Religious Wars of the
sixteenth century. In addition to introducing organized pillage as a
common military practice, the French Revolution established bloody
collective reprisals as an acceptable military strategy.
Wars of national unication in the latter half of the nineteenth century
conrmed Napoleonic practices. During the early stages of the Franco-
Prussian War, professional soldiers obeyed terms of the 1864 Geneva
Convention. After the fall of the Second Empire in October 1870, the
Government of National Defense ordered patriots to adopt guerrilla tactics
and ignited a brutal war. Irregular French soldiers or franc-tireurs attacked
German troops and sabotaged vital supply lines. Following Napoleons
precedent, German soldiers responded by burning villages and seizing
hostages. Many of the latter spent the duration of the war in Germany
as prisoners, but a fraction perished before German ring squads. German
and French leaders called for revision of existing international agreements
after the Franco-Prussian War, but their appeals produced only the cryptic
language of the 1899 and 1907 Hague Conventions. The experiences of
the Franco-Prussian War only conrmed practices developed during the
French Revolution.
Although it claimed an unprecedented number of lives, World War One
did not transform standards of acceptable military conduct. Citing military
necessity, both sides breached international agreements during the course

Geoffrey Best, War and Society in Revolutionary Europe, 17701870, (New York: St. Martins
Press, 1982), pp. 168183; Jan Read, War in the Peninsula (London: Faber and Faber, 1977),
pp. 169181.
Michael Howard, The Franco-Prussian War: The German Invasion of France, 18701871 (New
York: The Macmillan Company, 1962), pp. 250256, 377381; Francois Roth, La Guerre de
1870 (Paris: Fayard, 1990), pp. 372410; BAMA, RW 35/231.

first measures

of hostilities. Germany violated Belgian neutrality at the outset, and

the British Admiralty infringed on the rights of neutral shipping shortly
thereafter. The Kaisers troops used the slightest pretext to justify the
burning of villages and executed approximately 6,500 civilians in Belgium
and northern France. The 1899 Hague Convention banned the use
of projectiles the object of which is the diffusion of asphyxiating or
deleterious gases, but it did not stop French soldiers from employing
noxious (as opposed to poisonous) gas grenades in 1914. Less than a
year later, Germany complied with the letter of the law and released
poison gas from cylinders. Allied forces shot gas-lled artillery shells at
German trenches six months later, but they described their response as a
reprisal justied by Germanys previous transgression. War-crimes trials
championed by David Lloyd George and Georges Clemenceau proceeded
in Leipzig after the Armistice, but they adjudicated few cases, acquitted
most defendants, and underlined the defects of international agreements.
During World War One, both sides preyed upon the ambiguous terms of
the Hague Convention.
Nazi leaders routinely ignored portions of the Martens clause that
referred to the laws of humanity, the dictates of the public conscience,
and usages established among civilized peoples. Adolf Hitler consistently
championed brutal methods that have always been used in the history of
the expansion of the power of great nations to eliminate racial opponents
and restore tranquility. Driven by the concept of military necessity and
a shortage of manpower, German commanders used exemplary violence to
intimidate and exploit Russian civilians. Taking refuge in the fact that the
Soviet Union had not acceded to the 1929 Geneva Convention, men like
Field Marshal von Manstein followed orders from Berlin and carried out
Hitlers war of annihilation. With an almost savage glee, Nazi lawyers and

Helen McPhail, The Long Silence: Civilian Life under the German Occupation of Northern France,
19141918 (New York: I. B. Tauris & Co, 2001); John Horne and Alan Kramer, German Atrocities,
1914: A History of Denial (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001), p. 74; Alan Kramer,
Dynamic of Destruction. Culture and Mass Killing in the First World War (New York: Oxford
University Press, 2007), pp. 668.
Robert A. Doughty, Pyrrhic Victory: French Strategy and Operations in the Great War (Cam-
bridge, MA: The Belknap Press, 2005), pp. 148150.
Roberts, Land warfare, from Hague to Nuremberg, pp. 1236; James F. Willis, Prologue to
Nuremberg: The Politics and Diplomacy of Punishing War Criminals of the First World War (Westport,
CT: Greenwood Press, 1982).
DGFP, ser. D, vol. XII, p. 542.

after the fall

ambitious generals used loopholes in the Hague laws to salve their own
consciences and gain an advantage.
The rst article of the 1907 Hague Convention bound signators to issue
instructions to their armed land forces which shall be in conformity with the
regulations respecting the laws and customs of war on land. Instructions
embodied in the manuals of military law of Britain, France, Germany,
and the United States, explain how each country planned to honor treaty
obligations and reveal a common interpretation of international law. In
many ways, the 1929 British Manual of Military Law is representative. British
regulations made a clear distinction between non-combatant civilians and
belligerent soldiers, and they depended upon this distinction in order to
function properly. The Hague denition of a lawful combatant, repeated
verbatim in the British manual, protected volunteers and militias in addition
to professional soldiers. Once an area fell under enemy occupation, civilians
owed a degree of loyalty to an occupying army. Citizens who disobeyed
the army of occupation could be found guilty of war rebellion or war
treason and punished accordingly.
While they did not have to swear an oath of loyalty or provide
information, residents could not revolt and expect to be treated as lawful
combatants. The 1929 edition of the British Manual of Military Law expected
the inhabitants of an occupied territory to
behave in an absolutely peaceful manner, . . . to in no way take part in the
hostilities, to refrain from every injury to the troops of the occupant, and from any
act prejudicial to their operations, and to render obedience to the ofcials of the
occupant. Any violation of this duty is punishable by the occupant.
(Chapter XIV, article 384)

Subsequent paragraphs restated article 50 of the Hague rules. If inhabitants

committed hostile acts, a belligerent was justied in requiring the aid of
the population to prevent their recurrence and, in serious and urgent cases,
in resorting to reprisals (article 386). Later sections labeled as war crimes

Wolfram Wette, The Wehrmacht: History, Myth, Reality, translated by Deborah Lucas Schnei-
der (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006), pp. 129130; Manfred Messerschmidt,
Forward defence: the Memorandum of the Generals for the Nuremberg Court in Hannes
Heer and Klaus Naumann (eds.), War of Extermination (New York: Berghahn Books, 2000),
pp. 389396.
Friedman (ed.), The Laws of War, vol. I, pp. 308323; Manual of Military Law, chapter XIV;
BAK/All. Proz 21/208/3543.

first measures

(1) violations of recognized rules of warfare by members of the armed

forces, (2) illegitimate hostilities in arms committed by individuals who are
not members of the armed forces, (3) espionage and war treason, and (4)
marauding (article 441). Once a population resisted the legitimate authority
of an occupying army, it could be ruled guilty of committing a war crime
(usually war treason or war rebellion) and could be subject to reprisals.
Articles 461 through 464 explicitly sanctioned the seizure of hostages in
the event of perdy on behalf of the enemy. British regulations did not
comment on the possible fate of imprisoned hostages but stated that in
modern times it is deemed preferable to resort to territorial guarantees
instead of taking hostages.
French military doctrine treated collective reprisals as a matter of course.
Cavalry regulations of 1924 advised commanders to methodically disarm
the local population and take hostages after seizing hostile territory. Infantry
regulations of 1940 adopted a similar tone and suggested that ofcers take
hostages if the population is hostile. During the 1923 occupation of the
Ruhr, French ofcers put these ideas into practice and seized hostages as
part of a larger campaign to crush German resistance. French jurists agreed
with their military compatriots and used the concept of war treasona
crime committed by non-combatants who secretly aided enemy forcesto
justify collective reprisals. Like their British counterpart, French regulations
agreed that non-combatants could be punished for disobeying orders from
a military government.
Regulations published by the Judge Advocate General of the United
States Army discussed the occupation of enemy territory in great detail.
American military doctrine reected previous experiences in the Civil and
Spanish-American Wars and explicitly recognized the ambiguous nature of
international agreements. Sections of Rules of Land Warfare that reviewed
collective punishment and reprisals began with relevant quotes from the
Hague agreements and then noted how prominent scholars interpreted
the conventions. In essence, the Judge Advocate General provided eld
commanders with enough legal theory to justify either a hard or soft

Manual of Military Law, pp. 2923, 302307; BAK, All. Proz. 21/208/3543.
BAMA, RW 35/542/2425; BAK, All. Proz. 21/218/45.
Stanislas Jeannesson, Poincare et la Ruhr, 19221924: Histoire dune occupation (Strasbourg:
Presses Universitaires de Strasbourg, 1997), pp. 168171, 187 note 58, 194, 201205.
J. M. Spaight, War Rights on Land (London: Macmillan and Co., 1911), pp. 3334; Robert
Jacomet, Les Lois de la guerre continental (Paris: L. Fournier, 1913), chapter 3, article 93.

after the fall

occupation policy. Field regulations of the United States Army embraced an

expansive denition of war treason, branded civilians who rebelled against
a military government as war rebels, and recognized that the latter could be
sentenced to death. Although they described both collective punishments
and reprisals as a last resort, American guidelines did not prohibit collective
punishments. They employed a unique tone but expressed views that ran
parallel to French and British regulations.
German military regulations dened the jurisdiction of military courts,
procedures that judges had to follow, and penalties that tribunals could
impose. Unlike French, American, or British rules, German military law
could be applied both inside and outside of the Reich, and German courts
did not distinguish German citizens from the inhabitants of an occupied
territory. All civilians had to obey military regulations in areas under
martial law. Anybody who disobeyed could be found guilty of war treason
(Kriegsverrat) and executed by a military court. The German government
curbed the jurisdiction of military courts during the Weimar era, but Hitler
restored their powers by signing a new law on 12 May 1933. A revised
version of the military penal code, issued 29 September 1936, included
procedural practices, rules of evidence, and an appeal process that were
integral parts of the Imperial Armys military justice system.
The Fhrer issued two decrees on 17 August 1938 that swept away many
of the liberal guarantees central to the Imperial code of military justice, but
neither law came into force until war became imminent on 26 August 1939.
The rst of those regulations, the Decree concerning Military Jurisdiction
during War and Special Operations (Kriegsstrafverfahrensordnung or KStVO),
established a streamlined judicial procedure that distilled earlier regulations
down to ve basic principles:
1. a trial had to be held before three judges;
2. the accused had to be heard if present;

Edward H. Young, Law of belligerent Occupation, Text No. 11 (Ann Arbor, 1944),
pp. 111126. Appears in USNA, RG 153/135/91/folder L-512; Basic Field Manual FM 2710,
Rules of Land Warfare (Washington, DC: United States Printing Ofce, 1940), pp. 859.
James Garner, International Law and the World War, vol. II (London: Longmans, Green,
1920), pp. 925; BAK, All. Proz. 21/40/nfn (Abschrift, Dr. Victor Knipp, Deportation als
USNA, RG 153/135/6/116/23 (Ofce of Strategic Services, Research and Analysis
Branch, R & A number 2500.18, German Military Government Over Europe: Military and
Police Tribunals in Occupied Europe, dated 22 December 1944).

first measures

3. decisions had to be set down in writing and accompanied by a written

4. a conviction had to rest upon the agreement of a majority of judges; and
5. sentences had to be conrmed by a competent commander.

Commanders could observe the traditional Military Penal Code described

by the Militargesetzbuch or follow new procedures outlined in the KSt-
VO at their own discretion, and the rules applied to all civilian and
military personnel of any nationality operating within an area that fell
under martial law. In essence, the KStVO allowed military comman-
ders to abbreviate the judicial process and thus undermined the rule
of law.
While the KStVO truncated judicial procedures, the Decree concern-
ing Special Military Crimes during War (Kriegssonderstrafrechtsverordnung or
KSSVO) dened criminal activity and established sentencing guidelines.
Articles two through ve dened espionage, hostile acts committed by
civilians (Freischarlerei), violations of German military regulations, and the
undermining of German military power (Zersetzung der Wehrkraft) respec-
tively. All four could be punished with death. Subsequent regulations
established a particularly abbreviated judicial procedure for the crime of
guerrilla activity. Other articles established sentencing guidelines for crimes
such as treason in wartime and pillage. The KSSVO increased the num-
ber of capital crimes and the KStVO eliminated many of the safeguards
inherent in traditional military law developed during the Kaiserreich. Instead
of rewriting military law to match the Nazi concept of justice, Hitler
attacked the foundations of the Rechtsstaat or rule of law and granted
military judges autonomy in judicial affairs. Once inculcated with Nazi
values, eld commanders could administer justice in keeping with Hitlers
new order. The execution of 13,00015,000 German soldiers during

USNA, RG 153/135/6/116/24; USNA, RG 338/Foreign Military Studies/MS #

P-033/1821; BAMA, RW 35/209/99.
Michael Stolleis, The Law under the Swastika, translated by Thomas Dunlap (Chicago, IL:
University of Chicago Press, 1998) pp. 145154; Franz W. Siedler, Die Militargerichtsbarkeit der
deutschen Wehrmacht, 19391945 (Berlin: Herbig, 1991); Fritz Wllner, Die NS-Militarjustiz und
das Elend der Geschichtsschreibung (Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 1991); and Manfred
Messerschmidt, German military law in the Second World War, in Wilhelm Deist, ed., The
German Military in the Age of Total War (Dover, NH: Berg, 1985), pp. 323335.
USNA, RG 153/135/6/116/57; BAMA, RW 35/209/2021, 99; BAMA, RW
35/308/112113, 155; BAK, All. Proz. 21/213/1319.

after the fall

World War Twoas compared with 48 during World War Onesuggests

that many did.
Regulations issued by OKW in 1938 allowed military commanders to
seize hostages if they faced a hostile population that threatened German
troops. If they used the abbreviated procedures set forth in the KStVO to
prove the crime of Freischarlerei dened in the KSSVO, eld commanders
could carry out reprisals without worrying about red tape, due process, and
other bureaucratic impediments. To clarify abstruse legal theory, OKW
included a list of 24 practical examples:
In an area occupied by German troops, soldiers marching through are repeatedly
shot at by guerrillas from a convenient hiding place. For the security of the troops,
the division commander arrests ve respected citizens as hostages. The population
is told that the hostages will be shot if soldiers are again red upon. The division
commander has the authority to order the execution of the hostages.
Solution: Hostage seizures and hostage executions are not forbidden by interna-
tional law. However, the existence of military necessity always forms the basis for
hostage seizures. The unhindered march of the troops could only be secured by
taking of hostages. With this kind of hostage case, only the senior troop commander
whose safety the hostages guarantee can decide the fate of the hostages.

Legal regulations formulated by OKW allowed senior eld commanders

to do anything that was not explicitly forbidden by existing international
agreements. Because such freedom carried an element of political risk,
OKW forced junior ofcers to operate under more restrictive rules. In the
realm of judicial affairs, German eld commanders possessed tremendous
American, British, French, and German military regulations allowed
eld commanders to seize hostages, but they endorsed the strategy with
varying degrees of enthusiasm. Several features distinguish the German code
from its allied counterparts. First, German regulations established detailed
procedures for hostage seizures and downplayed non-lethal alternatives.
Second, only German regulations outlined a process that could be used
to execute hostages. Third, Hitler eliminated traditional liberal guarantees
that ensured a fair judicial process. American, British, French, and German
regulations understood the ambiguous nature of the Hague rules. They

BAMA, RW 35/209/211, 259; BAMA, RW 35/551/1823; Bartov, Hitlers Army,

pp. 9596.
BAMA, RW 35/209/1921, 2838.

first measures

all accepted collective reprisals and hostage seizures in principle, but only
German regulations translated this principle into practice.
Hitler encouraged subordinates to put Nazi legal doctrines into practice.
On the eve of the 1940 Western Campaign, the Fhrer directed military
forces to obey provisions of the Hague Convention but he added that
(h)ostile acts by the population will be suppressed with the utmost severity.
He employed an expansive denition of hostile acts that included passive
resistance and stopping work as a political demonstration. In accordance
with Hitlers wishes, General Alfred Streccius, the MBF between 30 June
and 25 October 1940, issued anti-sabotage regulations on 12 September.
Entitled Measures to Prevent Sabotage, Strecciuss regulation described
four methods that could be used to suppress dangerous resistance activity.
First, local commanders could force local residents to guard railroad tracks,
factories, bridges, telegraph cables, and military installations. People who
failed to fulll their responsibilities could face prison, hard labor, or
even death. Second, local German authorities could impose curfews,
enact sumptuary laws like the prohibition of alcohol, and close restaurants,
theaters, and public markets. Third, the MBF allowed regional commanders
to collect a security deposit from a community that could be conscated
in the event of unsatisfactory behavior. To circumvent Hague rules that
forbade extraordinary taxes and maintain the appearance of legality, the
MBF ordered subordinates to call the collected funds forced contributions
(Zwangsauagen). All of Strecciuss Measures rested on the concept of
collective responsibility but did not create a reign of arbitrary punishment
and terror.
With the greatest reserve, the MBF allowed regional commanders to
arrest hostages:
Hostages are local residents who will pay with their lives if the public does not
behave awlessly. Therefore the responsibility for their fate lies in the hands of
their fellow countrymen. The population must be publicly warned that hostages
will be liable for the hostile acts of individuals.
Streccius recognized that seizing hostages carried grave risks and limited
the autonomy of his subordinates. Only regional commanders (Bezirkchefs)
could arrest hostages, and they could do so only after careful consideration
of the circumstances, in response to serious acts of violence (schweren

DGFP, ser. D, vol. IX, p. 301. BAMA, RW 35/45/14.

after the fall

Gewalttaten), and when other suitable measures were unavailable. Fur-

thermore, only the MBF could order the execution of hostages. The MBF
understood that indiscriminate use of his hostage policy could damage
Germanys political standing. If anti-German groups attacked Wehrmacht
personnel after a Bezirkchef had seized hostages, the MBF would have
to execute hostages and endure the subsequent public outrage or pardon
hostages and risk the appearance of weakness. The MBF admitted that some
criminals and fanatics might not be deterred by the seizure of hostages. He
realized that such measures might encourage communists and anarchists to
attack the German army if their efforts would then force the Germans to
execute bourgeois politicians, rich industrialists, or other class enemies.
Otto von Stlpnagel replaced General Streccius as MBF on 25 October
1940, but the latters Measures to Prevent Sabotage remained in force
for several months after his departure. General von Stlpnagel issued new
regulations on 26 March 1941, but they followed Strecciuss policy and
embraced the principle of collective responsibility:
Individuals and the population are to be treated as jointly responsible if they support
hostile acts against German forces through passive resistance, inhibit investigations
of earlier sabotage acts by general conduct, encourage misdeeds, or create an
atmosphere for insubordinate and anti-German attitudes.

Although he employed a broad denition of activity that could trigger

collective reprisals, General von Stlpnagel warned his subordinates to
apply sanctions with care.
1) All measures must be realistic and designed to be carried out. Unrealistic threats
or threats alone do not work well. 2) One must always consider the full set of
circumstances when examining a situation, including motivation and the existence
of malicious intent . . . 3) Measures perceived as unjust undermine respect for
German authorities, hurt the loyal population, and must be revoked.

Gary Gordon describes how the process unfolded on the eastern front in Soviet partisan
warfare, 19411944: the German perspective (Ph.D. diss., Iowa University, 1972), pp. 3031:
Several German or other Axis soldiers would be captured, mutilated, and killed. Their bodies
would then be left in a place where the Germans would surely nd them, often next to villages
sympathetic to the invaders or neutral in their political sympathies. When the bodies were found,
German security troops would take revenge on all the villages in the area by killing everyone
they saw, by conscating all cattle and crops, and by devastating entire sections of land. The
survivors ed to the forests where they would be met by partisans who would sympathize with
them and offer help.
USNA, T-501/166/7182.

first measures

With regard to seizing hostages, the MBF offered the following advice:
Hostages should only be taken with great restraint (Zurckhaltung). At the moment
of the arrest, it can never be foreseen whether the later execution of the hostages is
undesirable and should remain undone for political reasons. However, respect for
the military government will be shaken and the taking of hostages made pointless
if executions are not carried out once new hostile acts have been committed. The
efcacy of the taking of hostages for the prevention of hostile acts is questionable if
an especially close bond does not exist between the perpetrator and the hostages.
Fanatics and criminals have no regard for the lives of hostages. Thus hostages are
to be arrested only if serious crimes have been committed and there are no other
suitable means available.

Like his predecessor, General von Stlpnagel conceived of hostage seizures

as a last resort.
Leaders of the military administration supported Stlpnagels policy. The
head of the justice division, Rudolf Balz, analyzed the legal basis of German
security measures in a memo that circulated within the government
subsection of the military administration. He believed that the Hague
agreements did not prohibit the seizure or execution of hostages and added
that other belligerents had adopted the practice in recent wars. Based on
his analysis of law and historical precedent, Balz concluded that seizing
hostages conformed with German laws and international agreements.
Balz thought that the military administration had to follow several specic
guidelines before carrying out hostage executions. First, the hostage policy
had to be announced so that members of the public understood the
consequences of anti-German activity. Second, hostages could only be
liable for acts that have been committed after their arrest and after the
MBF had announced his hostage policy. Third, only French citizens could
serve as hostages. Using the Nazi concept of Sippenhaft and contrary to
western legal tradition, Balz argued that hostages had to be connected with
or related to resistance groups that had carried out an attack in order to
serve as an effective deterrent. The head of the justice division concluded
that nes might be more effective because they contributed to the German
war effort while deterring resistance. Others went a step further and
suggested that the MBF proscribe hostage executions for political reasons.
Although they believed that hostages could be executed in accordance with

BAMA, RW 35/308/12. Bargatzky, Hotel Majestic, pp. 479.

after the fall

existing international agreements, members of the military administration

questioned the wisdom of such a policy.
Despite developing a deadly anti-partisan policy, Generals Streccius and
Otto von Stlpnagel exercised a degree of restraint while in charge of
occupied France. Cases of assault that involved a German victim and
French perpetrator did not always trigger collective reprisals or hostage
seizures, but they could result in a death sentence. The MBF insisted that
[t]he best propagandist for the German cause is the disciplined, correct
appearance of the German soldier and administered a stern brand of
justice to both French and German perpetrators. The vast majority of
the French populace assumed a passive stance that favored the Reich.
News of the October 1940 meetings between Hitler, Laval, and Petain
generated enthusiasm for the Vichy regime, but favorable sentiments
evaporated after talks failed to produce an agreement. The advent of
rationing, de facto annexation of Alsace and Lorraine, and expulsion of
French nationalists and Jews from the Moselle, Bas-Rhin, and Haut-
Rhin departements all dampened popular enthusiasm for Lavals policy of
collaboration. Public attitudes remained sour throughout the winter of
19401941, though sullen moods did not translate into deadly resistance
activity. Resistance groups limited their efforts to sabotage and distributing
anti-German leaets.
During the rst year of the Occupation, German policemen focused
on mundane transgressions. Between October and December 1940, the
number of so-called crimes reported to and investigated by the military
administration per month jumped from 8,000 to 17,000. As more German
policemen arrived in France, the MVW consolidated its hold on the
occupied zone and pursued more alleged perpetrators. New German
policies also played a part in the increase. A January 1941 report described
trafc accidents as the leading cause of death among German soldiers, and
military policemen began to enforce German trafc regulations. Together
with blackout and price control violations, trafc infractions accounted

BAMA, RW 35/308/18, 1219; Ulrich Herbert, The German military command in

Paris, in Ulrich Herbert (ed.), National Socialist Extermination Policies: Contemporary German
Perspectives and Controversies (New York: Berghahn Books, 2000), pp. 128162.
Serge Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France, volume II, Le calendrier de la persecution des Juifs de France,
juillet 1940aot 1942 (Paris: Fayard, 2001), p. 20; USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/465.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/365366, 425427, 459, 491492; USNA, RG 242/

first measures

Serious crimes
Administrative arrest
18,000 Traffic infraction
Blackout violation
Curfew violation
16,000 Venereal disease
Traffic accident
Slandering or disdaining the German army
14,000 Larceny (minor robbery)
Unauthorized possession of a firearm


























Figure 4.1. Crimes prosecuted by the MBF, 19401942.

for most of the increase in the crime rate during the early months of the
The total number of offenses investigated by the MVW began to drop
in January 1941 and continued to decline until the MBF lost control of
police forces in May 1942. German policemen may have overlooked minor
transgressions and allowed some to perpetrators to escape with a warning.
For their part, Frenchmen may have learned to hide their contempt for
le boche because agrant deance could lead to charges of slandering the
German army. Statistical data do not explain why the incidence of trafc
infractions, price control violations, and other petty crimes decreased in
1941, but the drop suggests an increase in law and order, a decline in
enforcement, and a degree of Franco-German accommodation.

USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/625; BAMA, RW 35/244/4953; USNA, RG 242/

USNA, RG 242/T-501/184/10491050.

after the fall

1,400 Murder, attempted murder, manslaughter,

and attacking military personnel
Lost property
Illegal association
Price control violation
1,000 Desertion, AWOL
Sexual offenses
800 Plundering, looting























Figure 4.2. Serious crimes prosecuted by the MBF, 19401942.

The invasion of the Soviet Union coincided with a temporary increase

in the incidence of unauthorized possession of a rearm and slander-
ing the German army. Both peaked in the fall of 1941 and suggested a
wave of discontent and/or a German crackdown. The military administra-
tion often punished such offenses with prison sentences and/or nes,
but people caught with military weapons or communist propaganda
could receive a death sentence. German police examined an average
of 258 cases of unauthorized possession of a gun each month with a
peak of 435 cases in October and November 1941. By the summer
of 1942 this number dropped to 178. The incidence of slander also
followed a bell curve that peaked at 343 cases between August and
September 1941. On average, police investigated 200 slander cases each
month with a low of 116 recorded in May 1942. The zenith of illegal
rearms possession and slander cases may reect a ripple of public dis-
sent or an increased German sensitivity to both offenses in the fall of

first measures

The MBF regarded sabotage, espionage, and assault as very serious

crimes that could result in death sentences or trigger hostage executions.
The invasion of the Soviet Union corresponded with several attacks against
German soldiers, but data collected by the MVW does not reveal a
widespread pattern of sabotage, espionage, or assault. The MVW inves-
tigated an average of 60 acts of sabotage each month. The incidence of
sabotage peaked at 86 cases in November 1940 and fell to an all-time low of
34 incidents by May 1942. Espionage followed a similar pattern. Between
October 1940 and May 1942, the military government investigated 458
cases of spying or just under 23 incidents per month. Espionage peaked
during the rst month of the reporting period at 45 and fell to 7 cases by
May 1942. Attacks against German military personnel followed a slightly
different pattern. They peaked in June and July 1941 with 20 incidents per
month, averaged just under twelve attacks for the entire reporting period,
and fell to an anemic six attacks by May 1942. Statistics collected by the
MVW suggest that sabotage and espionage followed a downward trend
during the rst 16 months of the Occupation. Despite a temporary increase
in the summer of 1941, assault followed a similar pattern. Assassinations
that followed in the wake of Operation Barbarossa were largely symbolic.
Although the incidence of serious crimes usually declined between
October 1940 and May 1942, punishments meted out to French offenders
did not. German military courts sentenced a total of 581 French citizens
to death during the rst 23 months of the Occupation. Of these, 434
executions (75 per cent) were actually carried out. Legal authorities
reduced the remaining 147 cases to prison terms or hard labor, and many
of these involved women or children under 18. Eighty-one per cent of
the executions carried out by the MBF occurred after the invasion of
the Soviet Union. The number of Frenchmen sentenced to long terms in
prison matched the increase in executions until January 1942, after which
it declined precipitously. As German forces bogged down on the eastern
front, military courts handed out fewer prison sentences and executed a
larger number of Frenchmen convicted of crimes against the German army.

Figures do not include some Frenchmen executed as hostages between September 1941 and
January 1942. Prisoners convicted of non-political crimes and sentenced to prison could later be
executed as hostages and counted as reprisals. Numbers cited above are not comprehensive, but
they do suggest that executions, both criminal and hostage, increased after the invasion of the
Soviet Union. BAMA, RW 35/542; BAMA, RW 35/543.

after the fall

Figure 4.3. Daily life in Occupied France.

Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The invasion of the Soviet Union may not have signaled the start of (what
Germany regarded as) a new crime wave, but it did mark the beginning
of harsh repression based on an increase in the number of executions.
Taken as a whole, crime statistics and subjective security reports suggest
that German police did not encounter dangerous resistance activity while
they remained in charge of German security policy. The incidence of
murder, espionage, and sabotage all followed a downward trend through
the spring of 1942. German policemen had enough time to pursue trafc
scofaws and conscate shortwave radios. Resistance activity did not force
the MBF to adopt bloody reprisals.
International agreements in force during World War Two provided scant
protection for civilians in occupied territories, and European armies exploit-
ed this weakness throughout the modern era. British soldiers employed
collective reprisals during the Boer War and French troops seized German
hostages during the 1923 occupation of the Ruhr. During the Franco-
Prussian War, German forces had employed tactics that were comparable

first measures

to Strecciuss 1940 Measures. One historian has described the occupation of

Belgium between 1914 and 1918 as a sinister pre-run for the occupations
of World War Two. While resistance activity remained limited to cut-
ting telegraph cables and breaking curfew regulations, Otto von Stlpnagel
resisted the trend toward brutality and did not resort to hostage executions.
Fanning an ingrained fear of partisans, Hitler revised the military regula-
tions, eliminated traditional safeguards, and used unsavory precedents to
justify immediate and disproportionate reprisals against civilians. Abet-
ted by criminal orders from Berlin, many German ofcers succumbed to
guerillaphobia, shot all who looked askance, and advanced the racial goals
of the Nazi regime by focusing reprisals on Jews.

Best, Humanity in Warfare, p. 227.

Ben Shepherd, War in the Wild East: The German Army and Soviet Partisans (Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press, 2004), pp. 416, 527; Herbert, Best, pp. 6982; Mark Mazower,
Hitlers Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe (New York: Penguin, 2008), pp. 349353.

Resistance and reprisals

The 1939 Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact cast the French Communist

Party (PCF) and Nazi Germany into an uneasy alliance. In conjunction with
British and French liberals, the PCF had supported a united front against
fascism during the Spanish Civil War. Once Hitler and Stalin signed the
Non-Aggression Pact, the PCF condemned the Daladier and Chamberlain
governments as capitalist plutocrats and leading French communists like
Maurice Thorez refused to serve in the French army. In response, the
Daladier government banned the PCF on 27 August 1939 and forced
the party underground. Otto Abetz, the German ambassador in Paris,
met with representatives of the PCF central committee after France and
Germany signed the 1940 Armistice Agreement, but French police arrested
the communist delegates before negotiations could bear fruit and the
German military administration (Militarverwaltungsstab or MVW) refused
to intervene on their behalf. During the rst year of the Occupation,
branches of the German government remained neutral while the Vichy
regime and the PCF fought for the hearts and minds of French workers.
After German forces invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, the
tacit ceasere between the PCF and the MVW unraveled. Stalin ordered
communists throughout Europe to disrupt the Nazi war effort and German
authorities noticed a sharp increase in anti-German propaganda. Leaets

Duroselle, LAbme, pp. 324, 3843; Journal ofciel, number 11770, dated 27 September
BAMA, RW 36 (Kommandanturen der Militarverwaltung)/97/124; Lambauer, Otto Abetz
et le Francais, pp. 1434.
resistance and reprisals

that vilied Nazi Germany and celebrated the Soviet Union began to
appear in markets throughout Paris. Taking an optimistic tone, some
began to compare the current situation with that of 1812. The military
administration suspected that the propaganda came from Britain, but the
production of leaets dropped from 12,000 to 400 sheets per week after
French police seized covert printing presses in September 1941. Despite
the increase in anti-German propaganda during the summer, the military
commander in France (Militarbefehlshaber in Frankreich or MBF) believed
that French opinion showed faint sympathy for Great Britain, the Soviet
Union, or Nazi Germany.
Eight days after the invasion of the Soviet Union, Keitel allowed the
MBF to punish sabotage and guerrilla activity with the death penalty if
necessary, but he did not order a new terror campaign. His note of 30 June
1941 told the MBF to inform Berlin of incidents that might inuence
Franco-German relations so that Hitler, OKW, and the Foreign Ofce
could review sensitive cases and, if necessary, adjust the response. Keitels
relatively mild decree corresponded to the will of the Fhrer and granted
Stlpnagel a free hand with regard to French resistance activity. General
von Stlpnagel continued to follow his own policy. Jonathan Schmid, the
head of the entire military administration, encouraged the Vichy regime to
redouble its efforts against the PCF and directed SS police and intelligence
agencies to assist French efforts. The MBF supervised the arrest of suspected
communists and anarchists, but the entire campaign was carried out by
French gendarmes. Stlpnagel warned subordinates not to create martyrs
and preferred to let the Vichy government act in his stead. For the moment,
the military government operated in the background.
The MBF abandoned his pretense of neutrality and outlawed the PCF on
14 August. Publicized through radio announcements, newspaper articles,
and posters, his decree threatened to punish communist activity with death
and the distribution of anti-German leaets with fteen years in a German
prison. Although the Daladier government had outlawed the PCF in 1939
and subsequent French administrations had pursued communist militants

USNA, RG 242/T-501/166/776791; Stephane Courtois, Denis Peschanski, and Adam

Rayski, Le Sang de letranger: Les immigres de la MOI dans la Resistance (Paris: Fayard, 1989),
p. 119.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/970974; USNA, RG 242/T-501/144/4448; Laborie,
LOpinion francaise sous Vichy, pp. 253260.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/353. BALW, R 70 Frankreich/16/2124.

after the fall

throughout France, the MBFs 14 August 1941 decree allowed German

military courts to prosecute suspected communists. If caught by German
police forces, alleged communists had to face a German court martial and
could wind up in a German concentration camp. The PCF gained a ruthless
enemy on 14 August.
Germanys announcement spurred the French government to redouble
its efforts against communism. The Ministry of Justice began to design a
new branch of the judiciary that would prosecute suspected communists and
anarchists on 16 August. The so-called Sections speciales could try defendants
in absentia and decisions issued by the court could not be appealed. Convict-
ed communists or anarchists could be executed under existing sabotage and
treason statutes or through special powers vested in the new court. In addi-
tion, the military administration promised to review all cases of communist
activity that were investigated by French police or prosecuted by French
courts. If not satised with the results, the MVW threatened to retry cases
before a German court to achieve the desired outcome. The military admin-
istration allowed the French courts to handle cases of illegal association and
communist activity, but the threat of German intervention hovered over
Vichy ofcials who did not pursue communists with sufcient enthusiasm.
On the morning of 21 August 1941, a pair of young men entered the
Barbes-Rochechouart station of the Paris Metro and red two shots at
Alfons Moser, a German naval cadet. Both shots struck home, and the
30-year-old sailor died of his wounds a few hours later. That evening,
an unknown assailant attacked a German soldier in the Bastille Metro
station, but the corporal eventually recovered from his injuries. Although
it was not the rst murder case that involved a German victim and French
perpetrator, the Moser affair immediately attracted the attention of senior
German authorities in Paris.
German military courts had handled previous murder cases with little
fanfare because they fell under the rubric of property crimes or crimes of

USNA, RG 242/T-501/166/600608, 629630.

USNA, RG 242/T-501/166/610611; Weisberg, Vichy Law and the Holocaust in France,
pp. 375380. Published on 25 August 1941 in the Journal ofciel, the law that created the Sections
speciales was dated 14 August.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/166/615618, 623625.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/10381141; USNA, RG 242/T-77/1624/folder 12/nfn (GFP
report dated 21.8.41); Henri Nogueres, Histoire de la Resistance en France de 1940 a 1945, vol. II
(Paris: Robert Laffont, 1969), pp. 6984; Louis Oury, Rue du Roi-Albert: les otages de Nantes,
Chateaubriant et Bordeaux (Pantin: Le Temps des cerrises, 1997), pp. 667.

resistance and reprisals

passion. However, Moser, having arrived in Paris on 4 August, had not

been around long enough to make friends or enemies, and the assailants had
not stolen his wallet or identity papers. Ofcials from SS Security Service
(Sicherheitsdienst or SD), German navy, and the Commandant of greater
Paris discussed the assassination in the ofce of State Secretary Schmid
six hours after the attack. They concluded that communists had probably
carried out the attack to stir up anti-German resistance. General-Admiral
Saalwachter and Admiral Lietzmann, the head of Naval Group Command
West and his Chief of Staff respectively, referred to precedents set by the
army in the Soviet Union and demanded immediate reprisals in response to
the apparent political attack, but General von Stlpnagel chose to deliver
one nal warning. On 22 August, he declared that all French prisoners
held in German jails and prisoners detained in French jails at the request
of German authorities would be counted as hostages. The MBF threatened
to execute hostages in the event of further resistance activity and explained
that the gravity of the offense would determine the number of hostages
executed. Newspapers and posters carried a description of the MBFs
threat that same evening while radio stations broadcast the news over the
One day after the Moser attack, the French government sent the German
military administration a note that expressed regret for the assassination,
blamed the attack on communists, and hoped that German authorities
would not punish all Frenchmen for the actions of a few communist
miscreants. As per a tentative agreement reached on 20 August, the Vichy
government promised to create the Sections speciales and use the new court
to try six leading communists who were already interned by the French
police. In another meeting held on the same day, Fernand de Brinon
(Vichys ambassador in Paris) and State Secretary Jean Ingrand (the Delegate

Jackson, France. The Dark Years 19401944, p. 275; Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France, vol. II,
p. 20; and USNA, RG 242/T-501/143. The suspected intent of the alleged assailants determined
the German response. BAMA, RW 35/308/110111 and BAMA, RW 35/542/68.
BAMA, RW 35/308/122; USNA, RG 242/T-77/1614/folder 12/nfn (Fernmndlich von
Kapt. Lt. Lang, 22.8.41, Betr. Erschiessung Moser); USNA, RG 242/T-77/1614/folder 12/nfn
(Der MBF, Kommandostab Abt VOVF, An den Herrn Chef des Generalstabes, Betr. Moser,
Paris 1.9.41, Vortrag bei Komm. Adm. am 1.9 11 Uhr); BAMA, RW 35/542/1617.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/165/371374.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1614/folder 12/nfn (Delegation Generale du Gouvernement
Francais dans les Territoires Occupes, Attentat contre un ofcier de Marine Allemand: Position
du gouvernement Francais, 22 August).

after the fall

for the Minister of the Interior in the Occupied Territories) assured Major
Walter Beumelburg (the MVWs liaison with the French government in
Paris) that all six communists would be found guilty and sentenced to
death. Furthermore, Brinon and Ingrand promised to bring the guillotine
out of retirement and execute all six prisoners in public to demonstrate
Vichys resolve with a gruesome ourish.
The German government answered the French message on 22 August.
The reply expressed satisfaction with the French measures but insisted upon
several changes. First, the Germans wanted the Sections speciales to meet
behind closed doors. Second, they asked for some inuence over suspects
brought before the court. In a rare show of decorum, the German reply
requested that executions not be held in public, but it demanded that all
sentences be carried out by 28 August, or one week after the murder of
Cadet Moser. Finally, the German communique observed that the French
actions did not release Vichy from her obligation to aggressively investigate,
prosecute, and punish future attacks.
Brinon and Ingrand summed up the French position during a 23 August
meeting with Major Beumelburg. Brinon informed his German counter-
part that the Vichy government had formally created the Sections speciales
as promised and would begin to prosecute the Moser case on 26 August.
Ingrand had already met with prosecutors and made sure that they appre-
ciated the political importance of the cases. He told Beumelburg that
the Sections speciales would follow Vichys revolutionary legal reasoning
and fulll ofcial responsibilities to Germanys satisfaction. Adhering
to Germanys schedule, the Sections speciales convened on 26 August
and adjudicated eleven cases in three days. The court sentenced three
accused communists to death, six to terms of forced labor, and two to
short prison sentences and a ne. The Vichy government carried out
the death sentences immediately. Beumelburg concluded that the Vichy

USNA, RG 242/T-77/1614/folder 12/nfn (Der MBF, Kdo Stab Abt VOVF, 22.8.41,
Betr. Attentat gegen einen deutschen Marineofzier, Bezug: Mndliche Besprechung am 22.8
zwischen Botschafter de Brinon, Staatsrat Ingrand, Handelsrat Wilhelm, Mj. Beumelburg, und Lt.
Dr. Roesch); Joseph Barthelemy, Ministre de la Justice, Vichy 19411943: Memoires (Paris: Editions
Pygmalion/Gerard Watelet, 1989), p. 574ff.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1614/folder 12/nfn (VOVF, 22.8.41, Betr. Attentat gegen den
deutschen Wehrmachtsangehorigen Moser am 21.8.41, Erklarung des VOVF gegenber dem
Generalbevollmachtigten der franz. Regierung).
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1614/folder 12/nfn (MBF, Kdo. Stab. Abt. VOVF, 23 August 1941,
Betr. Attentat am 21.8 und Ausnahmegesetz vom 23.8).

resistance and reprisals

government wanted to preempt German intervention by carrying out its

own reprisals.
The French government initially expressed satisfaction with the outcome
of the Moser affair. When he learned that Stlpnagel had not demanded
massive nes or reprisals, Marshal Petain told his Chief of Staff that
he was absolutely satised. On 25 August he added that it could not
have turned out better. The French public did not appear to support
the attack or oppose Vichys response. Major Beumelburg thought that
the MBFs moderate reaction had enhanced Germanys standing both
among the general public and in ofcial circles. The death of Cadet
Moser had not provoked the military administration, stirred up widespread
support for resistance groups, nor driven a wedge between the Vichy
government and German military administration as the attackers had
The verdicts did not appease every German agency. The SD received
only a summary of evidence that was collected by the French police. To
fulll its study of the PCF, the SD demanded complete interrogation
transcripts and a comprehensive list of evidence seized during the course of
the French investigation. When more detailed information arrived a few
days later, the head of the SD in France, Helmut Knochen, complained
that the rst contingent appearing before the court only contained a
single Jew and no foreigners. Without much inuence inside the military
administration, complaints from even the most senior SS leaders typically
fell upon deaf ears during the rst months of the Occupation. The
Commanding Admiral of the German navy in France, Admiral Saalwachter,
also felt short-changed. Speaking through his liaison ofcer, Saalwachter
noted that the French government had promised to execute six leading
communists in the wake of Mosers death. As of 30 August, Vichy had
only carried out three death sentences. Saalwachter asked the military

USNA, RG 242/T-501/166/657; USNA, RG 242/T-77/1614/folder 12/nfn (MBF,

Kdo. Stab Abt. VOVF, 23 August 1941, Aufzeichnung, Betr. Ausnahmegesetz vom 23.8
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1614/folder 12/nfn (MBF Kdo. Stab Abt. VOVF, 23 August 1941,
Betr. Attentat am 21.8 und Ausnahmegesetz vom 23.8); USNA, RG 242/T-77/1614/folder
12/nfn (MBF Kdo. Stab Abt. VOVF, 25 August 1941, Betr. Gesprach mit Benoist Mechin am
25 August 1941).
Albert Ouzoulias, Les Fils de la nuit (Paris: Grasset, 1975), pp. 104110, 113118.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1614/folder 12/nfn (MBF Kdo. Stab Abt. VOVF, 27 August 1941,
Betr. Sonderverfahren gegen Kommunisten (Fall Moser)).

after the fall

administration to hold the Vichy government to its word and pressed for
three more executions.
The Chief of the MBF command staff, Colonel Hans Speidel, passed
along the navys complaint to ambassador de Brinon in a 3 September letter.
He expressed his deep disappointment that the French government had
not honored verbal assurances to execute six communists and added that it
was in the interests of the French people and Vichy government to fully
redeem such assurances in the shortest amount of time. Secretary Ingrand
gave the Ministry of Interiors preliminary response to Major Beumelburg.
He told the liaison ofcer that Germany could wait until the French
government fullled its promises or seize and execute communists on its
own. An hour after their rst meeting, Ingrand returned to Beumelburgs
ofce with a rather different message. He apologized for the delay, remarked
that the original promise to execute six communists was an oral agreement,
and observed that the Vichy government had to preserve the appearance of
judicial independence. Paris courts condemned another three communists
to death on 20 September, and the sentences were executed immediately.
The MBF informed the Kriegesmarine of the additional reprisals and laid the
Moser affair to rest in late September.
While the military administration, Vichy government, and German navy
argued over how to handle the Moser assassination, the resistance struck
again. On 3 September, two young men shot Sergeant Ernst Hoffmann as
he entered the Terminus Hotel near the Gare de lEst in Paris. After a brief
investigation, police somehow concluded that communists had carried out
the attack. In accordance with his 22 August announcement, General
von Stlpnagel ordered three hostage executions or, in the language of
the military administration, sabotage countermeasures. Acting upon advice
from Lieutenant-General Schaumburg and SS Brigadefhrer Dr. Thomas,

USNA, RG 242/T-77/1614/folder 12/nfn (30 August 1941, Betr. Shnemassnahmen fr

Mord an dem deutschen Wehrmachtangehorigen, Marinehilfsassistent Moser).
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1614/folder 12/nfn (Der MBF, Der Chef des Kommandostabes,
und Chef des Verwaltungsstabes, 3 September 1941, letter to Ambassador de Brinon).
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1614/folder 12/nfn (Der MBF Verwaltungsstab Abteilung Ver-
waltung, 11.9.1941, Betreff: Shnemassnahmen anlasslich der Ermordnung eines Wehrmacht-
sangehorigen, Sachbearbeiter: KVR Dr. Grohmann).
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1614/folder 12/nfn (MBF Verwaltungsstab Abteilung Verwaltung,
9.41, Aktenzeichen Vju 821.1598.41, Betreff Anschlag auf den Wehrmachtangehorigen Moser,
Schreiben an den Kommand. Admiral Frankreich).
BAMA, RW 35/542/4243; Nogueres, Histoires de la Resistance en France, vol. II,
pp. 1289.

resistance and reprisals

the Commandant of greater Paris and the head of the SS/SD in France
respectively, the MBF selected three Jewish communists who had already
been convicted of non-capital crimes by German military courts. The
executions took place on 6 Septemberthree days after the Hoffmann
Although he followed contingency plans laid out in 1940, Stlpnagels
anti-partisan strategy came under re once again. This time, the trouble
came from Berlin. General Eduard Wagner, the quartermaster of the army
(OKH Generalquartiermeister), forwarded Hitlers view of the Hoffmann
affair to General von Stlpnagel on 7 September. The Fhrer complained
that a German soldier is worth more than three communists, believed the
MBFs response was much too mild, and considered the three executions
to only be a preliminary measure. If the authorities did not capture the
perpetrators in the immediate future, Hitler advised his eld commander
to execute another fty communists, and he added that they had to be
leading communists because Frenchmen, particularly French communists,
were worth much less than a single Aryan. The Fhrer urged Stlpnagel to
arrest another 300 hostages and execute 100 of them immediately after the
next assassination. In closing, Hitler demanded a telegraphic report on the
entire matter.
Strategic questions may have forestalled Hitlers intervention during the
Moser affair in the latter half of August. As General von Stlpnagel
responded to the Moser assassination, the Fhrer refereed a squabble
between his leading generals on the eastern front. The argument came
to a head during a 23 August 1941 meeting between General Guderian,
the leading proponent of a direct attack on Moscow, and more cautious
generals who favored an advance into the Ukraine. During the relative
calm of early September, Hitler had time to learn about and comment on
the Hoffmann case. Pressing events in the Soviet Union again diverted
Hitlers attention in the latter half of September and allowed Stlpnagel to
delay his reply to the 7 September Hitler/Wagner message. Although often
distracted by events on the eastern front, Hitler could exercise a decisive

USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/375; BAMA, RW 35/542/1819, 120.

BAMA, RW 35/543/18. Abetz, Das offene Problem, p. 197.
David M. Glantz and Jonathan M. House, When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped
Hitler (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1995), pp. 748; Ian Kershaw, Hitler 193645:
Nemesis (New York: Norton, 2000), pp. 411419.

after the fall

inuence over French affairs when a bit of news caught his interest and
tted his agenda.
Complaints about the handling of the Hoffmann attack lost their salience
as new problems overshadowed previous concerns. Before General von
Stlpnagel replied to the 7 September Wagner note, resistance groups
launched three more attacks. On 6 September, unidentied cyclists shot
at but missed a German corporal. Four days later, partisans shot a German
sailor in the leg. Finally, on 12 September, someone hit a German
paymaster over the head with a blackjack. None of the assaults proved
to be fatal, but General von Stlpnagel chose to respond to all three
attacks by executing ten hostages. While Hitlers 7 September comments
did not change Germanys response to the Hoffmann attack, they may
have pushed the MBF toward a more strident response to subsequent
The Commandant of greater Paris went even further than General
von Stlpnagel. In a 19 September announcement, Lieutenant-General
Schaumburg complained that Frenchmen had not helped the police catch
perpetrators who had carried out the September attacks. To punish the
population, Schaumburg imposed a curfew for the entire Seine region
between 20 and 23 September. All restaurants, theaters, and bars had to
close by eight oclock, and the public had to be off the streets one hour
later. Those who violated the curfew, the message warned, would be
arrested by German police and could serve as hostages in the event of
another assassination. Simple mistakes could lead to a prison sentence,
and all prisoners could, in turn, serve as hostages. Even the most apolitical
Frenchman could not afford to ignore German regulations.
Although much less common, acts of resistance were not limited to
Paris. On 18 September, partisans sabotaged the CourbonMontigny
Veauxhaulles railroad line in northeastern France. Both the MBF and
generals in Berlin regarded railroad sabotage as a very serious threat that
directly undermined the German war effort. In this case, they responded
by executing two hostages on 23 September. The MBF approved an
extremely slight number of hostage executions because a French railroad
worker had spotted the sabotage before any real damage had occurred.

BAMA, RW 35/542/4345. BAMA, RW 35/1/4145.

BAMA, RW 35/542/4647.

resistance and reprisals

General von Stlpnagel used reprisals to teach Frenchmen that resistance

did not pay. After the Moser attack, the French government executed six
prominent French communists to head off a direct German intervention.
General von Stlpnagel sent three Jewish communists before a German
ring squad after the attack on Sergeant Hoffmann. A series of non-fatal
attacks that were carried out between 6 and 12 September resulted in
the execution of ten hostages. Fatal attacks generally evoked a stronger
response than non-fatal assaults, and the rank of the victim may have
also inuenced the German response. After unknown individuals killed
Captain Schebena transport ofcer who worked in northern Parison
15 September, the MBF ordered the execution of twelve hostages on
19 September. Slowly but surely, the MBF increased the number of
reprisal executions to drive his point home.
The military administration used prisoners who had already been con-
victed by a German military court as hostages. Of the ten people who
were shot after the Hoffmann attack, four had been convicted of illegally
possessing a rearm and six had been found guilty of communist activity
but had not received the death penalty. In the Scheben case, six of the
victims had been convicted of sabotage or other serious crimes, three had
been sentenced to short prison terms for comparatively minor crimes, and
three had been placed under administrative arrest by the secret German
military police (Geheime Feldpolizei or GFP). Two convicted communists
paid for the 18 September railroad sabotage in northeastern France. The
military administration tried not to execute completely innocent people,
but a large number of reprisal executions sometimes made that difcult.
When the supply of dangerous convicts ran short (as in the Scheben case),
Frenchmen convicted of price control violations or speaking against the
German army could get drawn into the hostage process.
General von Stlpnagel suspected that communists stood behind most
resistance activity in France, but he did not dismiss the possibility that
French chauvinists and Anglophiles had carried out some attacks. He
ordered French and German wardens to send him a list of prisoners along
with biographical information and a summary of the evidence against each
prisoner. With a detailed list of potential hostages that could be sorted
by region, criminal history, or political association, the MBF could aim

BAMA, RW 35/542/4546. BAMA, RW 35/542/4347.

after the fall

reprisals at people somehow connected to or associated with the suspected

perpetrators. Based on a careful study of reports from his regional and
district commanders, the MBF concluded that resistance activity remained
largely uncoordinated and the act of isolated, anti-German people who had
somehow escaped the clutches of the French and German policemen.
Throughout the fall of 1941, General von Stlpnagel and the military
administration followed Strecciuss Measures to Prevent Sabotage and
focused reprisals on anti-German groups. They favored a nuanced response
that mixed prohibitions, nes, and hostage executions. The MBF answered
serious anti-German activity with gradually increasing executions in an
attempt to show Frenchmen that resistance did not pay. Stlpnagel tried
to select victims in a way that would minimize anti-German sentiments
and not upset allies in Vichy. His methods followed traditional German
doctrine and did not stray far from comparable rules governing the actions
of Allied armies during World War Two. Analysis of guidelines issued by
the military administration and actual reprisals carried out by the MBF
suggests that they both favored a ruthless but logical anti-partisan policy.
Leaders in Berlin favored a different course. Shortly after the invasion
of the Soviet Union, Keitel allowed General von Stlpnagel to execute
people for sabotage, espionage, or atrocities against German soldiers if the
reprisals would enhance the security of German troops. His memo neither
encouraged nor discouraged reprisals; he left the MBF with a free hand.
Hitler did not comment on specic reprisals until he learned about the
3 September attack on Sergeant Hoffmann. Speaking through General
Wagner, the Fhrer criticized Stlpnagel for being much too mild and
advised him to execute at least fty leading communists after each attack.
Unlike his Chief of Staff, Hitler demanded severe reprisals from the start.
Keitel slavishly adjusted his own views to match Hitlers approach. In
a top-secret order written at the Fhrers behest, Keitel informed military
leaders throughout Europe that
[s]ince the start of the campaign against Soviet Russia, communist insurrections
have broken out everywhere in areas occupied by Germany . . . [H]ere is a

USNA, RG 242/T-501/166/8998; Fattig, Reprisal, pp. 789; Ernst Roskothen, Gross-

Paris, Place de la Concorde: Ein Wehrmachtsrichter erinnert sich (Bad Drrheim: Kuhn, 1977),
pp. 119120; USNA, RG 242/T-77/1625/folder 75479/nfn (Der MBF, 28.9.1941, Betr. Geisel-
nahme, Bezug. Erlass vom 26 Marz 1941).
USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/973.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/353; BAMA, RW 35/543/18.

resistance and reprisals

mass movement, uniformly directed by Moscow which must be charged with the
responsibility even for separate incidents of seemingly minor importance in areas
heretofore quiet . . . One must also expect nationalistic and other circles to exploit
this opportunity in order to create difculties for the German occupying power by
joining the communist uprising . . . In every case of rebellion against the German
occupying power, no matter what the individual circumstances may be, communist
origins must be assumed to be present.

Unlike General von Stlpnagel, Hitler assumed that communists carried out
or coordinated all attacks against Germany. Resistance had to be treated
with the same methods in each area under German control because it
emanated from the same source: Moscow. These fundamental assumptions
precluded the need to tailor German tactics to particular local conditions.
In the same 16 September 1941 directive quoted above, the Fhrer
denounced Stlpnagels policy of relatively mild punishments and outlined
an appropriate response to resistance activity:
In order to nip agitation in the bud the harshest measures must be employed
immediately at the rst occasion, so as to make the authority of the occupying power
prevail and prevent any further spread [of resistance activity] . . . [H]uman life is
often considered to be of no value in the countries concerned, and a deterrent
effect can be attained only through unusual severity. In these cases in general
the death penalty for 50 to 100 communists must be considered an appropriate
atonement for the life of a single German soldier . . . The only real deterrent here
is the death penalty. In particular, acts of sabotage, acts of espionage and attempts
to enter foreign armed forces must be punished with death as a matter of principle.

Hitler and Keitel broke with traditional conceptions of law and justice by
placing no value on human life and establishing punishments that were
not proportional to the original crime. In doing so, the National Socialist
regime entered legal territory that had not been explored for hundreds of
To further complicate matters, Nazi legal theory demanded a swift and
immediate response to each and every crime. A memo sent to all regimental
commanders in France summed up the principle with the phrase swift
justice is good justice. All sentences had to be immediate and harsh

DGFP, ser. D, vol. XIII, pp. 5413; Fattig, Reprisal, pp. 616; Philip W. Blood, Hitlers
Bandit Hunters: The SS and the Nazi Occupation of Europe (Washington, DC: Potomac Books,
2008), pp. 635.
BAMA, RW 35/209/211, 259260.

after the fall

because hesitation or mercy could be interpreted as signs of weakness by

opponents. After receiving repeated instructions from judicial authorities
in Berlin, the MBF eventually told subordinate military judges that [t]he
safety and respect of the occupation forces requires the swift, hard, and
uniform administration of justice. Reprisals had to be carried within days
of the original attack. The need for speed gave local policemen scant
opportunity to collect evidence or arrest actual perpetrators. With only
sketchy information collected immediately after an attack, the military
administration could only arrest and execute the usual suspects: Jews and
communists. Arbitrary reprisals often terried the public but, particularly if
they missed their intended target, usually failed to deter further resistance
activity. Once again, regulations from Berlin undermined the general
strategy of the MBF.
Several nuances linked Hitlers anti-partisan policy with the Final Solu-
tion. First, the Fhrer considered the resistance to be under the control of
the international Jewish conspiracy. Both Judaism and communism could
only be defeated by the strongest measures. Subsequent paragraphs of the
16 September directive explained that [o]nly in this manner [employ-
ing harsh reprisals], which has always been used by great nations as they
expand, can tranquility be restored. In other words, precedent allowed
Germany to liquidate enemies, expand her borders, and secure living space
or Lebensraum for the German people. Third, the number of executions
(50100) reected Hitlers concept of race. In his mind, a single Aryan was
inherently more valuable than a Slav or other racial group. Terminology
and theory linked anti-partisan measures to the Final Solution.

USNA, RG 242/T-77/1626/folder 01/nfn (Der MBF Kommandostab Abt. III, Tgb Nr.
164/41 geh., Paris 28 September 1941, Zu allen Gerichten im Bereich des MBF).
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1626/folder 01/nfn (Der MBF Kommandostab Abt. III, Tgb Nr.
164/41 geh., Paris 28 September 1941, Zu allen Gerichten im Bereich des MBF). Emphasis in
the original.
Rab Bennett, Under the Shadow of the Swastika: The Moral Dilemmas of Resistance and
Collaboration in Hitlers Europe (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1999), pp. 99103, argues that military
governments and the SS carried out reprisals according to predetermined quotas: 10 Frenchmen,
100 Poles, or 500 Slavs would be executed for each German soldier killed. Bennett cites Fattig,
Reprisal, p. 159; Fattig makes no such claim. Orders from Keitel and Hitler give no indication
that they wanted French resistance groups to be treated differently from their counterparts in
Eastern Europe or the Soviet Union.
For Hitlers ideas on the relationship between anti-Semitism and Marxism, see Ian Kershaw,
Hitler, 18891936: Hubris (New York: Norton, 1998), pp. 243250; and Philippe Burrin, Hitler
and the Jews: The Genesis of the Holocaust, translated by Patsy Southgate (London: Edward Arnold,
1994), pp. 2439.

resistance and reprisals

Anti-partisan strategy played an important role in Hitlers general strategy

and worldview or Weltanschauung. He viewed partisan warfare as a mixed
blessing that could be turned to Germanys advantage. During a 16 July
1941 conference, the Fhrer informed Lammers, Rosenberg, Goring, and
Bormann that
[t]he Russians have now given an order for partisan warfare behind our front.
This partisan war again has some advantages for us; it enables us to exterminate
everyone who opposes us . . . [T]he best solution (to partisan activity) was to shoot
anybody who looked askance.

The same concept appeared in Himmlers appointment book. An entry

dated 18 December 1941 stated: Jewish Question/to be exterminated as
partisans. Hitlers anti-partisan policy was much more than a mere question
of tactics; it literally connected military strategy to Nazi racial policy and
enmeshed the army in the Final Solution.
As subsequent orders made clear, Hitler and Keitel tried to terror-
ize the French population into submission. Reich Propaganda Minister
Dr. Goebbels made this intention explicit in a message sent to Stlpnagel
on 19 September. Rather than keeping the hostage policy or hostage execu-
tions secret to avoid popular unrest, the Minister of Propaganda advised the
MBF to explain the hostage policy to the French nation and publish a list of
hostages. Goebbels suggested that, after each resistance attack, the military
administration should simply execute hostages whose names appeared at
the top of the published list. He thought that this would force all hostages
and their allies to do everything in their power to squelch resistance activ-
ity. Goebbels plan sacriced the appearance of a benign occupation in
exchange for a ruthless and invincible reputation. At the very least, the letter
told the MBF that Goebbels would not support a moderate anti-partisan
policy. Obviously, Goebbels preferred sticks over carrots and assumed an
unusual policy stance in light of his position as Propaganda Minister.
While outlining Hitlers strategy against partisans, the 16 September
decree clearly articulated several tenets of National Socialism. It intimidated
all Frenchmen, blamed resistance activity on communists, and called for
bloody reprisals. In most respects, Hitlers anti-partisan policy had little

DGFP, ser. D, vol XIII, pp. 150, 154.

DGFP, ser. D, vol. XIII, pp. 149156; Blood, Hitlers Bandit Hunters, pp. 645.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/97/407408; BAMA, RH 3 (OKH Generalquartiermeister)/204/7.

after the fall

in common with military tradition, international law, or customs that

correlated punishments with the gravity of the original crime. As such,
it contradicted the strategy and tactics designed by the MBF and military
administration between July 1940 and September 1941.
In light of the 7 September Hitler/Wagner telegram, the MBF had
reason to believe that he and his policies did not enjoy Hitlers favor.
Shortly after the Hitler/Keitel directive arrived on 16 September, General
von Stlpnagel discussed his situation with Field Marshal von Brauchitsch.
The commander of the German army did not think the 16 September order
had to be taken literally. He believed that the number of hostage executions
could be adjusted to suit circumstances in France and advised Stlpnagel
to treat the document as a policy guideline. Although he understood the
difculties that the MBF faced, Brauchitsch thought that Stlpnagel had
Spielraumroom to maneuver.

Figure 5.1. General Otto von Stlpnagel (right) consults Field Marshal Walter
von Brauchitsch in Paris, 21 May 1941.
Photograph courtesy of Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H29377.

BAMA, RW 35/46/66.

resistance and reprisals

Both Generals Warlimont (OKW Operations, planning staff) and Wagner

(OKH General Quartermaster) heard of the MBFs conversation with
Field Marshal von Brauchitsch and tried to set General von Stlpnagel
straight in separate messages. On 18 September 1941, Warlimont told the
MBF that [p]lots against the occupying army must be crushed with all
sharpness, regardless of the state in which they occurred. He explained that
Hitler continued to blame Moscow for all resistance activity and believed
that Vichy would not object if Germany liquidated undesirable people.
According to Warlimont, the 16 September order could not be adjusted to
suit local circumstances.
General Wagner spoke with Major Crome, the intelligence ofcer of
the MBFs command staff (Kommandostab) on 19 September. Without
mincing words, Wagner told Crome that Brauchitsch misunderstood his
superiors in Berlin. The major allowed the matter to drop and turned his
attention toward other problems. Curfews imposed by the Commandant
of greater Paris, Crome asserted, forced French workers to arrive late and
leave early. As a result, military production suffered. The quartermaster
refused to intervene but suggested that curfews be imposed over holidays
or the weekends. Like Warlimont, Wagner did not help the military
administration moderate reprisals that damaged the German war effort.
General von Stlpnagel received no support from superiors in Berlin.
Wagner passed along Hitlers rst critique of the MBFs mild policy
on 7 September 1941. Nine days later, Keitel sent orders that explicitly
denounced gradual methods. A few days after that, Warlimont and Wag-
ner told the military administration that Hitler meant business with the
16 September decree. Although the 7 September Wagner/Hitler telegram
demanded an immediate response, the MBF held his tongue. A full month
after he received Hitlers original critique from Wagner, General von
Stlpnagel nally answered Hitlers charges one by one.
Stlpnagel began by pointing out that the military administration had
reported the Hoffmann attack to the supreme commander of German
forces on the western front (Oberbefehlshaber West or Ob West) but, because
of the Moser affair and other pressing matters, did not think the incident
worthy of a special report to Berlin. In the future, he promised to report

BAMA, RW 35/536/13.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/196/1069; Fattig, Reprisal, pp. 618.

after the fall

similar attacks to Berlin immediately. The MBF also reported that over
4,000 Frenchmen who came from every walk of life and shade of the
political spectrum were being held in German prison camps and had been
designated as hostages. He saw no need to arrest additional hostages and
implied that Hitler did not really understand the situation in France.
Without mincing words, Stlpnagel then argued that three hostage
executions were indeed an appropriate response to the Hoffmann attack. He
lauded French anti-terrorist efforts and insisted that bloody reprisals would
undermine German allies throughout the Hexagon. The MBF wanted
to gradually increase his response to resistance activity and specically
rejected a schematic or predetermined solution to any particular attack.
Mass executions, Stlpnagel explained, might encourage passive resistance
among French workers and endanger German troops who depended on
French supplies. More than his colleagues in Berlin, the MBF understood
the scope and value of French collaboration.
To further strengthen his case, Stlpnagel pointed out that Ambas-
sador Abetz shared the MBFs interpretation of events. Apparently Hitler
did not discuss the question of reprisals during a 16 September 1941
meeting with the ambassador, but Abetz did oppose reprisals that were
carried out toward the end of October because they turned the French
public against Germany. The Paris embassy often criticized Stlpnagel
and coveted the authority of the military administration. During the
fall of 1941, the ambassador tried to control the selection of hostages,
but he was rebuffed by military leaders in Berlin. With regard to
reprisals, Abetz set his ambition aside and tried to help the MBF moderate
Hitlers reprisal policy in order to advance his policy of Franco-German
The nal paragraph of Stlpnagels 11 October letter to OKH described
the current situation as unbearable. The MBF believed that mass execu-
tions ran counter to the basic political guidelines issued before and after
the Armistice Agreement. He requested a new statement of Germanys
objectives and asked for an immediate recall if compelled to obey the 7 and
16 September orders. The MBF demanded some room to maneuver and
backed it up with an offer to resign. Stlpnagels demarche arrived during

BAMA, RW 35/543/2325.
DGFP, ser. D, vol. XIII, pp. 518520, 6825; Lambauer, Otto Abetz et les Francais, p. 429.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/354.

resistance and reprisals

the climax of one of the great encirclement battles of World War Two:
Operation Typhoon. His vitriolic reply must have seemed insignicant
when compared to news that German troops had surrounded over 660,000
Soviet soldiers near Vyazma. Favorable news from the eastern front
probably took the sting out of Stlpnagels protest, but the fundamental
disagreement remained.
Assassinations carried out by resistance groups in August and September
1941 reveal a difference of opinion within the German military hierarchy.
As he responded to the Moser, Hoffman, and Scheben attacks, the MBF
tried to focus reprisals on bona de opponents and followed traditional Ger-
man military doctrine, but his response did not satisfy Nazis in Berlin. Hitler
rejected Stlpnagels reprisals because they did not reect Nazi racial ideas.
Although he initially allowed the MBF to act as he saw t, Keitel lived up
to his nickname Lakaitel (an amalgamation of his surname and the German
word Lakai, meaning lackey), embraced Hitlers point of view, abandoned
his subordinate, and ordered the execution of 50100 Frenchmen for
each German killed by resistance groups. Senior generals in Berlin quickly
followed suit, repeated Hitlers formula, and denounced Stlpnagels meth-
ods. Critiques advanced by Keitel, Warlimont, and Wagner reveal Hitlers
inuence over his military coterie. Pressure generated by French resistance
activity divided political generals in Berlin from eld commanders in Paris.
While the MBF bickered with superiors in Berlin, the Paris branch of the
SS/SD chose to act. In the fall of 1941, Eugene Deloncle, a veteran of the
Cagoule and founder of the ultra-fascist Mouvement Social Revolutionnaire,
asked his SS/SD patrons to help him avenge assassination attempts against
Pierre Laval and Marcel Deat that were carried out on 27 August. With
Heydrich and Knochens approval, SS Major (Sturmbannfhrer) Sommer
procured explosives from Berlin and, on the afternoon of 2 October,
distributed twelve bombs to four of Deloncles followers. Later that night,
the men drove around Paris and bombed seven synagogues. One of the
explosives proved to be a dud, but the remaining eleven damaged six
temples, shattered nearby windows, and wounded two soldiers who were
guarding an adjacent German dormitory.

Glantz and House, When Titans Clashed, pp. 7881.

Gordon, Collaborationism in France during the Second World War, p. 68; Nogueres, Histoire de
la Resistance en France, vol. II, pp. 105108.
BAMA, RH 3/142/258261.

after the fall

Since the early days of the Occupation, SS agents stationed in France

had stood far from the nexus of power. Only the military administration
and their subordinates in the GFP had executive authority or the ability
to make arrests. Unable to do serious police work, the SS studied anti-
German groups, helped the Einsatzstab Rosenberg, and advised the Paris
embassy. In keeping with their academic mission, SS agents conscated
artwork and pillaged the archives of various Jewish institutions. They
also purged the French economy of Jewish inuences by determining
the racial background of business owners. Unaware of Major Sommers
involvement in the synagogue bombings, the MBF asked the resident
expert on Jewish affairsthe SSfor additional information about the
The task of answering Stlpnagels questions fell to SS Lieutenant-
Colonel (Obersturmbannfhrer) Helmut Knochen. The SS deputy comman-
der faced a very dangerous political situation because two German soldiers
had been wounded in the bombings. To reduce his liability, Knochen
limited his response to passing along rumors, newspaper accounts, and
French police reports. He told the MBF that most Frenchmen attributed
the attacks to Jews who were trying to elicit public sympathy. Pointing
to the organized nature of the attacks, French gendarmes suspected that
Deloncle stood behind the bombings. Knochen also observed that Germans
may have carried out the attacks because anyone else on the streets between
two and four in the morning would have been arrested for violating the
curfew. Some press reports, he added, suggested that Englishmen may have
carried out the attacks. Submitted on 4 October, Knochens report did not
reveal SS involvement.
Knochen and Sommer nearly covered up the SSs role in the synagogue
bombings. On the night of the attacks, Sommer had been out drinking
with a German naval ofcer and had a solid alibi, but the naval ofcer
later informed the military administration that Sommer had met with
men who were associated with Deloncle very early in the morning of 3
October, declared that has gone very well, and mentioned something
about explosive charges. After conducting additional inquiries, ofcials
assigned to the Commandant of greater Paris traced the truck used in

USNA, RG 242/T-501/196/655656; BAMA, RW 35/2/146.

BAMA, RH 3/142/263264.

resistance and reprisals

Figure 5.2. Helmut Knochen.

Photograph courtesy of the Bundesarchiv, Bild 101III-Alber-09611.

the attacks back to the SS. When questioned by military police, Sommer
accused the naval ofcer of being drunk and denied any part in the seven
bombings, but only six attacks had been reported in the press because one
of the charges had not detonated. Sommers mistake incriminated the SS,
and his subsequent denial linked Knochen to the affair.

BAMA, RH 3/142/257261; Bargatzky, Hotel Majestic, p. 104.

after the fall

Acting on orders from Heydrich, Sommer and Knochen ed to Berlin

as the cover-up fell apart. With damaging evidence in hand, General von
Stlpnagel reported the matter to the commander of the army (Oberbe-
fehlshaber des Heeres) on 8 October. He demanded the recall of Sommer,
accused Knochen of submitting a false report, and complained that both
had placed the military administration in a difcult situation vis-a-vis the
French government. After the Moser assassination, Stlpnagel had promised
to shoot hostages if more German soldiers were attacked. Although two
German sentries were wounded in the synagogue bombings, the MBF
could not carry out reprisals because the SS had organized the campaign.
He could either admit German complicity and seem inept or do nothing
and appear inconsistent. Either way, Stlpnagels prestige suffered. General
Wagner passed Stlpnagels complaint to Heydrich and asked for the recall
of Dr. Max Thomas, the head of the entire SS contingent, because a leader
should be held accountable for the actions of his subordinates.
Although he had immense power, Heydrich had to reply with great care
in light of the grave charges leveled against the SS. In his 6 November
response to OKH, Himmlers right-hand man argued that Jews had to
be punished for the wave of sabotage and assassination. By encouraging
Deloncles followers to attack synagogues, Heydrich tried to show that
Germany had allies in the war against international Judaism. The fact
that Nazi Germany had allies, he explained, far outweighed any damage
to the MBFs prestige. Heydrich had attacked the responsible arsonist
in Europe, which must nally disappear, with the approval of a higher
ofce. He claimed that General von Stlpnagel did not really understand
the ideological war that the Nazis were ghting and told Wagner that I
was fully conscious of the political implications of measures (against the
Paris synagogues), since I have been authorized for many years to prepare
the nal solution to the Jewish question in Europe. Without admitting
any malfeasance, Heydrich recalled Thomas and Sommer but left Knochen
in Paris. With the Final Solution looming on the immediate horizon,
Heydrich needed ruthless anti-Semites on the eastern front.
OKH and the MBF both rejected Heydrichs explanation. They accused
the SS of violating agreements that outlined the responsibilities of the Black

BAMA, RH 3/142/252256, 271272.

BAMA, RH 3/142/293296. Burrin, Hitler and the Jews, pp. 1245.

resistance and reprisals

Corps in France. Unless compelled by an emergency situation, the SS did

not have the power to act without the approval of the MBF, and the
bombing of synagogues did not qualify as an emergency. Furthermore,
Himmler had promised to tell OKW about any new orders that might
affect the political situation in France. But the MBF could not force the SS
to keep its promises. When it allowed the Black Corps into France in 1940,
the army conceded the right to prosecute wayward SS men in a military
court martial. Without the power to prosecute SS offenders, neither the
MBF nor OKH could hold the SS to its word. Concessions that had
appeared insignicant in 1940 began to haunt the army in 1941.
Disagreements over the conscation of Jewish art had strained armySS
relations in 1940. After the October 1941 synagogue bombings, Stlpnagel
ordered his subordinates not to speak with SS ofcers in public or private
and banned the Black Corps from his headquarters in the Hotel Majestic.
The twin legacies of art conscations and the synagogue bombings ensured
that armySS relations would never be cordial in France. In light of
Hitlers Weltanschauung, his criticism of the MBF, and the 16 September
directive, the Black Corps stood to gain a great deal by championing radical
measures against the racial enemies of the Reich. The synagogue bombings
distinguished the SS from the traditional Wehrmacht and placed the former
in an ideal position to succeed the latter when Hitler launched the Final
Solution to the Jewish Question. Without any political or economic
responsibilities in France, the SS had nothing to lose.

BAMA, RH 3/142/297300; BAMA, RW 35/698/2728; BAMA, RW 35/209/211212.

Bargatzky, Hotel Majestic, pp. 103106; BAK, N 1023/8/1112; BAK, All. Proz.

The end of ambiguity

Like their German opponents, French resistance groups suffered from

internal divisions. After the 1940 Armistice, French nationalists could,
among other things, support a Vichy regime that collaborated with Frances
traditional enemy, join a rather unknown General de Gaulle in London,
take independent action against Germany, or do nothing and watch events
unfold. Charles de Gaulle led a diverse group of expatriates in London but
had little inuence inside metropolitan France before 1942. Discredited
by defeat, moderate political parties remained in disarray throughout the
Vichy era and could not lead potential dissidents. French Communists
rebuilt an organization that had been ravaged by arrests ordered by the
Reynaud, Daladier, and Petain governments. The French Communist
Party (PCF) discussed policies of resistance and collaboration but generally
followed an attentiste or wait-and-see strategy before the invasion of
the Soviet Union. Regardless of their political orientation, anti-German
individuals enjoyed little support from traditional political parties before
June 1941.
The invasion of the Soviet Union forced the PCF to embrace a policy of
resistance and raised a series of tactical questions. Should the PCF join forces
with Charles de Gaulle in London? How should it attack Nazi Germany?
The bulk of the communist party adopted a policy of resistance limited to
sabotage, propaganda, and passive resistance. While dangerous and heroic,

Eric Roussel, Charles de Gaulle (Paris: Gallimard, 2002), pp. 2324; Laborie, LOpinion
francaise sous Vichy, pp. 266274.
the end of ambiguity

none of these actions could defeat Nazi Germany on their own. Some
factions within left-wing resistance groups chose to go one step further.
Based on their rst-hand experiences with Nazi methods, some immigrants
from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, and other eastern European nations
joined a faction of the PCF known as the Main-duvre immigree (MOI)
and pushed for more direct action. Veterans of the Spanish Civil War
and a number of young left-wing zealots rejected the PCFs temperate
approach and chose to attack Germany directly. In Paris, MOI militants
coalesced around Albert Ouzoulias and Pierre Georges (aka Fredo and
later Colonel Fabien). Together, they formed what later became known
as the bataillons de la jeunesse and embarked on a campaign of sabotage and
During August and September, the bataillons de la jeunesse conned their
activities to the Paris region. Their efforts resulted in the Moser, Hoffmann,
and Scheben assassinations. Around 15 October, Ouzoulias and Georges
dispatched three incendiary groups (groupes de brlots) to provincial centers.
Maurice Le Berre and Jacques dAndurain traveled to Rouen and, with
help from a local resistance group, destroyed a section of the RouenLe
Havre railroad line on 19 October. Gilbert Brustlein and Guisco Spartaco
assassinated a German ofcer in Nantes on the very next day. Pierre
Rebiere met French and Spanish resistance ghters in Bordeaux and killed
a German ofcial on 21 October. Although the railroad sabotage in Rouen
did not pass unnoticed, assassinations in Nantes and Bordeaux provoked
massive German reprisals and accelerated the spiral of violence that had
begun in August with the Moser assassination.
Assassinations carried out by the groupes de brlots transformed three
critical relationships in France during World War Two. First, they strained
Franco-German relations. Subsequent German reprisals dispelled the neutral
or, in some cases, positive image of the German occupiers and pushed
some Frenchmen toward resistance. Cordial collaboration devolved into
begrudging acquiescence. Second, assassinations and reprisals divided the
military administration in Paris from superiors in Berlin. While Stlpnagel

Taylor, Between Resistance and Collaboration, pp. 612; Albert Ouzoulias, Les Bataillons de la
jeunesse (Paris: Editions sociales, 1967); Courtois et al., Le Sang de letranger, pp. 1234; Oury, Rue
du Roi-Albert, pp. 615.
Ouzoulias, Les Fils de la Nuit, pp. 177185; Nogueres, Histoire de la Resistance en France,
vol. II, pp. 147152.

after the fall

viewed resistance as a political and military phenomenon, Hitler believed

it to be the result of a Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy and focused his policy
accordingly. Rather than carry out a policy that he thought to be unwise,
Otto von Stlpnagel rst protested through ofcial channels and later
resigned his command. Third, bitter argument over German reprisal policy
strained relations between German agencies that operated in Paris. As
they struggled to control reprisal policy, the army, Foreign Ofce, and
SS fought with each other. Debate aggravated latent antagonisms and
undermined any spirit of cooperation. Franco-German and German inter-
agency cooperation determined the success or failure of policy initiatives
during the nal two years of the Occupation.
Around 7:45 on the morning of Monday, 20 October 1941, Gilbert
Brustlein and Guisco Spartaco walked across Nantess Place de la Cathedrale
toward a pair of German ofcers who were on their way to work. After
selecting their prey, both men drew pistols and opened re. Spartacos
pistol jammed and his quarry escaped unscathed, but three of the shots
red by Brustlein struck the second German ofcer in the back. According
to Brustleins account, the mortally wounded German fell down howling
like a slaughtered pig as the two guerrillas made their escape. Although he
did not know it at the time, Brustlein had just killed Lieutenant-Colonel
Karl Friedrich Hotz, the Feldkommandant of Nantes.
News of the assassination traveled up the German chain of command.
First Lieutenant Kalbhenn, the local intelligence ofcer in Nantes, told
his superior in Angers, Captain Dr. Schrader, about the attack around
eight in the morning, and Schrader immediately passed the news along
to Major Crome, the intelligence ofcer for the MBF Kommandostab in
Paris. Schrader and representatives from the GFP and SD then drove from
Angers to Nantes so they could direct the German response. When the
three ofcers arrived in Nantes, they spoke with two ofcials who were
attached to the local military administration. The ve ofcers sealed off the
center of the city and arrested the French prefect, his cabinet chiefs, and
other local notables for anti-German activity.

Gildea, Marianne in Chains, pp. 2436; USNA, RG 242/T-77/1588/01/nfn (MVW Bezirk

B, Abt Ic Nr 1002/41, Lagebericht der Abt Ic fr die Zeit vom 16.9 bis 15.11.41); Oury, Rue du
Roi-Albert, pp. 923.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1624/49; USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/416422.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/423424.

the end of ambiguity

Although they had followed established procedures, events overtook the

junior ofcers in Nantes. Hitler learned of the attack around 10:30 a.m. and
discussed the matter with Field Marshal Keitel in Berlin. The latter called
General von Stlpnagel and passed along the Fhrers view of the matter.
According to Keitel, Hitler saw the attack as momentous proof of English
activity in occupied France and wanted to set an example. Speaking through
Keitel, the Fhrer advised the MBF to execute 100150 hostages, impose
a curfew throughout southwest France, and offer a 1 million gold-franc
reward (to be paid by the Vichy government, naturally) for information
leading to the arrest of the perpetrators. Hitler believed that countermea-
sures would intimidate neutral Frenchmen and force anti-German guerrillas
to suspend resistance activity. Without indigenous support, English agents
would not be able to operate in France and resistance activity would even-
tually collapse. In Hitlers opinion, mild countermeasures that had been
suggested by the MBF would not paralyze opponents with fear and were
thus inexpedient.
Early in the afternoon, Stlpnagel discussed possible German reprisals
with Eduard Wagner, the General Quartermaster of the Army. After
learning that Field Marshal von Brauchitsch, the commander of OKH,
had approved Hitlers measures, Stlpnagel asked Wagner to delay the
executions for at least three days so police could gather evidence and
interrogate suspects. Preoccupied by his primary job of supplying the
eastern front, Wagner viewed the assassinations as a great big lthy mess
(eine groere Schweinerei) and was not eager to execute hostages, but he
passed Stlpnagels suggestion along to Berlin, where it was discussed by
both OKW and OKH. Unable to reach a consensus among themselves,
the generals submitted Stlpnagels request for a delay to the Fhrer for
a nal decision. Although he had previously described the assassination as
momentous proof of English activity, Hitler blamed young communists,
perhaps under the inuence of Gaullists, for the attack during an afternoon
conference. He told Stlpnagel to work with the French police, impose
a 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. curfew, arrest suspects from every criminal circle
around Nantes, and offer a reward. Furthermore, the Fhrer ruled that
fty hostages should be executed right away, and he ordered another fty

BAMA, RW 35/542/4849.
Elisabeth Wagner (ed.), Der Generalquartiermeister: Briefe und Tagebuchaufzeichnungen des
Generalquartiermeisters des Heeres (Mnchen and Wien: Gnter Olzog Verlag, 1963), pp. 208211.

after the fall

hostages be executed on 23 October unless the men who killed Hotz were
brought to justice. Hitler casually shifted blame from British agents to
communist youths, demanded immediate reprisals without regard for the
actual perpetrators, and used assassinations to justify the execution of Jews
and communists.
Major Crome, the MBFs chief intelligence ofcer, ordered Captain
Schrader, the head of military intelligence for the southwest region,
to prepare a list of hostages. After consulting with the local military
administration in Nantes, the SD in Rennes, and the Abwehr in Brest,
Schrader worked throughout the night of 20/21 October to assemble a
tally. He placed anti-German militants, enemies of French civilization,
and other convicts from the Nantes area at the top of his roster, but
this approach yielded only sixty-eight names. Since he could not nd
100 people who had been convicted by local German courts, Schrader
searched for another source of hostages. He found his answer in the town
of Chateaubriant (Loire-Inferieur), where the military government oversaw
a French prison that was lled with communists who had been arrested by
the Vichy government. Although many of the prisoners had played a role
in the PCF before World War Two, others, like 17-year-old Guy Moquet,
had been imprisoned simply because his father had been a communist
deputy. To ll his quota, Schrader selected another thirty-two prisoners
who were somehow connected to the outlawed PCF.
Under considerable pressure from superiors in Paris and Berlin, Captain
Schrader selected 100 hostages in 10 hours. In theory, he should have
prepared an index of potential hostages according to instructions issued
by the MBF in September, but the captain had not taken the MBFs
September directive seriously and had to work all night to assemble the
requisite list. Apparently Schrader had either not read or disregarded
Keitels 16 September order about Communist Insurrections in Occupied
Areas that recommended that 50 or 100 hostages be executed for each
German soldier killed by partisans. He later claimed that nobody could
be prepared for a list of 100. On the morning of 21 October, Schrader
sent his inventory of 100 names to Kriegesverwaltungschef Dr. Medicus,

BAMA, RW 35/542/4851; USNA, RG 242/T-77/1624/4951.

IMT , vol. XXXVII, pp. 199205; USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/395400, 416422; Gildea,
Marianne in Chains, pp. 2479; BAMA, RW 35/542/52.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/166/9198; USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/417418.

the end of ambiguity

the head of the government subsection of the military administration

(Verwaltungsstab Abteilung Verwaltung) in Bezirk B (Angers) for approval.
Medicus or one of his subordinates removed the names of two decorated
World War One veterans from the roster and then sent the changes back
to Nantes.
As the military administration vetted Schraders hostage list, the groupes
de brlots launched another attack in Bordeaux. Early on the evening of
21 October, an unidentied cyclist approached a civilian ofcial working
for the military administration, Kriegsverwaltungsrat Dr. Hans-Gottfried
Reimers, as he walked home along Wilson Boulevard near the Rue
Judaique. The assailant red ve shots and killed his victim before escaping
into the darkness. When he learned that Lieutenant Colonel Hotz had
been killed in Nantes on 20 October, Hitler ordered the execution of
100150 hostages. General von Stlpnagel announced the reprisals, ne,
and curfew to the French public on 21 October. Helped by the fact
that Captain Schrader did not have a list of victims ready, the MBF
delayed the rst Nantes executions until 22 October. By this time, the
resistance had struck again in Bordeaux. Rather than executing 100150
hostages for each attack, Stlpnagel convinced his superiors to execute a
total of 200 hostages for both attacks and split hostage executions into
two contingents per city. The rst Nantes contingent of forty-eight stood
before a German ring squad on 22 Octoberthe rst anniversary of the
Montoire agreement.
In addition to minimizing the total number of executions and delaying
the measures ordered by Hitler, General von Stlpnagel condemned Hitlers
policy through ofcial channels. He informed General Wagner that
the attacks were carried out by small terror groups and English soldiers or spies
who move from place to place; that the majority of Frenchmen do not support
them. I clearly believe that shooting hostages only embitters the people and makes
future rapprochement more difcult . . . I personally have warned against Polish
methods in France.

USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/398, 418424; USNA, RG 242/T-77/1587/8/nfn (Nr.

598/41 g.Kdos, 22 October 1941, Betr. Geiselerschiessung in Nantes und Chateaubriant am
22.10.41); Gildea, Marianne in Chains, p. 249.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1585/folder 6/10; BAMA, RW 35/542/6062.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1587/folder 9/nfn (Nr. 598/41 g.Kdos, 22 October 1941, Betr.
Geiselerschiessung in Nantes und Chateaubriant am 22.10.41); IMT , vol. XXXVII, pp. 200,

after the fall

Stlpnagel believed that a second round of executions would turn public

opinion against Germany and added that draconian countermeasures ran
contrary to the long-term interests of the Reich. If the policy continued, the
MBF claimed that Germany would have to arrest every male Frenchman
between 16 and 60 years of age. In closing, Stlpnagel asked Wagner to
present his opinions to Hitler and requested clear instructions with regard
to reprisals.
Nine hours after speaking with Stlpnagel, Wagner called back with
news from the Fhrer. Hitler ordered the MBF to levy a ne and impose
a curfew for each assassination. In addition, he directed the MBF to
immediately execute 50 hostages in response to each attack. The rst
Nantes contingent perished on 22 October, and their compatriots from
Bordeaux met their fate on 24 October. Unless either French or German
authorities apprehended the perpetrators within 48 hours, Hitler threatened
to execute a second contingent of 50 hostages for each attack. Stlpnagel
secured time for an investigation, but his complaints irritated men like
Wagner who preferred to ignore France in favor of pressing matters on the
eastern front.
While the MBF tried to limit the number of hostage executions,
the Vichy regime tried to steer the German response toward common
enemies. On the morning of the Nantes attack (20 October), Vichys
Interior Minister, Pierre Pucheu, met with Major Beumelburg. Passing
along a rumor started by the German Ministry of Propaganda, Pucheu
suggested that English paratroopers or communists acting under British
inuence may have carried out the Nantes assassination. While the
Interior Minister observed that stiff reprisals might damage Franco-German
relations, his Chief of Staff, Frederic de La Roziere, joined the meeting.
The latter added that Vichy had 5 or 600 subversives in an internment
camp in Chateaubriant. Pucheu offered Beumelburg a list of prisoners
incarcerated in Chateaubriant to reduce any potential friction between the
military administration and Vichy that might emerge during the hostage
selection process. Rather than oppose German reprisals altogether, the

USNA, RG 242/T-501/122/711716.
Wagner, Der Generalquartiermeister, p. 211; USNA, RG 242/T-77/1624/5052; BAMA,
RW 35/542/6369.
Elke Frohlich (ed.), Die Tagebcher von Joseph Goebbels (Mnchen: K. G. Sauer, 1996), vol. II,
part 2, pp. 160, 168, entries dated 23 and 24 October 1941.

the end of ambiguity

Vichy government tried to satiate Germanys thirst for revenge with

expendable Frenchmen.
Later that morning, Pucheu visited Field Marshal von Brauchitsch at
his headquarters in Fontainebleau, conveyed Petains regrets, and promised
complete French cooperation during the German investigation. In addition,
Pucheu handed Brauchitsch a police report that suggested the Nantes
assassination had been carried out by English agents. After the second
assassination in Bordeaux, representatives of the Vichy regime did not even
bother to ask for clemency on humanitarian grounds as they had done
after the Moser, Hoffmann, and Scheben cases. Instead, they argued that
Frenchmen had not been responsible for the assassinations, suggested that
massive reprisals might turn public opinion against the Reich, and tried to
deect German reprisals.
Lobbying efforts of the Vichy government were not limited to ministers.
Admiral Darlan, the head of the French government between February
1941 and April 1942, drove to Paris and met with General von Stlpnagel
on the afternoon of 21 October. The admiral understood the need for sharp
countermeasures but wanted to make sure that German reprisals did not
undermine Franco-German collaboration. Adopting a pragmatic approach,
Darlan feared that mass executions would turn public opinion against
Germany and not stop Great Britain from carrying out similar attacks in
the future. He also observed that England would reap a propaganda victory
because of the German policy. News of the Bordeaux attack reached
Darlan shortly after his meeting with the MBF and forced the admiral
to change tactics. He conceded the execution of the rst 50 hostages for
the Nantes attack and concentrated all of his efforts on saving the second
After meeting with Stlpnagel during the day, Darlan addressed French-
men over the radio on the evening of 22 October. The admiral described
the murders as cowardly, and he suggested that they had been carried
out by foreign agents who wanted to sabotage a Franco-German peace
agreement and delay the return of French prisoners of war. The head

BAMA, RW 35/543/6364; Gildea, Marianne in Chains, p. 243.

BAMA, RW 35/1/5051.
BAMA, RW 35/308/158159; BAMA, RW 35/542/6263; USNA, RG 242/T-
77/1624/55; Herve Coutau-Begarie and Claude Huan, Darlan (Paris: Fayard, 1989), pp.
BAMA, RW 35/1/51; USNA, RG 242/T-501/166/768; Melton, Darlan, pp. 129131.

after the fall

of the French government admonished compatriots to obey the terms of

the Armistice Agreement. He believed that every citizen was obliged to
respect the 1940 Armistice Agreement and help the government catch the
assassins. In no uncertain terms, Darlan condemned the attacks, but he did
not comment on German reprisals.
Although he rarely intervened in the regular business of the French
government, Marshal Petain also commented on the October assassinations.
On 21 October in a message delivered by Ambassador Abetz, Petain
reminded Hitler of promises made during their meeting at Montoire and
thanked the Fhrer for his noble gesture. The obsequious note begged
the Fhrer to accept the assurances of my highest consideration but did
mention recent assassinations. In a handwritten letter delivered by Admiral
Darlan, the head of the French state asked the military administration to
limit reprisals. Third, Marshal Petain addressed the entire French nation
over the radio on the evening of 22 October:
Frenchmen, two shots have been red at ofcers of the army of occupation:
two are dead . . . This morning, fty Frenchman have paid for these unspeakable
crimes with their lives. Fifty more will be shot tomorrow if the guilty are not
caught . . . Frenchmen, your duty is clear: the murders must stop. According to
the Armistice, we set down our arms; we do not have the right to strike Germany
in the back. The foreigner who ordered these crimes knows well that this is clearly

When communicating with the MBF, the marshal used conciliatory lan-
guage to construct pragmatic arguments against mass reprisals. Speaking
with Hitler, Petain adopted a subservient tone, laced his messages with
attery, and did not even dare to mention the hostage executions. Perhaps
because he feared Hitler more than French public opinion, Petain explicitly
condemned assassinations when addressing compatriots over the radio.
Petain and Darlan began to lobby the German government immediately
after the Nantes assassination on 20 October, but they failed to stop the
execution of either the rst Nantes or Bordeaux contingents on 22 and
24 October respectively. On 24 October, Vichys Minister of the Interior,

USNA, RG 242/T-501/166/768.
DGFP, ser. D, vol. XIII, pp. 6734. The noble gesture that Petain referred to alludes to
the return of the body of Napoleon Is son, the Duke of Reichstadt, in December 1940.
BAMA, RW 35/308/158159.
Jean-Claude Barbas (ed.), Discours aux Francais, 17 juin 194010 aot 1944 (Paris: Albin
Michel, 1989), pp. 203204.

the end of ambiguity

Pucheu, informed Ambassador Abetz that Petain planned to send Hitler a

message over the radio:
I cannot let the blood of those who had no part in these murders be spilled. I
should betray my people if I did not address a solemn protest to you at this hour.
If you refuse to hear my voice and if you need further hostages and victims, then
take me. I shall be at the demarcation line in Moulins today at 2:00 p.m., where I
shall consider myself your prisoner while awaiting your decision.

In keeping with an archaic sense of chivalry, the aged marshal tried to

exchange his own freedom in return for clemency for the second two
hostage contingents.
The marshals plan, which Abetz attributed to the chief of Petains
civil cabinet, Henri du Moulin de Labarthete, had some merits. The offer
increased Petains stature inside France and fortied the Petain as shield, de
Gaulle as sword interpretation of the Vichy era. If Hitler accepted the deal,
the military administration would have to shoot Petain or stop executing
hostages altogether in the event of continued assassinations. While the
former course might turn the entire French nation against Germany, the
latter policy could make Germany look weak. If Hitler and the military
administration accepted Petain as a hostage, the Reich would be placed in
a difcult political situation.
Petains plan also posed difculties for the Vichy regime. On 9 July 1940,
the French National Assembly abandoned the 1875 constitution. The next
day, it placed both executive and legislative authority in Petains hands and
authorized him to write a new constitution. Until he drafted a new system
of government, the marshal had almost unlimited power to rule France
as the Head of the French State. He could appoint or dismiss ministers,
sign proposed legislation into law, and only had to consult the National
Assembly if he wanted to declare war. Although Petain had designated
Admiral Darlan as his successor, the marshals departure could only weaken
the government and undermine his National Revolution.
Admiral Darlan, Interior Minister Pucheu, and other members of the
Vichy government understood the risks associated with the marshals idea.
On the morning of 24 October, they told Petain that his departure

BAMA, RW 35/46/82.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1588/folder 01/14; DGFP, ser. D, vol. XIII, pp. 6825; USNA,
RG 242/T-120/685/25918788; Nogueres, Histoire de la Resistance en France, vol. 2, pp. 1535.
Paxton, Vichy France, pp. 2433.

after the fall

would create a constitutional problem for the Vichy regime and have
incalculable political consequences. Darlan and Pucheu appealed to the
marshals sense of duty, scotched the plan, and saved Germany from having
to reject the offer. Even though they opposed Petains scheme, Darlan
and Pucheu tried to use it to extract concessions from the MBF. During
an afternoon meeting with Benoist-Mechin and Stlpnagel, Pucheu told
the MBF that Petain might still offer himself as a hostage unless Germany
declined to execute the second contingents of hostages for the Nantes and
Bordeaux attacks. Vichys Interior Minister observed that Petains initiative
could conrm the impracticability of collaboration and transform Franco-
German relations. Stlpnagel took their threats seriously and immediately
telegraphed a summary of the 24 October meeting to Berlin.
As General von Stlpnagel had predicted, draconian reprisals damaged
Germanys reputation. Diplomats from several south and central Amer-
ican countries supported Vichys request for leniency. In a t of pique,
Ribbentrop ignored their complaints and refused to speak with those
who questioned Hitlers methods. The President of the United States,
Franklin D. Roosevelt, condemned hostage executions in sweeping terms:
The practice of executing scores of innocent hostages in reprisal for isolated
attacks on Germans in countries temporarily under the Nazi heel revolts a world
already inured to suffering and brutality. Civilized peoples long ago adopted the
basic principle that no man should be punished for the deed of another. Unable
to apprehend the persons involved in these attacks the Nazis characteristically
slaughter fty or a hundred innocent persons. Those who would collaborate with
Hitler or try to appease him cannot ignore this ghastly warning . . . These are the
acts of desperate men who know in their hearts that they cannot win.

Prime Minister Churchill wholeheartedly endorsed the American presi-

dents words and added that the hostage executions were a foretaste of
what Hitler would inict upon the British and American peoples if only he
could get the power. Hostage executions alienated neutral powers and
provided Britain with a propaganda bonanza.

BAMA, RW 35/542/6769; DGFP, ser. D, vol. XIII, pp. 6845; Aron, The Vichy Regime,
pp. 4589.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/196/10961098.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/122/711716; Jackel, France dans lEurope de Hitler, p. 277.
FDR on the Execution of Hostages by the Nazis in Department of State Bulletin,
25 October 1941. Checked 12 March 2008.
Mr. Churchill on a Foretaste , The Times, 27 October 1941, p. 4.

the end of ambiguity

Charles de Gaulle could not take advantage of initial German reprisals.

He remained in central Africa while the Moser affair unfolded and he
had to unravel a nasty dispute with the British government after returning
to London on 1 September 1941. While Stlpnagel responded to the
Hoffmann and Scheben assassinations, de Gaulle outmaneuvered politi-
cal rivals within the Free French movement and established the French
National Committee (or CNF) on 24 September. With his diplomat-
ic and political affairs in order, the general stood ready to condemn
reprisals that followed the Nantes and Bordeaux assassinations. During
a 23 October radio broadcast, de Gaulle expressed neither surprise nor
outrage at the rst round of executions; he expected Germans to act like
Germans and never doubted their ferocious nature. Despite an angry
preamble, the general counseled a policy of prudence in the body of his
In the present circumstances the directive I give for the occupied territory is not
to kill Germans. This, for a single but very good reason, is because it is too easy
for the enemy to retaliate by the massacre of temporarily disarmed combatants.
On the other hand, as soon as it is possible to attack, you will receive appropriate
orders. Until then, patience, preparation, resolution.

Although he had little if any inuence over left-wing resistance groups

that carried out the attacks in Nantes and Bordeaux, de Gaulle did
not want to exchange the lives of 50 or 100 French civilians for the
death of a single German ofcer and ordered his followers to stand
down. As a professional soldier, de Gaulle discounted guerrilla warfare and
believed that the liberation could not begin until regular soldiers landed in
The arrest of a wanted terrorist in Nantes on 24 October and de Gaulles
timely retreat convinced Hitler that he had won. Speaking to General Wag-
ner over the telephone in the evening of 24 October, the Fhrer ordered
OKH to spare hostages associated with de Gaulles movement. During the
same conversation, Hitler assumed responsibility for the reprisals, informed
the MBF and OKH that they were not liable for any political repercus-
sions caused by German executions, and reserved the right to intervene

Lacouture, De Gaulle: The Rebel, pp. 305315; Roussel, Charles de Gaulle, pp. 2439.
Charles de Gaulle, Discours et messages, vol. I (Paris: Plon, 1970), pp. 1223.
Charles De Gaulle, The Complete War Memoirs of Charles de Gaulle, pp. 2624; Lacouture,
De Gaulle: The Rebel, pp. 369378.

after the fall

in subsequent crises. Three days later, he postponed the execution of the

second Nantes and Bordeaux contingents for two more days. In a rare show
of what was for him benevolence, Hitler suspended the execution of both
groups indenitely on 28 October. Diplomatic pressure, effective police
work, and de Gaulles timely retreat may have encouraged the Fhrer to
spare the second Nantes and Bordeaux contingents. Perhaps thinking that
his reprisals had cowed some opponents, Hitler was willing to be relatively
In several respects, French public opinion conrmed Hitlers opinion.
Nantes citizens believed Lieutenant-Colonel Hotz to be a decent man and
3,000 attended his funeral. The mayor of Nantes declared him to be good,
and Admiral Darlan believed Hotz to be particularly considerate and in no
sense a Hitlerian. Most locals genuinely condemned the assassination, feared
German reprisals, and shared little sympathy with the perpetrators. A Nantes
restaurant owner later identied one of the assassins, and many concluded
that her tip and public condemnation saved the second hostage contingent.
Rallying behind Marshal Petain, they interpreted events surrounding the
Nantes assassination as a victory for collaboration, not a clarion call for
General von Stlpnagel and the military administration viewed execu-
tions as a propaganda disaster, but the Paris embassy saw reprisals in a
very different light. In a carefully worded telegram sent to the Foreign
Ministry on the night of 25 October, Abetz discounted French protests.
The ambassador suggested that some members of the French cabinet were
secretly pleased by the executions because the major part of the hostages
are communists, and with them disappear elements undesirable to the
Government. Other French leaders welcomed the executions as a means
to foster patriotic sentiments, overcome political divisions, and create a
morally united front against the Germans, which is desired by Vichy. A
third group had more condence in the European and socialist objectives
of the occupying power than in the program of their own government.
The ambassador believed that most French ofcials did not object to the

USNA, T-77/1588/folder 001/910; DGFP, ser D., vol. XIII, pp. 6845; BAMA, RW
35/542/69; BAMA, RW 35/308/149150; Hans Luther, Der franzosische Widerstand gegen die
deutsche Besatzungsmacht und seine Bekampfung (Tbingen: Institut fr Bestazungsfragen, 1957),
pp. 202213.
Oury, Rue du Roi-Albert, pp. 98, 99, 102; Gildea, Marianne in Chains, pp. 2434, 250,

the end of ambiguity

German reprisals, but he added that the basis of ofcial French support
varied dramatically.
Abetz also discounted Petains offer to serve as a hostage. He described
the marshals proposal as the result of cabinet intrigue engineered by the
chief of the marshals civil cabinet, Moulin de Labarthete. According to
Abetz, the latter tried to get rid of Petain just as he successfully ousted Laval
on 13 December 1940. If imprisoned as a hostage, Petain could not dismiss
General Weygand, the Commissioner of French colonial possessions in
North Africa who allegedly favored the Allies. Aside from Darlan and
Pucheu, the German ambassador had little condence in the people around
Marshal Petain. The Paris embassy casually dismissed Petains offer to serve
as a hostage and discounted concerns raised by the military administration.
Furthermore, Abetz suggested that German reprisals had a salutary effect
on French policemen. Although he had no ofcial contact with police
ofcials, the ambassador claimed that French policemen had not fully
cooperated with German authorities during previous investigations. Like
most of the public, Vichy policemen were alarmed by the executions
and would now do all that is humanly possible . . . to avoid further
executions. In the ambassadors opinion, draconian reprisals improved
Franco-German collaboration. In this respect, the ambassadors observations
matched Hitlers expectations.
Playing both sides of the eld, the ambassador described public opinion
as markedly different from ofcial attitudes:
[T]he attitude of the French population does not provide any prerequisite for these
assassinations of members of the Wehrmacht; indeed, in recent weeks there has
been a noticeable improvement among the masses in the attitude toward Germany
. . . The French public is uniform in condemning the murders and the treacherous
manner of their execution. If the remaining 100 hostages are executed, however,
there exists the danger that the indignation of the people about the assassinations
will be transformed into indignation at the reprisals which are disproportionately
high according to local opinion.

The ambassador hedged his analysis by describing ofcial reaction to

German reprisals as surreptitiously positive, but characterized the public
response as negative and potentially damaging. He supported executions

DGFP, ser. D, vol. XIII, pp. 6825. DGFP, ser. D, vol. XIII, pp. 730732.
DGFP, ser. D, vol XIII, p. 684. DGFP, ser. D, vol. XIII, p. 685.

after the fall

that had already been carried out but advised his superiors to spare the
remaining hostages. In other words, the ambassador fecklessly straddled the
While sections of his 25 October report were ambiguous, Abetz did not
miss a chance to attack the military administration. He told his superiors in
Berlin that
I have personally expressed the view to the military authorities that the reprisals
ordered were entirely appropriate if the situation reports on France sent to the
Fhrers Headquarters by almost all the German ofcers in Paris, in contrast to those
of the Embassy for the past year and a half, were true, that is, if the overwhelming
majority of the population were actually de Gaullist and anti-German.

The MBF had made no such claims. A situation report sent to Berlin
for the months of August and September 1941 characterized the French
position as attentiste. According to the military administration, French
public opinion followed the lead of the Vichy regime and adopted a
wait-and-see stance toward Germany in the fall of 1941. The vast majority
of Frenchmen condemned resistance assassinations and German reprisals.
From the perspective of the military administration in the Hotel Majestic,
only a small minority of Frenchmen favored de Gaulle or supported
resistance activity.
The ambassador described the Vichy regime as a small group of sincere
collaborators who were surrounded by a large number of anti-German
conspirators. Abetz distorted the views of the military administration and
condemned the MBFs response to the Nantes and Bordeaux assassinations
in an attempt to gain an advantage within the German hierarchy. He implied
the military administration did not really understand French politics and
suggested that the Paris embassy could better manage the selection of
French hostages. However, even the ambassadors tortured prose could not
obscure the fact that both the Paris embassy and the military administration
needed to limit bloody German reprisals. By 7 December, the Paris embassy
had stopped attacking the MBF for the way that he had handled reprisals.
In a telex on 7 December to the Foreign Ofce in Berlin, Abetz asked his
superiors to support General von Stlpnagels request for a free hand so
that the MBF could respond to resistance activity on a case-by-case basis.

DGFP, ser. D, vol. XIII, pp. 6823.

USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/940941, 11441146, 11721175.

the end of ambiguity

The ambassador nally recognized that a hard and fast policy of draconian
reprisals could not benet the German embassy in Paris or its French
In addition to pressure from Vichy and Ambassador Abetz, the MBF also
had to contend with Joseph Goebbels. The Propaganda Minister believed
that the MBF did not understand Clausewitzs description of war as an
extension of politics and described General von Stlpnagel as politically
nave. He lobbied OKW to impose harsh reprisals and confessed a desire
to control German policy in Belgium, Holland, and occupied France.
Goebbels interpreted the Moser assassination as a simple test of German
authority. If the military administration imposed harsh reprisals at the
rst sign of resistance, he thought Germanys opponents would quickly
(W)hat prevents us from arresting about three hundred leading communists,
publishing a list of those prisoners, and explaining that, after each new assassination,
fteen communist leaders at the top of the list will be executed? The communists
would protect themselves and prevent further stupid youthful pranks. But our
military commanders in western Europe follow an exact scheme. Nothing gets
through to them. They only appeal to force, and not very cleverly or with great

As the MBF ordered an ever-increasing number of reprisal executions,

Goebbels moderated his criticism. He thought the execution of twelve
hostages had a wholesome and sobering effect on the French public
and believed the general situation in France had actually improved by
the end of September. Attributing the improved situation in Paris to his
own intervention, Goebbels thought that Frenchmen would gradually turn
against resistance groups. Hitler appeared to endorse Goebbels policy
during a meeting on 24 September 1941 with the Minister of Propaganda.

USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/354; Schumann and Nestler (eds.), Die faschistische Okkupa-

tionspolitik in Frankreich, 19401944, p. 189.
Kershaw, Hitler 19361945, p. 35; Elke Frohlich, Joseph Goebbels: the propagandist, in
Smelser and Zitelmann (eds.), The Nazi Elite, pp. 4861; BAMA, RH 3/204/7; USNA, RG
Frohlich (ed.), Die Tagebcher von Joseph Goebbels, vol. II, part 1, pp. 291, 303, 326, 296.
Diary entries dated 22 August, 24 August, 29 August, and 23 August 1941.
Frohlich (ed.), Die Tagebcher von Joseph Goebbels, vol. II, part 1, pp. 3267. Diary entry
dated 29 August 1941.
Frohlich (ed.), Die Tagebcher von Joseph Goebbels, vol. II, part 1, pp. 463, 468, 474. Entries
dated 21, 22, and 23 September 1941.

after the fall

The Fhrer thought that even the most doubtful cases of sabotage and
assassination should be answered with draconian punishments, but he
did not mention specic numbers. Goebbels may have concluded that
his suggestion of 10 to 15 reprisal executions matched Hitlers concept of
draconian. The two also discussed the replacement of General von Falken-
hausen, the military commander Belgium, with a civilian commissioner,
but Hitler postponed a nal decision. Three weeks later, the Minister
of Propaganda told the MBF that he still opposed mass shootings and
simply wanted to institute timely and psychologically appropriate punish-
ments. With Hitlers apparent support, Stlpnagels apparent obedience,
and decreasing resistance activity, Goebbels had reason to feel optimistic.
Assassinations in Nantes and Bordeaux dispelled any false condence and,
along with German reprisals, may have caught the Minister of Propaganda
off guard. At rst, Goebbels attributed the MBFs harsh response to
inuence exerted by his ministry. Since the MBF had failed to nip
resistance in the bud after the Moser and Hoffmann attacks in August and
September, Goebbels thought that the MBF had no choice but to execute
fty hostages in October. In Paris, the Ministry of Propaganda spread
rumors that the attacks had been carried out by English spies even though it
had no evidence to support this claim. Three days after the Nantes attack,
Stlpnagel told General Wagner that he had consulted with Goebbels and
claimed that the latter also opposed mass shootings. Unfortunately for
General von Stlpnagel, the Propaganda Minsters support proved to be
Before the Nantes assassination, Goebbels had argued that the execution
of ten or fteen hostages would be an appropriate response for each
attack on a German soldier. Immediately after Nantes, Goebbels shifted
his position to accommodate Hitlers demand for draconian reprisals. In a
diary entry dated 24 October, he argued that an act of mercy would make
the Reich look soft and encourage resistance activity. When Hitler rst
postponed and later suspended the execution of the second Nantes and

Frohlich (ed.), Die Tagebcher von Joseph Goebbels, vol. II, part 1, p. 485; vol. II, part 2,
p. 130. Entries dated 24 September and 17 October 1941.
Frohlich (ed.), Die Tagebcher von Joseph Goebbels, vol. II, part 2, pp. 144, 160, 168, entries
dated 20, 23 and 24 October 1941.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/122/711712.
Frohlich (ed.), Die Tagebcher von Joseph Goebbels, vol. II, part 2, pp. 168, 175, entries dated
24 and 25 October 1941.

the end of ambiguity

Bordeaux contingents, Goebbels adroitly reversed course, hailed the move

as a skillful gambit, and lauded Hitlers humane gesture. With no sense
of hypocrisy, he declared that bloody methods are only appropriate when
all other ways are barred. Rather than advance a consistent policy of his
own design, Joseph Goebbels simply aped the Fhrer.
Goebbels justied his strategy during a meeting on 1 November with
Field Marshal von Brauchitsch. He accused both the MBF and General von
Falkenhausen, the military commander in Belgium and northwest France
(Militarbefehlshaber in Belgien und nordwest Frankreich or MBB), of being soft.
According to the Minister of Propaganda, they had failed to nip resistance
activity in the bud and let things get out of hand. As a result of their
restraint in August and September, Germany had no choice but to impose
drastic penalties in October. As usual, Brauchitsch did not bother to defend
his subordinates.
Buoyed by his success with the commander of the army, Goebbels used
even stronger language with General von Falkenhausen two weeks later. He
described initial reprisals carried out by the MBB and MBF as being neither
sharp nor clever. Goebbels believed that moderate reprisals instituted in
France and Belgium failed to connect threats with penalties and did not
target people associated with the likely perpetrators. The politically astute
Falkenhausen did not mention Hitlers repeated calls for immediate reprisals.
Yet criticism from an unidentied source obviously stung the Minister
of Propaganda. Goebbels complained that some of his remarks had been
greatly exaggerated and that his enemies were braying like bloodhounds.
The conference between Goebbels and the MBB lasted over two hours
and followed a harmonious course, but the Minister of Propaganda
clearly disagreed with General von Falkenhausen. In his diary, Goebbels
complained about the unpolitical nature of generals and thought that
they simply concerned themselves with military tactics and had no political
sense. The Minister of Propaganda dabbled in French affairs throughout
October 1941 and could not be ignored in light of his close relationship
with Hitler. After the crisis died down, Goebbels and Dr. Hans Lammers,

Frohlich (ed.), Die Tagebcher von Joseph Goebbels, vol. II, part 2, pp. 180, 201, entries dated
26 and 29 October 1941.
Frohlich (ed.), Die Tagebcher von Joseph Goebbels, vol. II, part 2, p. 217, entry dated
1 November 1941.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/97/382393.

after the fall

the head of the Reich Chancellery, began to push for the recall of
Generals von Falkenhausen and von Stlpnagel. They urged Hitler to
replace military governments with civil governments under the control of
Nazi party loyalists. In a gurative sense, the groupes de brlots provided
Goebbels with an opportunity to expand his inuence and wounded both
Falkenhausen and Stlpnagel.
In addition to complaints from Abetz, Goebbels, and Hitler, Stlpnagel
had to contend with internal dissent. The MBFs headquarters included
an administration staff (Verwaltungsstab) and command staff (Kommandostab)
manned by regular army ofcers. The latter collected intelligence, main-
tained public order, and guarded against invasion. It played a subordinate
role in everyday affairs but had almost unlimited power in an emergency.
Consisting of civilian ofcials with temporary rank, limited authority, and a
unique uniform, the military administration staff oversaw the French econ-
omy and supervised the French government. The head of the government
subsection (Verwaltungsstab Abteilung Verwaltung), Werner Best, accused
the command staff (Kommandostab) of unilaterally selecting hostages and
implied that they had made poor choices. He tried to seize control of

Militrbefehlshaber in Frankreich
General Otto von Stlpnagel

Ic des MBF
Major Crome

Command Staff (Kommandostab) Region B, Angers Military Administration (Verwaltungsstab)

Colonel Hans Spiedel Lt. General Neubron-Neurode Jonathan Schmid

Command Staff Military Administration

Government Subsection
Captain Schrader Dr. Medicus
Werner Best

Military Intelligence (Abwehr) SD

Captain von Bonin Major Wolf

Secret Field Police (GFP)

Major Dernbach

District 518, Nantes

Lt. Colonel Friedrich Hotz

Command Staff Military Administration

Ic des FK 518, Lieutenant Kalbhenn Kriegesverwaltungsrat Schuster

Figure 6.1. The German chain of command in Nantes, 1941.

USNA, RG 242/T-501/97/392; Frohlich (ed.), Die Tagebcher von Joseph Goebbels, vol. II,
part 2, p. 285, entry dated 14 November 1941; DGFP, ser. D vol. XII, pp. 6723.

the end of ambiguity

German reprisal policy and aggravated latent divisions within the MBFs
According to orders issued by the MBF on 26 March and 28 September
1941, members of the command staff were supposed to consult counterparts
on the military administration when they designed and implemented
German reprisals. As soon as they learned of the Nantes assassination,
members of the regional (Bezirk) command staff drove to Nantes and, in
conjunction with local command staff and military administration ofcials
(Feldkommandant), began to select hostages. The regional ofce of the

Figure 6.2. Werner Best.

Photograph courtesy of the Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-B22627.

See Chapter 1 of this volume, pp. 41, 445; USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/406415.

USNA, RG 242/T-502/166/7182, 9198.

after the fall

military administration reviewed the hostage list on 22 October and

discovered two mistakes. According to Best, Schrader and the command
staff had included a police ofcer and a former mayor of Nantes on their
hostage list. The regional military administration asked the command staff
to remove both names and the latter promptly complied. Best claimed that
mistakes could have been avoided if the regional and national branches
of the military administration had been included in the hostage selection
process. He may have been trying to expand his own authority and
ingratiate himself with hardliners in Berlin, or he could have been driven
by personal motives. Best considered the victim of the Nantes attack,
Lieutenant-Colonel Hotz, to be a kind and reasonable gentleman; Hortz
had served with his father during World War One.
Lieutenant General Neumann-Neurode, the regional commander
(Bezirkchef ) responsible for Nantes, characterized Bests charges as baseless
and described his report as neither fair nor correct. He assumed
responsibility for any mistakes that may have been made during the
selection of hostages and vowed to make improvements in the process,
but he denied accusations that he or his command staff had excluded
the military administration. Two of the generals subordinates swore
that they had consulted with the regional military administration leader,
Dr. Medicus, and his assistant, Dr. Kbler, over the telephone. In addition,
the head of the local military administration, Kriegsverwaltungsrat Schuster,
played an integral role throughout the reprisal process. Like their
counterparts on the command staff, few senior military administration
ofcials from the Paris ofce participated in formulating German reprisals,
but regional and local ofcials certainly did. Bests charges appear to be
General von Stlpnagel reacted to Bests complaint with surprise and
outrage. In a letter to Jonathan Schmid, the head of the entire military
administration and Bests immediate superior, the MBF observed that
Best had not complained about the system of selecting hostages during a
September 1941 staff conference. Furthermore, he wondered if the head
of the government subsection had avoided the selection process so that he
would not have to make a tough decision in a short amount of time. By

USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/395400; BAK, N 1023/1/1113.

USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/403404, 393394, 416422.

the end of ambiguity

complaining that he had been excluded from the hostage process weeks
after the fact, Best alienated regular military ofcers who had initially
overlooked his SS background. Far from being the eminence grise behind
German reprisal policy, Werner Best stood on uncertain ground within the
military administration.
Given time, the MBF might have been able to resolve disagreements
within his own ofce and shore up relations with Hitler, Goebbels, Keitel,
and Wagner in Berlin, but communist resistance groups did not relent.
Acting under the direction of Albert Ouzoulias, groupes de brlots launched
another series of attacks in Paris. On 21 November, partisans bombed
a book store that sold National Socialist literature and had connections
with the German embassy. One week later, guerrillas lobbed two grenades
into the bar of the Hotel du Midi and killed three German soldiers.
In light of General von Stlpnagels general policy of gradually increasing
reprisals, Hitlers consistent demand for hostage executions, and Nantes and
Bordeaux precedents, the bombings should have provoked an immediate,
deadly reaction.
Pressure from Berlin once again forced the MBF to temper his response.
On 18 November, Goring arranged a meeting with Petain at Saint Flo-
rentin. The two marshals planned to discuss pressing military and political
issues, and both sides wanted the negotiations to proceed without a hitch.
Goring needed French support to expedite the ow of supplies to the
German Africa Corps, and Petain wanted to win the release of French
prisoners of war and ameliorate German economic demands. To ensure
that negotiations did not get sidetracked, Goring asked the MBF to suspend
hostage executions until 10 December. Once talks began on 1 Decem-
ber, Petain asked for economic, political, and military concessions that
would substantiate benevolent intentions voiced by Hitler at Montoire.
Goring immediately rejected Petains proposals, condemned French impu-
dence, repeated Hitlers favorite list of French transgressions, and demanded
immediate, unreserved collaboration. To make matters worse, the Reichs-
marschall skipped a dinner hosted by the Paris embassy, organized his own
party at the Aero-Club, and scrupulously avoided French ofcials after

USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/428431; Meyer, LOccupation allemande en France, pp. 2839.

BAMA, RW 35/542/7375; Ouzoulias, Les Fils de la nuit, pp. 2457; Nogueres Histoire de
la Resistance en France, vol. II, pp. 2269.
Jackel, France dans lEurope de Hitler, pp. 285298; BAK, All. Proz. 21/217/229.

after the fall

Figure 6.3. Admiral Darlan, Marshal Petain, and Reichsmarschall Goring in

St. Florentin.
Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress.

business hours. Like the Protocols of Paris, the Saint Florentin talks col-
lapsed because each side refused to grant concessions before rst receiving
concessions from the other.
While the Saint Florentin negotiations continued, the MBF levied
nes, imposed curfews, and threatened dire reprisals. Limitations imposed
by Berlin undermined General von Stlpnagels efforts to follow a con-
sistent policy, but they gave policemen time to investigate attacks and
identify suspects. Subsequent inquiries failed to identify perpetrators of
the 28 November hotel bombing that killed three German soldiers, and
Stlpnagel asked Berlin for permission to shoot 50 hostages, ne Parisian
Jews, and deport an additional 1,000 Jews and criminals with Jewish con-
nections on 1 Decemberthe same day that Goring met Petain at Saint

DGFP, ser. D, vol. XIII, pp. 930934, 914927; Jacques Benoist-Mechin, De la Defaite au
desastre, vol. I (Paris: Albin Michel, 1984), pp. 317327.

the end of ambiguity

Florentinbut Berlin insisted upon restraint. Although none proved to be

fatal, groupes de brlots shot three more Germans on 2, 5, and 6 December and
bombed a military canteen on 7 December. Incensed that a Luftwaffe major
had been lightly wounded in the 5 December attack, Goring reversed course
and immediately demanded bloody reprisals. With Franco-German negotia-
tions at an impasse, the Reichsmarschall could indulge his desire for revenge
without consequence. To placate Goring, OKW directed the MBF to exe-
cute 100 Jews (50 more than the MBF asked for), deport 1,000 Jews and 500
young communists, and impose a one billion franc ne on 12 December.
Reprisals ordered by Berlin included a signicant innovation: the depor-
tation of 1,000 Jews and 500 young communists. On 7 December 1941,
Hitler signed the Night and Fog Decree (Nacht und Nebel Erlass) and
added a new twist to Berlins anti-partisan policy. In a cover letter attached
to the Hitler order, the OKW Chief of Staff explained that
it is the long considered will of the Fhrer that, in the occupied zone, attacks
against the Reich or occupying power should be met with other measures (anderen
Manahmen). In the eyes of Hitler, punishing crimes with prison sentences, even
lifelong prison sentences (lebenslange Zuchthausstrafen), is a sign of weakness. An
effective and enduring deterrence can only be had through death sentences
and equally far-reaching measures, measures that leave the relatives and public
uncertain over the fate of the perpetrator. Deportation to Germany also serves this
The attached guidelines for the prosecution of criminal offenses correspond to the
view of the Fhrer. They have been examined and approved by him.
Signed Keitel.

The Nacht und Nebel Erlass once again directed senior military commanders
and military courts to punish espionage, sabotage, communist activity,
and other serious crimes with death; in that respect it contained nothing
new. However, it also allowed military commanders and their subordinate
courts-martial to send prisoners to the Reich and decreed that the entire
process, as well as the ultimate fate of the accused, would remain secret.
Keitels covering letter explained that deportation was equivalent to a
death sentence. Because prisoners would be handed over to the SD for
deportation, the directive also created a new task for the SD, and this, in

BAK, All. Proz. 21/217/229231; BAMA, RW 35/542/7382.

USNA, RG 242/T-501/97/409.

after the fall

turn, demanded an increased SS/SD presence in occupied France. Speaking

for OKW, Admiral Canaris, the head of the Abwehr, described the decree
as a fundamental innovation in German policy.
Ostensibly designed to combat terrorism, the Nacht und Nebel Erlass
advanced the racial goals of the Nazi regime. During an 18 December
conversation with Himmler, Hitler conrmed that in the east the partisan
war, which had expanded sharply in the autumn, provided a useful
framework for destroying the Jews. They were to be exterminated as
partisans. Although it did not explicitly mention Jews, the Nacht und
Nebel Erlass followed the spirit of Hitlers anti-terrorism policy (massive
reprisals), established a conduit to death camps in eastern Europe, and
provided the army with another way to contribute to the Final Solution
as it fought partisans. Like his Fhrer, Himmler used racial deportations
to reduce resistance and considered the ght against so-called Judeo-
Bolshevism to be a vital part of the war effort. OKWs 12 December 1941
directive to the MBF demonstrated proper use of the Nacht und Nebel Erlass
by ordering the deportation of 1,500 Jews and communists.
The Nacht und Nebel Erlass served as bait to enlist Stlpnagel in genocide.
Before December 1941, the MBF did little to advance Nazi racial objectives.
Acting on its own accord, the Vichy regime passed the Statut des juifs and
launched its own Aryanization program in a vain attempt to curry favor
with Nazi Germany. The German embassy in Paris and SS/SD agents
stood at the forefront of German efforts to persecute Jews, but their
efforts were hampered by a lack of executive authority and a shortage
of personnel. General von Stlpnagel opposed the conscation of Jewish
property because such measures dishonored the army, aggravated friends
in Vichy, and distracted the military administration from pressing tasks like
the exploitation of French industrial resources. Stlpnagel embraced the
principle of collective reprisals but worried about the political consequences
of massive hostage executions. Using the Nacht und Nebel Erlass, military
commanders in France and other occupied territories could liquidate

USNA, RG 242/T-501/97/407416.
Kershaw, Hitler, 19361945: Nemesis, pp. 492, 965 note 156.
BAMA, RW 35/708/4; BALW, NS 19/2774/che 1/1; Christian Gerlach, Die Wannsee-
Konferenz, das Schicksal der deutschen Juden und Hitlers politische Grundsatzentscheidung, alle
Juden Europas zu ermorden, Werkstattgeschichte, 18 (1997), pp. 744, especially 22; BAMA, RW
Marrus and Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews, pp. 318.

the end of ambiguity

hostages in accordance with Keitels 16 September 1941 directive but avoid

the negative political consequences that mass shootings had previously
entailed. Jews, communists, and suspected partisans would simply disappear
into the night and fog. With the Nacht und Nebel Erlass, General von
Stlpnagel and the military administration could carry out deadly reprisals
while still keeping their hands clean.
The Nacht und Nebel Erlass did not mark an immediate shift in the way
the MBF responded to particular attacks. On the evening of 28 Decem-
ber 1941, an unknown assailant shot Lieutenant Dr. Winiger in Dijon.
Further investigation by local French and German detectives unearthed
unmistakable signs of communist activity in the area. After consulting
with the regional branch of the military administration, the MBF ordered
the execution of ten hostages. Why did Stlpnagel forgo 21 October and
12 December precedents and act with such reserve? On 5 December 1941,
the Red Army launched an offensive that pushed German forces back along
the entire eastern front. To stem the Soviet advance and counter guerrilla
activity behind front lines, OKH transferred 3 regular army divisions, 1
regional, 10 district, and 55 local sections of the military administration to
the eastern front. German troop transfers consumed all available transport
and precluded large-scale deportations.
News of the Dijon attack may not have reached Hitler in a timely
fashion. Multiple sources told the Fhrer about Nantes and Bordeaux
assassinations on the day of each incident. Before and during the 1 December
Saint Florentin meeting, both Hitler and Goring had monitored French
political affairs. They knew about the November bombings that had
killed three German soldiers and suspended reprisals to support diplomatic
initiatives. Hitler, Goring, Goebbels, and other leading Nazis focused
on the eastern front in late December and may not have heard about
the 28 December attack in Dijon. Their ignorance allowed the MBF to
revert to his preferred strategy of limited reprisals. The Fhrer certainly
worried about incomplete or misleading reports and had already chastised
the MBF for not providing Berlin with timely information. Speaking
through General Warlimont, Hitler ordered all eld commanders to submit

USNA, RG 242/143/1238; BAMA, RW 35/542/83. The former spells the victims name
Winiger, the latter Winkler.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/12401241; USNA, RG 242/T-78/32/706154; USNA, RG

after the fall

accurate reports, avoid exaggeration, and confess mistakes on 26 December

Obliging the Fhrer, General von Stlpnagel sent a substantial report
to OKW on 15 January 1942. He pointed out that German and French
policemen had already solved 22 of the 68 attacks carried out by resistance
groups between 21 August 1941 and 3 January 1942. Small, fanatical
terrorist groups associated with the communist party, Stlpnagel observed,
had carried out the attacks and often committed suicide as soon as they were
arrested. He argued that the groupes de brlots enjoyed no popular support.
French workers, like their German counterparts, continued to serve the
German war economy. Both the Vichy government and French police
forces had cooperated loyally and energetically with German authorities
in each and every case. General von Stlpnagel thought that the Vichy
government had behaved awlessly and found a few words of praise for
the SD, which had cooperated with the Abwehr and GFP during recent
investigations. To protect himself against accusations that the military
administration was following a soft anti-terrorist policy, Stlpnagel noted
that French and German police forces had arrested approximately 25,500
Jews and communists throughout France.
The MBF discounted anti-terrorist measures that were ordered by
Berlin. The groupes de brlots welcomed German reprisals that alienated
workers, provoked resistance, and forced Germany to send more security
forces to the Hexagon. Second, General von Stlpnagel noted that mass
deportations could not be carried out because of transportation shortages,
and he questioned the wisdom of sending young communists to the east
for work duty (Arbeitsmassig) on security grounds. Shifting to general
terms, Stlpnagel argued that hostage executions did not correspond to
the French conception of justice and would eventually turn the French
population against Germany. He implied that leaders in Berlin understood
neither French politics nor the French mentalite.
General von Stlpnagel assured OKW that his military administration
would continue to arrest and deport Jews as soon as transportation became

USNA, RG 242/T-78/32/706178.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/196/11381144.
Stlpnagels use of the term work duty (Arbeitsmassig) suggests that the MBF may have
conveniently forgotten the lethal nature of the Nacht und Nebel Erlass, which Keitel explicitly
described in his cover letter to Hitlers order.

the end of ambiguity

available. He promised to execute a limited number of hostages and support

further deportations if resistance activity continued. He also pledged to
impose nes, curfews, and other prohibitions in response to non-lethal
attacks. Yet the MBF advised Berlin that
I only intend to carry out future executions when a member of the armed forces
has been assassinated (and the attack results in a death), after a series of non-fatal
assassination attempts, or after cases of sabotage which have especially dangerous
effects. However, I consider it essential to wait for an appropriate period of time so
that a criminal investigation can uncover the perpetrators that such well prepared
crimes require under the especially difcult conditions of the occupied zone.
I intend to only order a limited number of executions and will adjust the number
to suit the circumstances.
At least under the present circumstances, I can no longer arrange mass shootings and
answer to history with a clear conscience because of my knowledge of the entire
situation, the consequences that such hard measures would have on the entire
population, and on our relationship to France.

Without mincing any words, General Otto von Stlpnagel rejected Hitlers
anti-partisan policy and drew a line in the sand.
Subordinates on the command staff and military administration backed
up General von Stlpnagel. In its report to Berlin, sent once every
two months, the military administration claimed that the Frenchmen
passionately opposed hostage executions. In conjunction with food and
fuel shortages, German reprisals undermined support for collaboration and
threatened to turn the local population against Nazi Germany. The military
administration also minimized the threat posed by resistance activity and
noted a decrease in the incidence of sabotage and assassination. As usual,
the political section of the report concluded that [a]t the present time,
internal security is not threatened.
Colonel Hans Speidel, the head of the command staff, went one step
further than his civilian colleagues in the military administration. He
characterized German policy as punishment without reward and argued
for concessions to complement German reprisals. Going into further detail,
Speidel observed that some other dramatic step like the start of Franco-
German peace negotiations might induce the Vichy regime and the French

USNA, RG 242/T-501/196/11421143. Emphasis in the original.

USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/12371239.

after the fall

public to wholeheartedly support the German war effort. On a local

level, Colonel Speidel believed that specic rewards, in conjunction with
reprisals, might enlist popular support for the campaign against resistance
groups. The head of the command staff discounted resistance activity as the
work of small terrorist groups organized by the PCF and advised superiors
to punish only the people who attacked Germany. A member of the
General Staff, Speidel ventured into the realm of politics and condemned
draconian reprisals.
Keitel discussed the general situation in France with General von
Stlpnagel on 23 January 1942. The eld marshal realized that Stlpnagel
had to carry out Hitlers security agenda while working with the French
government on economic issues. He believed that the MBF exchanged a
mild reprisal policy for French economic collaboration and thought that
this strategy caused problems with Hitler. Keitel echoed one of Hitlers
common complaints during a 30 January military conference by saying
that generals simply did not understand politics or resistance. He suspected
that Stlpnagel was a Francophile and either ignored or misunderstood
the MBFs fundamental problem with Hitlers reprisal policy. With great
ambitions but limited talents, Keitel may have resented Stlpnagels
distinguished military record.
Field Marshal Keitel did not want to be responsible for German security
because it created problems with the Fhrer, so he ordered General
Warlimont to solve the problem by reorganizing the German chain of
command. Warlimont designed and Keitel approved a plan that would
make the MBF and MBB subordinate to a commander of all German forces
in western Europe (Oberbefehlshaber West), a post eventually lled by Field
Marshal von Rundstedt. OKW and OKH would no longer have to deal
with Stlpnagel directly. Second, Keitel called for the installation of a Senior
SS and Police Leader (Hoherer SS- und Polizeifhrer or HSSuPF) in France
and transferred responsibility for security of German troops from the army
to the SS. Even though the new design would decrease the MBFs authority,
Keitel referred to it as something that would enhance the power of the MBF
because OKW would no longer have to deal with troublesome security
issues and local commanders could concentrate on economic exploitation.

USNA, RG 242/T-501/144/37; BAMA, N 5/24/11, 2728.

BAMA, RW 5/690/3943; Luther, Der franzosische Widerstand, p. 211.
BAMA, RW 5/690/4245.

the end of ambiguity

After consulting with Hitler and his staff, Keitel ordered General Wagner
to reply to Stlpnagels demarche on 2 February 1942:
Field Marshal Keitel does not reject the (MBFs) proposal for exclusive and
nal control over reprisals for assassinations and bombing attacks, so long as
the proposed reprisals agree in type and scope with the Fhrers basic attitude.
Attacks and bombings reported since 15 January that have not been solved must
be answered with sharp deterrents including the execution of a large number of
imprisoned communists, Jews, or people who carried out previous attacks, and the
arrest of at least 1,000 Jews or communist for later evacuation. Field Marshal Keitel
expects a corresponding instruction for submission to the Fhrer.

As long as he obeyed the Fhrers policy of draconian reprisals and massive

deportations, Hitler and Keitel were willing to grant the MBF a free
hand. In light of comments made during the 30 January conference, Keitel
probably knew that Wagners 2 February letter would trigger Stlpnagels
resignation. Like Hitler, he welcomed the opportunity to dispose of a
difcult subordinate and had already developed plans to reorganize the
chain of command.
The MBF understood that the offer made by Hitler and Keitel through
Wagner left him with no room to maneuver. Unable to reconcile Hitlers
reprisal policy with his own conscience, General Otto von Stlpnagel
tendered his resignation to General Keitel and OKW. Stlpnagels of-
cial letter recapitulated his long, distinguished career and requested an
immediate recall. Although he based his request on a medical excuse and
included a note from his doctor, the MBF explained that health reasons
camouaged a basic disagreement between both Hitler and military leaders
in Berlin on the one hand and himself on the other. The MBF resigned
because he felt that he no longer enjoyed the full trust of the Fhrer or
my direct superiors in the administration . . . The full extent of the military
administrations achievements will only be realized later. At rst glance,
the MBF resigned because he felt that the Nazi regime did not value his
professional judgment.
Yet the MBF did not resign just because of a simple policy disagreement
with the Nazi regime. In his 15 January report, General von Stlpnagel
rejected mass executions on both pragmatic and principled grounds. He

BAMA, RW 35/543/58. BAMA, RW 5/690/4648.

USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/441443.

after the fall

foresaw his place in history and refused to carry out orders that disagreed
with his conscience. In the nal paragraphs of his ofcial resignation to
OKW, Stlpnagel complained that
without this trust and freedom of action, the position of the MBF in the
occupied area becomes more difcult, leads to weighty conicts of conscience, and
undermines my energy, self-condence, and determination . . . I can withdraw
to private life with clear conscience, condent in the knowledge that I served
my people, country, and opponents with complete unselshness and fullled my
duties to the best of my ability.

As a leading gure in the army throughout the interwar period, Otto

von Stlpnagel had personal relationships with most of the leaders of the
Wehrmacht. To drive his own opinions home, he sent a second letter
directly to Keitel, the head of OKW and Hitlers immediate subordinate
for military affairs. The MBF did not mince words and, unlike his ofcial
letter, discussed details and named names. In the very rst paragraph of
his letter, Stlpnagel discounted his own ambitions and claimed that he
had never lobbied for his command in France. In contrast, he criticized
civilian branches of the Reich government for expanding into areas outside
of their jurisdiction, not following the will of the Fhrer, and obstructing
the military administration. Despite challenges posed by agencies that did
not feel obligated to obey the MBF, Stlpnagel believed that he had
mastered the situation and exploited France far beyond the terms of the
1940 Armistice Agreement.
Although he abhorred the disruptive role played by civilian agencies,
General von Stlpnagel reserved special criticism for Ambassador Abetz and
Reichsmarschall Goring. The ambassador consistently supported a variety
of small and untrustworthy political parties and allowed the latter to
criticize Marshal Petain and Admiral Darlan in the press. In so doing, Abetz
undermined the Vichy regimes attempts to work with the Germans on
a soldier-to-soldier level. If only the ambassador would obey the will of
the Fhrer, act responsibly, and stop encouraging groups that undermined
the French government, Stlpnagel believed that political and economic
relations with the Vichy regime would improve dramatically. Realizing that
his military career had come to an end, the MBF did not shy away from dis-
paraging Hitlers designated successor, Reichsmarschall Hermann Goring.

USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/433440.

the end of ambiguity

I am placed in too many tragi-comic situations. For example, the Reichsmarschall

recently would not allow me to impose a harsh sentence in an ongoing case
because it might hinder his ongoing negotiations with Marshal Petain. Two days
later, after a plot against a Luftwaffe ofcer, he immediately demanded the sharpest
possible punishment. In this and many other questions, I sit between two stools.

General von Stlpnagel also condemned draconian reprisals ordered by

Berlin and, by extension, Hitlers anti-partisan policy. Simply put, the
MBF claimed that mass executions would not deter further resistance
activity. They offended the French sense of justice and alienated the
Vichy regime. Instead, Stlpnagel proposed
another form of atonement is necessary for attacks against Wehrmacht personnel,
that is to say, through limited executions, above all through evacuation of most
communists and Jews to the East, when we are able to reach it. Based on my
knowledge of the French population, I believe this deterrence, and not mass
executions, will work.

As he endorsed deportations over mass executions, Otto was alluding to

Keitels failure to win the war in the east and delivered a stinging barb.
He did not oppose executions or deportations in principle. His letter to
Keitel rejected Hitlers measures and supported reprisals that were tailored
to local conditions and proportional to the original crime.
Previous reports to Berlin, particularly those including remarks about
having a clear conscience and having to answer to history, suggest that
moral or ethical considerations inuenced Stlpnagels decision to resign.
He voiced similar concerns during his struggle against the Einsatzstab
Rosenberg, but they did not prevent the MBF from encouraging the
evacuation of Jews and Communists. OKW accepted Stlpnagels resig-
nation without comment and neither it nor Keitel replied to Otto von
Stlpnagels letters.
Attacks in Nantes and Bordeaux placed General von Stlpnagel and the
military administration in the center of a political restorm. They faced
pressure from Hitler, political generals in Berlin, Nazi party paladins, the
Paris embassy, and the Vichy government. Using assassinations as an pretext
for genocide, Hitler ordered draconian reprisals and, after 7 December
1941, massive deportations in response to every resistance attack. Drawing
upon his rst-hand knowledge of the situation in France and 45 years

USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/438. USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/437.

after the fall

of military experience, General von Stlpnagel decried Hitlers Polish

methods and stood his ground, but this stance destroyed his relationship
with Nazis in Berlin. Keitel, Jodl, and Wagner refused to support the
MBFs protests and simply followed orders. Rather than following suit,
Stlpnagel condemned directives that neither made political sense nor sat
well with his conscience. Debate between the MBF in Paris and Nazis
in Berlin revealed fundamentally different assumptions about the source
of resistance activity and exposed discord within the German chain of
command. Unlike most of his peers, Otto von Stlpnagel did not believe
that superior orders excused criminal activity and resigned his command.
As the war expanded in scope, Hitler escalated the scale of violence.
Before the invasion of France, Hitler ordered subordinates to obey the
Hague Convention. One the eve of the invasion of the Soviet Union, the
Fhrer directed troops on the eastern front to shoot Jews and communists
out of hand. With Hitlers approval, Keitel commanded subordinates
throughout Europe to answer increasing resistance activity with immediate
and disproportionate reprisals on 16 September. Going one step further, the
Nacht und Nebel Erlass supplemented mass executions with mass deportations
on 7 December. Reverses on the eastern front and Americas entry into
the war lent impetus to Hitlers war against Jews and created a need for
new men who would carry out Hitlers policies without question. The
structure and authority of the previously obstinate military administration
would have to accommodate changing tactics of the Nazi regime. The
dawn of the Final Solution created a need for an enlarged SS/SD presence
in France, and increased demands for foreign labor provided an opportunity
for the Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labor, Fritz Sauckel.
The French government also had to adjust to new circumstances. The
Vichy regime used the hostage process to dispose of unwanted prisoners and
political opponents. Despite his policy of collaboration, Admiral Darlan
could not mitigate German economic demands, limit lethal reprisals, secure
political concessions, or protect French colonies from foreign depredation.
In desperate need of French resources and unwilling to countenance further
obstruction, the German embassy in Paris and OKW pressed for Lavals
return. Emboldened by his German friends, Pierre Laval lobbied for a new,

USNA, RG 242/T-77/1625/folder 75479/nfn (Der MBF, 19.9.41, An den General-

bevollmachtigten der franzosischen Regierung beim MBF, Betr. Geiselnahme); BAK, All. Proz.

the end of ambiguity

powerful position in the Vichy government during a meeting with Marshal

Petain on 26 March. Darlan fought back, secured his position as head
of the French armed forces, and remained Petains designated successor
but, in accordance with German wishes, resigned his political ofces on
17 April. On 26 April 1942, Laval resumed his duties as Prime Minister,
installed Rene Bouquet as Secretary-General of the Police, and placed Louis
Darquier de Pellepoix in charge of the Commissariat-general aux questions
juives. The second Laval government transformed a defeated French nation
into a German satellite.
The spiral of violence also transformed Germanys relationship with
the French public. Everyday problems stemming from rationing, ina-
tion, and fuel shortages preoccupied most Frenchmen and, in the winter
of 19411942, overshadowed broad political issues. German reprisals,
chronic shortages, and economic difculties all suggested the bankruptcy
of Hitlers new order. Only those with thick, rose-colored glasses could
anticipate an Allied victory one full year before Germanys defeat at Stal-
ingrad. On the other hand, the consequences of resistance were readily
apparent. A majority of Frenchmen concluded that neither collaboration
nor resistance made sense and embraced attentisme by default. Unenthusias-
tic collaboration gave way to sullen acquiescence during the second winter
of the Occupation.
Melton, Darlan, pp. 147155. USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/12371239.


During the nal months of 1941, political and military elites in Berlin
compelled the MBF to follow a reprisal policy that liquidated Jews and
terrorized opponents. After a protracted but futile struggle against Polish
methods, Otto von Stlpnagel retired with his wife in Berlin. In his stead,
OKW appointed General Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel, Ottos amiable
cousin, to serve as the next Militarbefehlshaber in Frankreich. The new MBF
assumed command on 16 February 1942, revised German reprisal policy,
and began to reshape the military administration. Like his predecessor,
Carl-Heinrich rejected the methods and goals of the Nazi regime, but he
expressed his opposition in a very different fashion. Rather than denouncing
ideological directives, the new MBF simply followed orders while plotting
against the Nazi regime.
While Carl-Heinrich remained in charge, the military administration
used creative accounting methods to reduce the number of hostage
executions but carried out Hitlers basic policy without complaint. Despite
the conciliatory tone of the new MBF and a continued decline in the
incidence of sabotage, espionage, and murder, Hitler installed a Senior SS
and Police Leader (Hoherer SS- und Polizeifhrer or HSSuPF) in France. On
1 June 1942, Carl Oberg took over German and French police forces in
occupied France. The SS nally won autonomy and executive authority
or the right to make arrests and seize property.
The new HSSuPF assumed control of the military administrations police
records and card-les, along with a large portion of its police ofcers and

administrative personnel. Armed with formidable powers, the HSSuPF

stood ready to carry out Hitlers racial agenda without fear of objections
raised by a legalistic military administration, but he also faced enduring
problems. Personnel shortages forced Oberg to collaborate with French
policemen just like his military predecessors. Dependent upon French sup-
port, he built upon foundations established by the military administration,
accommodated some French concerns, and gradually expanded German
efforts against Jews, communists, and saboteurs.
The installation of an HSSuPF coincided with signicant changes in the
German war effort. As it became apparent that the war would continue for
some time, OKW addressed serious labor shortages that limited German
military production. During the rst two years of the war, Germany
used French prisoners of war as agricultural laborers and haphazardly
sentenced enemies to terms of labor in German concentration camps.
The Nacht und Nebel Erlass established a new security measurethe
deportation of Jews and communists to German concentration camps in
Polandthat increased the pool of slave labor. During the last two years
of the Occupation, the Nazi regime abandoned haphazard use of French
labor in favor of the organized collection and forcible deportation of
French workers and suspected partisans for service in German factories.
Otto von Stlpnagels departure cleared another impediment on the
path to total war in France. With reduced authority and jurisdiction,
the legalistic military administration could no longer hamstring labor and
racial programs. Haphazard discrimination and expropriation gave way to
systematic deportation and extermination.
Born in 1886, Carl-Heinrich Rudolf Wilhelm von Stlpnagel grew up
in Munich and attended the humanistische Lessing-Gymnasium in Frankfurt
where he excelled in almost every subject except music. In addition to
French, which he often spoke at home, young Carl-Heinrich knew Latin,
Greek, English, some Italian, and some Russian. Despite undistinguished
tours of service on the western front and in the Balkan region during
World War One, Stlpnagel avoided demobilization. His cousin, Joachim

Herbert, Best, pp. 314316, 3216; BALW, R 70 Frankreich/13/53ff.

Milward, The New Order and the French Economy, pp. 110126; Ulrich Herbert, Hitlers
Foreign Workers: Enforced Foreign Labor in Germany under the Third Reich, translated by William
Templer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. 95100, 106108, 1928.

after the fall

von Stlpnagel, advised Generals von Seeckt and Schleicher during the
1920s and may have helped Carl-Heinrich survive personnel cutbacks
mandated by the Versailles Treaty. After the war, Stlpnagel helped
organize the Black Reichswehr in Silesia and the Ruhr before commanding
small infantry units and holding a range of staff positions. As he slowly
ascended the ranks, Carl-Heinrich met and impressed future leaders of
the Wehrmacht, including Fedor von Bock, Walter von Brauchitsch,
Ferdinand von Bredow, Ludwig Beck, Erwin Rommel, and Walther von
Reichenau. Just before the Nazi seizure of power, he attained the rank of
colonel and took charge of the general staff section that studied Germanys
western neighbors.
According to his son Joachim, murders carried out during the Rohm
purge turned Carl-Heinrich against the Nazi regime, but he continued
to enjoy the privileges of a rising ofcer. Foreign policy goals that Hitler
articulated in a staff conference on 5 November 1937 and that Colonel
Hobach recorded in his famous memorandum troubled Stlpnagel, but
promotions and foreign policy successes like the 1938 Munich Agreement
mufed serious opposition inside OKW and OKH. When war nally
broke out in September 1939, Major-General von Stlpnagel worked as the
deputy chief of the Army General Staff for operations (Oberquartiermeister I)
and served as Brauchitschs direct subordinate. After the end of the Polish
campaign, he visited the major eld commands on Germanys western
border and tried to stir up opposition against the Nazi regime while
planning logistical support for the invasion of France. In the winter of
1939/1940, Stlpnagel completed his logistical plan and directed a series of
crucial map exercises that tested Mansteins variant of Fall Gelb. Frustrated
by his inability to organize resistance to Hitlers plans and drained by ofcial

F. L. Carsten, The Reichswehr and Politics, 1918 to 1933 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966).
Joachim le rouge von Stlpnagel (because of his support for a citizens army) should not
be confused with either Otto der Schwarze von Stlpnagel (for his staunch conservatism)
or Carl-Heinrich der blonde von Stulpnagel (because of his reddish blonde hair). Bargatzky,
Hotel Majestic, pp. 524; Geoffrey P. Megargee, Inside Hitlers High Command (Lawrence, KS:
University of Kansas Press, 2000), pp. 1415.
Heinrich Bcheler, Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel: SoldatPhilosophVerschworer (Berlin:
Verlag Ullstein, 1989), pp. 3045, 7087, 94118. An abbreviated history of the entire
Stlpnagel family can be found in BAMA, N 5/26/142.
Bcheler, Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel, pp. 128135, 137158; Mller, Das Heer und Hitler,
pp. 210, 232.
Umbreit, The battle for hegemony in western Europe, pp. 2358.


obligations, Carl-Heinrich succumbed to exhaustion and reported sick in

early 1940.
He recovered in time to lead an infantry corps during the second phase
of the Western campaign and later took charge of the Franco-German
Armistice Commission in Wiesbaden, but he did not remain at his post for
long. In early 1941 he assumed command of the 17th Army and began
to prepare for the invasion of the Soviet Union as part of Army Group
South. He briey opposed security measures that included the relocation
of Jews and other potential subversives from the rear area of his command
but abandoned his complaints after seeing Hitlers Commissar Order and
talking with State Secretary Josef Bhler, a leading ofcial in Polands
Generalgouvernment. By the time Germany invaded the Soviet Union,
Stlpnagels misgivings had fallen by the wayside. His 17th Army earned
praise from an SS execution squad (Sonderkommando) for its attitude towards
Jews, but SS accolades could not deect Hitlers ire when Stlpnagels
command lagged behind neighboring units. Unable or unwilling to endure
censure from OKW, Carl-Heinrich once again reported sick and gave up
his post on 4 October 1941.
General Franz Halder, the Chief of the Army General Staff (OKH), diag-
nosed Stlpnagels sickness as a case of timid leadership. Carl-Heinrich
quickly recovered from his illness, returned to Berlin, and eventually
secured a new post as Militarbefehlshaber in Frankreich. In light of Stlpnagels
pessimistic attitude in the fall of 1939 and his lackluster performance during
the opening stages of Operation Barbarossa, one can only wonder why
Hitler approved the appointment. Support from Halder, Wagner, and
Warlimont must have been decisive. All three men had worked closely
with Stlpnagel between 1938 and 1940, and the rst two also shared
Carl-Heinrichs distaste for Hitler. Unlike his cousin Otto, who com-
bined exceptional military skills with a grating disposition, Carl-Heinrich
used his genial temperament and formidable intellect to compensate

Bcheler, Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel, pp. 168194.

Bcheler, Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel, pp. 212216.
Streit, Keine Kameraden, pp. 111, 114115, 117119; Forster, Securing living space , in
Germany and the Second World War, vol. IV, pp. 11941204; Bcheler, Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel,
pp. 220227.
Bcheler, Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel, pp. 2278; Klaus-Jrgen Mller, Witzleben,
Stlpnagel, and Spiedel, in Correlli Barnett (ed.), Hitlers Generals (New York: Grove Weidenfeld,
1989), pp. 4374.

after the fall

for unexceptional military skills. Personal charm and a reputation for being
a timid leader suggested that Carl-Heinrich would not cause trouble and
may have helped him secure his post.
In order to keep his position as Militarbefehlshaber in Frankreich, Carl-
Heinrich would need all of his diplomatic skills and a measure of luck.
Before he assumed command on 16 February 1942, Carl-Heinrich spoke
to his cousin Otto, and he certainly understood the situation that he
would have to master. Personnel reductions forced the MBF to rely on
the cooperation of the Vichy government. On the other hand, Hitler did
not withdraw his demand for staunch reprisals that upset the Vichy regime.
However, the new MBF also had several factors working in his favor.
First, the 19411942 Soviet winter offensive distracted Hitler. If OKW
and the Fhrer did not hear about a particular attack, they could not order
draconian reprisals. Second, Pierre Lavals return as Prime Minister of the
Vichy regime on 26 April 1942 heralded a compliant French government
that would negotiate but not impede Nazi Germany. Finally, the incidence
of sabotage, espionage, and murder continued to decrease in the rst ve
months of 1942. When he became MBF, Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel
faced a difcult but not hopeless situation.
Resistance groups tested Carl-Heinrich a mere week after he became
the MBF. In broad daylight, the Leon Lioust group of the bataillons de
la jeunesse threw a grenade at a group of German soldiers who were
marching across la place de lArsenal in Le Havre on 23 February 1942.
After consulting with naval authorities, the MBF proposed the immediate
execution of ve hostages because up to now, French authorities and the
population of Le Havre have worked together with Germany awlessly.
The German navy supported a muted response because draconian reprisals
might alienate French workers who serviced German U-boats in Atlantic
ports. Despite agreement between the MBF and navy, Hitler rejected the
mild reprisals that had been proposed by Carl-Heinrich and ordered the
execution of thirty hostages. The Fhrer dismissed fears that his sanctions
would alienate French workers because they targeted separate, alien people:
Jews. In Hitlers opinion, regular French workers would not identify with
or protest against the death of foreigners.

BAMA, N 5/24/142; Bargatzsky, Hotel Majestic, pp. 525, and Ernst Jnger, Strahlungen
(Tbingen: Heliopolis, 1955), pp. 812, 89, 108110, 119120.
BAMA, RW 35/542/9091; Nogueres, Histoire de la Resistance en France, vol. II, p. 354.


Like his cousin and predecessor, Carl-Heinrich followed the letter

but not the spirit of Hitlers reprisal orders. Earlier in the month, the
regional branch of the military administration had tried and executed ve
Frenchmen for various crimes against Germany. The MBF counted these
ve executions toward the Le Havre reprisals ordered by the Fhrer.
For the remaining twenty-ve executions that had to be carried out, the
military administration selected eight people who had already received
sentences of two to fteen years for crimes such as illegal possession of
a rearm, distributing anti-German propaganda, and aiding the enemy.
Another Frenchmen held under administrative arrest by the German
military administration also wound up on the hostage list. The French
government turned over eleven people who had either been detained for
or convicted of a crime by the Vichy regime. Another ve hostages were
removed from the list at the last minute for unspecied technical reasons.
Like his predecessor, Carl-Heinrich used creative accounting methods to
reduce the number of hostage executions from the thirty ordered by Hitler
to twenty who were actually shot on 26 February 1942.
The MBF used a variety of stratagems to reduce the number of reprisal
executions. After terrorists shot and killed Private Hoffendank at his guard
post in Paris on 1 March, Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel ordered the imme-
diate execution of twenty Jews and communists. If the perpetrators were
not caught by 15 March, he threatened to shoot another twenty people.
Only twelve of the original twenty executions were actually carried out
because the Commandant of greater Paris had a credit of six people who
had already been put to death for other crimes. Shortly before the exe-
cution of the rst contingent, the military administration disqualied two
more hostages on technical grounds. The MBF suspended the execution
of the entire second contingent after French and German police appre-
hended three resistance ghters who had carried out, among others, the
Hoffendank attack: Karl Schonhaar, Raymond Tardif, and Georges Ton-
delier. When responding to deadly attacks, Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel
always promised to execute two groups of hostages. By splitting reprisal
executions into two separate contingents, he could condemn a large num-
ber of Frenchmen and appear to be a hardliner. When neither the Fhrer

BAMA, RW 35/542/9091, 120.

BAMA, RW 35/542/91; Nogueres, Histoire de la Resistance en France, vol. II, pp. 367371;
Ouzoulias, Les Fils de la nuit, pp. 246255.

after the fall

nor OKW were paying attention, the MBF could declare the French to be
properly chastened and pardon the second hostage contingent.
Both Otto and Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel also disqualied a number
of hostages on technical grounds shortly before they were scheduled to face
a ring squad. After the Nantes reprisals, Werner Best, German diplomats,
and British propaganda all criticized the military administration for placing
a disabled World War One veteran on the hostage list. German military
courts did not hesitate to condemn any suspected criminals or their associates
to death, but Hitler encouraged subordinates to commute the sentences of
women and children to life in a German prison for propaganda reasons.
After the Nantes reprisals, Otto von Stlpnagel issued new guidelines that
disqualied women, children under the age of 18, and disabled or blind
veterans from hostage lists. Carl-Heinrich also used technical reasons
to spare twenty-three lives in eight of the eighteen reprisal cases that he
adjudicated as the chief legal military authority in France.
While they used a variety of stratagems to reduce the number of hostage
executions, both Otto and Carl-Heinrich authorized the deportation of
substantial numbers of Jews and communists. Acting on orders from
Berlin, Otto von Stlpnagel deported 1,500 Jews and communists in
December 1941. His cousin sent another 3,600 Jews and communists to
the east in response to eight different incidents. In 1942, 43 transports
carried 41,951 Jews and communists to death camps in eastern Europe.
Deportations ordered by the MBF5,100 in alllled the rst ve trains
to Auschwitz. Both Otto and Carl Heinrich von Stlpnagel played a part
in the Final Solution.
Most leading gures within the military administration understood the
deadly consequences of deportation. In his letter of resignation, Otto von
Stlpnagel questioned the wisdom of sending young Jews and communists
to the east for work duty (Arbeitsmassig) because he feared that prisoners
might escape and create security problems. He could only maintain this

USNA, RG 242/T-501/165/400.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1634/nfn (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, 14 n 16 WR
(I/3)/351/41 g; Berlin den 8.5.41). Hitlers restraint was limited to western Europe; see BALW,
NS 19/2175/12.
BAMA, RW 35/308/3034, 46.
BAMA, RW 35/542/7382, 9495, 100104, 106109, 111114, 116117.
Serge Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz: Le Role de Vichy dans la solution nale de la question juive en
France1942 (Paris: Fayard, 1983), p. 41.


interpretation by willfully ignoring the subtleties of the Nacht und Nebel

Erlass and ominous rumors that circulated through the military administra-
tion in the fall of 1941. Nevertheless, Otto continued to favor deportations
over mass shootings in his letter of resignation. Based on his experience
as the commander of the 17th Army, Carl-Heinrich must have suspected
and almost certainly knew what deportation really meant. If he had any
doubts, Reinhard Heydrich dispelled them during a visit to Paris on 6 May
1942. Both Otto and Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel muted their criticism of
deportations as long as Himmlers Black Corps did most of the dirty work.
While he was in charge of German reprisal policy, Carl-Heinrich
occasionally consulted superiors in Berlin before announcing his response
to a particular attack. Of the eighteen serious attacks that were carried out
by resistance groups between February and May 1942, Carl-Heinrich spoke
with superiors in OKH before announcing his response on six occasions.
Consultation with political generals in Berlin reduced but did not eliminate
Hitlers interference. In three of the eighteen attacks, Hitler reduced the
interval between the execution of the rst and second contingents or raised
the number of people to be executed and deported. Furthermore, Carl-
Heinrich did not oppose Hitlers policy of massive reprisals and sweeping
deportations in angry memoranda. The new MBFs diplomatic approach
reduced friction between Paris and Berlin.
Methodical police work also began to produce arrests that, in turn, led
to a number of highly publicized trials. The rst major trial opened on
6 January 1942 in the Musee de lHomme before a German military tribunal.
French lawyers described the process as pleading for cadavers, but the court
acquitted four defendants and sentenced another to six months in prison.
The German judge in charge of the process, Captain Roskothen, sentenced
the remaining ten defendants to death, but superiors later reduced three
of the death sentences to deportation. Subsequent trials held in March
and April followed a similar pattern: they lasted only a few days, convicted
most but not all of the defendants, and male defendants found guilty of
serious crimes were quickly executed. Almost all of the defendants had

Bargatzky, Hotel Majestic, pp. 36, 96109; USNA, RG 242/T501/196/11381145; USNA,

RG 242/T-501/165/433440; Marrus and Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews, pp. 135, 219220.
BAMA, RW 35/542/90119.
Nogueres, Histoire de la Resistance en France, vol. II, pp. 348352. Dr. Ernst Roskothen
served as an army lawyer in France and published a semi-ctional account of his experience in
Gross-Paris, La Place de la Concorde (Bad Drrheim: Kuhn, 1977).

after the fall

Figure 7.1. The Nazis spring a trap, 1944.

Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress.

some connection to the PCF, many were associated with the bataillons de la
jeunesse, and some had committed multiple acts of resistance. The capture,
trial, and execution of militant communists during the rst half of 1942
retarded some of the most dynamic resistance groups.
German authorities used trials to demonstrate that foreigners and Jews
stood behind most resistance activity, and the facts of all three cases
supported their contention. The German interpretation failed to resonate
with the bulk of the French public because the brief duration of all
three trials obscured evidence that supported Germanys interpretation
of events. Cameramen lmed the proceedings and newspapers carried
detailed accounts of all three cases. The MBFs propaganda division never
released footage of the proceedings, and the verdicts only encouraged Jews,
particularly those from Eastern Europe, to resist Nazi Germany because they

Nogueres, Histoire de la Resistance en France, vol. II, pp. 3679, 415417.

Nogueres, Histoire de la Resistance en France, vol. II, pp. 349352, 367370; Laborie,
LOpinion francaise sous Vichy, pp. 253256, 264278.


had nothing to lose. In the short run, the military administration eliminated
several important resistance leaders and validated Otto von Stlpnagels
orthodox anti-partisan policy. From a longer-term perspective, German
political leaders ultimately mishandled the proceedings. Abbreviated judicial
proceedings appeared unconvincing and German reprisals seemed brutal
and unjustied. Trials were a tactical victory but, at the same time, a
strategic defeat.
Statistical evidence collected by branches of the military administra-
tion continued to suggest a drop in serious resistance activity. While
Carl-Heinrich remained in charge of security, the incidence of mur-
der, espionage, sabotage, and illegal possession of a rearm continued to
decline. Some of the dips may be linked to a decrease in the number
of German policemen. As German forces became bogged down on the
eastern front, the MBF had to dispatch elements of the military administra-
tionincluding GFP ofcersto the eastern front. German police forces
stationed in France never surpassed 3,000 men and were dwarfed by 47,000
Frenchmen in the Gendarmerie alone. German policemen only accounted
for a fraction of the law enforcement community in France.
French police ofcers worked well with their German counterparts and,
according to the MBF, provided invaluable assistance. The capture and
execution of a few extraordinarily active militants probably also played an
important part in reducing the overall incidence of serious resistance activity
in 1942. Until labor deportations stirred up additional unrest, the ranks
of major resistance groups would remain depleted. While Carl-Heinrich
remained in charge of German police forces, resistance activity did not
seriously impair the German army or the Nazi regime.
Although he carried out orders without complaint and enjoyed some suc-
cess, Stlpnagel lost control of German police forces on 1 June 1942. Hitler
and Goebbels discussed the replacement of General von Falkenhausen, the

Jacques Adler, The Jews of Paris and the Final Solution: Communal Response and Internal
Conicts, 19401944 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 165, 188195; Courtois et al.,
Le Sang de letranger, pp. 1258, 143170; Renee Poznaski, La Resistance juive en France, Revue
dhistoire de la Deuxieme Guerre Mondiale et des conits contemporains, 137 (January 1985), 332.
USNA, RG 242/T-120/3/396397; BALW, R 70 Frankreich/13/714; USNA, RG
242/T-501/157/744757; and USNA, RG 242/T-501/184/10451083.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/144/65, 7273, 185189; Bernd Kasten, Gute Franzosen. Die
franzosische Polizei und die deutsche Besatzungsmacht im besetzten Frankreich 19401944 (Sigmaringen:
Jan Thorbecke Verlag, 1993); Maurice Rajsfus, La Police de Vichy: les forces de lordre francaises au
service de la Gestapo, 1940/1944 (Paris: Le Cherche-Midi editeur, 1995), pp. 217261.

after the fall

Table 7.1 Arrests for serious resistance activity, October 1941May 1942

Oct. 1941 Dec. 1941 Feb. 1942 Apr. 1942

Nov. 1941 Jan. 1942 Mar. 1942 May 1942
Murder or at- 14 7 4 7
tempted murder
Manslaughter 0 1 4 0
Espionage 30 28 19 15
Sabotage 124 119 114 68
Unauthorized pos- 870 604 579 357
session of a gun

MBB, at a 24 September 1941 meeting. After the Nantes and Bordeaux

assassinations, Goebbels, Lammers, and other leading Nazis urged Hitler to
replace military administrations in France and Belgium with civil govern-
ments controlled by reliable Nazis. Military opposition to the conscation
of Jewish property and protests against Hitlers reprisal policy suggested that
neither the MBF nor the MBB could be trusted to carry out Germanys
racial agenda with the necessary ruthlessness. Apparently Hitler believed
that the military administration had some value. Rather than installing a
civil government modeled along the lines of the administrations in Poland
or Denmark, the Fhrer left the military administration in place and trans-
ferred German reprisal policy to a Senior SS and Police leader (Hoherer SS-
und Polizeifhrer or HSSuPF) in France.
A decree issued on 13 November 1937 had authorized Heinrich Himm-
ler, the Reichsfhrer-SS und Chef der deutschen Polizei, to appoint an HSSuPF
in each military district (Wehrkreis) of the Reich upon mobilization of the
army. The HSSuPF coordinated the order police (Ordnungspolizei or Orpo)
and security police (Sicherheitspolizei or Sipo) at a local level. By design, the
decree did not specify the exact responsibilities of the new ofce and left the
HSSuPFs relationship with other branches of the Reich government and

USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/1246 (OctoberNovember 1941), USNA, RG 242/T-

501/144/3435 (December 1941January 1942), 157158 (FebruaryMarch 1942), and 232233
(AprilMay 1942). These numbers are limited to crimes that were prosecuted in German military
Frohlich (ed.), Die Tagebcher von Joseph Goebbels, vol. II, part 1, p. 485. Entry dated
24September 1941; DGFP, ser. D, vol. XIII, pp. 6723.


Wehrmacht subject to further instructions from Himmler. In practice, the

authority of an HSSuPF varied from district to district; it usually depended
on his relationship with Himmler and local circumstances. Once war broke
out in 1939, Himmler appointed an HSSuPF to each military district with-
in the Reich and later installed HSSuPFs in sections of Poland that were
incorporated into the Reich and Hans Franks Generalgouvernement.
After the conquest of Western Europe, Hitler established civil govern-
ments in Norway and the Netherlands. Himmler quickly appointed an
HSSuPF to both states. HSSuPFs arrived in conquered Soviet territory as
German armies advanced further and further east. Areas in which Hitler had
installed a military government did not receive HSSuPFs until early 1942,
but their arrival did not necessarily indicate armySS friction. Even though
the military government in Serbia had far surpassed Keitels 16 September
1941 directive and was well on its way to annihilating all Serbian Jews,
Himmler appointed an HSSuPF to the region on 22 January 1942.
Otto von Stlpnagels resistance to draconian reprisals certainly
encouraged Hitler and Himmler to insert an HSSuPF in France, but
the advent of the Final Solution probably inuenced their decision as
well. Himmlers authority derived from three basic titles: head of the SS
(Reichsfhrer-SS), Chief of German Police (Chef der deutschen Polizei), and
Reich Commissar for the Protection of German Blood (Reichskommissar
fr die Festigung deutschen Volkstums). The HSSuPF did not merely function
as the top German cop in France; he served as Himmlers personal
representative and coordinated all SS activities within his jurisdiction.
Racial and police missions of the HSSuPF complemented one another
because they both targeted the same group: Jews. Furthermore, the
HSSuPFs arrival relieved the military administration of two onerous tasks:
reprisals and racial cleansing or, in Nazi parlance, Aryanization. Once
empowered with executive authority, Himmlers lieutenants could pursue
SS racial goals and implement Hitlers anti-partisan policy without regard

Helmut Krausnick, Hans Buchheim, Martin Broszat and Hans-Adolf Jacobsen, Antatomy
of the SS State, translated by Richard Barry, Marian Jackson, and Dorothy Long (New York:
Walker and Company, 1968), pp. 213214; Ruth Bettina Birn, Die Hoheren SS- und Polizeifuhrer:
Himmlers Vetreter im Reich und in den besetzten Gebieten (Dsseldorf: Droste, 1986), pp 186206.
Birn, Die Hoheren SS und Polizeifhrer, pp. 206230, 238249; Christopher Browning,
Wehrmacht reprisal policy and the murder of the male Jews in Serbia in Christopher Browning,
Fateful Months: Essays on the Emergence of the Final Solution (New York: Homes & Meier, 1985),
pp. 3956; Walter Manoschek, The extermination of the Jews in Serbia, in Ulrich Herbert
(ed.), National Socialist Extermination Policies, pp. 163185.

after the fall

for opposition from conservative military ofcers. As members of the old

guard of the Nazi party who had Himmlers complete trust, HSSuPFs
were ideally suited to handle special projects like the Final Solution.
Field Marshal Keitel welcomed the installation of an HSSuPF in France.
After a contentious exchange with Otto von Stlpnagel on 23 January
1942, Keitel directed General Warlimont to consider ways of redistributing
responsibilities for security and reprisals in France. OKW eventually
decided to negotiate with Heydrich and the SS. In mid-January,
Admiral Canaris, the head of the Abwehr, met with Heydrich and
Heinrich Gestapo Mller, the head of the political police, to discuss
counter-espionage responsibilities and other security issues. Canaris and
Heydrich simply expanded the scope of their discussions to include the
entire SSAbwehr relationship. On 6 April, both organizations distributed
a new set of principles, known as the ten commandments (Zehn Gebote),
that established the jurisdiction of both agencies.
Under the 1942 Zehn Gebote, the SS expanded at the expense of
the Abwehr and GFP. Military organizations limited their activities to
protecting the armed forces and military installations from foreign agents.
In contrast, the SS gained permission to collect intelligence on Germanys
opponents and pursue foreign agents throughout the territory controlled
by the Reich. Heydrich also won the right to report on political and
economic developments and could thus inuence future German policy.
Himmlers right-hand man used his new authority to mount a concerted
campaign against what he believed to be the usual agents of foreign
espionage organizations: Jews and communists. Devout Nazis viewed
counter-espionage operations as related to and integrally linked with Nazi
racial goals. Like Keitel, Canaris passed unsavory tasks to the SS. The
SS expanded its brief to encompass all security measureswhich included
racial cleansingin the Reich and occupied territories throughout
Europe. The installation of a HSSuPF in France tted within a general
pattern of SS expansion and military retreat.

USNA, RG 242/T-501/172/482484; Birn, Die Hoheren SS- und Polizeifhrer, pp. 18, 23,
Birn, Die Hoheren SS und Polizeifhrer, p. 250; BAMA, RW 5/690/3943, 4648; BAK,
All. Proz. 21/Proces Oberg-Knochen/20; USNA, RG 242/T-175/140/26683402668345.
BAMA, RW 5/690/2123; USNA, RG 242/T-77/1513/635639.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1513/555569; BAMA, RW 5/690/5867, 7780.


Himmler appointed Carl Albrecht Oberg to serve as the HSSuPF in

France. Born in 1897, Oberg grew up in Hamburg where his father was as
a physician. After receiving his Abitur in 1914, he joined the army, won the
Iron Cross rst and second class, and earned a battleeld commission before
being demobilized in 1919. After spending three years in the free corps
movement, Oberg settled down and married in 1923. For the remainder
of the Weimar era, he worked as a paper salesman, private secretary, clerk,
and tobacco store manager. He joined the Nazi party in 1931, entered the
SS in 1932, and, after the Nazi seizure of power, went to work full-time
for the personnel and organization division of the Reichsfhrer-SS Hauptamt
in Berlin. Once the war broke out, he worked in Zwickau and later served
as an SS Police Leader (SS- und Polizeifhrer or SSuPF) in Radom (south
of Warsaw) with the SS rank of Brigadefhrer.
As an HSSuPF, Oberg had considerable authority. He received orders
from and answered directly to HimmlerOberg did not have to take orders
from Heydrich or RSHA. In theory, the MBF could direct the operations
of the HSSuPF, but this authority amounted to little in practice. General
von Stlpnagel could only issue binding orders during a military emergency,
and his subordinates had even less inuence. If a local or regional military
commander wanted to make a request to his opposite number in the SS,
his wishes had to travel up the military chain of command to the MBF,
who would discuss the matter with the HSSuPF, and then a subsequent
decision would return down the separate military and SS channels. If the
MBF disagreed with the HSSuPF, the dispute would be resolved by Keitel
and Himmler in Berlin. Given Keitels pusillanimous nature and OKWs
record of not supporting eld commanders, this safeguard offered little
Hitler issued orders that installed an HSSuPF in France on 9 March
1942, and the MBF claried the Fhrers general guidelines in a series of
regulations that were released just before Oberg formally assumed his post
on 1 June. Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel insisted upon close ArmySS

Birn, Die Hoheren SS- und Polizeifuhrer, p. 341; USNA, RG 153/144 (War Crimes
Branch)/Box 5/Folder 100197/nfn (Obergs P.I.R. le); Ulrich Lappenkper, Der Schlachter
von Paris: Carl-Albrecht Oberg als Hoherer SS- und Polizeifhrer in Frankreich 19421944,
in Stefan Martens and Maurice Vasse (eds.), Frankreich und Deutschland im Krieg (Novem-
ber 1942Herbst 1944): Okkupation, Kollaboration, Resistance (Bonn: Bouvier Verlag, 2000),
pp. 129143.
BALW, R 70 Frankreich/13/5356.

after the fall

cooperation and would not allow ongoing police investigations to be

interrupted. He told his subordinates, specically the police and justice
divisions of the military administration, to turn over all information relating
to ongoing cases and demanded a seamless transition. Stlpnagel surpassed
the terms of Hitlers 9 March order that placed both French and German
police forces under the HSSuPFs control and transferred responsibility
for the oversight of French political organizations, unions, and youth
organizations to Obergs lieutenants. The SS also took charge of foreigners
interned by the French or German governments and handled cases of
sabotage and assassination throughout the occupied zone. According to
Hitlers 9 March order and the Zehn Gebote, the MBF could only investigate
cases of espionage aimed at military installations and military personnel.
Furthermore, the HSSuPFs subordinate, the Commander of the Security
Police and SD in France (Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD or
BdS), relieved the MBF of his reporting duty (Meldepicht). The ability
to describe and interpret the situation in France had helped the MBF
fend off criticism from the Paris embassy after the Nantes and Bordeaux
assassinations in the fall of 1941. Without authority to send ofcial reports to
superiors in Berlin, the MBF lost the ability to frame events in a manner that
favored the military administration. If he could not explain his perspective
to the political and military leadership of the Reich, the MBF could not
effectively defend what little authority he and his military administration still
possessed. To make matters worse, the duty of interpreting French affairs
passed to Helmut Knochen, the long-time SS commander in France. Otto
von Stlpnagel had requested Knochens recall after the BdS submitted a
patently false report on synagogue bombings in October 1941. Not only
did the military lose an important weapon in the war against rival German
agencies, but the tool fell into the hands of a dedicated anti-Semite who did
not share the MBFs sense of restraint. After Oberg arrived in mid-1942,
the MBF could only comment on economic affairs.
Although Hitlers 9 March 1942 order gave him control over all sanc-
tions and countermeasures (Vorbeugungs- und Shnemassnahmen), the
HSSuPF did not freeze the military administration out of all security
matters. Regional and local branches of the military administration retained
the right to impose nes, prohibitions, and curfews. They continued to

USNA, RG 242/T-501/172/441, 453454.


organize the local population into guard detachments that would protect
lines of communication and patrol the border between unoccupied France
and Francos Spain. Both Oberg and Stlpnagel expected the military
administration and SS to work together with regard to mundane security
matters, but the SS retained exclusive control of the French police and
oversaw major investigations. The HSSuPF realized that he did not have
the resources to fulll all of his missions on his own, and gradually ceded
control of minor security concerns back to the military administration.
To further extend his authority and overcome personnel shortages,
Oberg tried to issue orders directly to GFP and Abwehr units that were
already assigned to the military administration. Admiral Canaris, the man
ultimately in charge of the Abwehr and GFP, refused to place military per-
sonnel under SS jurisdiction. From his ofce in Berlin, Canaris effectively
blocked Obergs incursion and avoided a precedent that could endanger the
independence of the entire Wehrmacht. Keitel supported Canariss general
strategy but did not dare to agrantly oppose Himmler. He eventually
negotiated an agreement with the SS that disbanded most GFP groups in
France. The SS, in turn, immediately drafted the demobilized members of
the GFP into the Black Corps. Younger agents were sent to the eastern
front while older policemen returned to France for service in the Sicherheit-
spolizei under the command of Helmut Knochen. Few escaped the clutches
of the SS.
General Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel and SS-Brigadefhrer Oberg
worked well together and forged a series of agreements that established the
respective tasks and responsibilities of the SS and military administration
before the HSSuPF formally assumed his post. During this delicate pro-
cess, neither referred a dispute to higher authorities in Berlin. After the
October 1941 synagogue bombings, Otto von Stlpnagel banned all SS
personnel from the Hotel Majestic. In contrast, Oberg frequently visited
Carl-Heinrich and coordinated policy with the military administration
whenever circumstances dictated. The two men had served in the same

USNA, RG 242/T-501/172/482484.
UNSA, RG 242/T-77/1634/folder 12/nfn (MBF VerwaltungsstabAbt. Verwaltung,
31Mai 1942, Az. V in 100/1/1400/42g.); BALW, R 70 Frankreich/12/14.
BALW, R 58/861/che 2/5455; USNA, RG 338/Foreign Military Studies/Fiche
0027/FMS number C-029, The secret eld police by Wilhelm Kirchbaum; Klaus Gess-
ner, Geheime Feldpolizei (Berlin: Militarverlag der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, 1986),
pp. 659.

after the fall

regiment during World War One, and this common bond may have helped
them maintain cordial relations during the Occupation.
Hitlers 9 March 1942 directive allowed Oberg to issue instructions to
various branches of the French police forces, but the Fhrer did not dene
the precise relationship between the Vichy regime and the HSSuPF. In
order to clarify matters, Oberg won the right to negotiate directly with
Vichy. He did not have to work through the German embassy in Paris
or a military liaison ofcer. With an open channel to the very highest
echelons of the French government and almost unlimited power as the
head of German security forces in France, Oberg could play a decisive role
in Franco-German relations.
The Vichy government heard about Obergs appointment in April
1942. On 5 May, Reinhard Heydrich ew to Paris and introduced the
new HSSuPF to French ofcials. On the same day that they arrived, Oberg
and Heydrich spoke with Fernand de Brinon, Vichys representative in
Paris, and Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, the new Commissioner-General
for Jewish Affairs (Commissaire-general aux questions juives or CGQJ) in SS
ofces on lavenue Foch. Leaders of the military administration met Oberg
at a dinner held in the Ritz hotel that same night, and Rene Bousquet
discussed police business with the two senior SS ofcers the next morning:
6 May 1942. The meeting with Bousquet, who Laval had appointed the
Secretary-General of the Police (Secretariat-general a la Police) in the Ministry
of the Interior, lasted over two hours and explored how French and
German policemen would work together.
Hitlers 9 March 1942 order installing an HSSuPF in France allowed
Oberg to supervise and issue instructions to French authorities and police
forces. He is responsible for the employment of the French police in
the occupied zone. In other words, the Fhrer granted Oberg con-
trol of French police forces in occupied France. Since the Occupation

Wilhelm von Schramm, Conspiracy Among Generals, translated by R. T. Clark (New York:
Scribner and Sons, 1956), pp. 125, 143, 169; BAK, All. Proz. 21/Proces Oberg-Knochen/33, 35.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1624/folder 3/4548; USNA, RG 242/T-120/2398/E209343
Corinna Franz, Fernand de Brinon und die deutschfranzoesischen Beziehungen, 19181945
(Bonn: Bouvier Verlag, 2000); Gilbert Joseph, Fernand de Brinon: LAristocrate de la collaboration
(Paris: Albin Michel, 2002); Marrus and Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews, pp. 283293.
Pascale Froment, Rene Bousquet (Paris: Stock, 1994), pp. 200204, 207213.
BALW, R 70 Frankreich/13/5356.


Figure 7.2. Prime Minister Laval (left) and HSSuPF Oberg (centre), 1 May 1943.
Photograph courtesy of the Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H25719.

had begun in 1940, the Vichy regime consistently tried to preserve the
principle of French sovereignty by using French authorities to carry
out German policies. Both Laval and Admiral Darlan tried to reinforce
the precedent that French bureaucrats and the Vichy government ruled
France. By doing so, they hoped to block German penetration of the
French bureaucracy and prevent the gradual break-up of France. The
arrival of Oberg and his mandate to supervise French police endangered
Vichys control over its own police force and, by extension, French sove-
Secretary-General Bousquet certainly understood the basic policy of the
Vichy government. During his meeting with Oberg and Heydrich on
6 May, Bousquet tried to persuade Himmlers lieutenants to stop reprisal
executions, preserve Vichys sovereignty, and get all German policemen to
work with French counterparts through ofcial channels. Like Laval, the
Secretary-General of French Police wanted to keep ultra-collaborationists
such as Marcel Deat out of the ofcial decision-making process and block

after the fall

unauthorized collaboration between local French and German ofcials.

In return, he offered to share information and cooperate with German
policemen. Given the severe shortage of trained policemen, RSHA could
not afford to send additional SS ofcers to France and closely supervise
French police forces. At a dinner held in the Hotel Majestic during his
visit, Heydrich told the MBF and 5060 MVW ofcials in attendance
that he did not intend to use eastern methods in France. He explained
that hostage executions demonstrated Germanys weakness and had to
be curtailed. Instead, Heydrich planned to enlist the French police in
Germanys struggle against communists and terrorists who were attacking
German forces. Heydrich and Bousquet were prepared to make some
Heydrichs assassination on 29 May disrupted Franco-German talks, and
Oberg needed time to settle into his new position once he was formal-
ly installed on 1 June 1942. Eager to resume negotiations, Bousquet
sent a note to Oberg on 18 June. The HSSuPF conferred with superi-
ors in Berlin, diplomats attached to the German embassy in Paris, and
the MBF before replying on 23 July. Oberg congratulated Bousquet on
the commendable performance of the French police and outlined mea-
sures to further increase their effectiveness. The new HSSuPF offered
to provide better weapons, permitted the opening of a school to train
police ofcers, and allowed the French police autonomy as long as they
followed German directives. In return, Oberg expected Bousquet to
maintain law and order throughout France, share all intelligence, and
collaborate closely with the SS. Bousquets 18 June letter offered to
collaborate against anarchism, communism, and terrorism, but Obergs
23 July reply tried to expand this denition to include all enemies of the
Bousquet recognized that Obergs reply inated the scope of Franco-
German collaboration. On 29 July, the Secretary-General asked Oberg to

Kasten, Gute Franzosen, pp. 7071; Froment, Rene Bousquet, pp. 1623, 174188, 205.
BALW, R 19 (Ordnungspolizei)/97/55.
BAK, All. Proz. 21/217/455457; Luther, Der franzosische Widerstand, p. 214.
Froment, Rene Bousquet, pp. 205, 214217; Kasten, Gute Franzosen, pp. 6973.
Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 1942, pp. 209213; Obergs congratulations probably referred
to the Vel dHiv round-ups carried out by the French police in the middle of July. Bousquet and
Laval may have authorized the raids to demonstrate French reliability.
USNA, RG 242/T-120/2398/E209364E209367; Kasten, Gute Franzosen, p. 72.


specify the duties and responsibilities of the French police. He once again
offered to pursue anarchists, terrorists, and communists because all three
groups jeopardized order and endangered Germany. Bousquet volunteered
to hunt down Vichys opponents and did not mind collaborating with
German forces against common enemies, but he did not want to give the
HSSuPF a blank check to use the French police however he wished. In
Bousquets opinion, Franco-German collaboration should be limited to
civil matters revolving around the maintenance of order. He did not want
to get the French involved in purely military affairs that were the exclusive
domain of the HSSuPF.
Oberg unveiled his nal offer during a lunch meeting on 8 August
1942 in his private apartment on the boulevard Lannes. Before a small
group of prefects and senior police ofcials, the HSSuPF promised to issue
instructions through the French administration and preserve the illusion
of French sovereignty. He also agreed to leave the French police out of
the reprisal process and assured the assembled ofcials that people arrested
by them [the French police] would not be the object of reprisals ordered
by German authorities. In return, the French would have to cooperate in
the repression of the Reichs enemies and specically listed communists,
terrorists, and saboteurs. In the mind of every dedicated SS ofcer,
these latter three groups certainly included racial opponents of the Nazi
The French delegation retired to ofces on the rue de Monceau to review
the HSSuPFs offer. Unfamiliar with SS duplicity, Bousquet told colleagues
that the accord was a binding declaration that limited German demands
and French collaboration. He believed that the agreement allowed the
French considerable autonomy and stopped French participation in German
reprisals. After some discussion, the rest of the French delegation concurred.
Oberg viewed the accord in a rather different light. He later described the
ObergBousquet accords as an unsigned gentlemans agreement that
outlined Franco-German collaboration. Articles of the ObergBousquet
accord obliged French policemen to support and protect the German army
but placed few limits on the demands that Germany could make in return.
Exploiting Bousquets navete, Oberg expanded the scope of collaboration

Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz: 1942, pp. 297300; BAK, All. Proz. 21/209/407411.

BAK, All. Proz. 21/209/415417.

after the fall

to include the deportation of Jews and pushed France further down the
slippery slope of collaboration.
Behind closed doors, Oberg outlined comparatively moderate security
policies to Secretary-General Bousquet and representatives of the Vichy
regime. In public, however, the new HSSuPF described a different course.
On 10 July, posters throughout Paris congratulated the majority of French-
men and women who continued to go about their daily business despite
assassinations, sabotage, and other provocations carried out by English and
Soviet agents. As a reward, Oberg guaranteed peace and quiet to the
populace. Toward this end, he announced a new policy of repression that
was aimed at the relatives of resistance ghters. If families did not turn in
relatives who had attacked the German army within ten days of the original
crime, the HSSuPF threatened to execute all siblings and cousins over 18
years of age. Female relatives would be deported to Germany for an unde-
termined sentence of forced labor, and children would be sent to reform
schools. While reprisals ordered by the MBF tried to target ideological
fellow-travelers and criminal associates, the HSSuPF embraced a policy of
blatant terror by striking at the family members of resistance ghters.
The German embassy in Paris did not oppose the method outlined in
Obergs 10 July announcement, and distributed versions of his policy to
the French press. It considered the people who stood behind sabotage and
assassinations to be ruthless and undeserving of mercy. Initial assassinations
carried out by resistance groups violated the laws of war and warranted Ger-
man reprisals. A diplomat attached to the embassy argued that destruction
of an insidious adversary must be the only principle guiding German coun-
termeasures. Both the embassy and the HSSuPF judged Allied protests that
were based on humanitarian phraseology to be the height of hypocrisy.
They considered Germany to be just as brutal as their Allied opponents,
but took solace in the honesty of the Reichs candor.
Two well-known attacks forced the HSSuPF to reconcile public threats
with private assurances made to Bousquet. On 5 August 1942, unknown
terrorists tossed hand grenades at a group of German airmen jogging
around a Parisian athletic eld. Goring and Hugo Sperrle, the local Luftwaffe
commander, immediately demanded sharp reprisals. Under considerable

Froment, Rene Bousquet, pp. 217221; Kasten, Gute Franzosen, pp. 713; Paxton, Vichy
France, pp. 1315; BAK, All. Proz. 21/209/407.
BAK, All. Proz. 21/217/465. USNA, RG 242/T-120/2398/E209360E209363.


political pressure from a rival paladin, Himmler directed Oberg to execute

a total of ninety-three prisoners or three Frenchmen for each German killed
and two Frenchmen for each German wounded. On 11 August, the SS
shot eighty-eight prisoners who were suspected of being associated with a
terrorist group to satisfy the Luftwaffes thirst for revenge. Fifty-seven of
the victims had been arrested by the French police and had not committed
a crime against the German army. The HSSuPF had waited a mere three
days to violate terms of the ObergBousquet accords.
A group linked to the Francs Tireurs et Partisans/Mouvement Ouvrier
International (FTP/MOI) carried out another attack on 19 September 1942.
The Valmy cellnamed after the 20 September 1792 battle that stemmed
a counter-revolutionary invasionexploded a bomb in the Rex movie
theater and claimed fty-eight casualties. Although bloody, the attack
did not cause an immediate sensation. German personnel in Paris had
become accustomed to resistance activity and had adapted to the hostile
atmosphere. The HSSuPF ordered the immediate execution of 116
hostages (70 imprisoned in Bordeaux and 46 held in Romainville, just
outside Paris), placed all theaters and cinemas off limits to Frenchmen, and
imposed a strict curfew in the Seine, Seine-et-Oise, and Seine-et-Marne
departements. Why the HSSuPF chose hostages from the Romainville and
Bordeaux prisons remains unclear. The decision represented a break with
the MBFs policy which called for the execution of hostages from the same
region as the original attack. The Valmy group operated in metropolitan
Paris, had about thirty-ve members, and carried out thirty-one attacks
between 29 July 1941 and 16 October 1942 before being broken up by
French and German policemen. A large supply of communist prisoners in
Bordeaux and Romainville may have inuenced Obergs decision, or he
may have thought the random nature of the executions (as opposed to
always using local hostages) would make his countermeasures even more
terrible and therefore more effective.

USNA, RG 242/T-120/1854/E040540E040543; Luther, Der franzosische Widerstand,

p.217. Numbers of dead and wounded come from Luther but do not match diplomatic
reports that list 4 dead, 10 seriously injured, 19 lightly injured, 7 ambulatory cases, and 1 nervous
Froment, Rene Bousquet, p. 222.
BAK, All. Proz. 21/217/301303, 315; Luther, Der franzosische Widerstand, pp. 217219.
IMT , vol. XXXVII, pp. 190199; USNA, RG 242/T-175/129/26552042655206; BAK,
All. Proz. 21/217/343349, 537541.

after the fall

Between 1 June 1942 and the liberation of France in the fall of 1944, the
HSSuPF executed 254 hostages in response to 3 dramatic assassinations.
In contrast, Otto and Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel ordered the execution
of 471 hostages while they served as the MBF. Statistics suggest that
the HSSuPF followed a more moderate reprisal policy than his military
counterparts, but these numbers are deceptive: several factors belie alleged
SS moderation.
First, the MBF controlled all hostage executions, recorded the entire
hostage process, and publicized reprisals in order to teach Frenchmen
that resistance did not pay. Neither methodical nor exacting, the HSSuPF
allowed local and regional subordinates to carry out reprisals on their own
accord and preferred not to leave a paper trail. Oberg did not know about
all reprisal actions carried out by subordinates and did not report every
incident to superiors in Berlin. While the MBF used reprisals to impress the
folly of resistance upon the French public, the SS used hostage executions
to liquidate enemies. By design, the HSSuPF did not control, record, or
publicize hostage executions.
Second, the HSSuPF had more reprisal options than either of his
military counterparts. In addition to reprisal executions, the HSSuPF could
arrest hostages under the Nacht und Nebel Erlass and count the subsequent
deportations as equivalent to hostage executions. Keitel issued the Nacht
und Nebel Erlass on 7 December 1941 while Otto von Stlpnagel remained
in charge of the military administration, but the MBF could not take
advantage of the alternative policy. Transportation shortages aggravated by
the Soviet winter offensive and troop movements prevented the deportation
of substantial numbers of Frenchmen that would be necessary to satisfy
Hitler. Obergs arrival coincided with an improvement in the transportation
situation. The HSSuPF could substitute deportations for hostage executions,
but the former could be just as deadly as the latter and, when carried out
in accordance with Hitlers wishes, targeted the same people: Jews. During

For the third case, the assassination of Julius Ritter on 10 September 1943, see Luther,
Der franzosische Widerstand, pp. 219220 and Froment, Rene Bousquet, p. 415. For the total
number of hostage executions carried out by the HSSuPF, see Luther, Der franzosische Widerstand,
pp.269274; Umbreit, Der Militarbefehlshaber in Frankreich 19401944, pp. 140146.
BAMA, RW 35/542/120.
Birn, Die Hoheren SS- und Polizeifhrur, pp. 913, 106131; IMT , vol. VI, pp. 3834.
Nogueres, Histoire de la Resistance en France, vols. 3 and 4 mention additional reprisal executions
that are not described by Luther, HSSuPF records, or military archives.


the Occupation, German authorities deported at least 6,639 people under

the Nacht und Nebel Erlass.
Hitler also made the HSSuPFs job a bit easier by releasing the so-
called Commando Order. Issued in October 1942, the decree ordered
subordinates to not take enemy commandos prisoner, even if they were
caught wearing a uniform and bearing weapons openly. Ofcers who
mistakenly took prisoners were to turn commandos over to the SD
immediately, and the Fhrer threatened to prosecute ofcers who did not
follow his directive with dereliction of duty to drive his point home.
Fearful of Allied reprisals against captured soldiers and downed pilots,
the military hesitated to carry out the Commando Order and regularly
issued clarications that distinguished combatants who could be treated
as prisoners of war from guerrillas who were subject to the Commando
Order. The Fhrer preferred an expansive denition of a commando, but
enthusiasm for his interpretation decreased as one approached the front.
SD agents usually operated in rear areas, ran little risk of falling into
enemy hands, and volunteered to take captured Allied commandos off the
Wehrmachts hands. The Commando Order allowed the SS to shoot
partisans without a trial, reduced the need for damaging public executions,
and did not create a paper trail.
On 30 June 1942, Himmler installed an SS police court in France.
The new judiciary supplemented military courts-martial and could also
be used to prosecute members of the French resistance. While in charge
of German police forces, the military administration followed traditional
rules of military justice. Trials of people who were accused of resistance
activity in early 1942 followed rules set forth in the Militargesetzbuch. SS
courts, particularly if short of judicial personnel, may not have been so
meticulous. The SS adopted a modied version of the military legal system
and could certainly use abbreviated procedures set forth in the KStVO
and KSSVO. Using a truncated legal code, SS courts were staffed with
dedicated National-Socialists who could handle French criminals in a way

Luther, Der franzosische Widerstand, p. 136; Umbreit, Der Militarbefehlshaber in Frankreich

19401944, p. 145.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1430/168171, 176182; Blood, Hitlers Bandit Hunters, pp. 813.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1428/797, 869870, 10101012.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1428/812813.
USNA, RG 242/T-580/95/nfn (Der RFSS, Hauptamt SS-Gericht, II/203/265, Tgb.
695/42, Mnchen den 8/7/42); Krausnick et al., Anatomy of the SS State, pp. 248254.

after the fall

that was bound to satisfy both Himmler and Hitler; they also provided a
fourth way to liquidate alleged terrorists away from the public eye.
Fifth, the Reichsfhrer-SS and his lieutenants did not have a zealous
rival driving them toward extreme measures. While the MBF remained
in charge of security and reprisals during the rst half of the Occupation,
SS critics in Paris and Nazis in Berlin condemned the MBFs moderation.
Who would dare accuse the head of the SS of being soft on enemies of
the Reich? Certainly not Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel or Wilhelm Keitel.
Like his military predecessors, Himmler depended upon support from the
French police and could not afford to shoot thousands of Frenchmen
after the death of a few German soldiers. Without a deadly political rival
standing over his shoulder, Oberg enjoyed more leeway than his military
Hitler specically ordered hostage executions in at least seven of the
thirty major sabotage and assassination cases that were handled by the
military administration. After the 5 August 1942 grenade attack, Himm-
lernot Hitlerordered Oberg to shoot ninety-three hostages. With the
trustworthy Reichsfhrer-SS in charge of sabotage countermeasures, Hitler
may not have felt compelled to monitor resistance activity or German
reprisals. The Fhrer allowed Himmler and the SS a degree of latitude that
would never have been awarded to an army ofcer. Himmler functioned as
a buffer between the HSSuPF and the Fhrer. Oberg further reduced the
need for executions by not reporting every incident of sabotage to superiors
in Berlin. If Hitler and Himmler did not know about a particular attack,
they could not order draconian reprisals.
After the liberation of France, the French government estimated that
29,660 Frenchmen had been shot as hostages during World War Two, but
the French government used an expansive denition of hostage (otage) and
included people shot by the regular army and SS units as Germany retreated
in the fall of 1944. Statistics compiled by the MBF and HSSuPF indicate
that German police forces executed about 725 French hostages, but German
data does not include thousands of prisoners deported under the Nacht und

BALW, R 58/642/19; Wllner, Die NS-Militarjustiz und das Elend der Geschichtsschreibung,
pp. 2989.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/184/10451083, especially p. 1070.
BAMA, RW 35/542/40120, particularly cases 5, 6, 7, 9, 13, 16, and 19; Birn, Die Hoheren
SS- und Polizeifhrer, p. 256; Jackel, France dans lEurope de Hitler, pp. 2824.


Nebel Erlass, executions carried out by junior SS commands, or Frenchmen

shot by the regular army in the nal weeks of the Occupation. French
and German accounts struggle to distinguish dubious hostage executions
from shooting of unlawful combatants who had violated the rules of war.
Political considerations and problems associated with memory undermine
statistical surveys carried out immediately after the war. A recent summary
of available data suggests that a total of about 20,000 French men and
women perished during the Occupation. If anti-partisan operations during
the nal months of the Occupation and summary executions carried out
by the regular army as it retreated toward Germany claimed approximately
1214,000 French lives, then approximately 6,0008,000 French men and
women perished through hostage executions, deportations, and equivalent
measures ordered by the MBF and HSSuPF. Atrocities carried out by the
eld army during the liberation of France probably accounted for the bulk
of French casualties, but this should not obscure or excuse the lethal nature
of army and SS reprisal policies.

IMT , vol. XXXVII, p. 212; Lieb, Konventioneller Krieg oder NS Weltanschauungskrieg,

pp.289299, 412415.

Defamation, discrimination,
and despoliation

Before 1942, the fortunes of war clearly favored the Axis powers on
the continent of Europe. German victories in Poland (September 1939),
Norway (April 1940), France (June 1940), Yugoslavia (April 1941), Greece
(April 1941), and Crete (May 1941) overshadowed the miracle at Dunkirk
and Britains successful defense of the skies over London. Winston Churchill
recognized Great Britains grim situation when he exclaimed that [w]ars
are not won by evacuations. The 22 June 1941 invasion of the Soviet
Union inaugurated another round of Axis triumphs. German soldiers
captured 324,000 Soviet troops around Minsk (9 July), 310,000 near
Smolensk (5 August), 665,000 in Kiev (26 September), and 663,000 in
Vyazma/Bryansk (10 October). Allied troops fared somewhat better in
North Africa. Italian forces occupied sections of northwestern Egypt
in September 1940, but Mussolinis success evaporated after British forces
liberated Egypt, captured 130,000 prisoners, and seized portions of Italian
Libya by February 1941. In conjunction with Italian troops, the newly
arrived German Africa Corps invaded Egypt during the spring and summer
of 1941, but Axis forces were themselves forced to retreat in January 1942.

Churchill quoted in Horne, To Lose a Battle, p. 554.

John Lucas, War on the Eastern Front: The German Soldier in Russia 19411945 (Novato, CA:
Presidio Press, 1979), p. 176; R. H. S. Stol, Hitlers Panzers East: World War Two Reinterpreted
(Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991), pp. 1923; Glantz and House, When Titans
Clashed, pp. 4987; John Erickson, The Road to Stalingrad (New Haven, CT: Yale University
Press, 1975), pp. 101248.
Weinberg, A World At Arms, pp. 264299; Parker, Struggle for Survival, pp. 106114.
defamation, discrimination, and despoliation

Allied defensive stands in late 1941 marked the end of the beginning
of World War Twoa stage punctuated by dramatic Axis victories and
humiliating Allied retreatsand introduced a period during which both
sides experienced mixed results. Hitler responded to new conditions with
characteristic aggression. After learning about the 7 December 1941 Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbor, the Fhrer rushed back to Berlin and declared war
on the United States because a great power does not allow itself to be
declared war upon; it declares war on others. Hitler could embark on a
policy of total war without fear of political repercussions because all of the
Great Powers had joined either the Axis or the Allied cause.
In response to the December 1941 Soviet counter-offensive, Hitler
red dozens of generals, reorganized the German chain of command,
and adopted new policies. During the height of the Soviet attack, both
eld commanders and Army High Command asked Hitler, the head of
Armed Forces High Command (OKW) since 1938, for permission to
retreat. Characterizing such requests as defeatist, the Fhrer replaced Gerd
von Rundstedt, Fedor von Bock, and other pessimistic generals with
reliable Nazis like Walther von Reichenau or opportunistic commanders
such as Hans Gnther von Kluge. Second, Hitler accepted Field Mar-
shal von Brauchitschs resignation on 19 December 1941 and assumed
direct control of Army High Command (OKH). The Fhrer replaced
doubters with obedient soldiers and concentrated power in his own
In addition to personnel changes, Hitler instituted new policies to deal
with changing circumstances. As German forces became bogged down on
the eastern front, the Fhrer ordered a ruthless crackdown on all resistance
activity. OKWs 16 September 1941 directive ordered military commanders
to answer sabotage and espionage with death. The 7 December 1941 Night
and Fog decree (Nacht und Nebel Erlass) meted out special treatment to
real and imagined partisans, Jews, and communists. Toward the end of
1942, Hitler instructed the army to offer no quarter to commandos, even
when unconventional soldiers qualied as lawful combatants according to
the laws of war. By 1945, OKW considered renouncing the Hague and
Geneva conventions so that Germany could ght without any sense of

Gerhard L. Weinberg, Germany, Hitler, and World War II (New York: Cambridge, 1995),
pp. 194204. Ribbentrop uttered the quote, but it certainly reected Hitlers point of view.
Megargee, Inside Hitlers High Command, pp. 142169, 160161.

after the fall

restraint. As fortune turned against Germany, Hitler championed ever

more ruthless measures.
Nazi ideology links deadly anti-partisan measures to the so-called Final
Solution of the Jewish Question (die Endlosung der Judenfrage). Long before
the Nazi party gained control of the German state, Adolf Hitler believed
that Jews exercised a disproportionate inuence on European society. In
the Fhrers mind, all of Germanys problems could be traced back to
malevolent Jews, and the question was how to eliminate Jewish inuence
in Germany and Europe. Nazi lieutenants proposed a range of solutions
including, but not limited to, despoliation, sterilization, resettlement within
a greater German Reich, and enforced emigration. The outbreak of war
in 1939, continued British resistance, and military setbacks in December
1941 eliminated compulsory emigration, resettlement in Madagascar, and
deportation to Siberia as viable options. SS experiments proved sterilization
to be slow and inefcient. Increasing resistance behind the eastern front
seemed to underline the danger of the alleged Jewish conspiracy, so
something had to be done. At some time in 1941, senior Nazi leaders
settled upon the Final Solution (die Endlosung) or outright murder of all
European Jews as the denitive answer to the so-called Jewish Question
and the problem of resistance. Changes instituted in the wake of the 1941
Soviet counter-offensive removed people and isolated institutions that had
previously impeded Hitlers racial policy: 1941 marked a major turning
point in World War Two.
The arrival of new leadership transformed the German military govern-
ment in France. Following his own predilection and Keitels advice, Hitler
installed the apparently compliant Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel as MBF
on 16 February 1942. One month later, Colonel Hans Otfried von Linstow
superseded Hans Speidel as the MBFs Chief of Staff. Neither Linstow nor
Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel could block Hitlers anti-partisan policy or
obstruct the Final Solution because SS-Brigadefhrer Carl Oberg, a member
of the Nazi party since 1931, assumed control of German security forces
in France. Older generals inculcated with the values of the Imperial Army
gave way to younger men who identied with the goals of the Nazi

USNA, RG 242/T-77/1430/168172, 176182; USNA, RG 242/T-77/1429/245257.

Ian Kershaw, The Nazi Dictatorship: Problems and Perspectives of Interpretation, 3rd edn. (New
York: Arnold, 1993), pp. 80107.
Browning, Fateful Months, pp. 838. BAMA, RW 5/690/3945.

defamation, discrimination, and despoliation

regime. With Oberg in charge of security and the military administration

handicapped by what appeared to be timid leadership, Hitler had rea-
son to expect a vigorous campaign against communists, partisans, and
Hitler also reorganized the military hierarchy in Western Europe to
account for Allied progress and an increased emphasis on racial policy. In
March 1942, Field Marshal von Rundstedt replaced Erwin von Witzleben
as the head of Army Group D, a skeleton command in charge of active army
units in western Europe. Over the next several months, OKW transformed
Army Group D into the supreme command for German forces in the west
(Oberbefehlshaber West or Ob West). The command oversaw the military
government in Belgium (MBB), the MBF in the originally occupied
portion of France, and the rump of Army Group D in the newly occupied
portion of the Hexagon. After Hitler created Ob West, neither the MBF
nor the MBB had direct access to Hitler, OKW, or OKH. The new
structure insulated the highest echelons of the German armed forces from
cantankerous subordinates who disagreed with Nazi methods and policy.
In response to the Allied invasion of North Africa, Axis troops occupied
southern France on 11 November 1942. Rather than expanding the MBFs
jurisdiction, Hitler designated the newly occupied zone as an operational
area, and placed it under the control of Army Group D and Ob West.
OKW expected General von Stlpnagels staff to provide technical expertise
but explicitly forbade the installation of a military government. Hitlers
penchant for complicated command structures did not extend to the SS.
The same 16 November 1942 order that placed the newly occupied zone
under Army Group D allowed Oberg to expand his brief throughout
France. The HSSuPF simply opened new ofces in Limoges, Vichy, Lyon,
Marseille, Montpellier, and Toulouse. Although suspicious of conservative
generals and the spirit of Zossen, the Fhrer tolerated centralized police
networks under SS control.
Personnel and structural changes introduced in December 1941 cleared
the path for the Final Solution in France. The chain of command limited

Samuel W. Mitcham, Hitlers Legions: The German Army Order of Battle in World War II (New
York: Stein & Day, 1985), pp. 4946; Umbreit, Der Militarbefehlshaber in Frankreich 19401944,
pp. 627, 97106.
Jackel, France dans lEurope de Hitler, pp. 3357, 343361; USNA, RG 242/T-501/121/

after the fall

Figure 8.1. Local, district, and regional authorities in occupied France, 1944.

the inuence of a military administration that had opposed the conscation

of Jewish property and condemned draconian reprisals. The creation of Ob
West and the division of France into two main zones under the MBF and
Army Group D had the same effect as Hitler seizing direct command of
OKW in 1938 and OKH in late 1941. They isolated critical subordinates
and reduced the authority of institutions that could impede Nazi racial
policies. Structural, personnel, and policy changes that were carried out
between December 1941 and November 1942 cleared the way for the Final
Solution to the Jewish Question in Western Europe.
First implemented in Germany, Hitlers campaign against the alleged
Jewish menace began with defamation and discrimination. Joseph Goebbels
organized a boycott of Jewish businesses throughout the Third Reich on

defamation, discrimination, and despoliation

1 April 1933. Six days later, the regime barred Jews from select professions.
Decrees issued in the wake of the 1938 annexation of Austria added
despoliation and forcible emigration to the list of Jewish tribulations. A few
days after the Anschluss, Adolf Eichmann arrived in Vienna and created a
bureaucratic system to oblige Jewish emigration under the watchful eyes
of the SD. Promulgated on 14 June, the third Nuremberg Law dened
Jewish businesses and established a system of despoliation that amounted to
state-sponsored robbery. As the Nazi regime settled into power, German
Jews faced gradually increasing pressure from Nazi militants and, later, state
bureaucrats. After the 1940 Armistice, a similar process unfolded in the
German institutions participated in the defamationdiscriminationde-
spoliation process with varying degrees of enthusiasm. The German embassy
in Paris dispersed virulent anti-Semitic propaganda in an attempt to dampen
anti-German sentiments and foster Franco-German reconciliation. The
military administration perceived Jews as a security threat and evicted
them from provinces along the English Channel. Under direct orders
from Berlin, the MBF also participated in the Aryanization (Arisierung)
or de-Judaicization (Entjudung) of the French economy. The Einsatzstab
Rosenberg considered the expropriation of Jewish art collections to be a
subset of economic Aryanization and began to steal paintings from wealthy
Jews in the fall of 1940. Following methods pioneered in eastern Europe, SS
ofcers created a council (Judenrat) to exploit the entire Jewish community.
In an attempt to satisfy latent anti-Semitic tendencies within French
society, the Vichy regime launched its own campaign against Jews which
followed a similar pattern of defamation, discrimination, and despoliation.
Acting on its own accord, the French government encouraged anti-Semitic
propaganda by rescinding the 1881 Marchandeau Law and passed the
Statut des Juifs which dened Jews and barred them from practicing select
professions. In conjunction with the German military administration, the
French government conscated Jewish businesses and Aryanized the French
economy. Admiral Francois Darlan established the General Commissariat
for Jewish Affairs (Commissariat-general aux questions juives or CGQJ) to
coordinate French anti-Semitic initiatives. French politicians, bureaucrats,

Leni Yahil, The Holocaust: The Fate of European Jewry, 19321945, translated by Ina Friedman
and Haya Galai (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 6067, 104108.

after the fall

and policemen participated in every major aspect of Hitlers campaign

against European Jewry as it pertained to France.
From the start of the Occupation, the Vichy regime, German military
administration, Paris embassy, Einsatzstab Rosenberg, and SS all champi-
oned programs that were designed to address the so-called Jewish Question
and advance their respective institutional interests. French leaders used
anti-Semitic measures to satisfy indigenous anti-Semites, curry favor with
German authorities, and keep strategic assets in French hands. The Ein-
satzstab Rosenberg welcomed economic Aryanization because it provided
an opportunity to enhance their position within the Nazi hierarchy and play
a signicant role in French affairs. The German embassy in Paris viewed
the Final Solution as a way to obscure German oppression and dampen
resistance activity. It was no accident that German institutions typically
championed anti-Semitic policies which advanced their own institutional
Divergent institutional goals fostered conict among various German
institutions. The MBF consistently favored anti-Semitic measures that
supported the German war effort and enhanced the security of the German
army. Although they had no problem evicting Jews from departements
along the English Channel in 1940, ofcers expressed little enthusiasm for
initiatives that disrupted French industrial production and limited Frances
contribution to the German war effort. During the rst two years of
the Occupation, SS ofcers favored aggressive anti-Semitic policies even
when such measures alienated the Vichy regime and upset the French
public. Once in charge of security and thus dependent upon assistance
from the French police, SS ofcers began to pay some attention to French
sensibilities. The Vichy regime welcomed the evacuation of unpopular
Jewish refugees but balked at the deportation of assimilated French Jews,
which triggered public protests. The military administration, Paris embassy,
SS, and Vichy regime accepted the fundamental legitimacy of the so-called
Jewish Question and perceived Jews as a menace, but institutional prejudices
tempered the policy of each group. How each proposed to address the
Jewish Question in 1940, and the degree to which they embraced Hitlers
Final Solution in 1942, sheds considerable light on the ethos of each
Following a course charted by the Nazi party but inspired by indige-
nous anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and the legacy of the 1940 defeat, the

defamation, discrimination, and despoliation

Vichy regime defamed and discriminated against Jews of its own accord.
Anti-Semitism and economic nationalism later encouraged the regime to
participate in Germanys despoliation program. Xenophobia drove early
French denaturalization efforts and German diplomatic pressure accelerated
this process in 1942. As German control over the French polity increased
during the course of the Occupation, so did German inuence over French
anti-Semitic policy. Vichys anti-Semitic campaign began as an indige-
nous French movement, turned into a bargaining chip that Laval tried
to exchange for broad political concessions, and eventually devolved into
ignominious accommodation.
The Vichy regime inaugurated its defamation campaign on 27 August
1940. The Third Republic passed the Marchandeau Law in 1881, which
banned press attacks toward a group of persons who belong by origin
to a particular race or religion when it is intended to arouse hatred
among citizens or residents, and elected a Jewish Prime Minister in
1936. At the same time, a large segment of French society celebrated
determined anti-Semites such as Edouard Drumont, Charles Maurras, and
Robert Brassillach. Profoundly reactionary attitudes continued to survive
and thrive inside the liberal Republic. After they eviscerated the Third
Republic, leaders of the Vichy regime repealed the Marchandeau Law and
unleashed a wave of anti-Semitic propaganda in the press.
Forthright discrimination antedated repeal of the Marchandeau Law.
During the height of an economic boom that followed World War
One, the French government reformed immigration laws to accommodate
desperately needed eastern European workers. Changes encouraged an
inux of immigrants in the latter half of the 1920s, but these same
workers became a source of bitter contention with the onset of the Great
Depression and mass unemployment. Eager to resolve unnished business
from the interwar era, the Vichy regime created a commission to review
recent applications for French citizenship on 7 August 1940. The committee
examined naturalization applications submitted since 1927 and denaturalized
those judged unable to assimilate into French society. Orthodox Jews who
had emigrated from eastern Europe often fell into the latter category. After
the French government stripped Jews of their French citizenship, they

Mission detude sur la spoliation des Juifs de France, La Persecution des juifs de France,
19401944, et le retablissement de la legalite republicaine (Paris: La Documentation francaise, 2000),
p. 87; Marrus and Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews, pp. 35, 3444.

after the fall

became stateless and could be sent to the east without offending Gallic
amour propre. During the Occupation, approximately 15,000 peoplea
number that included at least 7,000 Jewslost their French citizenship and
ultimately perished in this fashion.
Vichys enthusiasm for denaturalization had limits. As trains bound for
Auschwitz reduced the number of stateless Jews in 1942, Helmut Knochen
urged Prime Minister Laval to automatically denaturalize all Jews who had
acquired French citizenship since 1927. Citing protests led by prominent
French Catholics including Cardinal Gerlier, Laval claimed that he could
not deliver Jews like goods from a supermarket and pleaded for additional
time. The head of the CGQJ, Darquier de Pellepoix, drafted a law that
denaturalized all Jews who had obtained French citizenship since 1927,
spouses who had acquired French citizenship by marrying naturalized
French Jews, and the children of naturalized Jews on 31 December 1942.
The Secretary-General of the Police, Rene Bousquet, proposed a similar
law that denaturalized Jews who had gained French citizenship since 1932,
and his proposal included an exemption for Jews related to prisoners of
war. SS criticism obliged Bousquet to change the date of denaturalization
from 1932 to 1927, but the revised legislation still exempted the relatives of
Jewish prisoners of war. Darquier rejoined the debate by submitting a fourth
version that exempted Aryans who were married to Jews but included
children resulting from mixed marriages. Pierre Laval and Maurice Gabolde,
the Guardian of the Seal, signed Bousquets second draft on 10 June 1943
and Darquiers second version on 20 and 22 June respectively.
The Allied conquest of Sicily and Mussolinis arrest on 25 July 1943
may have encouraged Prime Minister Laval to reconsider his position
with regard to collaboration in general and denaturalization in particular.
Although both denaturalization bills had been signed by the Prime Minister
and Guardian of the Seal, neither measure had been published in the
Journal ofciel and thus did not carry the force of law. A senior SS ofcial

Marrus and Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews, pp. 35; Weisberg, Vichy Law and the Holocaust
in France, pp. 356369; Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France, vol. II, p. 16.
Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France, vol. II, pp. 6512; Serge Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France, volume
III, Le calendrier de la persecution des Juifs de France, septembre 1942aot 1944 (Paris: Fayard, 2001),
pp. 10335. Marrus and Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews, pp. 35; Weisberg, Vichy Law and the
Holocaust in France, pp. 356369; Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France, vol. II, p. 16.
Weisberg, Vichy Law and the Holocaust in France, pp. 355365; Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France,
vol. III, pp. 13023, 14746, 15223, 15456, 16111614.

defamation, discrimination, and despoliation

reported that Laval had reopened the denaturalization debate during a

cabinet meeting on 7 August 1943. One week later, Laval asked for a delay
because Marshal Petain opposed regulations that denaturalized the wives
and children of Jews. Knochen threatened to arrest Jews without French
assistance, but Laval stood his ground. The arrest of Jewish children
and labor deportations had turned segments of the French public against
Lavals government. With a brief limited to security, the SS could not offer
economic or political concessions such as a reduction in occupation costs
or the release of French prisoners of war that might make denaturalizations
palatable and accommodate French concerns. Unwilling or unable to
repudiate Franco-German collaboration, Laval and the Vichy government
lapsed into attentisme.
Vichys anti-Semitic campaign did not stop with discrimination and
denaturalization. Before France and Germany signed the Armistice Agree-
ment, Army High Command (OKH) allowed senior German ofcers to
manage enterprises whose owners had ed before the German advance.
The 20 May 1940 decree did not explicitly refer to Jews, appeared to
be part of a larger plan to revive French industry, and could be used to
conscate businesses that were abandoned by Jewish or gentile owners.
French observers interpreted the regulation as a blatant attempt to expro-
priate segments of the French economy, sap Frances long-term economic
strength, and undermine Vichys sovereignty.
To counter German despoliation and reduce Jewish inuence within the
French economy, Vichys Ministry of Finance and Industrial Production
established a temporary administration agency (Service de controle des admin-
istrateurs provisoires or SCAP) on 10 September 1940. SCAP appointed
French trustees to oversee businesses owned by Jews in order to supersede
the installation of German administrators who might not act in the interests

Weisberg, Vichy Law and the Holocaust in France, pp. 3659; Vicki Caron, Uneasy Asylum,
(Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999), pp. 338341; Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France, vol.
III, pp. 1610, 16161619; BALW, R 70 Frankreich/32/28; BALW, R 70 Frankreich/23/4647.
Mission detude sur la spoliation des Juifs de France, La Persecution des juifs de France
19401944, pp. 435; Philippe Verheyde, Les mauvais comptes de Vichy: laryanisation des entreprises
juives (Paris: Perrin, 1999), p. 24; Paxton, Vichy France, pp. 176181; Marrus and Paxton, Vichy
France and the Jews, p. 8; de Chambrun, France during the German Occupation, vol. I, pp. 3034,
98100, vol. II, pp. 626636; Baudouin, Neuf mois au gouvernement, p. 341.
Mission detude sur la spoliation des Juifs de France, La Persecution des juifs de France
19401944, p. 88; Verheyde, Les mauvais comptes de Vichy, pp. 2334; Jean-Marc Dreyfus, Pillages
sur ordonnances: aryanisation et restitution des banques en France 19401953 (Paris: Fayard, 2003),

after the fall

of France. French legislation sought to block the sale of French business-

es to German concerns unless the transaction was approved by Vichys
Ministry of Finance. In October 1940, the military administration granted
legal power to French trustees who were nominated by SCAP. The Vichy
regime worked with the German military administration by providing
administrative and technical support to prevent the Germanization of
the French economy. The Darlan government continued to support and
extend despoliation measures established by the rst Laval administration,
which suggests that Vichys campaign was not the product of a single
person or isolated cabal.
French efforts to defame, despoil, and discriminate against Jews proceeded
haphazardly during the rst year of the Occupation. For example, the
Vichy regime passed a law that banned foreign Jews from practicing
medicine on 16 August 1940. Promulgated on 3 October, the Statut des
Juifs dened Jews and restricted them from practicing select professions
including architecture, banking, law, and education. One day later, French
bureaucrats won the right to imprison foreign Jews in French concentration
camps. Long before agents of the Nazi regime brought ofcial pressure to
bear, the Vichy regime established its own anti-Semitic program which
limited the inuence of French and foreign Jews. On 29 March 1941,
the Vichy regime created an agency to coordinate and extend all anti-
Semitic measures. Known as the General Commissariat for Jewish Affairs
(Commissariat-general aux questions juives or CGQJ), the new agency had
three specic missions: (1) to prepare and propose all legislative measures
relative to the political, economic, and legal status of Jews; (2) taking into
account national needs, to x the date for liquidating Jewish property in
cases where liquidation had been prescribed by law; and (3) to designate
trustees for conscated Jewish property and control their activity. The
mandate allowed the CGQJ to operate throughout France, although

Philippe Verheyde, The looting of Jewish property and Franco-German rivalry,

19401944, in Gerald D. Feldman and Wolfgang Seibel (eds.), Networks of Nazi Persecution:
Bureaucracy, Business and the Organization of the Holocaust (New York: Berghahn Books, 2005),
pp. 6987; Jean-Paul Cointet, Histoire de Vichy (Paris: Plon, 1996), pp. 132133.
Marrus and Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews, pp. 4, 98; Mission detude sur la spoliation des
Juifs de France, La Persecution des juifs de France 19401944, pp. 8991; Asher Cohen, Persecutions et
sauvetages: juifs et francais sous loccupation et sous Vichy (Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1993), pp. 113124;
Claire Andrieu, Le mythe de la banque juive et les realites de laryanisation, in Andre Kaspi,
Annie Kriegel, and Annette Wiebiorka (eds.), Les Juifs de France dans la seconde guerre mondiale
(Paris: Cerf, 1992), pp. 856.

defamation, discrimination, and despoliation

measures usually began in the occupied zone and spread slowly or were
implemented with less enthusiasm in the unoccupied or, after November
1942, newly occupied portion of the Hexagon. Working through the
CGQJ, the Vichy regime established a comprehensive system of legal
discrimination and despoliation.
Why did the French government create the CGQJ in early 1941?
After the December 1940 fall of the Laval government, German ofcials
refused to discuss important questions such as a reduction in occupation
payments, the repatriation of French prisoners of war, or a return of the
French government to Paris with their French counterparts. By creating the
CGQJ, Darlan tried to demonstrate Frances commitment to a central tenet
of Hitlers new order and resuscitate Franco-German negotiations. His
efforts forestalled the installation of a comparable German agency, preserved
the illusion of French sovereignty, and satised radical anti-Semites who
had accused the Vichy regime of being soft on Jews. Although German
pressure undoubtedly inuenced Darlans judgment, economic and political
factors also informed the Admirals decision to create the CGQJ.
Admiral Darlan placed Xavier Vallat, a fervent nationalist and devout
Catholic, in charge of the CGQJ. Born in 1891, Vallat lost both an arm and
an eye during World War One. While serving as a deputy from Ardeche
in 19191924 and 19281940, he associated with the moderate Federation
Republicaine and right-wing movements such as the Action Francaise, George
Valoiss Faisceau movement, and Colonel de la Rocques Croix de Feu. The
latter groups certainly inuenced Vallats opinion of Jews. Throughout his
career, Vallat dened Jews by a combination of race, religion, and culture.
He argued that France could indeed absorb a small number of Jews who
had embraced French culture and tried to protect Jews who had served the
French state with distinction. During the Occupation, Vallat continued to
dene a Jew in terms of race and culture and exempted some assimilated
French Jews from various anti-Semitic measures. By appointing Vallat to

DGFP, ser. D, vol. XII, pp. 4379; BALW, R 70 Frankreich/23/35; Dreyfus, Pillages sur
ordonnances, p. 118.
Lambauer, Otto Abetz et les Francais, pp. 279296, 305, 311318; DGFP, ser. D, vol. XI,
pp. 10556, 1169; Fred Kupferman, Laval (Paris: Balland, 1987), pp. 2578; BAMA, RW
Coutau-Begarie and Huan, Darlan, pp. 387395, 506508; Marrus and Paxton, Vichy France
and the Jews, pp. 827; Cohen, Persecutions et sauvetages, pp. 127136; DGFP, ser. D, vol. XII,
pp. 2278; Verheyde, Les mauvais comptes de Vichy, pp. 4041.

after the fall

lead the CGQJ, Darlan signaled both his independence from Germany and
his support for many anti-Semitic measures favored by the Reich.
Vallats independence created friction with the German embassy and
SS. Otto Abetz, the German ambassador in Paris, considered Vallat to
be dangerous because the latter had served as head of a French veterans
group in 1940. The SS questioned Vallats heretical brand of anti-Semitism
because it did not focus exclusively upon race. Werner Best formally
requested Vallats dismissal on 2 March 1942, and Louis Darquier de
Pellepoix assumed control of the CGQJ two months later. The change in
leadership coincided with the advent of the Final Solution in France and
reected the increasing power of the SS.
Under Darquiers command, the CGQJ became an SS appendage.
Darquier passed condential papers to SS ofcials, eliminated exemptions
for assimilated French Jews, extended anti-Semitic measures into the
unoccupied zone, and acquired his own police unit. As the CGQJ adopted
SS policies, its prestige within French ofcial and public circles dropped.
While Vallat often dined with Petain and could be described as a part
of the conservative establishment, Darquier only met with Laval once or
twice each month. Trumping Lavals indifference, Marshal Petain referred
to Darquier as Monsieur le tortionnaire. Darquiers greatest strengthhis
willingness to obey SS directivesalso made him an ineffective tool because
he could not rally widespread support for Hitlers Final Solution. Unable
to impose his will on the French government and eventually abandoned
by his SS sponsors, Darquier resigned his post on 26 February 1944.
Charles Mercier du Paty de Clam, a scion of the commandant who had
arrested Captain Dreyfus in 1894, succeeded Darquier. [L]argely indifferent
to the commissariat and its goals, du Paty went on indenite leave in May
and was eventually replaced by Joseph Atignac. As the probability of an
Allied invasion increased, the CGQJ became lethargic and irrelevant. The
SS turned to the Milice, a French paramilitary group under the command of
Joseph Darnand, for support and assistance. On a national scale, coordinated
anti-Semitic measures ground to a halt as Allied armies liberated France

BALW, R 70 Frankreich/2/136137; Marrus and Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews,
pp. 8795; BALW, R 70 Frankreich/32/913; BALW, R 70 Frankreich/31/5564.
Marrus and Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews, pp. 889, 118; BALW, R 70 Frank-
reich/32/1420; Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 1942, pp. 5051.
Rajsfus, La Police de Vichy, pp. 191202; Marrus and Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews,
pp. 283293; USNA, RG 242/T-501/144/203.

defamation, discrimination, and despoliation

during the summer of 1944. Only a few dedicated CGQJ ofcials carried
out their mandate to the bitter end.
French enthusiasm for anti-Semitic measures can be linked to German
prospects for victory and the power of the SS. As an observer, the SS
could not control French anti-Semitic policy during the early stages of
the Occupation. Admiral Darlan placed Vallat in charge of the organiza-
tion. Vallat pursued a unique agenda, exempting some assimilated French
Jews from Vichys anti-Semitic measures but pursuing foreign Jews with
remarkable enthusiasm and developing an extensive program of defama-
tion, discrimination, despoliation, and denaturalization. In response to
military setbacks, Hitler ceded additional powers to the SS and added
extermination to the aforementioned list of anti-Semitic measures. Unable
to suffer Vallats independence, the SS engineered his dismissal, support-
ed the rise of Darquier de Pellepoix, and began to transport Jews from
France to Auschwitz. After the fall of Mussolini, Laval belatedly overcame
the shock of defeat and recognized that further accommodation would
not yield any substantial concessions, but the Prime Minister could not
reverse course and expect to survive. During the nal two years of the
Occupation, Vichy resistance amounted to little more than a refusal
to extend ofcial accommodation beyond limits established during the
summer of 1942. The Vichy government developed a comprehensive
campaign of defamation, discrimination, despoliation, and denaturaliza-
tion of its own accord. Although they did not explicitly endorse the
outright murder of all Jews, the CGQJ and French police forces played
an integral role in the deportation process during the latter stages of the
The Germany embassy in Paris failed to play a major role in Germanys
campaign against Jews, though not because of a lack of effort. Basic
instructions from the Foreign Ministry directed Ambassador Abetz to
take charge of all political questions in occupied and unoccupied France.
Specic guidelines authorized the ambassador to represent German interests,
supervise German propaganda, direct the seizure and securing of . . .
private and especially Jewish artistic properties, and advise the military
administration, Secret Military Police (GFP), and the Gestapo. In theory,

Marrus and Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews, pp. 3339, quote p. 336.
DGFP, ser. D, vol. X, pp. 407408.

after the fall

this sweeping mandate allowed the German embassy in Paris to play a

leading role in the defamationdiscriminationdespoliation process.
During the summer of 1940, German diplomats focused most of their
efforts on despoliation. Led by Baron von Knsberg, they fanned out
across occupied France and stole valuable works of art from wealthy
Jews. Protests from the military administration and later the Vichy
regime eventually convinced Abetz to reconsider his conscation policy.
Knsberg and company got out of the conscation business in Septem-
ber 1940, but the Einsatzstab Rosenberg stepped into the void. With
Hitlers support, the latter agency spearheaded Germanys despoliation
Based on his role as a political advisor, Ambassador Abetz urged the
MBF to embark on a campaign of discrimination under the guise of
security. He advised General von Stlpnagel to prohibit Jews from crossing
the demarcation line, require Jews to register with local authorities, and
appoint trustees for abandoned Jewish enterprises. The head of the MVWs
government subsection, Werner Best, promised to study Abetzs suggestions
and passed them along to subordinate departments. On 29 August, Abetz
told the military administration that his suggestions were actually orders
from Hitler, but the MVW proceeded in a dilatory fashion, and without
the means to carry out their own campaign, diplomats had to ask others for
The military administration did not have to obey orders from Ambas-
sador Abetz. Conict between Count von Metternichs MVW art group
and Baron von Knsberg indicated that the two organizations had rather
different policies with regard to the treatment of Jews and Jewish property.
Werner Best disregarded Abetzs call for vigorous anti-Semitic measures,
even after the ambassador claimed that his suggestions came directly from
Hitler, and supported Count von Metternichs efforts to stop Knsberg.
Starting in the fall of 1940, the French government denounced the con-
scation of Jewish art works in a series of verbal notes delivered to
the German government and forced Abetz to reconsider his policy. The

BAMA, RW 35/712/6783.
DGFP ser. D, vol. X, p. 513; Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France, vol. II, p. 18; Henri Monneray
(ed.), La Persecution des juifs en France et dans les autres pays de louest presentee par la France a Nuremberg
(Paris: Editions du centre, 1947), pp. 834; Lambauer, Otto Abetz et les Francais, pp. 299301;
Umbreit, Der Militarbefehlshaber in Frankreich, pp. 2612.

defamation, discrimination, and despoliation

ambassador eventually reversed course, joined the military administration,

and opposed pell-mell conscations in order to preserve cordial relations
with Vichy.
However, Abetz did not abandon his general campaign against the Jews;
instead, he searched for a more amenable pawn. Acting on a proposal
oated by Theodor Dannecker during a 28 February 1941 conference, the
ambassador urged the Vichy government to create a central Jewish ofce
(Judenamt). In a meeting on 5 March 1941 with Admiral Darlan, Abetz
reported that:
Darlan indicated his willingness to let the French Government set up such an ofce,
but at the same time called attention to the fact that there was much vacillation
in Marshal Petains attitude toward the Jewish Question. The Marshal would
not want native Jews and those French Jews who had distinguished themselves in
military service for France to be treated the same way as Jews who have immigrated
from other countries.

Since German diplomats could not force the MBF to take vigorous action
against Jews, they chose to act in conjunction with the Vichy regime.
Less than one month after he raised the issue of a Jewish ofce with
Darlan, Abetz reported creation of the CGQJ to superiors in Berlin. He
assigned Counselor of Legation Karl-Theodor Zeitschel to serve as his
liaison to the CGQJ and allowed the French government to act as his
proxy against the so-called Jewish conspiracy. German diplomats could
not discriminate against Jews on their own and failed to secure substantial
help from the military administration, but the Vichy government proved
more obliging.
Throughout the Occupation, the German embassy used propaganda
to defame Jews and divide Frenchmen. Beginning in October 1940,
the embassy supported a series of exhibitions with titles like European
France, The Jew and France, and Bolshevism against Europe. Millions
of Frenchmen viewed embassy-sponsored exhibitions that directed popular
animosity away from occupiers and toward allegedly subversive groups
such as communists, Freemasons, and Jews. The embassy also subsidized
a broad range of newspapers aimed at a variety of different social groups.

Billig, Le Commissariat general aux questions juives, vol. III, pp. 625; BAMA, RW 35/712/81.
Schumann and Nestler (eds.), Die faschistische Okkupationspolitik in Frankreich, pp. 1489;
DGFP, ser. D, vol. XII, pp. 2278, 4379.

after the fall

Propaganda formulated by the German embassy convinced portions of the

French public that Jews, Freemasons, and communists posed a threat, but
it failed to generate substantial active support for the Nazi cause.
Several factors limited the inuence of the Paris embassy. Without
explicit permission from superiors in Berlin, which was never forthcoming,
Abetz could not exchange German concessions for French cooperation.
Diplomatic personnel did not control the MBF and could not force the
French government to act in a particular way. Only when the Vichy
regime wanted to curry favor with the Nazi government could Abetz shape
events. French politicians eventually discovered that the Paris embassy had
little inuence over German policy, and as the Occupation dragged on,
they began to speak directly to their German counterparts. Laval discussed
economics with the MBF, labor policies with Fritz Sauckel, and racial
issues with the SS. While they served as Prime Minister, both Darlan
and Laval belatedly discovered that the German embassy in Paris was
irrelevant. German diplomats could not offer meaningful concessions and
accommodate any French needs.
By playing upon Lavals fear of Bolshevism and Anglo-Saxon hege-
mony, Hitler and Ribbentrop secured most of what they wanted from
him. In response to the Allied invasion of North Africa, Hitler recalled
his ambassador and left Germany without representation in Paris for
most of 1943. During Abetzs absence, Consul-General Rudolf Schleier
managed diplomatic affairs until November 1943. Abetz and Schleier
allowed Zeitschel to handle Jewish affairs for most of the Occupation.
Zeitschel participated in a weekly meeting of all senior German ofcials
involved in anti-Jewish affairs that was known as the Tuesday Group and
eagerly anticipated the time when France could be cleared of Jews, but
he usually backed SS proposals. With an irregular diplomatic presence
and limited authority, German diplomats could only encourage others

Burrin, France under the Germans, pp. 2928; Jackson, France. The Dark Years, pp. 198204;
BALW, R 70 Frankreich/23/1821; Rita Thalmann, La mise au pas. Ideologie et strategie securitaire
dans la France occupee (Paris: Fayard, 1991), pp. 202206; Renee Poznanski, Jews in France during
World War II, translated by Nathan Bracher (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England,
2001), pp. 377380.
Paxton, Vichy France, pp. 309326; Jackel, France dans lEurope de Hitler, pp. 311334;
ADAP, ser. E, vol. IV, pp. 301310; ADAP, ser. E, vol. VI, pp. 817.
BAK, All. Proz. 21/216/145; de Chambrun (ed.), France During the German Occupation,
vol. III, pp. 16111613.
Marrus and Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews, pp. 7882; BAK, All. Proz. 21/233/45.

defamation, discrimination, and despoliation

and played an inspirational but ultimately subordinate role in the Final

During the rst two years of the Occupation, the German military
administration alone possessed executive authority and had the power
to implement Germanys anti-Semitic agenda. The terms of the 1940
Armistice Agreement granted the military administration all the rights of
an occupying power and Hitler placed the MBF in charge of security.
To carry out his mission, General Otto von Stlpnagel could use military
policemen or pass orders along to French police forces via the French
government in accordance with the Agreement. The MBF had both the
mandate and the means to persecute Jews throughout Occupied France.
In keeping with general directives issued in 1939 and 1940, the military
administration concentrated on security and economic exploitation, and
both initiatives included anti-Semitic components.
Economic exploitation began amidst the 1940 Western campaign. As
German soldiers approached the English Channel, General Brauchitsch
issued regulations that allowed senior military commanders to appoint
trustees to manage businesses whose owners had ed before the German
advance. The 20 May 1940 decree could be used to conscate Jewish or
gentile businesses, could be interpreted as a plan to restore French industry,
and did not appear to be fundamentally anti-Semitic. General Streccius
reiterated Brauchitschs initial decree on 18 October and allowed military
administrators to place an Aryan trustee in charge of abandoned Jewish
businesses. Neither Blaskowitz, Streccius, nor Otto von Stlpnagelthe
rst three MBFsapplied the 20 May or 18 October 1940 statutes with
much enthusiasm.
The MBFs lax attitude provoked a reprimand from the commander
of the German army on 12 November 1940. Brauchitsch ordered Otto
von Stlpnagel to focus the military administration on the seizure of
Jewish businesses and told him to use the proceeds to support the war
effort. Monthly reports sent to Berlin did not discuss Jews or Aryanization
in detail before December 1940, but Brauchitschs reprimand produced
immediate results. The MBF began to Aryanize the French economy by

USNA, RG 242/T-77/1430/291297; DGFP, ser D, vol. IX, pp. 300301; DGFP, ser. D,
vol. X, pp. 128130, 407408.
Mission detude sur la spoliation des Juifs de France, La Persecution des juifs de France
19401944, pp. 435, 513. Billig, Le Commissariat general aux questions juives, vol. III, p. 71.

after the fall

placing Aryan trustees in charge of Jewish businesses. Trustees could

either operate enterprises on their own or sell them to certied Aryans.
Jews ultimately had to sell their businesses or turn them over to French
or German trustees. Brauchitschs 12 November directive triggered a
comprehensive despoliation campaign that targeted Jews.
Without French assistance, the numerically weak military administration
could not hope to identify, much less liquidate, every Jewish business. The
head of the economic branch of the military administration, Elmar Michel,
explained the MBFs strategy:
First, we must do what is necessary to eliminate Jews even after the Occupation.
More important, we cannot from our side provide sufcient manpower to deal
with the great number of Jewish enterprises. These two factors have led us to
have the French authorities participate in the elimination of Jews. We thereby
gain shared responsibility by the French and we have at our disposal the French
administrative apparatus.

Knochen argued that Aryanization would give numerous Frenchmen the

possibility of moving from low social status to the middle class and create
French co-conspirators who had a nancial interest in German victory.
Under the control of Kurt Blanke, an Aryanization subsection of the
MVWs economic division drove the Vichy regime to enact a comprehen-
sive despoliation campaign. If Vichy did not act against Jewish businesses
with the necessary enthusiasm, Blankes subsection could appoint German
trustees who might, in turn, sell French concerns to German industrialists at
re-sale prices. Eager to preserve economic assets, protect French sovereign-
ty, and curry favor with the Nazi regime, both Admiral Darlan and Laval
supported an indigenous Aryanization program that advanced Nazi racial
goals. By playing upon French greed and fear, the military administration
created French support for Germanys despoliation program.

BAMA, RW 35/255/4849, 23; Mission detude sur la spoliation des Juifs de France, La
Persecution des juifs de France 19401944, pp. 978.
Billig, Le Commissariat general aux questions juives, vol. III, p. 75; Weisberg, Vichy Law and
the Holocaust in France, pp. 2512.
Adam Rayski, The Choice of the Jews under Vichy: Between Submission and Resistance, translated
by Will Sayers (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2005), pp. 478; Billig, Le
Commissariat general aux questions juives, vol. I, pp. 13, 22; Wolfgang Seibel, A market for mass
crime? Inter-institutional competition and the initiation of the Holocaust in France, 19401942,
in International Journal of Organization Theory and Behavior 5 (2002), 219257.

defamation, discrimination, and despoliation

Figure 8.2. Aryanization in Marseilles. A Jewish business under new manage-

Photograph courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

In a 3 December 1940 report, the MBF told superiors that the military
administration had laid the legal foundation for economic Aryanization.
Using French police data, the military administration counted 149,734 Jews,
7,737 Jewish businesses (Einzelunternehmen), and 3,456 Jewish enterprises
(Gesellschaften) in the greater Paris region. While discussing efforts to
Aryanize the French economy, the MBF expressed concerns about anti-
Semitic measures in general. He warned that Aryanization would take years
to complete, disrupt industrial production, and reduce Frances contribution
to the German war effort. According to the military administration, the
French public was surprised by the number of Jewish businesses and
welcomed the elimination of foreign Jews, but regarded discrimination

after the fall

against assimilated French Jews as an injustice. Stlpnagel questioned the

wisdom of the program but followed orders.
Between December 1940 and January 1941, the MVW appointed trustees
to manage large Jewish companies and announced the evacuation of
assets from Jewish businesses to Germany. Exaggerating its success, the
MVW reported that the Aryanization of the French economy has made
considerable progress. Laws passed by the Vichy government had created
a sufcient legal basis for Aryanization in the eyes of the French public.
The MVW inated its own accomplishments and attributed delays to a lack
of enthusiasm for such measures among some French circles. In defense of
Vichy, the military administration added that comparable actions had also
taken a long time to implement inside the Reich.
Aryanization did not always proceed smoothly. During April and May
1941, German and French authorities raised their estimate of the number
of Jewish businesses in the Paris area from 10,000 to approximately 15,000.
They Aryanized about 900 businesses in metropolitan Paris and reported
that most Jewish businesses in outlying districts of the occupied zone
had already been placed in Aryan hands. After 26 April 1941, prots
from the sale of Jewish enterprises owed into blocked accounts that
could not be tapped by former owners. Although some French Jews had
voluntarily Aryanized their own businesses, German ofcials worried that
such transactions would have to be scrutinized to avoid fraud. As they
delved into the task of Aryanization, German bureaucrats discovered just
how difcult the operation would be.
As spring turned to summer, the military administration began to worry
that French authorities might not fulll their promises. Because Germany
lacks the power to take such inclusive actions over the long run, the MVW
had no choice but to rely on French assistance. It viewed Aryanization as a
test of Vichys commitment but did not predict how Vichy would respond.
The practical implementation of the law will show how serious the French
government is about de-Judaicization (Entjudung). After Germany invaded
the Soviet Union during the summer of 1941, one regional (Bezirk), ten
district (Feld), and fty-ve local (Ort) branches of the military government

USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/493; Dreyfus, Pillages sur ordonnances, pp. 109110.

USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/560562.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/886887; BALW, R 70 Frankreich/31/4953, 5556, 5864;
Verheyde, Les mauvais comptes de Vichy, pp. 369373.

defamation, discrimination, and despoliation

were eliminated and the personnel sent to the east. Transfers decimated
the military administration and intensied fears of a French relapse. The
MBF told superiors in Berlin that personal supervision has been replaced
by hasty surveys. Despite the Vichy regimes questionable dedication, the
MBF reduced the Aryanization ofce.
Stlpnagel probably used troop transfers to minimize an unpopular
program. In January 1941, he told Field Marshal von Brauchitsch that
Aryanization should not proceed beyond the registration of Jewish property
because there was no legal precedent for such a policy. Moving beyond
registration, Stlpnagel explained, would undermine respect for the leaders
of the German state in the eyes of the public at home and in the judgment
of the world. He claimed that he would have nothing to do with the
conscation process when he took command of the military administration,
would not reduce [his] personal responsibility by acting jointly with
another German agency, and advised his boss to take a similar position.
Stlpnagels advice undoubtedly referred both to the conscation of Jewish
art and the Aryanization of the French economy. Though Stlpnagel
could not extricate himself or his staff from the Aryanization process
without disobeying orders, he tried to limit the MVWs involvement and
encouraged the French government to act in his stead.
With considerable assistance from French bureaucrats, a small group of
German ofcials identied 42,739 Jewish businesses during the Occupation.
By August of 1944, they had Aryanized 18,227 of these concerns by selling
them to certied Aryans, liquidating businesses, or by transforming them
into piecework operations that could not be controlled by the owner.
After the liberation of Paris but before the end of World War Two, a
veteran of the military administration estimated that German and French
ofcials had Aryanized approximately 43 per cent of Jewish businesses and
could have completed their task in another twelve to eighteen months.
The military administration played an important role in the Aryanization
process by prodding the French government to act. With substantial French

USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/1157, 990, 1245, 1253.

USNA, RG 242/T-77/1624/folder 75455/nfn (Stlpnagel to Brauchitsch dated 31.1.41);
Verheyde, Les mauvais comptes de Vichy, p. 292.
BAMA, RW 35/2/22, 3237. See other estimates of Aryanized businesses in Raul Hilberg,
The Destruction of the European Jews, 3rd edn (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003),
pp. 6538; Paxton, Vichy France, p. 176; Billig, Le Commissariat general aux questions juives, pp.
3267; Verheyde, Les Mauvais comptes de Vichy, pp. 3619.

after the fall

assistance, the military administration despoiled Jewish property and raised

considerable sums of money that, in turn, supported the German war
The military administration viewed Jews as a security threat from the start
of the Occupation. While the eld army prepared to invade England, the
MBF evicted Jews and foreigners from nine departements along the English
Channel. Acting on behalf of the MBF, Speidel barred Jewish refugees from
returning to the occupied zone on 20 September 1940. One week later,
the military administration issued regulations that dened a Jew, directed
Jews register with French police, and ordered Jewish business owners to
place a bilingual sign (Entreprise juive and Judengeschaft) on the door of
their establishments. Frenchmen expressed surprise at the number of Jewish
businesses, but the MBF noted that German soldiers continued to patronize
Jewish shops. Two years later, policemen used registration data collected
at the behest of the military administration to arrest and deport Jews. Sub-
sequent regulations ordered French police to stamp Juif or Juive on the
identity papers of all people who qualied as Jews. After initial regulations
identied the scope of the alleged Jewish menace, the MBF focused on
despoliation while life in occupied France gradually became routine.
Food shortages, unemployment, and German victories in North Africa
and eastern Europe triggered anti-German demonstrations that increased
security concerns during the spring of 1941. Accepting a basic Nazi
assumption, military reports attributed unrest in Paris, Lyon, and Marseille
mostly to Jews. To guarantee order, Werner Best urged the MBF to
intern Jews throughout occupied France. Taking a somewhat softer line
during a 4 April 1941 meeting with Vallat, the MBF asked the head of
the CGQJ to enforce French anti-Semitic regulations. Vallat explained that
the arrest or deportation of Jewish veterans and assimilated French Jews
might stir up more unrest because France did not have a long history of
serious anti-Semitism, but he promised to fulll his mandate and consider
the arrest of German Jews.

Ally, Hitlers Beneciaries, pp. 91, 119123, 130.

BAMA, RW 35/353/13; Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France, vol. II, pp. 2628, 34; USNA,
RG 242/T-501/143/493, 573; Poznanski, Jews in France During World War II, pp. 316.
Jackson, France. The Dark Years, pp. 2747; Gildea, Marianne in Chains, pp. 1619; USNA,
RG 242/T-501/143/735.
Monneray (ed.), La Persecution des juifs en france, pp. 1378; BALW, R 70 Frankreich/

defamation, discrimination, and despoliation

On the basis of this pressure, French police sent the so-called billet vert
(green ticket) via mail to 6,500 Austrian, Czech, and Polish Jews living in
Paris. The message ordered recipients to show up at a local police ofce
with a friend or family member on 14 May. Those who did were promptly
arrested while the companion returned home and packed a bag for the hap-
less victim. The scheme yielded 3,747 prisoners or 60 per cent of the people
originally notied by the French police. At the end of May 1941, the MVW
expressed satisfaction with Vallat and believed that he would contribute
decisively to a radical solution of the Jewish question in France.
The invasion of the Soviet Union triggered a second round of anti-
German demonstrations. In response to a protest on 13 August, French
and German police arrested two anti-German activists and proscribed the
French Communist Party on 15 August. Four days later, German ring
squads executed two militants thought to be responsible for the 13 August
protest. The detention of 4,000 Jews at a 20 August demonstration, as
well as the arrest of 3,477 Jews for possession of illegal rearms, leaets,
and other contraband in August and September 1941, seemed to conrm
the belief that Jews were implacable enemies of the Reich. Leaders of
the military administration undoubtedly considered Jews to be a genuine
security threat.
Early regulations written by the military administration directed com-
manders to prepare lists of potential hostages that included communists,
anarchists, Anglophiles, Gaullists, and nationalists. The MBF considered all
to be potential security threats. Assassinations carried out during the fall
of 1941 led the MBF to revise his understanding of likely partisans. The
regional commander (Bezirkchef ) of southwest France noted that resistance
cells associated with the PCF had become more active and had begun to
cooperate with the followers of Charles de Gaulle in September. Rumors
linked Gaullists to October 1941 assassinations and seemed to conrm the
existence of a centralized conspiracy against Nazi Germany.

Andre Kaspi, Les Juifs pendant loccupation (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1991), pp. 212214;
Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 1942, pp. 1519; USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/855857; Rajsfus, La
Police de Vichy, pp. 6971.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/1051, 10961099; Meyer, LOccupation allemande en France,
pp. 7074.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/491; USNA, RG 242/T-501/166/9198.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1587/folder 9/nfn (MVW Bezirk B, Kdo.St. Ia Br B Nr 3508/41,
Angers 19.9.41, Betr. Lagebericht der Abt Ia fr die Zeit vom 20.7.41 bis 19.9.41); USNA, RG
242/T-77/1588/folder 1/17.

after the fall

As the number of assassinations multiplied, military authorities had

trouble differentiating attacks carried out by various resistance groups.
Toward the end of 1941, they characterized most resistance activity as the
work of a single Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy and focused their reprisals
on Jews and communists. Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel ordered subor-
dinates to avoid words like hostage (otage) when describing people shot
in reprisal for a particular resistance attack because they did not link the
people being shot with the perpetrator of the original crime. Instead, he
directed his lieutenants to characterize unknown perpetrators as Jews and
communists. The linguistic shift indicates a new attitude that brought
the military administration into accord with OKW regulations. The latters
September 1941 directive ordered the MBF to assume that all anti-German
activity had communist origins, and Nazi dogma described communists
and anti-German nationalists as tools of the so-called international Jewish
conspiracy. The MBF had embraced language that cleared the way for the
outright murder of Jews living in France.
Census data and the marking of identity papers laid the legal and
administrative foundations of the Final Solution. The MVWs economics
division launched a despoliation program that provoked a larger French
analog. Otto and Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel ordered the deportation of
5,100 Jews to the east, and they almost certainly understood that deportation
was equivalent to a death sentence. Finally, both Stlpnagels shot Jews in
response to resistance activity. Deportations and hostage executions carried
out by the MBF killed thousands of Jews; they may fall short of the tens of
thousands murdered by the SS in Auschwitz, but they still contributed to
the Final Solution in France. In a letter of 31 July 1944 to Gauleiter Martin
Mutschmann, Heinrich Himmler blamed an extremely difcult military
commander for the continued survival of French Jews. Himmlers expert
opinion may attenuate charges of genocide, but it does not invalidate war
crimes or mass murder indictments.
Every major German and several French agencies persecuted Jews during
the Occupation. Perceiving Jews as a potential security threat, the military
administration evicted Jews from a security zone along the Channel coast

BAMA, RW 35/308/89; USNA, RG 242/T-501/144/16; USNA, RG 242/T-501/

USNA, RG 252/T-501/196/10721074.
USNA, RG 242/T-175/155/26857722685773.

defamation, discrimination, and despoliation

and played a major role in the Aryanization of the French economy.

The Vichy regime defamed and discriminated against Jews on its own
accord, despoiled Jews through the CGQJ, and ordered French police to
arrest specic categories of Jews. Although French and German agencies
persecuted Jews, they did not all act with an equal measure of enthusiasm.
The MBF objected to Aryanization on legal grounds and did not believe
that Jews stood behind all resistance activity. Laval objected to the arrest of
assimilated French Jews because the round-ups undermined support for his
government. The SS and German embassy in Paris both championed the
entire defamation, discrimination, despoliation, and deportation process,
but they lacked the manpower and a legal mandate to act on their own
before the summer of 1942. During the rst half of the Occupation, no
single French or German agency controlled the entire anti-Semitic process.

Racial deportations

With an estimated 310,000 Jews, France possessed the largest Jewish

population in western Europe and appeared to be an attractive target for
Hitlers Final Solution. During the course of the Occupation, French and
German police deported approximately 75,000 Jews and exterminated 25
per cent of the Jewish population in France. In contrast, about 45 per cent
(25,000 of 55,670) of registered Belgian Jews and 75 per cent (105,000 of
140,000) of Jews living in the Netherlands perished during World War
Two. Eastern European Jews typically endured higher mortality rates that
uctuated between 69 per cent in Hungary and 81 per cent in Greece.
What factors contributed to the survival of Jews in general and French Jews
in particular?
Geography and dispersement may have helped some European Jews
escape deportation. In the Low Countries, most Jews resided in large
cities and could not ee to a neighboring neutral state like Sweden or
melt into a sparsely inhabited rural area. Although many French Jews
lived in Paris, a substantial number ed before advancing German armies,
scattered throughout the unoccupied zone, and found some refuge in the
relative wilds of southern France. Jews in southeastern France could also
rely on a degree of protection from the Italian army. Geography and

Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, pp. 6502 (France), pp. 636645 (Belgium),
pp. 600628 (the Netherlands), and pp. 738755 (Greece), 1321; Wolfgang Benz (ed.), Dimension
des Volkermords: Die Zahl der jdischen Opfer des Nationalsozialismus (Munich: R. Oldenbourg
Verlag, 1991).
Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, pp. 600601, 636.
racial deportations

dispersement may have helped some French Jews and endangered their
Dutch counterparts, but neither factor can explain the high mortality rate
in Yugoslavia. A general explanation for varying survival rates must lie
Diplomatic considerations may have inuenced the deportation process
in nations that contributed to the Axis war effort. After signing an armistice
with Germany, the Vichy regime functioned as a friendly neutral and
reluctantly supported the German war effort. Perhaps Frances valuable
economic assets allowed the Vichy regime to shield Jews from Himmlers
depredations. This strategy yielded favorable results in Italy, where 75 per
cent of the Jewish population survived both Mussolinis Fascist regime
and the subsequent German occupation. Hungary also offered substantial
assistance to the Third Reich, but at least 550,000 or 69 per cent of the
approximately 795,000 people who were regarded as Jews inside of greater
Hungary did not survive World War Two. An alliance with Hitlers
regime might delay large-scale deportations, but the Hungarian example
suggests that collaboration offered very little protection in the long run.
Diplomatic considerations may have inuenced but did not determine
varying survival rates.
Recent scholarship suggests that governmental structures may explain
higher survival rates in some European nations. As German armies marched
across Europe, Hitler integrated regions such as DanzigWest Prussia and
Lorraine directly into the Reich. Civilian administrators governed potential
colonies in Poland and friendly races in Denmark and Norway. Military
governments controlled portions of France, Belgium, and Greece for the
duration of World War Two. Wolfgang Seibel argues that territorial
administrative structures shaped the course of the Final Solution. He links
the low survival rate in the Netherlands to the civilian administration
and attributes higher survival rates in Belgium and France to military

Yahil, The Holocaust, pp. 349352, 4916; Manoschek, The extermination of the Jews in
Serbia, pp. 163185.
Liliana Picciotto Fargion, Italien in Benz (ed.) Dimension des Volkermords, pp. 199228.
Laszlo Varga, Ungarn in Benz (ed.) Dimension des Volkermords, pp. 331351.
Hans Umbreit, German rule in the occupied territories 19421945, in MGFA (ed.),
Germany and the Second World War, vol. V, Organization and Mobilization of the German Sphere of
Power, part 2, Wartime administration, economy, and manpower resources, 19421944/5, translated by
Derry Cook-Radmore, Ewald Osers, Barry Smerin, and Barbara Wilson (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 2003), pp. 912.

after the fall

governments. Limited to western Europe, his study cannot account for

low Jewish survival rates in Greece or high survival rates in Denmark,
which were under the auspices of military and civilian administrations
respectively. Structural analysis does not provide a comprehensive account
of the varying survival rates.
Local attitudes appear to be equally deceptive. Although a substantial
portion of French society embraced anti-Semitism after the 1894 conviction
of Captain Alfred Dreyfus and collaborated with Germany during the
Occupation, three-quarters of the Jewish population outlived Marshal
Petains regime. A history of tolerance may have helped Italian Jews
survive the Holocaust, but it did not save co-religionists in the Netherlands.
Widespread partisan activity did not necessarily translate into high survival
rates either. Recognizing the unique dangers that Jews faced, Danish
resistance groups helped the small Jewish community escape to Sweden.
Although they came to the same conclusion and actually derailed a
deportation train, Belgian guerillas could not stop the murder of 45 per cent
of the 55,000 registered Jews. French resistance groups assassinated German
personnel and sabotaged the transportation network but did not identify
Jews as an especially endangered group or impede the deportation process.
Widespread resistance activity, anti-Semitism, diplomatic considerations,
geography, and structural factors inuenced the course of the Final Solution,
but none explain varying rates of survival throughout Europe.
In the conclusion of Vichy France and the Jews, Michael Marrus and
Robert Paxton argue that the degree to which Germans were able to apply
their power governed varying rates of survival, but vague terminology
undermines sound logic. Analysis of German racial policy must reect
the polycratic nature of the Nazi government. Inter-agency competition
often precluded effective cooperation between the Army, SS, Foreign
Ofce, and other German agencies. Although it was responsible for the
war against Judaism, the SS often lacked the means to carry out Hitlers
racial agenda on its own and frequently depended upon the support from
indigenous collaborators and other German agencies.

Wolfgang Seibel, The strength of perpetratorsthe Holocaust in western Europe,

19401944, in Governance 15 (April 2002), 211240.
Yahil, The Holocaust, pp. 4967; Adler, The Jews of Paris and the Final Solution, pp. 195,
Marrus and Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews, p. 357.

racial deportations

An analysis of the Final Solution in France highlights the importance

of both inter-agency cooperation and indigenous accommodation. At the
start of the Occupation, Army leaders dominated Franco-German rela-
tions and advanced a policy of economic collaboration in order to place
French resources at the disposal of the German war economy. Interpret-
ing increased resistance activity as the product of a awed security policy,
Hitler transferred control of French and German police forces to the SS
in the middle of 1942. Once vested with executive authority, the Black
Corps pressed for the immediate deportation of all Jews and disregarded
French sensibilities. Bitter at the loss of authority, the MBF limited army
participation in the Final Solution because the latter undermined economic
collaboration. French enthusiasm for racial deportations evaporated once
cooperation yielded few diplomatic benets and the prospects for a Ger-
man victory declined. Hamstrung by a severe shortage of personnel, the
SS depended upon ephemeral French support and could only deport a
relatively small percentage of Jews to Auschwitz.
Conversely, a high degree of inter-agency cooperation and substantial
indigenous accommodation fostered low survival rates. With support from
an obliging Dutch bureaucracy, Reichskommissar Dr. Seyss-Inquart deported
three-quarters of the Jewish population in the Netherlands. SS leaders
in Belgium overcame a generally hostile public with limited resources
because most Belgian Jews lived in Brussels and Antwerp. In such an
environment, limited German manpower proved to be especially efcient
and thus deadly. The Plenipotentiary Commanding General in Serbia,
Franz Bohme, concurred with his SS counterparts, identied Jews and
communists as the fundamental source of resistance activity, established joint
armySS pursuit groups, and exterminated the entire Jewish population
by June of 1942. On the eastern front, a military fear of resistance
activity or guerillaphobia complemented SS Judeophobia and encouraged
inter-agency cooperation. Soldiers worked with their SS counterparts
and shot all who looked askance. Inter-agency cooperation and local
accommodation determined varying rates of survival throughout Nazi-
occupied Europe.

Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, pp. 6356.

Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, p. 676; Manoschek, The extermination of the
Jews in Serbia pp. 164170; Shepherd, War in the Wild East, pp. 458, 527, 8694.

after the fall

In France, Vichy politicians, French policemen, German diplomats, SS

fanatics, and leaders of the German military administration all contributed to
the so-called Final Solution of the Jewish Question. Diplomats associated
with the German embassy in Paris regularly highlighted the dangers
of the alleged Jewish menace but could not solve the so-called Jewish
Question without help. Wehrmacht leaders ordered the MBF to register
Jews in occupied France, conscate Jewish property, and answer resistance
activity with reprisals that focused on Jews. The military administration
demonstrated its political unreliability to leaders of the Nazi regime by
objecting to the conscation of Jewish property and arguing against
draconian reprisals. In response, Hitler inserted an HSSuPF in France
and placed the SS in charge of French and German police forces.
The SS began the Occupation as a second-class Nazi party organization
in search of a spot in France. When German soldiers marched into Paris
on 14 June, relations between the SS and army remained tense. The
activities of SS Einsatzgruppen in Poland and a speech on 28 October 1939
in which Himmler urged members of the SS to father children out of
wedlock upset conservative ofcers throughout the military establishment.
Elements of the Waffen SS participated in the Western campaign, but
they were attached to regular army formations and subject to military
control. General von Brauchitsch did not allow SS police or intelligence
organizations to enter France during the 1940 campaign. Without the
approval of OKW or OKH, a group of about twenty SD intelligence
experts surreptitiously established ofces near the German embassy along
the avenue Foch. Elements of the Kriminalpolizei and Gestapo eluded
military police and joined their SD comrades in Paris during the following
weeks. By the end of the summer, sixty SS agents worked in France.
Brigadefhrer Dr. Max Thomas led the entire SS contingent and had the
title Representative of the Security Police and SD (Beauftragter des Chefs der
Sicherheitspolizei und des Sicherheitsdienst or BdS). His executive ofcer and
eventual successor, Sturmbannfhrer Helmut Knochen, negotiated an agree-
ment which would permit the SS to operate lawfully in occupied France

Breitman, The Architect of Genocide, pp. 105115; Mller, Das Heer und Hitler, pp. 458466.
Steinberg and Fitere, Les Allemands en France, 19401944, pp. 3945.
Once vested with executive authority in 1942, the Beauftragter des Chefs der Sicherheitspolizei
und SD became Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei und SD. The abbreviation, BdS, remained the

racial deportations

on 4 October 1940. Members of the Black Corps could wear their black
uniform but could not arrest suspects or conscate property on their own.
SS ofcers monitored the activity of Jews, foreigners, Freemasons, com-
munists, and clerics; located and secured valuable documents and records
in state libraries, Masonic lodges, and religious institutions; and investigated
anti-German conspiracies. In return, the SS had to inform the MBF of their
strength and activity. Finally, Himmler promised to tell the army high com-
mand and General von Stlpnagel about any change in the SSs mission.
To carry out his duties, Thomas established a central bureau in Paris that,
in terms of structure, mimicked Reich Security Main Ofce (Reichssicher-
heitshauptamt or RSHA) in Berlin. By 1942, the Paris headquarters had
seven sections focused on personnel, nance and industry, liaison with the
French government, anti-German groups, criminal police (Kriminalpolizei
or Kripo), intelligence, and cultural affairs. SS branch ofces stood beside
regional commands of the military administration in Bordeaux, Rouen,
and Dijon. Thomass second-in-command, Knochen, served as the SS
liaison with the MBF. SS Sturmbannfhrer Herbert Hagen arrived with the
very rst group of SS operatives, opened the branch ofce in Bordeaux,
and supervised the collection of foreign intelligence as head of section VI.
After HSSuPF Oberg arrived in 1942, Hagen moved to Paris and served as
Obergs Chief of Staff and representative (personal Referent). One of Hagens
colleagues, SS Sturmbannfhrer Kurt Lischka, ran the Paris ofce and served
as Knochens agent (standiger Vertreter) when the BdS was unavailable. Both
Lischka and Hagen had worked with Adolf Eichmann before the war and
juggled several jobs within the SS apparatus. A convoluted SS hierarchy
and blurred lines of jurisdiction between various German agencies often
confused outsiders.
Because they had limited powers, SS men spent much of their time
collecting anecdotal information and sending eclectic reports to superiors
in Berlin. An intelligence summary of 14 December 1940 focused on dis-
gruntled workers, characterized the atmosphere of Paris as revolutionary,

USNA, RG 242/T-501/196/655656.
BAK, All. Proz. 21/Proces Oberg-Knochen/1213, 3943; BALW, R 70 Frankreich/
1/621; BALW, R 70 Frankreich/4/542.
Joseph Billig, La Solution nale de la question juive. Essai sur ses principes dans le III Reich
et en France sous loccupation (Paris: Centre de Documentation Juive Contremporaine, 1977),
pp. 169178, 192, 8890, 1978; BAK, All. Proz. 21/Proces Oberg-Knochen/35; BALW, R 70

after the fall

and conjured images of 1870. The MBFs December 1940 report noted
a deterioration in public morale but added that subversive groups were
being carefully monitored and concluded that the safety of the occupation
is nowhere endangered. SS reports focused on Jews and communists,
exaggerated racial threats, and highlighted the need for racial vigilance
in the Hexagon. Unlike comprehensive accounts written by the military
administration, SS briefs did not assess the overall popularity of resistance
groups or place resistance activity within the larger context of French
While Knochen sent dubious reports to Berlin, Theodor Dannecker
prepared the ground for the Final Solution. Born in 1913, Dannecker
joined the SS in June of 1932 and enrolled in the Nazi party six weeks
later. After the Nazi seizure of power, he served in an SS Verfgungstruppe
before transferring to Columbia-Haus in Berlin, where he gained a rst-hand
knowledge of the Nazi concentration camp system. Dannecker secured a
position as a Jewish affairs expert in the SD Main Ofce (SD Hauptamt)
in 1937 and worked closely with Eichmann, Hagen, Lischka and, to a
lesser extent, Reinhard Heydrich. Eichmann relocated to Austria after the
March 1938 Anschluss and trusted Dannecker enough to leave him in
charge of the Berlin ofce during his absence. Toward the end of 1939,
Himmler integrated the SD Hauptamt into RSHA. Along with Eichmann,
Dannecker joined section IV D 4 (Gestapo Jewish affairs, later renamed IV
B 4) under the command of Heinrich Mller. Before World War Two,
Dannecker had won the trust of inuential SS leaders who would later
shape the Final Solution.
Dannecker arrived in France on 5 September 1940 and took charge of
subsection J (Jewish affairs), in section IV (anti-German groups) on the staff
of the BdS. Although nominally a part of Thomass team, he usually received
his orders from and reported directly to Eichmann in Berlin. Despite
a modest rank that was equivalent to an army lieutenant, 27-year-old
SS-Obersturmfhrer Dannecker played a pivotal role in the Final Solution.

Schumann and Nestler (eds.), Die faschistische Okkupationspolitik in Frankreich, pp. 1267;
USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/557; Germaine Willard, Roger Bourderon, and Gilbert Badia (eds.),
La Gestapo contre le parti communiste: rapports sur lactivite du PCF (Paris: Editions Messidor, 1984).
Claudia Steur, Theodor Dannecker: ein Funktionar der Endlosung (Essen: Klartext Verlag,
1977), pp. 1629, 4042; Krausnick et al., Anatomy of the SS State, pp. 163187.
Steur, Theodor Dannecker, pp. 4591. Dannecker was promoted to Hauptsturmfhrer or
captain by April 1941.

racial deportations

Once in France, Dannecker tried to implement the anti-Semitic routine

pioneered by SS colleagues in Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland that
began with identifying Jews, segregating them from the rest of the pop-
ulation, and conscating their assets before concluding with deportation
and extermination. In conjunction with the Vichy regime, the military
administration discriminated against and despoiled Jews, but the MVW
characterized additional discrimination as a French matter and declined to
proceed further. Unfettered by legal concerns, Dannecker established a
Jewish council (Judenrat) to carry out SS orders. The resulting organization,
the Coordination Committee for the Jewish Relief Organizations of Paris
(Comite de Coordination des Oeuvres de Bienfaisance Israelites a Paris) started
operations on 30 January 1941.
Danneckers rst Judenrat proved ineffective. Several major Jewish organ-
izations refused to cooperate, the MBF claimed that such matters lay beyond
his jurisdiction, and the French government declined to assist the young
SS ofcer. The military administrations reluctance to tamper in internal
French affairs dissipated as assassinations increased during the fall of 1941.
Under pressure from the MBF and especially the SS, the French government
forced Jews to join the General Union of the Israelites of France (Union
General des Israelites de France or UGIF) on 29 November 1941. After a
year of struggle, Dannecker had established a Judenrat that could support
the deportation process.
Dannecker also tried to consolidate French anti-Semitic initiatives to
facilitate SS control. During a conference with German diplomats on 28
February 1941, he painted an ominous picture of 50,000 French and 150,000
foreign Jews living in metropolitan Paris and convinced Ambassador Abetz
to support the creation of a French ofce that would coordinate French
anti-Semitic programs. Abetz raised the issue with Darlan during a dinner at
the German embassy, and the Admiral established the Commissariat-general
aux questions juives (CGQJ) on 29 March 1941. The CGQJ placed French
bureaucrats at the disposal of SS ofcials, facilitated despoliation, and later
expedited the Final Solution. Dannecker could issue orders to Jewish

Yahil, The Holocaust, pp. 104106, 115122, 146150, 1768; Steur, Theodor Dannecker,
pp. 4853.
Adler, The Jews of Paris and the Final Solution, pp. 578; Steur, Theodor Dannecker, p. 52;
Marrus and Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews, pp. 8083; Billig, Commissariat general aux questions
juives, vol. I, p. 27.
Adler, The Jews of Paris and the Final Solution, pp. 5780.

after the fall

groups through the UGIF and to the CGQJ via the French government.
He compensated for the small number of SS personnel under his direct
command by creating a network of French and Jewish proxies.
With his administrative apparatus taking shape, Dannecker began to
experiment with deportations but, without the power to make arrests,
could not act unilaterally. Dannecker, Ambassador Abetz, the MBF,
and Werner Best all asked Xavier Vallat, the newly appointed head of
the CGQJ, to demonstrate Frances commitment to racial ideals and
arrest politically unpleasant Jews during a series of meetings held on
3 and 4 April 1941. Six weeks later, French police sent out 6,500 bil-
lets verts and arrested 3,747 Polish, Czech, and Austrian Jews. Playing
on fears of increased communist activity, Dannecker persuaded the MBF
to launch a second round-up on 20 August 1941. After meeting with
junior army ofcials, 2,400 French policemen sealed the 11th arrondissement
and detained both French and foreign Jews without informing superi-
ors in Vichy until after the fact. By the end of the four-day operation,
French police had seized 4,232 Jews in 16 different sections of the French
capital. In response to a series of attacks carried out between 2 and
6 December, 260 French and 200 German policemen seized 743 French
Jews during a third round-up. Dannecker characterized the 1941 raids as
restrained, but added that they did indeed address the so-called Jewish
French police sent prisoners seized by the 1941 round-ups to concentra-
tion camps in Pithiviers, Beaune-la-Rolande (Loiret), and Drancy that were
run by French policemen under German supervision. Drancy served as a
source of hostages and, later, the anteroom of Auschwitz. Round-ups car-
ried out in 1941 lled all three camps well beyond their capacity. Appalled
by conditions in Drancy, a German military commission ordered the
release of approximately 900 sick and dying prisoners in October 1941. On

Schumann and Nestler (eds.), Die faschistische Okkupationspolitik in Frankreich, pp. 1489;
Billig, La Solution nale de la question juive, p. 120; Rayski, The Choice of the Jews under Vichy,
pp. 224.
BALW, R 70 Frankreich/23/35; BALW, R 70 Frankreich/32/913; Kaspi, Les Juifs
pendant loccupation, pp. 212214; Rajsfus, La Police de Vichy, pp. 6771. Kasten, Gute Franzosen,
p. 96, note 302, argues that the SS instigated the 14 May raids.
Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France, vol. I, pp. 2832; vol. 2, pp. 183199; Kaspi, Les Juifs pendant
loccupation, pp. 214215; Rajsfus, La Police de Vichy, pp. 713.
Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 1942, pp. 323; Monneray (ed.), La Persecution des juifs en France,
pp. 117121; Steur, Theodor Dannecker, pp. 558.

racial deportations

Figure 9.1. Reinhard Heydrich.

Photograph courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

2 January 1942, Best informed Knochen that problems on the eastern

front created a transportation shortage and prevented the deportation of
Jews until February or March 1942. Overcrowding and transportation
shortages precluded further arrests and deportations respectively.
Dannecker discussed the situation with Eichmann at a conference in
Berlin on 4 March 1942. Eichmann told his assistant that RSHA could
only accept 5,000 French Jews in 1942. He advised Dannecker to strip all
deportees of their French citizenship to forestall French protests. Heydrich
secured transport for the deportation of 1,000 Jews and approved plans
for 4,000 more evacuations, but he told Dannecker that widespread
deportations would have to wait until 1943. After conferring with Heydrich

BAK, All. Proz. 21/212/99100; Marrus and Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews, pp. 2515;
Adler, The Jews of Paris and the Final Solution, pp. 3940; BALW, R 70 Frankreich/23/8.

after the fall

and Eichmann, Dannecker (recently promoted to the rank of captain)

prepared to arrest a limited number of foreign Jews.
The SS enjoyed a bit of luck. During a chance conversation with a
Luftwaffe major, Dannecker learned that the German ofcer in charge of
French railroads, Lieutenant-General Otto Kohl, was very interested in the
Jewish Question. He arranged a meeting with the general and discussed the
Jewish question for over an hour on 13 May. The SS captain discovered that
Kohl was an inveterate adversary of the Jews who completely approved
of the Final Solution. The general promised to supply Dannecker with
all of the rolling stock that he needed. Although Heydrich could not
secure transportation for large-scale deportations, Dannecker found a way
around the bottleneck through Lieutenant-General Kohl. As a result of
Danneckers ingenuity, RSHA raised the number of expected deportations
from 5,000 Jews envisioned by Heydrich on 4 March to 100,000 during an
11 June 1942 meeting in Berlin. Eleven days later, Eichmann rened the
transportation schedule to accommodate 40,000 deportations from occupied
France, 40,000 from the Netherlands, and 10,000 from Belgium.
The rst convoy to Auschwitz left Compiegne on 27 March 1942.
Like most deportation trains, it carried over one thousand Jews in sealed
box cars to conserve guards. Four more convoys left Drancy, Pithiviers,
and Beaune-la-Rolande in June, followed by eight in July, thirteen in
both August and September, and four in November. Dannecker paid for
the operation by charging the French government 700 reichsmarks per
prisoner. June departures relieved prison overcrowding and literally cleared
the way for more arrests. The installation of Oberg as HSSuPF further
encouraged the Final Solution. Beginning on 1 June 1942, SS policemen
could arrest people on their own, negotiate with the Vichy government,
issue orders to French police in Occupied France, and circumvent the
military administration.
Dannecker needed more Jews to stock Kohls trains and fulll Eichmanns
schedule. On 25 June 1942, he met with Jean Leguay, who oversaw
police affairs in the occupied zone and worked for Rene Bousquet, the

Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 1942, pp. 5963, 1969; Monneray (ed.), La Persecution des juifs
en France, pp. 1245; BALW, R 70 Frankreich/23/1417.
BAK, All. Proz. 21/212/131133; ADAP, ser. E, vol. III, pp. 434.
Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France, vol. I, p. 205; BAK, All. Proz. 21/212/131133, 149; USNA,
RG 242/T-501/172/441.

racial deportations

Secretary-General of Police. Dannecker demanded that French police

arrest of a total of 32,000 Jews: 22,000 Jews living in metropolitan Paris
and 10,000 from unoccupied France. He insisted that 40 per cent of
the Parisian Jews be either French or denaturalized French citizens but
allowed Vichy to select the categories (age, gender, citizenship, etc.) of
Jews to be arrested in unoccupied France. The SS captain characterized
deportations as security measures and disregarded Leguays objections.
Laval heard about Danneckers demands from Bousquet, and the French
Prime Minister announced his opposition to Danneckers proposals during
a cabinet meeting on 26 June that Marshal Petain attended. With support
from Laval and Bousquet, Leguay refused Danneckers order. By directing
French police to arrest French Jews, a mere SS captain brought the SS and
Vichy government to an impasse.
Danneckers order coincided with the negotiation of the ObergBous-
quet accords. The latter dened the rights and responsibilities of both
SS and French police forces throughout France. With few SS personnel
at his disposal, Oberg needed French help. For their part, Laval and
Bousquet wanted to secure a place in Hitlers new order and elicit German
concessions by cooperating with the Reich, but they did not want French
police to become Nazi stooges. Demands made by Dannecker to Leguay
seemed to conrm fears that the SS would simply take over the French
police. As a junior ofcial working in a specialized ofce, Dannecker may
not have been able to appreciate the big picture, but by embroiling Oberg
and Knochen in a diplomatic confrontation, he earned the enmity of his
Vichy ofcials balked at Danneckers high-handed methods and objected
to the deportation of assimilated French Jews, but they did not oppose
deportations in principle. In a February 1942 memo to Zeitschel, the
German Consul-General in Vichy, Roland Krug von Nidda, reported that
Vichy leaders would support the deportation of 1,0005,000 Jews per
month if the deportations were carried out discreetly. During the 26 June
cabinet meeting, Laval rened Vichys position and protected French Jews
by serving up foreign Jews. Following Petains lead, the Prime Minister
opposed Danneckers plan because it did not distinguish assimilated French

Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 1942, pp. 215216.

Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 1942, pp. 745, 221.
Steur, Theodor Dannecker, pp. 8591.

after the fall

from foreign or naturalized Jews. Oberg, Knochen, Lischka, and Hagen

discussed Danneckers plan for 32,000 deportations with Bousquet on 2 July
1942. The Secretary-General of Police characterized the arrest of French
Jews by French police as troublesome (gnant) but offered 10,000 foreign
Jews from the unoccupied zone and did not object to German police
arresting French Jews in occupied territory.
Knochen replied on behalf of the SS. Hitler, the BdS explained, had
always emphasized the necessity of a decisive solution to the Jewish Ques-
tion. According to Knochen, the Fhrer would not understand why the
French government objected to the arrest of French Jews. The BdS implied
that French obstruction might have political repercussions. Bousquet coun-
tered with an offer to have French police arrest foreign Jews throughout
France but continued to insist that French Jews not be detained. Oberg,
Knochen, and Hagen repudiated Danneckers plan and accepted Bousquets
compromise because the latter included vital assistance from the French
police. As a reward for his tact, Dannecker received a transfer to Bulgaria.
Talks between Bousquet and the SS led to the so-called Vel dHiv
round-up. In order to demonstrate Frances commitment to Hitlers new
order, French police began to arrest German, Austrian, Polish, Czech,
Russian, and stateless Jews between the ages of 16 and 50 on 16 July 1942
throughout metropolitan Paris. Dannecker expected to catch approximately
22,000 victims and planned transportation schedules accordingly. Unable
to ll their original quotas, French and German policemen began to
disregard age and arrested entire families. After two days, French police
had detained 12,884 foreign Jews, including 3,031 men, 5,802 women, and
4,051 children. They incarcerated Jewish prisoners in a local sports arena,
the Velodrome dHiver, before moving prisoners to concentration camps in
Drancy, Pithiviers, and Beaune-la-Rolande.
While French police arrested Jews throughout Paris, Dannecker searched
for new sources of victims during an eight-day tour of the unoccupied
zone. He discovered that French ofcials had already interned a large
number of non-French Jews in southern France. Upon his return to Paris,

Jean-Paul Cointet, Pierre Laval (Paris: Fayard, 1993), pp. 398400; Klarsfeld, VichyAusch-
witz, 1942, pp. 196, 221, 227232.
Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France, vol. II, pp. 445451, 593.
BAK, All. Proz. 21/212/149153, 139141; Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 1942, pp. 238240;
Monneray (ed.), La Persecution des juifs en France, pp. 148151.

racial deportations

Figure 9.2. Pithiviers internment camp c.1941.

Photograph courtesy the Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-S69238.

the SS captain reported his ndings to superiors and, in light of the paltry
results of the Vel dHiv round-up, began to press for the deportation
of foreign Jews in unoccupied France. Dannecker asked Knochen to
discuss the matter with Bousquet, and SS Lieutenant (Obersturmfhrer)
Heinz Rothke, Danneckers eventual successor, made the same request
to Leguay during a conference on 27 July. Leguay may have anticipated
Rothkes appeal, because he immediately agreed to turn over foreign Jews
interned by the French government in southern France. The next morning,
Leguay ordered four transports to Drancy that would begin on 7 August
Leguays transports moved 3,429 Jewish prisoners from various camps in
southern France to Drancy between 7 and 14 August. After a short stay in
Drancy, most continued to Auschwitz, and most perished shortly after they

Monneray (ed.), La Persecution des juifs en France, pp. 158164.

Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 1942, pp. 279, 2924.

after the fall

arrived in the death camp. Transports exhausted the supply of incarcerated

Jews in unoccupied France and necessitated more arrests. Planning ahead,
Knochen asked Bousquet to arrest more foreign Jews and strip recently
naturalized Jews of their French citizenship during a meeting on 29 July.
The Secretary-General of Police promised to discuss the matter with Laval.
With the Prime Ministers approval, French police prepared to arrest 15,000
foreign Jews in unoccupied France between 26 and 29 August 1942, but
the ensuing round-ups yielded only 6,584 Jews who were eligible for
deportation. Between 25 August and 15 September, nine trains carried
7,095 foreigners and Jews from camps in southern France to Drancy.
French and German police captured 8,722 Jews during three round-
ups carried out in 1941, and the Vel dHiv raids yielded another 12,884
Jews eligible for deportation. By 15 September 1942, French and German
authorities incarcerated a total of 21,606 Jews in occupied France. French
ofcials supplied another 10,524 Jews from southern to occupied France
by September and brought the number of Jews who were eligible for
deportation to 32,130. Between 27 March and 15 September 1942, a total
of 32 trains carried 32,085 prisoners from occupied France to Auschwitz.
Although round-ups caught far fewer prisoners than expected, arrests
managed to keep pace with scheduled deportations. Dannecker and Rothke
certainly understood the consequences of failure. A shortage of Jewish
prisoners in Bordeaux forced Rothke to cancel a deportation train on
15 July. The very next day, Eichmann called Paris, claimed that the
stoppage undermined his credibility with German railroad ofcials and,
more ominously, threatened to take the matter up with the head of
the Gestapo. Neither Dannecker nor Rothke canceled another train.
Deportations to Auschwitz followed a precise schedule and had to be
coordinated with arrests carried out by French police throughout the
Hexagon. To keep pace, Oberg, Knochen, and Dannecker regularly
pressed the Vichy regime to turn over more Jews.
On 28 August, Eichmann decided to accelerate the pace of deportations
from three to six transports per week. The man in charge of logistical

Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 1942, pp. 1467; Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France, vol. II, pp. 5958,
Monneray (ed.), La Persecution des juifs en France, pp. 1513; Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz,
1942, pp. 1589, 3378, 3734, 377; Kaspi, Les Juifs pendant loccupation, pp. 1357.
BAK, All. Proz. 21/212/189191; Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France, pp. 506507.

racial deportations

support for the Final Solution anticipated a transportation shortage in

October and ordered subordinates to evacuate as many Jews as possible
before military exigencies consumed all available rolling stock. In keeping
with his new schedule of daily transports during October, Eichmann asked
Knochen, Lischka, and Hagen to collect guards for the trains and persuade
the Vichy government to arrest more Jews. He allowed Danneckers
successor, Rothke, to concentrate on foreign Jews and promised to discuss
the deportation of Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swiss Jews who were
in France with the Reich Foreign Ministry. Initial transports had already
evacuated most of the unwanted foreign Jews incarcerated in various
French and German camps. As summer turned to fall, Eichmann and
company began to search for new categories of Jews who could be
SS Lieutenant Rothke responded to Eichmanns directive by urging
Knochen, Lischka, and Hagen to adopt a more militant stance toward
Vichy. In a series of reports and memoranda, he implored his superiors
to press the French government for more arrests in occupied France.
Starting around 16 September, he began to organize another round-up
in the occupied zone that would be comparable in scope to the Vel
dHiv operation. Rothke wanted French police to arrest Jewish writers,
doctors, professors, lawyers, and businessmen who lived in and around
Paris. The SS lieutenant planned to arrest entire families and expected
to seize approximately 23,000 prominent French Jews. Although it had
targeted foreign Jews and unpopular Jewish refugees, the Vel dHiv round-
up had aroused some public dissent. Arrests planned for late September
targeted assimilated French Jews and promised to elicit a stronger response
from a wider segment of French society.
While Eichmann and Rothke planned more arrests and deportations,
French leaders moved in the opposite direction. According to a German
diplomat, the Vichy government supported discreet deportations. Arrests
made by French policemen preserved the illusion of French sovereignty, sat-
ised German demands, and eliminated unwanted foreigners who allegedly
took jobs from native Frenchmen. Much to Vichys dismay, round-ups
carried out in July and August had aroused protest from Catholics, foreign

BAK, All. Proz. 21/212/227229; Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 1942, pp. 3923.

Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 1942, pp. 400402, 419420, 4279, 178, 4435.
Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France, vol. II, pp. 3334; Caron, Uneasy Asylum, pp. 338340.

after the fall

diplomats, the general public in neutral countries, and even some Axis
allies. Furthermore, cooperation yielded no appreciable concessions from
the Reich. During a meeting with Hagen on 25 August 1942, Bousquet
argued that he had to proceed with caution because of protests from
Cardinal Gerlier and the Archbishop of Toulouse. Religious, popular,
and international condemnation of the deportation of foreign Jews and
especially Jewish children forced Vichy to reconsider cooperation with
regard to deportations.
Laval expressed a new-found reluctance at a dinner hosted by Ambassador
de Brinon on 2 September. The Prime Minister told Oberg and Abetz that
opposition from Cardinal Gerlier made further deportations difcult. He
offered to deliver German, Austrian, Czech, Polish, and Hungarian Jews
to the SS and insinuated that Belgian, Dutch, and some naturalized French
Jews could be added to the list, but only after initial categories of deportees
had been exhausted. Mindful of public opinion, Laval tried to proceed
with caution. One week later, Leguay reiterated why French police could
not make additional arrests and asked Rothke to suspend deportations until
the middle of October. Opposition from the Catholic Church made
Laval, Bousquet, and Leguay reluctant to proceed with further arrests and
Eichmann and Rothke pressed for a substantial increase in the deporta-
tion rate that would necessitate further arrests. The Vichy regime feared the
political consequences of another major round-up. Oberg and Knochen
stood in the middle with the power to set German policy in the Hexagon.
SS Major-General (Brigadefhrer) Oberg answered to Himmler and did
not have to follow orders from RSHA or Eichmann. The HSSuPF dis-
cussed accelerated deportations with his boss, and the two agreed not
to arrest French Jews. SS Colonel (Standartenfhrer) Knochen outranked
SS Lieutenant-Colonel (Obersturmbannfhrer) Eichmann and could, with
some risk, defy RSHA staff ofcers. To protect himself from recrimina-
tion, Knochen informed Eichmann that the arrest of French Jews would
disrupt the general political situation and threaten Prime Minister Laval.

Kaspi, Les Juifs pendant loccupation, pp. 2414; Cohen, Persecutions et sauvetages, pp. 300316;
ADAP, ser. E, vol. III, pp. 419420, 425; Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France, vol. II, pp. 8634.
Cointet, Pierre Laval, pp. 398403, 4257; Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 1942, pp. 407409,

racial deportations

With Himmlers approval and support from Oberg, Knochen quashed

Eichmanns plans for another large-scale round-up.
Knochens policy did not preclude further arrests or deportations. French
police continued to seize foreign Jews and, under German pressure,
increased the list of eligible nationalities. Raids launched on 14 September
caught approximately 200 Dutch, Lithuanian, Estonian, Bulgarian, and
Yugoslav Jews in metropolitan Paris. Rothke reported the seizure of
1,594 Rumanian Jews on 24 September. Knochen arranged the arrest of
Belgian Jews on 6 October, and the Foreign Ministry allowed the police to
imprison Greek Jews one week later. Arrests allowed Vichy to send 483
foreign Jews from unoccupied France to Drancy between 25 September
and 22 October 1942. In turn, Rothke scheduled seven trains from Drancy
to Auschwitz during the latter half of September, and four more trains
followed in November. Oberg and Knochen followed a policy that can be
characterized as moderate only when juxtaposed against more ambitious
plans proposed by Eichmann and Rothke.
Frustrated by restrictions imposed from above, Rothkes staff launched
their own personal round-up on the night of 22/23 September 1942.
The wildcat operation captured only 76 Jews and underlined the central
importance of cooperation. Without French assistance, the SS had reason
to believe that future German round-ups would yield unsatisfactory results.
The SS could not expect substantial assistance from the MBF because
personnel transfers had already reduced the forces under Stlpnagels
control. Furthermore, the legacy of 1940 art conscations and October
1941 synagogue bombing made cordial cooperation with the MBF unlikely.
Oberg and Knochen had to accommodate the Vichy government if they
wanted to deport more than a handful of Jews.
With Himmlers approval, the rst round of deportations wound down
in November 1942. During the entire year, 43 trains carried 41,951 people
to Germany. Only 805 deportees returned to France after the war. Aside
from the December 1941 round-ups that were organized by the MBF
under the guise of reprisals, SS ofcers played a major role in every sweep
that targeted Jews. Dannecker and Rothke planned the raids and ordered

Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 1942, pp. 1812, 454.

Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 1942, pp. 429430, 177, 452, 4723, 1856.
Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 1942, pp. 159, 191.
Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 1942, p. 477.

after the fall

the UGIF to provide food for prisoners and shelter for children orphaned
by the deportation process. Eichmann supplied transportation. Oberg and
Knochen delivered French cooperation. The SS oversaw every stage of the
deportation process and drove the entire operation forward.
Convoys to Auschwitz ceased between 11 November 1942 and 8 Febru-
ary 1943. During the pause, Germany responded to the Allied invasion of
North Africa by occupying southern France in November 1942. Himmler
extended the HSSuPFs brief to include the newly occupied zone, and addi-
tional anti-Semitic measures followed in the wake of Germanys advance.
Expansion into southern France spread SS resources over a wider area, and
neither OKW nor RSHA could provide substantial reinforcements. With
approximately 2,200 SS policemen at their disposal, SS leaders had to rely
on French support that would only be forthcoming if the Black Corps
accommodated some French concerns. SS ofcials viewed the stateless
Jews in newly occupied France as both a security threat and a pool of
potential deportees who could ll trains bound for Auschwitz. The new
year brought the SS both opportunities for more arrests and risks stemming
from their dependence on French support.
Despite increasing French lassitude and a dearth of reliable security
forces, Heinrich Himmler outlined an ambitious plan for France. In his
18 December 1942 letter to Martin Bormann, the Reichsfhrer called
for a radical ght against communists and all of their helpers and the
evacuation of Jews. After Himmler learned about four bombings in
Marseille, the Reichsfhrer decided to make an example of Frances second
largest city. On the night of 22/23 January, French and German police
spread through the streets of Marseille and began to check identity cards.
Under the direct supervision of Oberg and Bousquet, French and German
police arrested 5,956 people, including about 800 Jews. The two-day
round-up culminated in the physical destruction of the old-port quarter
of Marseille, which some regarded as an insalubrious den of criminals.

USNA, RG 242/T-77/788/55172415517243; Serge Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz: Le Role

de Vichy dans la solution nale de la question juive en France19431944 (Paris: Fayard, 1985),
pp. 1213; Marrus and Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews, pp. 302306; BALW, R 58/642/che
BALW, NS 19/1929/che 2/6164.
Jacques Delarue, Trac et crimes sous loccupation (Paris: Fayard, 1968), pp. 242250; Donna
Ryan, The Holocaust and the Jews of Marseille (Urbana and Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press,
1996), pp. 176193; Froment, Rene Bousquet, pp. 362399.

racial deportations







Figure 9.3. Racial deportations, 19431944.

Described as a security measure, the destruction of part of Marseille both

advertised German power and supplied Auschwitz with Jews.
Smaller round-ups in Rouen, Paris, and Lyon complemented the Mar-
seille operation. In response to an assassination on 12 January 1943, German
police demanded the arrest of both French and foreign Jews in Rouen.
With French support, SS agents arrested 222 Jews who were immediately
sent to Drancy. On the night of 11 February 1943, French police arrested
1,569 of the 7,313 registered foreign Jews who remained in Paris. The
operation captured just over 20 per cent of the Jews who were eligible for
deportation. Two nights later, an unknown assailant killed two Luftwaffe
ofcers in the heart of Paris. Following German orders, French police
dutifully seized 2,000 Jews in southern France. Under the direction of
Klaus Barbie, SS agents in Lyon targeted the leadership of the UGIF on
9 February and caught 84 Jews without assistance from the French police.
Trains immediately carried the unfortunate prisoners to Drancy. French
police continued to support German round-ups as long as they target-
ed foreign Jews or could be characterized as security measures, but they
became less effective as the prospect of a German victory faded.
Arrests in Rouen, Marseille, Paris, and Lyon captured enough prisoners
to necessitate further deportations. On 21 January, Knochen informed
RSHA that 1,200 Jews in Drancy qualied for deportation and requested

Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France, vol. III, pp. 1311, 13591360, 13634, 13745; Kaspi, Les
Juifs pendant loccupation, p. 248.

after the fall

two trains. Five days later, regional and local SD commanders received
orders to send all Jews in their custody to Drancy. SS Lieutenant Rothke
added a third train and scheduled deportations from Drancy to Auschwitz
on 9, 11, and 13 February. Speaking through a subordinate, Bousquet
warned Rothke that French police would not guard trains carrying French
Jews to Auschwitz. Despite these threats, French gendarmes escorted
the 13 February 1943 convoy and subsequent transports that carried
some French Jews to the German border without incident. Beginning in
February, trains left Drancy on a more or less regular basis. Seventeen trains
carried 17,069 Jews to Auschwitz and Sobibor during 1943, but only 466
of the Jewish passengers returned to France after the war.
Modest round-ups failed to satisfy RSHA. During an 11 February 1943
visit to Paris, Eichmann pressed for a maximalist evacuation program that
would include French Jews. Knochen immediately discounted Eichmanns
scheme in a letter to Heinrich Mller (of the Gestapo), but Rothke began
to prepare for 810,000 deportations per week. In order to obtain the
necessary victims, Rothke understood that he would need to negotiate
with the French and Italian governments. Throughout the spring and
summer of 1943, German ofcials lobbied the Vichy regime to strip French
citizenship from Jews naturalized since 1927, but the plan ultimately
collapsed when Prime Minister Laval refused to promulgate the necessary
legislation in August of 1943. In order to facilitate the identication of
potential victims, SS ofcials also tried to persuade the French government
to pass legislation that forced Jews to wear the Star of David. Marshal
Petain blocked the appropriate French legislation and forced the MBF to
impose the Jewish Star by decree: this regulation only applied to occupied
France. The highest levels of the Vichy regime balked at new anti-Semitic
measures that would feed the deportation process.
Rothkes second source of Jews lived under the protection of the Italian
government in southern France. Following the Allied invasion of North
Africa, Italian forces seized control of seven French departements east of the

BALW, R 70 Frankreich/23/25; Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 19431944, pp. 200, 216217.

Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 19431944, pp. 216217, 220221, 2479, 255, 393.
Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France, vol. III, pp. 1368, 14121414, 1610; see above pp. 202203.
Poznanski, Jews in France during World War II, pp. 237250; Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France,
vol II, pp. 3534, 376, 379381, vol. III, pp. 13681371.
Susan Zuccotti, The Holocaust, the French, and the Jews (New York: Basic Books, 1993); and
Daniel Capri, Between Mussolini and Hitler: The Jews and the Italian Authorities in France and Tunisia

racial deportations

Rhone river and protected the 25,000 Jews within their jurisdiction. The
Italian Consul General in Nice, Alberto Calisse, blocked French efforts
to mark the identity papers of French or foreign Jews on 27 December
1942, and the Italian Foreign Ofce supported the consuls stance two days
later. Knochen detailed Italian obstruction in two reports sent to RSHA
on 13 January and 2 February 1943. Schleier described similar problems to
the Foreign Ofce in Berlin and concluded that the Final Solution could
only be carried out in the Italian zone after Germany and Italy resolved
their differing views on the so-called Jewish Question. Himmler raised
the matter with Ribbentrop during a meeting on 29 January, and the Nazi
Foreign Minister directed the German Ambassador in Rome, Hans Georg
von Mackenson, to personally discuss the problem with Mussolini.
On 7 April, Knochen informed RSHA that Italian ofcials continued to
block French and German anti-Semitic measures. The BdS informed his
superiors that the Italian commandant in Valence (Drome) would not allow
Vichy ofcials to deport twenty-nine foreign Jews. Citing several examples
of obstruction, Knochen claimed Italian ofcials made the Final Solution
impossible in the Italian zone. Ribbentrops diplomatic intervention and
lower-level contacts in Paris and southern France all failed to produce
results. The Italian example encouraged French resistance and limited
deportations throughout southern France. Knochen argued that Jews in the
Cote dAzur posed a serious danger to the security of German forces and
begged RSHA to do something.
Mussolinis arrest on the morning of 25 July 1943 further discouraged
Italian cooperation. Italian ofcers who controlled the southeastern corner
of France had little incentive to cooperate with the SS while a new
government under Marshal Pietro Badoglio negotiated a surrender with
the Allies. Jews gathered in the Italian zone to escape persecution at the
hands of French and German police. Because of Italian obstruction,

(Hanover, NH: Brandeis University Press, 1994); Jonathan Steinberg, All or Nothing: The Axis
and the Holocaust, 19411943 (New York: Routledge, 1990), pp. 105130, 157164.
BALW, R 70 Frankreich/23/2630; BALW, NS 19/3402/che 2/7677.
Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 19431944, pp. 1967, 202203; Klarsfeld, La Shoah en France,
vol. III, pp. 131213, 13371347; ADAP, ser. E, vol. V, pp. 98, 1323.
Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 19431944, pp. 2257; BALW, NS 19/3402/che 2/7677;
ADAP, ser. E, vol V, 368373.
Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 19431944, p. 264.
Denis Mack Smith, Mussolini: A Biography (New York: Vintage Books, 1983), pp. 2949;
Weinberg, A World at Arms, pp. 595601; ADAP, ser. E, vol. 6, pp. 2556.

after the fall

neither French nor German police forces could arrest Jews in provinces
east of the Rhone river before Italian troops left.
Failed diplomacy precluded the large scale round-ups imagined by
Eichmann and Rothke at the start of 1943. German pressure could not
force Laval to change French denaturalization laws or elicit Italian support
in southern France. A substantial report written by the Germany embassy in
Paris and dated 27 July 1943 described the impotence of French authorities
in that city. Supply shortages, Allied advances, and German setbacks helped
many Frenchmen to recover from the shock of the 1940 defeat and begin
to question an inevitable German victory. Although Laval continued to
serve German interests, he could not impose his will upon the entire
French bureaucracy. Junior French policemen began to prepare for an
Allied invasion and a possible change in government. An intelligence
brief dated July 1943 claimed that French policemen in Toulouse would
arrest fanatical supporters of the Vichy regime in the event of an Allied
invasion, and similar reports from Orleans, Lyon, and Marseille followed
in subsequent months. Regulations formulated in 1943 and rened in
1944 allowed French bureaucrats to prepare for the end of the Vichy
A determined but pragmatic anti-Semite, Knochen adapted this policy to
suit new political circumstances. According to a report forwarded to Berlin
by the BdS, French police continued to make an essential contribution
in the ght against communism but would not expose themselves to
advance German interests. The SS expected French police to remain
neutral during the initial stages of an Allied landing; as soon as Axis or
Allied forces gained an advantage, Knochen assumed French police would
support the likely victor. Knochen advised superiors to limit the weapons
available to French policemen and promised to monitor the situation with
care. The BdS continued to appreciate the value of Vichys cooperation,
but he acknowledged the limited scope and declining value of French
Specic round-ups carried out in 1943 followed the course predicted
by the BdS; massive raids gave way to routine police work and small-
scale arrests. French police checked the papers of 130,000 people every

ADAP, ser. E, vol. VI, pp. 308325; BALW, R 70 Frankreich/17/111.

BALW, R 70 Frankreich/13/110131.

racial deportations

two weeks, and their efforts yielded enough prisoners to maintain the
concentration camp population and fulll regular deportations. Between
28 April and 6 May, German police combed trains in southwest France and
arrested all who qualied as Jews. Once Italian troops nally abandoned
their zone of occupation in southeastern France, German troops and an
SS commando under the command of Alois Brunner began to arrest
French and foreign Jews around Nice. Aided by a small number of Jewish
informants, Brunners small commando caught 1,819 Jews between 10 and
14 September. By the end of 1943, they had seized less than 10 per cent
of the estimated 25,000 Jews in the area. The legacy of Italian resistance
degraded subsequent German round-ups.
A shortage of reliable SS agents, uncooperative French authorities, and
a sympathetic local population helped many Jews evade the Nice round-
up and set the pattern for 1944. French police seized 48 per cent of
the registered Jews in Bordeaux and Dijon during 1011 January and
24 February 1944 raids. The SS commander in Poitiers launched a surprise
round-up on 30 January and reported the arrest of 76 per cent of registered
Jews in the region. German and joint Franco-German roundups in the
occupied zone could be successful as late as February 1944, but sweeps
carried out in southern France often yielded meager results.
German police found their French counterparts to be most accommodat-
ing in the occupied zone. Under strong German pressure, Vichy authorities
had purged Jews, Freemasons, communists, and other unreliable elements
from the French police force during the rst two years of the Occupation,
and their efforts yielded a dividend of continued cooperation in its nal
months. The presence of German troops and/or a strong communist threat
also encouraged effective accommodation in coastal and industrialized dis-
tricts. French authorities proved less amenable as the threat of an Allied
invasion increased and when German threats could not backed up by force.
During the nal year of the Occupation, French police cooperation ranged
from cordial if unenthusiastic in the occupied zone to non-existent in the
newly occupied zone.

Poznanski, Jews in France during World War Two, pp. 327, 3747.
Rayski, The Choice of the Jews under Vichy, pp. 201203; Cohen, Persecutions et sauvetages,
pp. 449462.
Poznanski, Jews in France during World War II, pp. 390393; Kasten, Gute Franzosen,
pp. 1725.
USNA, RG 242/T-501/184/1061; USNA, RG 242/T-501/184/1061.

after the fall

On 14 April 1944, Knochen eschewed ofcial French collaboration

and ordered SS forces to arrest all people who qualied as Jews without
regard for age or citizenship. Subalterns detained entire Jewish households
including children, in-laws, and parents. The BdS sanctioned the arrest of
Aryans married to Jews and Jews holding an American or British passport,
but he ruled that the latter should be placed in labor camps. Knochen
ordered his minions to lock up the houses or apartments and turn the keys
over to Rosenbergs Dienststelle Westen des Reichsministeriums fr die besetzten
Ostgebiete. In turn, Rosenberg shipped much of the booty to the Reich for
distribution to Germans made homeless by the Allied bombing campaign.
During the last months of 1943 and the rst months of 1944, French police
carried out indiscriminate round-ups with little enthusiasm. Knochen
recognized the declining value of Vichys cooperation and abandoned
efforts to accommodate Vichy concerns. To compensate for the loss of
effective French assistance, the BdS gradually embraced the Milice, a French
paramilitary organization founded in January 1943, and appealed to French
greed by offering a bounty for information leading to capture of Jews.
Knochens last-ditch policy failed to increase the number of deportations
during the nal months of the Occupation. The number fell far short of
the 41,951 Jews sent to their death in 1942 and failed to keep pace with
1943 deportations. The BdS could not overcome French indifference by
using SS forces, unleashing determined collaborators, or offering bounties
to greedy opportunists. Eight days before the liberation of Paris, the last
deportation train left Drancy with 51 unfortunate Jews. Between 20 January
and 17 August 1944, SS functionaries sent 17 trains lled with 14,833 Jews
to death camps in the east.
SS personnel championed an aggressive anti-Semitic policy through-
out the Occupation. Bereft of power in 1940, members of the Black
Corps consistently described Jews as a dire security threat. While senior
SS ofcers demonstrated their enthusiasm for radical racial measures by
bombing Parisian synagogues, Theodor Dannecker developed and tested
his deportation apparatus. Building upon the MBFs anti-partisan policy,
the SS characterized deportations as security measures and began to carry

Vries, Sonderstab Musik, pp. 85101; Ally, Hitlers Beneciaries, pp. 144152, 280293;
ADAP, ser. E, vol. VI, p. 484; BAK, All. Proz. 21/212/263275; Jacques Delperrie de Bayac,
Histoire de la Milice, 19181945 (Paris: Fayard, 1994).
Klarsfeld, VichyAuschwitz, 19431944, p. 393.

racial deportations

out the Final Solution but had to rely on French assistance because of
personnel shortages. Acting on its own accord, the French government
defamed, discriminated against, and despoiled Jews. The Darlan and Laval
administrations extended anti-immigrant measures initiated by the Daladier
government and furnished Germany with policemen to round up foreign
Jews. Laval sanctioned the incarceration of French Jews when arrests could
be characterized as reprisals, but he refused to expand the deportation
process to include assimilated French Jews because it alienated segments of
the French populace and did not yield diplomatic concessions. The Prime
Minister did not object to deportations on principled grounds.
Once enmeshed in petty discrimination, despoliation, and the deporta-
tion of foreign Jews, Laval and the Vichy government could not reverse
course and expect to survive. In for a penny, in for a pound. During a
monologue on 5 January 1942, Hitler explained the crux of his strategy
to his entourage. The French who have compromised themselves with us
will nd it to their own interest that we should remain in Paris as long
as possible. Almost a year later, the Fhrer repeated the same point to
General Jodl:
The [French] police are hated more than anything else in the country and seek
support from a stronger authority than their own government; thats us. It will
come to a point where the police will beg us not to leave the country.

The 24 December 1942 assassination of Admiral Darlan highlighted the

perils of trying to reverse course; Laval cooperated with Germany until the
end of the Occupation. Hitler may have exaggerated French enthusiasm
for collaboration, but his statements encapsulate Vichys dilemma during
the nal months of the Occupation.
A veteran of the military administration used different words to express
a similar idea:
They (the MBF and SS) managed to steer the French governments own impulses
and those of the French police in the same direction. That way they not only saved
effort. They also spared French self-respect and thereby brought even nationalist
circles closer to the German positions. That reduced the odium of the use of force,
since it was French force, or left it at French doors.

Trevor-Roper (ed.), Hitlers Table Talk, 19411944, p. 265.

Felix Gilbert (ed.), Hitler Directs His War (New York: Octagon Books, 1982), p. 4.
BALW, R 70 Frankreich/13/170.

after the fall

French support allowed the SS to deport approximately 75,000 Jews from

France during World War Two. By the same token, SS reliance on French
assistance limited SS deportation efforts. Approximately three-quarters of
Jews living in France before the 1940 Armistice managed to survive World
War Two.

Labor deportations and resistance

Labor shortages plagued the German economy long before the onslaught of
World War Two. Armaments spending and massive public works projects
reduced the number of unemployed workers from approximately 6 million
in 1933 to 1 million in 1936, and the latter included unemployed seasonal
laborers, people unable to work because of raw material shortages, and Jews
barred from practicing various professions. Toward the end of the decade,
employers raised wages to attract workers, and skilled workers gradually
improved their standard of living. Mobilization subtracted millions of
soldiers from the workforce, aggravated labor shortages, and forced wages
upward, but Hitler refused to curtail the manufacture of consumer goods,
shift workers into the defense economy, and risk popular discontent
stemming from the ensuing shortages. With some difculty, the German
economy managed to produce both guns and butter during brief military
campaigns in 1939 and 1940.
The rapid defeat of France allowed Hitler to postpone difcult economic
choices. Because it lasted only six weeks, the 1940 Western campaign did
not consume a great deal of war material or produce a large number of
casualties that could only be replaced by drafting additional workers into the
armed forces. Late in the summer, Hitler scaled back military production
and released a limited number of soldiers from military service. Army
ofcials set French prisoners of war to work on German farms and factories

Rolf-Dieter Mller, The Mobilization of the German Economy for Hitlers War Aims, in
MGFA (ed.), Germany and the Second World War, vol. V/1, Organization and Mobilization of the
German Sphere of Power, pp. 407563.
after the fall

to alleviate labor shortages. OKW established a purchasing ofce in

Paris, negotiated contracts with French businesses, and acquired scarce raw
materials from French suppliers. The military administration requisitioned
raw materials and encouraged unemployed French civilians to seek work
in the Reich. Private German companies subcontracted work to French
manufacturers and used French resources to support the production of both
military and civilian goods. By employing French prisoners, conscating
raw materials, and subcontracting with French businesses, German leaders
resolved some of the pressing economic issues that faced the Reich in 1940
and early 1941.
Unlike previous campaigns, Operation Barbarossa failed to produce a
decisive victory and cost Germany dearly in terms of men and material.
During the rst 6 months of ghting on the eastern front, the army sustained
approximately 750,000 casualties. By the rst anniversary of Operation
Barbarossa, almost 1,300,000 soldiers had been killed or wounded. To
replace losses, OKW drafted additional German workers into the armed
services and shifted some French prisoners of war from the agricultural
sector into munitions factories to maintain military production. As the
war dragged on, the Wehrmacht made contradictory demands on German
society by asking it to produce more weapons and more soldiers. The
more Germans pressed into military service, the fewer Germans available
to produce armaments and ammunition. The Allies overcame this dilemma
by curtailing civilian consumption and encouraging women to join the
workforce. Hitler refused to accept the social consequences of either option
and searched for another solution.
To resolve economic problems that stemmed from an unexpectedly
long and costly campaign in the Soviet Union, Hitler placed new men
in charge of the German war economy. After the 8 February 1942 death

Milward, The New Order and the French Economy, pp. 4651, 67; Herbert, Hitlers Foreign
Workers, pp. 957; Hans Umbreit, Exploitation of the occupied lands, in MGFA (ed.), Germany
and the Second World War, vol. V/1, pp. 265284; USNA, RG 242/T-501/143/461462,
Milward, The New Order and the French Economy, pp. 659; Thomas, Geschichte der deutschen
Wehr- und Rstungswirtschaft, pp. 2746; BALW, R 43 II/675/1416.
Bartov, Hitlers Army, pp. 3745.
Rolf-Dieter Mller, The failure of the economic blitzkrieg strategy , in MGFA (ed.),
Germany and the Second World War, vol. IV, The Attack on the Soviet Union, pp. 1081, 1097;
Bernhard R. Kroener, The manpower resources of the Third Reich in the area of conict
between Wehrmacht, bureaucracy, and war economy, 19391942, in MGFA (ed.), Germany
and the Second World War, vol. V/1, pp. 868886, 10091028.

labor deportations and resistance

of Fritz Todt, Hitler appointed Albert Speer to serve as the Minister

of Armaments and Munitions. In his new post, the young architect
allocated scarce raw materials, organized the production of war material,
supervised the construction of fortications along the Atlantic coast, and
directed the construction industry through Gorings Ofce of the Four-
Year Plan. A broad mandate allowed Speer to control French factories
that produced military supplies for the Reich. By using his control over
the supply and distribution of scarce raw materials, Speer could also
inuence segments of the French economy that remained beyond his
direct purview.
In keeping with his general strategy of divide and conquer, Hitler gave
Speer control over the production of war material but appointed Fritz
Sauckel to serve as the Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labor. Born
in 1894, Sauckel left high school at the age of fteen and embarked on
a career in the merchant marine. After a stint in a French prisoner of
war camp during World War One, he found work as a lathe operator in
Schweinfurt. Sauckel joined the Nazi party in 1923 and, because of his
ability to win new recruits, became district leader (Gauleiter) of Thuringia
in 1927. Denied permission to serve in the navy at the beginning of World
War Two, he secured a position as Germanys labor tsar on 21 March 1942.
Hitlers mandate allowed Sauckel to recruit and distribute
[a]ll available labor, including hired foreigners and prisoners of war, as well as the
mobilization of all unused labor still in the Greater German Reich, the Protectorate
of Bohemia and Moravia, the Government General in Poland, and other occupied

The Fhrers sweeping edict gave Sauckel control of French workers who
were employed in Speers industrial network and created another Nazi
paladin who could tamper with German policy in the Hexagon.
The military administration recruited French labor during the rst twenty
months of the Occupation. Sauckel took over the military administrations
operation and, after negotiating an agreement with Pierre Laval, established
the Releve program which furloughed one French prisoner of war in

Jost Dlffer, Albert Speer: cultural and economic management, in Smelser and Zitelmann
(eds.), The Nazi Elite, pp. 212223; Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich (New York: Collier
Books, 1970), pp. 1918.
Peter W. Becker, Fritz Sauckel Plenipotentiary for the Mobilisation of Labour, in Smelser
and Zitelmann (eds.), The Nazi Elite, pp. 194201; IMT , vol. V, pp. 4401.

after the fall

exchange for every three skilled laborers that went to work in Germany.
When his initial efforts failed to satisfy Germanys escalating needs, the
Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labor persuaded Vichy to establish
a system of forced labor. Known as the Service du Travail Obligatoire (STO),
the coercive program supplied French workers to German factories in
early 1943, but it alienated French workers. Recalcitrant laborers known
as refractaires formed marauding bands that wandered through the French
countryside in search of food and shelter, and some eventually joined
resistance groups. Wags began to talk about the Armee Sauckel, an ironic
reference to the Armee Secrete. Sauckels labor programs created thousands
of potential resistance ghters during the nal year of the Occupation.
Heinrich Himmler adopted a preemptive strategy against refractaires
and Jews. Although the incidence of resistance remained constant and
labor deportations increased during the rst three months of 1943, the
Reichsfhrer SS used exemplary violence to solve racial, labor, and security
problems in one fell swoop. Beginning in January 1943, thousands of French
and German policemen and SS troops began to arrest all who looked askance
at the ofcers, sent Jews to concentration camps, dispatched eligible French
workers to factories in Germany, and intimidated neutral Frenchmen. The
ght against Jews and alleged terrorists eventually subsumed the deportation
of French labor. The military administration could only watch as Sauckels
labor program and indiscriminate SS security measures alienated French
society. Repression fostered resistance, which begot reprisals, which in turn
inspired more resistance.
German economic policy toward France amounted to little more than
loosely organized pillage during the summer of 1940. In early August, the
military administration curtailed requisitions in favor of indirect exploita-
tion. Under military supervision, the French government established comites
dorganisation that controlled the distribution of raw materials. Committees
supplied French factories that were working for Germany with scarce com-
modities and allowed non-essential businesses to wither away because of
raw material shortages. Using funds that the French government had paid to
Germany in accordance with the Armistice Agreement, the German gov-
ernment bought whatever they needed from French suppliers. Although

Milward, The New Order and the French Economy, pp. 4650, 678; USNA, RG 242/T-

labor deportations and resistance

not necessarily rational or well organized, the system exploited French

resources with little oversight.
Still condent of a quick victory, the military administration did not block
legislation that forbade Frenchmen from working in the production of war
material in foreign countries. French regulations enacted in October 1940
barred Frenchmen from working for or otherwise supporting the British
war effort, but they also hindered German plans to recruit French labor.
The military administration simply ignored these restrictions and recruited
French workers for employment in Germany. Once it realized that the
invasion of the Soviet Union would not end in a quick victory, the military
administration established recruiting ofces in major French cities and
promised prospective workers high wages and health insurance benets. In
return for permission to enlist French laborers, the military administration
agreed not to hire workers already employed in agriculture, mining, or
other strategic sectors of the French economy.
Between October 1940 and June 1942, the MVW recruited approxi-
mately 153,000 French workers for service in Germany. At the same time,
the MBF employed 45,000 people as domestic servants, cooks, mechan-
ics, and ofce workers. By the spring of 1942, 275,000 French laborers
were building airelds and fortications along the Atlantic coast. Another
400,000 worked in French armaments factories, and the fruits of their labor
went directly to the Reich. During the rst two years of the Occupa-
tion, the economic branch of the military administration (Verwaltungsstab
Wirtschaftsabteilung) enlisted a substantial number of French workers in the

Burrin, France under the Germans, p. 138; Jacques Evrard, La Deportation des travailleurs francais
dans le IIIe Reich (Paris: Fayard, 1972), p. 25.
BAMA, RW 35/1150/nfn (Der MBF, VerwaltungsstabWirtschaftsabteilung, Wi VII/741
a/41, Paris, 30.10.41, Richtlinien fr den Einsatz von unter deutscher Leitung stehenden Gefolg-
schaften oder Gruppen von Arbeitskraften aus Frankreich nach Deutschland); Monographie
D. P. 1: Exploitation de la main duvre francaise par lAllemagne, in Commission Consultative
des Dommages et des Reparations, Dommages subis par la France et lunion francaise du fait de la
guerre et de loccupation ennemie, 19391945, vol. IX (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1950), pp. 636.
Hereafter abbreviated as Monographie D.P.1, in CCDR, Dommages subis par la France.
Monographie D.P.1, in CCDR, Dommages subis par la France, vol. IX, p. 68; Burrin, France
Under the Germans, pp. 2834.
Jackel, France dans lEurope de Hitler, p. 320. Figures in the paragraph and chart below can be
found in Monographie D.P.1, in CCDR, Dommages subis par la France, vol. IX, p. 68; J. Quellien,
Les Travailleurs forces en Allemagne. Essai dapproche statistique, in Bernard Garnier and Jean
Quellien (eds.), La Main doeuvre francaise exploitee par le IIIe Reich (Caen: Centre de recherche
dhistoire quantitative 2003), pp. 6784.

after the fall










D 0
Ja 0
Fe 1
M 1
Ap 1
M 1

Ju 1

Au 1
Se 1
O 1
N 1
D 1
Ja 1
Fe 2
M 2
Ap 2
M 2










Figure 10.1. French volunteers leaving for Germany, 19401942.

German war effort, but it could not satiate Germanys appetite for labor.
After Fritz Todts death, the military administrations recruiting program
fell under Fritz Sauckels control.
Sauckel discussed the labor situation with the Fhrer and Field Marshal
Keitel shortly before becoming the Plenipotentiary of the Mobilization of
Labor. Keitel observed that the French armaments industry was fullling
contracts that were worth 3 billion reichsmarks but suspected that the
French textile industry included many underemployed workers. Hitler
and Sauckel agreed that France could afford to send 350,000 laborers to
Germany and military authorities in Berlin promised to transport 10,000
workers per day from France to Germany. To secure French support
for German labor drives, the MBF and German embassy in Paris asked
Hitler to adjust the status of French prisoners and offer benets to former
prisoners of war who enlisted as volunteer laborers, but Hitler refused to
grant concessions while prospects for victory remained bright.
Laval may have learned about Sauckels plans through unofcial channels.
By chance or design, the French Prime Minister sent a letter to Foreign
Minister Ribbentrop on 12 May 1942 that promised to support Germanys
ght against Bolshevism. In detailed negotiations with Hans Hemmen,

ADAP, ser. E, vol. II, pp. 330331, 198, 289290.

labor deportations and resistance

Figure 10.2. Gauleiter Fritz Sauckel.

Photograph courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

the German representative on the economic branch of the Armistice

Commission, Laval offered to send 36,000 workers to Germany over
the next 5 months, but his proposal fell far short of German expectations.
Hemmen characterized Laval as receptive to German demands but implied
that the Prime Minister needed something from Germany in return for
French support.
Sauckel discussed the recruitment of French workers with Laval three
times between 15 May and 15 June 1942. Abetz and MVW ofcials
participated in the rst meeting, but they only talked about general
economic issues. Laval agreed to encourage French women to join the
workforce, support the consolidation of French businesses to free up
additional workers, and help Germany recruit more volunteers for labor
in the Reich. At a meeting on 6 June 1942, the Plenipotentiary for the
Mobilization of Labor offered to release 50,000 French agricultural workers

ADAP, ser. E, vol. II, pp. 3415, 41516.

after the fall

being held as prisoners of war after France sent 150,000 skilled workers to
work in Germany. Laval thanked Sauckel for the generous offer and tried
to transform talks into a general discussion of Franco-German relations.
Sauckel parried Lavals proposal by stating that he could only discuss
technical matters and advised the French Prime Minister to raise political
issues with the Foreign Minister. During their second talk, Sauckel and
Laval outlined their respective bargaining positions but failed to agree on
specic terms.
Negotiations came to a head during a meeting on 15 June. Laval tried to
link the delivery of French workers with the release of French prisoners of
war. Sauckel countered with threats to requisition French labor and implied
that Germany would stop delivering coal and lubricants to France if the
Vichy government did not satisfy German demands. Stunned by Sauckels
hard line, Laval described German proposals as contrary to the Armistice
Agreement and threatened to resign. During a break in negotiations,
Sauckel spoke with Hitler over the telephone and received permission to
furlough (not release or liberate) 50,000 French prisoners of war if France
sent 150,000 skilled workers to Germany. They agreed to exchange one
French prisoner of war for every three skilled workers that arrived in
Laval announced the so-called Releve program on 22 June 1942 and
told Frenchmen that they had the key to the [POW] camps. Hoping to
enlist at least 250,000 skilled workers for service in Germany, the Vichy
government described the voluntary program as a patriotic duty. In return
for accepting the one POW for three skilled workers ratio, Vichy shielded
some French laborers from a few of the more coercive aspects of Sauckels
rst labor drive and preserved Vichys sovereign image. Laval hoped the
Releve would demonstrate French loyalty for Germanys cause and win
over the French public by securing the release of French POWs.
From both the French and German perspectives, the Releve turned
out to be a failure. On 11 August 1942, Laval greeted the rst train of
returning POWs released under the exchange agreement, but the return

ADAP, ser. E, vol. II, pp. 3934; ADAP, ser. E, vol. III, pp. 36.
ADAP, ser. E, vol. III, pp. 337; Edward L. Homze, Foreign Labor in Nazi Germany
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1967), pp. 180182; IMT , vol. XV, pp. 4950.
IMT , vol. XV, pp. 4751; Kupferman, Laval, pp. 3334; Monographie D.P.1, in CCDR,
Dommages subis par la France, vol. IX, pp. 6875.
Homze, Foreign Labor in Nazi Germany, pp. 1824; Paxton, Vichy France, pp. 3678.

labor deportations and resistance

June July August September October November December

Figure 10.3. French workers departing for Germany, JuneDecember 1942.

of some POWs did not translate into increased support for Vichy or Laval.
Resistance propaganda proclaimed that the workers do not march and
condemned the Prime Minister as a slave merchant. German authorities
were not satised with the number of volunteers in June (12,000) or July
(23,000). At that initial rate of enlistment, German demands for 250,000
workers would not be satised until the middle of 1943. To make matters
worse, volunteers recruited by the military administration in late 1940 and
early 1941 began to return home as their employment contracts expired.
By July 1942, over 80,000 volunteers had returned to France and spread
reports of dismal working conditions in the Reich. Two months after Laval
announced the Releve, Sauckel began to reconsider voluntary recruiting
Viewed in its entirety, Sauckels rst recruiting campaign, which ended
in July 1942, turned out to be very successful. The Plenipotentiary for the
Mobilization of Labor surpassed his quota of 1.6 million recruits by 39,794
workers. The vast majority of laborers had been recruited from eastern
Europe and POW camps that held Soviet prisoners. Western Europe
yielded far fewer recruits, but many of the latter were skilled laborers that
German authorities considered more valuable. In France, the Releve failed

Kupferman, Laval, pp. 3367.

Figures used in the paragraph above can be found in Monographie D.P.1, in CCDR,
Dommages subis par la France, vol. IX, pp. 68, 85. Using German sources, Homze lists 5,500 French
workers departing in June and 11,800 in July. German sources may include only skilled workers
participating in the Releve.

after the fall

to meet Sauckels expectations. German and French authorities realized

that the system would have to be modied before the next labor campaign.
After Sauckel announced the success of his rst drive, Hitler discussed
labor shortages with senior economic and military advisors. During an
August 1942 conference, the Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labor
boasted that he could bring another million foreign workers to Germany.
Hitler ordered him to dragoon labor throughout the Nazi empire, and
he authorized the use of force when necessary. Immediately after Sauckel
fullled his initial goals, Hitler ordered his labor tsar to inaugurate a second
Acting in conjunction with Sauckel, the military administration and
Paris embassy laid the foundations for a second campaign that would last
until 1943. In letters sent on 26 and 29 August 1942, Elmar Michel,
the head of the military administrations economic staff, asked the Vichy
regime to pass legislation that would establish a reliable supply of workers.
Michel wanted a law that would freeze workers in their current jobs
and make the hiring of new workers conditional upon the approval of
French authorities. He advised Vichy to take a comprehensive census of
available labor resources and count the number of unemployed and part-
time workers. Furthermore, the head of the MVWs economic staff asked
Vichy to institute a compulsory labor law for all men between 18 and 55
years of age and suggested the establishment of mandatory job training to
produce skilled workers that were in short supply. The Paris embassy
pursued similar goals through diplomatic channels.
In response to German demands, the French government issued three
decrees in September 1942 that met almost all of Germanys needs. Laws
required Frenchmen between 18 and 50 years of age and unmarried
women between 21 and 35 years old to work at least 30 hours per
week. Vichys Ministry of Labor could force unemployed or part-time
workers to take jobs in another part of France or Germany. Regulations
supplemented previous economic controls that governed the distribution
of raw materials and combed excess labor from existing factories. Working

Homze, Foreign Labor in Nazi Germany, pp. 1359, 178182. The gures used to construct
Figure 10.3 appear in Monographie D.P.1, in CCDR, Dommages subis par la France, vol. IX,
pp. 68, 85.
Homze, Foreign Labor in Nazi Germany, pp. 139141.
Homze, Foreign Labor in Nazi Germany, pp. 1823; IMT , vol. V, pp. 4845.
ADAP, ser. E, vol. III, pp. 386391, 402403, 4556.

labor deportations and resistance

through the French government, MVW ofcers used Vichy industrial

and labor ordinances to manage the French economy. Although less
stringent than regulations imposed by the military government in Belgium,
French laws established what amounted to a system of forced labor. The
September decrees produced immediate results but only applied to laborers
in occupied France. The number of workers departing for Germany jumped
from 15,279 in September to 51,341 in October and peaked at 79,980 in
November 1942.
Although the number of workers departing for Germany began to
increase, Sauckel remained suspicious of French efforts. In a meeting of
German ofcials on 15 October, the Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of
Labor accused Laval of playing a clever waiting game and threatened to seize
French workers with German police forces in areas that did not supply the
requisite number of volunteers. He did not believe that the French Prime
Minister would resign if Germany began to unilaterally conscript French
labor. Citing the limited forces under his command, Helmut Knochen
advised Sauckel to proceed with caution. The BdS recognized that direct
labor conscription could stir up trouble and inspire popular resistance.
When responsible for law and order, Knochen favored moderation and
The German embassy in Paris also took Lavals threat to resign seriously.
Abetz recognized that Vichy provided invaluable assistance and did not
believe that German agencies could recruit or dragoon more French
workers on their own. The MBF played a passive role in negotiations
with Vichy. Military administration ofcials participated in meetings with
French labor experts, and local branches of the military administration
supported French efforts to recruit labor, but neither Stlpnagel nor his
chief lieutenants played a vocal part in discussions. Unlike his predecessor,
Carl-Heinrich did not complain about dangerous policies advanced by
Nazi fanatics like Fritz Sauckel.
The voluntary program created by the military administration sent 52,500
laborers to the Reich between 1 January 1942 and 1 June 1942. During the
rst Sauckel Action, another 53,000 went to Germany through the Releve

Homze, Foreign Labor in Nazi Germany, pp. 1823; Monographie D.P.1, in CCDR,
Dommages subis par la France, vol. IX, pp. 7780, 85; ADAP, ser. E, vol. IV, p. 36.
ADAP, ser. E, vol. IV, pp. 101103; ADAP, ser. E, vol. III, pp. 4556.
ADAP, ser. E, vol. IV, pp. 357.

after the fall

between the beginning of June and the end of August 1942; another 186,000
French laborers went to work in Germany between 1 September 1942 and
1 January 1943. Based on statistics collected by the French government
immediately after the war, a total of 292,000 French laborers joined millions
of French prisoners of war working in German farms and factories during
1942. Prisoners of war furloughed under the Releve could be re-interned
whenever necessary. Coercive labor decrees issued by the Vichy regime
on 4 September 1942 applied only to the occupied zone, but they were
extended throughout the Hexagon in November. The French government
cooperated with Sauckel and supplied the Reich with a substantial number
of workers but received almost nothing in return.
German defeats triggered additional austerity measures in 1943. Allied
invasions of North Africa and the Italian peninsula forced German com-
manders to occupy southern France and disperse the remaining troops
over a wider area. The surrender of German forces in Russia and North
Africa subtracted more divisions from the German order of battle. Hitler
authorized radical measures to raise additional manpower, and the German
embassy in Paris passed along new labor demands to Prime Minister Laval
in December 1942. The Reich expected France to supply Germany with
another 250,000 French workers by 1 May 1943. The number included
37,000 skilled workers who would depart for Germany by 25 January. In
order to fulll German demands, Sauckels representative in Paris, Julius
Ritter, suggested the mobilization of all 2023-year-old men. Laval agreed
to the measure in principle and promised to support the ght against
Bolshevism as best he could, but in order to sell the program to the French
nation, he asked Ritter for political concessions including the release of
two French prisoners for every three workers sent to Germany.
Sauckel arrived in Paris on 10 January 1943 and negotiated with Laval
in person. Hitler had already granted Sauckel the power to recruit both
skilled and unskilled labor with pressure and more severe measures if talks
collapsed. For his part, Laval had to agree to German demands or risk
severe measures comparable to those imposed in Belgium. After difcult
discussions that Laval tried to drag out by introducing political demands,
Sauckel got his way. Laval agreed to send an additional 150,000 skilled

Monographie D.P.1, in CCDR, Dommages subis par la France, vol. IX, pp. 68, 85, 157.
Kershaw, Hitler, 19361945: Nemesis, pp. 5678; Speer, Inside the Third Reich, pp. 252264;
ADAP, ser. E, vol. IV, pp. 604605; ADAP, ser. E, vol. V, p. 6.

labor deportations and resistance

and 100,000 unskilled workers to Germany by the middle of March and

Sauckel promised to furlough one French POW for every three skilled
workers sent to the Reich.
To meet German demands, Laval ordered prefects to count and clas-
sify all men born between 1 January 1912 and 31 December 1921. A
16 February 1943 decree established a compulsory labor program known
as the Service du Travail Obligatoire (Obligatory Labor Service or STO).
The statute allowed French bureaucrats to place workers in jobs deemed
essential to the needs of the French economy. Only those born between
1920 and 1922 were subject to service in Germany, and the government
exempted farmers, miners, and policemen from the program. Service lasted
two years and replaced traditional military conscription.
After Laval agreed to Germanys demands and the Council of Min-
isters issued the necessary legislation, supplying workers became a law
enforcement question. Before November 1942, some workers had escaped
September 1942 regulations by eeing to southern France. After the Allied
invasion of North Africa, German forces crossed the demarcation line
and, in conjunction with their Italian allies, occupied the remainder of
the Hexagon. The unoccupied zone became the newly occupied zone.
Although Vichy retained nominal sovereignty over southern France, troops
under the command of OB West and SS security forces held the reins of
power. In conjunction with French bureaucrats, German ofcials applied
labor ordinances throughout metropolitan France.
From Germanys perspective, the 1943 Sauckel Action started off well.
During January meetings with Laval, Sauckel demanded that 250,000
French workers be turned over to Germany by 15 March. Two weeks after
Sauckels deadline, a total of 250,259 French workers arrived in the Reich.
Even though France had fullled its obligation, Hitler required another one
million French workers and would not consider any incentives or rewards.
When he met with Laval on 5 March, Sauckel thanked the French Prime
Minister for meeting the goals of his 1943 labor drive and informed Vichy
that, after a short pause, Germany would need an additional 100,000

Monographie D.P.1, in CCDR, Dommages subis par la France, vol. IX, pp. 8992; IMT vol.
V, pp. 4867; Homze, Foreign Labor in Nazi Germany, p. 186; ADAP, ser. E, vol. V, pp. 6770.
Monographie D.P.1, in CCDR, Dommages subis par la France, vol. IX, pp. 925.
ADAP, ser. E, vol. V, pp. 6770; Monographie D.P.1, in CCDR, Dommages subis par la
France, vol. IX, pp. 101, 126.

after the fall





























Figure 10.4. French workers departing for Germany, 1943.

workers each month. Laval welcomed the proposed respite but neither
endorsed nor rejected German plans. He emphasized the need to build
popular support for the German labor program and suggested negotiations
to discuss potential concessions.
Although both the MBF and Paris embassy supported concessions,
neither a pause nor high-level negotiations followed the 5 March 1943
meeting. Hitler recalled Abetz in response to the invasion of North Africa
and serious political negotiations could not proceed until Abetz returned
to France almost a year later. Sauckels lieutenants scaled back but did
not suspend recruiting efforts. When Sauckel met with Laval on 9 April,
he demanded 120,000 workers by the end of May and another 100,000
before July 1943. Sauckel told Laval that German troops were protecting
Europe from the Bolshevik menace and brushed aside all complaints. The
Reich needed another 220,000 workers. To meet Sauckels demands,
Laval expanded the STO to cover the entire 1942 draft class and eliminated
exemptions for agricultural workers and students.
Renewal of the ObergBousquet agreement on 16 April 1943 ensured
cooperation between French and German police forces. The Vichy
government issued a decree on 12 June 1943 that punished refractaires

ADAP, ser. E, vol. V, pp. 667, 348352. Figure 10.4 is based on statitistics in Monographie
D.P.1, in CCDR, Dommages subis par la France, vol. IX, pp. 101, 126.
Abetz, Das offene Problem, pp. 283285, 292. ADAP, ser. E, vol. VI, pp. 557564.
BALW, R 70 Frankreich/1/2526; Froment, Rene Bousquet, pp. 2234.

labor deportations and resistance

with heavy nes and internment. French and German police cracked
down on refractaires during the summer and sent more workers to the
Reich in June and July, but the increase proved temporary. With sup-
port from much of the French public, thousands of youths ed to the
countryside and the number of labor deportations plummeted as fall
approached. On 14 August 1943, Sauckel tried to circumvent resistance
among the French bureaucracy by placing Nazi district leaders (Gauleit-
ers) in charge of French departments. Labor ofcials from each German
Gau would supervise the allocation of labor in the departments that they
controlled. Gau ofcials extracted additional manpower, but they often
used French workers to satisfy local needs and neglected the German
war effort.
Sauckel claimed that the last third of his 1943 recruiting plan had
been wrecked by uncooperative French bureaucrats and businessmen.
Neither French nor German rhetoric could overcome the fundamental
unpopularity of the Service du Travail Obligatoire and increase the number of
people being sent to Germany. As the prospects of German victory began
to fade, few French workers wanted to endure Allied bombing attacks in
a German factory. With the majority of German troops tied down on the
eastern front, the Reich could not enforce compliance. As the fortunes of
war turned against the Reich, the risks of service in Germany began to
outweigh the dangers of life underground.
Sauckel compensated for the shortfall by transforming French POWs
into voluntary workers. At the end of 1942, Germany held over 1
million French soldiers in prison camps throughout the Reich. The
majority worked on farms andcontrary to the Geneva Conventionin
armaments factories. In exchange for a brief furlough in France, improved
wages, and the same rights as voluntary French workers, POWs could
renounce their status of prisoners and forsake the security of international
agreements that protected the rights of POWs. In 1943, 197,000 French
POWs accepted Sauckels deal and became voluntary laborers. Despite
a sharp decline in the numbers of volunteers and draftees, the 1943

Monographie D.P.1, in CCDR, Dommages subis par la France, vol. IX, pp. 115117.
Homze, Foreign Labor in Nazi Germany, pp. 189190; ADAP, ser. E, vol. VI, pp. 767.
Monographie D.P.1, in CCDR, Dommages subis par la France, vol. IX, p. 116; IMT ,
vol. XV, 7780; IMT , vol. XXVII, p. 114.
IMT , vol. V, pp. 4923; ADAP, ser. E, vol. VII, pp. 2647; BAMA, RH 36/146.

after the fall








January February March April May June July August

Figure 10.5. Labor deportations, 1944.

Sauckel Action injected 638,000 French laborers into the German economy.
His labor program proved to be, in the words of one historian, highly
Because of his success in transforming French POWs into voluntary
workers, Sauckel did not press the French government to fulll the last third
of the 1943 labor drive. Hitler approved of Sauckels restraint in October
but planned to resume massive labor deportations in the opening months
of 1944. At a conference on 4 January 1944, military and economic
planners estimated that Germany would need to dragoon between 2.5 and
3 million foreign workers during the new year. Albert Speer thought that
his ofce would require an additional 1.3 million foreign workers to meet
his production schedule in occupied territories. The group, which included
Hitler, Himmler, Speer, Sauckel, Keitel, Milch, and Lammers, expected
France to supply 1 million workers in 1944. To meet their quota, Vichy
and German authorities in France would have to send 91,000 Frenchmen
to the Reich each and every month.
Sauckel told Himmler that his 1944 program would depend on the
number of German police put at his disposal. If he had to rely on the
indigenous police his project could not be carried out. In response,

Monographie D.P.1, in CCDR, Dommages subis par la France, vol. IX, pp. 105110;
Homze, Foreign Labor in Nazi Germany, pp. 1934.
ADAP, ser. E, vol. VII, p. 74.
IMT , vol. V, pp. 4934; IMT , vol. III, pp. 478480; IMT , vol. XI, pp. 1301. The
statistics in Figure 10.5 can be found in Monographie D.P.1, in CCDR, Dommages subis par la
France, vol. IX, pp. 144, 157.

labor deportations and resistance

Himmler stated that the executive agents put at his disposal are extremely
few, but he promised to exhort his subordinates in France to work harder.
The Reichsfhrer SS offered Sauckel cold comfort and focused his limited
resources on the Final Solution. In response, the Plenipotentiary for the
Mobilization of Labor created his own paramilitary force to catch refractaires
and dragoon idle workers. Sauckels minions offered bounties to people
who delivered French workers. For its part, Vichy issued decrees that
closed superuous businesses and expanded eligibility requirements for
the STO. Laval acknowledged the unreliability of French police forces
during negotiations with Germany, but he eventually acceded to Sauckels
wishes and imposed the death penalty on those who impeded or avoided
Germanys labor program. Despite French acquiescence, the 1944 Sauckel
Action proved to be a dismal failure. French and German police dragooned
a total of 31,610 workers during the nal 7 months of the Occupation.
In light of the imminent Allied invasion and the absence of German
concessions, the failure of French and German recruiting efforts in 1944
should come as no surprise.
Labor drives carried out by the military administration, French govern-
ment, and Sauckels organization supplied the Reich with at least 850,000
French workers desperately needed by the German economy. By way of
comparison, the SS could only deport 75,000 Jews from the Hexagon.
Although a majority of Frenchmen disliked both labor and racial depor-
tations, Sauckel dragooned ten times more workers than Himmler could
Jews. How can we explain this disparity? Sauckels agents cooperated
with German diplomats and military counterparts. The MBF and MVW
ofcials understood that French labor contributed to the war effort and
helped Sauckel whenever possible. The German embassy in Paris supported
Sauckel through diplomatic channels. Second, the Plenipotentiary for the
Mobilization of Labor negotiated with the French government and mixed
ominous threats with token concessions. He accommodated some French
concerns by returning a few POWs and excluding select groups like farmers
and policemen from his programs. Labor deportations may have been as or

IMT , vol. V, p. 503; IMT , vol. III, p. 480.

BAK, All. Proz. 21/216/4345; ADAP, ser. E, vol. VII, pp. 3236; IMT , vol. V,
p. 504.
BAMA, RW 35/331/nfn (MBF, Nr A 2/5552/1087/44g., Paris 21.6.44, Betr. Einfhrung
des nationalen Jugendienstes in Frankreich und Aufruf des Jahrgangs 1924); Monographie D.P.1,
in CCDR, Dommages subis par la France, vol. IX, pp. 139, 144, and 157.

after the fall

even more unpopular than racial deportations, but they succeeded because
Sauckel tried to accommodate the concerns of other French and German
institutions. With a brief limited to security, the SS could offer nothing in
return for cooperation with racial deportations.
The military administration and Sauckel pressed the Vichy regime
to supply Germany with additional workers, and the pressure increased
as the need became desperate. Coercive labor laws that were enacted
at Germanys behest discredited the Vichy regime, created refractaires, and
eventually encouraged resistance. The last development did not catch senior
Nazis by surprise. The acting head of RSHAs Foreign Intelligence Service
(Amt VI), Walter Schellenberg, reported that pro-Allied circles around
Marshal Petain negated pro-German inuences surrounding Prime Minister
Laval on 15 November 1942. Discouraged by the STO, most Frenchmen
no longer cooperated with enthusiasm. Acting in part on analysis from
RSHA, Himmler discussed the situation with Hitler in December 1942.
After meeting with the Fhrer, Himmler told Martin Bormann about a
scheme that would counter French attentisme, supply Sauckels organization
with additional labor, catch Jews, and destroy French resistance all at the
same time.
The Reichsfhrer planned to counter attentisme by purging unreli-
able elements from the French police and rewarding French policemen
who carried out their duties to Germanys satisfaction. Second, Himm-
ler planned to deliver 5600,000 Italian anti-fascists and 3400,000 Red
Spaniards who sought refuge in France before World War Two to Sauckel.
Arrests would reduce the pool of potential opponents and solve Vichys
nagging refugee problem. Himmler also planned to incarcerate British
and American citizens, Jews, and former leaders of the Third Republic
who were part of the alleged anti-German conspiracy. Last but not least,
Himmler anticipated a radical ght against the communists that would
include large-scale round-ups in cities and anti-partisan sweeps through
rural areas.
The Reichsfhrer SS translated his plan into action by ordering HSSuPF
to carry out a radical crackdown in Marseille. After criticizing Oberg for
not taking charge of the operation in person, Himmler told his HSSuPF

USNA, RG 242, T-175/454/29704522970454.

USNA, RG 242/T-175/129/2654856; USNA, RG 242/T-175/454/29706722970675.

labor deportations and resistance

to meet with Kurt Daluege, the head of the Ordnungspolizei, in Marseille

on 6 January. Unwilling to trust even his most senior lieutenants with an
important operation, Himmler sent another directive that outlined specic
goals of the Marseille operation on 8 January. His guidelines anticipated the
arrest of 100,000 people who would be deported to Germany. To reduce
casualties, the Reichsfhrer SS supported the use of French policemen and
ordered a radical blasting of criminal quarters to eliminate the need for
house-to-house inspections. He believed that the French would eventually
thank Germany for cleaning out the pigsty of Marseille, the pigsty of
France, and underlined the importance of the Marseille operation by
requesting daily progress reports from Oberg.
In an attempt to solicit French cooperation, Oberg met with Bousquet
on 7 and 13 January 1943. Playing upon French fears that Operation Tiger
would mimic reprisals carried out in Prague, the HSSuPF threatened
to employ only SS personnel in the Marseille operation. Desperate to
preserve Vichys sovereign image shortly after the occupation of southern
France, Bousquet agreed to order French police to arrest French Jews in
an attempt to steer repression toward mutually undesirable groups. On
16 January, 9,100 French policemen from the Srete Nationale, Gendarmerie,
Gardes mobiles, and Groupes Mobiles de Reserve (GMR) prepared to cleanse
Frances second largest city. With Himmlers backing, the HSSuPF sent
2,000 SS troops armed with heavy weapons and tanks to the criminal
center of Europe that is full of strange races and hostile political elements
during the third week in January.
On the night of 22 January 1943, French and German policemen began to
arrest Jews, anti-Fascist Italians, German deserters, French refractaires, wanted
criminals, suspected prostitutes, and anyone without proper identication.
The next morning, police evacuated everyone located in the Old Port
quarter of the city. By Sunday morning, French and German policemen
had checked 40,000 identity cards and detained 5,956 people, but they
released 3,977 after further investigation. Prisoners went to Baumettes

Meyer, LOccupation allemande en France, pp. 1557; BALW, NS 19/120/2; BALW, NS

19/3402/che 2/68; BALW, NS 19/2799/12; USNA, RG 242/T-175/65/2980607.
BALW, NS 19/3402/che 2/76; Froment, Rene Bousquet, pp. 364375; Rajsfus, La Police
de Vichy, pp. 209216.
USNA, RG 242/T-175/3/2503396; Paul Jankowski, Communism and Collaboration: Simon
Sabiani and Politics in Marseille, 19191944 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989),
pp. 71120; Meinen, Wehrmacht et prostitution sous lOccupation, pp. 757.

after the fall

prison camp for sorting. Jews were sent to Compiegne while the remainder
traveled to a French military camp in Frejus (in the Var departement).
The total number of prisoners fell far short of the 100,000 expected by
Himmler and did not ll the thirty trains that had been commandeered
by Oberg. In a nal display of raw power, German engineers began to
systematically destroy the old quarter of Marseille on 1 February. By the
time Operation Tiger ended, they had reduced forty hectares of Marseille
to rubble.
The Marseille operation marked the advent of large-scale sweeps that
detained all who looked askance. German intelligence sources identied
three resistance groups, the largest of which had an estimated 6001,000
members, operating in Correze, Puy-de-Dome, and Rhone. In conjunction
with the SD, French police launched a sweep through south-central France
on 8 May 1943. Rudolf Schleier, the Minister of the Paris embassy,
detected an ominous degree of cooperation among partisans and reported
that one resistance group had warned other bands about the impending
During initial sweeps through rural areas, army, SS, and French police
forces usually seized prisoners and did not resort to burning villages or
shooting women and children. The SS ofce in Limoges launched a major
operation in Correze near the village of Donzenac in November 1943. After
a three-hour ght, the SS Police regiment Todt seized one machine gun,
twenty-four automatic pistols, a few hand grenades, and some ammunition.
They killed seventeen terrorists and took four prisoners but could not
prevent the escape of another fteen or twenty partisans. Sweeps carried
out in southern France tried to destroy resistance groups, round up Jews,
and collect refractaires for Sauckels labor organization. During the last
quarter of 1943, police actions seized approximately 15,000 prisoners, many
of whom eventually wound up in Sauckels hands. Manpower shortages
limited the utility of German operations and allowed resistance groups to
ourish in remote portions of southern France that did not have a strong,
enduring German presence. Some SS commanders wanted to eschew

Ryan, The Holocaust and the Jews of Marseille, pp. 1817; Froment, Rene Bousquet,
pp. 376391, 397; BALW, NS 19/3402/che 2/76.
Nestler and Schulz (eds.), Die faschistische Okkupationspolitik in Frankreich, 19401944,
pp. 2645; ADAP, ser. E, vol. VI, pp. 51; Lieb, Konventioneller Krieg oder NS-Weltanschauungskrieg,
pp. 303307.

labor deportations and resistance

French cooperation, but Oberg and Knochen insisted on joint operations

both to compensate for manpower shortages and spread political liability.
The incidence of murder increased from 254 cases in December 1943
to 339 in January 1944 and suggests an increase in resistance activity,
but exemplary violence may have shaped resistance behavior. Eighty per
cent of the murders claimed the lives of French collaborators. Neither
large operations like Marseille nor smaller sweeps through Correze elim-
inated resistance activity. By the end of the year, the German embassy
claimed that ve departements in south-central France (Savoie, Haute
Savoie, Isere, Correze, and Creuse) teetered on the brink of open dis-
Established to command regular and reserve troops stationed on the
western front, OB West (Oberbefehlshaber West or Supreme Command
in the West) joined the ght against partisans in 1944. Field Marshal
Gerd von Rundstedt commanded forces that guarded the coastal regions
against an Allied invasion and regulated the newly occupied zone after
November 1942. Unlike the MBF or HSSuPF, OB West possessed some
rst-class units equipped with modern weapons. Draft orders written by
OB West in October 1942 resembled comparable regulations released
by General Streccius during the rst months of the Occupation, but
they allowed junior (regimental and battalion) ofcers to seize hostages,
contained few words of caution, and did not characterize hostage executions
as a last resort. Increasing resistance activity compelled OB West to join
the ght against partisans and revise regulations in the nal year of the
Using Hitlers broad denition of resistance as a point of departure, OB
West issued revised anti-partisan regulations on 3 February 1944. While
Field Marshal von Rundstedt, the commander of German forces on the
western front, was on vacation, his deputy, Luftwaffe Field Marshal Hugo
Sperrle, issued his own Order for Fighting Terrorists. The regulation
directed all German soldiers to start shooting right after an incident and
explained that [i]t is regrettable if innocent civilians get caught up [in

BAMA, RW 35/551/11; Kasten, Gute Franzosen, pp. 158165, 170.

ADAP, ser. E, vol. VII, pp. 4357; Schumann and Nestler (eds.), Die faschistische Okkupa-
tionspolitik in Frankreich, 19401944, pp. 2823.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/788/55172415517243; Lieb, Konventioneller Krieg oder NS-Weltan-
schauungskrieg, pp. 259261; Umbreit, Der Militarbefehlshaber in Frankreich, 19401944, pp. 98106;
BAMA, RH 3 (Generalquartiermeister, Heeresfeldpostmeister)/204/4950.

after the fall

the crossre], but that is exclusively the fault of the terrorists. Once
the shooting stopped, Sperrle directed soldiers to arrest everybody in the
area and burn down nearby houses. After those initial countermeasures
had been carried out, the Field Marshal ordered soldiers to contact the
MBF and SD for further instructions. Sperrle threatened to prosecute
weak and irresolute commanders who did not carry out instructions and
assured subordinates that nobody would be punished for over-zealousness.
Although he had no experience on the eastern front, Sperrle issued orders
that fullled the spirit of Hitlers anti-partisan policy.
Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel distributed Sperrles Order for Fighting
Partisans to subordinates on 12 February 1944 and augmented the regu-
lation with classic Nazi rhetoric. According to the MBF, respect for the
German armed forces must be preserved and insubordination fought from
the start. His language echoed Hitlers 16 September 1941 order to nip
resistance in the bud by using the sharpest means. As he conspired to
overthrow the Nazi regime, von Stlpnagel adorned his orders with Nazi
terminology and played a double game.
A top-secret order from Keitel conrmed Sperrles directive. Released
on 4 March 1944 and entitled Fighting Terrorism, the OKW regulation
characterized resistance as an increasing nuisance and identied guerilla
activity and railroad sabotage as especially dangerous threats. Hitlers chief
military advisor ordered troops to nish off (erledigen) partisans in the
eld. According to OKW, commanders did not need to convene a trial as
described in the military penal code (Militargesetzbuch) or employ truncated
legal procedures outlined in the Decree concerning Military Jurisdiction
during War and Special Operations (Kriegsstrafverfahrensordnung or KStVO).
Keitels directive underlined the Third Reichs disdain for the rule of law,
allowed subordinates to liquidate opponents in the eld, and completed a
process that began in 1938.
The MBF did not wholeheartedly accept anti-partisan policies released
by superiors in OKW and OB West. Colonel von Linstow, a member
of Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagels staff, tried to soften OB Wests reprisal

Luther, Der franzosische Widerstand, p. 239; BAK, All. Proz. 21/213/7781; Lieb, Konven-
tioneller Krieg oder NS-Weltanschauungskrieg, pp. 2616.
BAK, All. Proz. 21/209/175; BALW, R 70 Frankreich/12/4649; USNA, RG 242/T-
Lieb, Konventioneller Krieg oder NS-Weltanschauungskrieg, p. 268; BAMA, RW 35/551/19.
See also Chapter 4, p. 100.

labor deportations and resistance

policy. A regulation of 19 June 1944 ordered security forces attached to the

military administration to consider the following questions when dealing
with terrorists:
1. Do adversaries wear distinguishing marks (armbands, hats, or parts of a
2. Do adversaries bear arms openly or carry concealed weapons (pistol in
pocket or hidden under clothes)?
3. Is the group led by a recognized leader, or is it a collection of disparate
4. Does the group obey the laws of war (take prisoners and spare Red
Cross personnel)?
Linstow raised questions that echoed terms of the Hague Convention.
His memo encouraged commanders to consider the laws of war as they
decided how to handle irregular combatants. It undermined directives from
OKW and OB West that demanded a shoot rst and ask questions later
policy and provided a degree of protection for those who opposed Hitlers
murderous approach.
Soldiers and policemen had a degree of exibility as they battled partisans
and impressed French workers in 1944. They could choose draconian
methods championed by OKW and OB West or follow the moderate policy
advanced by dissidents within the military administration. Stationed in a
hotbed of resistance activity southwest of the Swiss border in Ain, the 157th
Reserve Division launched a series of cleansing operations while training
recruits and preparing for the invasion of France. Carried out by French
and German police forces between 5 and 13 February, Operation Korporal
killed 40 alleged partisans (most likely civilians), turned up 460 Frenchmen
eligible for labor in Germany, conscated food stores, and burned down
houses. Soldiers cooperated with SS ofcers who led the operation, and
senior army commanders considered the project to be a success.
Subsequent operations in neighboring areas followed a similar pattern.
Launched on 26 March, Operation Haute-Savoie lasted four days and
involved the 157th Reserve Division, SS and French police units, German
border police, and the French Milice. While small guerilla detachments

BALW, R 70 Frankreich/12/51.
Lieb, Konventioneller Krieg oder NS-Weltanschauungskrieg, pp. 309321; Meyer, LOccupation
allemande en France, pp. 159160, 1637.

after the fall

Figure 10.6. A German atrocity.

Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress.

retarded the Franco-German advance, approximately 450 partisans melted

into the sparsely populated countryside. German forces sustained ten
casualties and killed around twenty partisans while clearing the area. Local
civilians escaped deadly German reprisals but were forced to leave the area.
Following orders from OB West, soldiers turned prisoners over to the SS,
and many were shot in the following weeks. Mounted in the departments
of Ain and Jura between 7 and 18 April, Operation Frhling (Spring) killed
148 alleged partisans and captured 869 partisan sympathizers. Disgusted by
the widespread brutality, the commander of the 157th Reserve Division
considered the sweep to be a failure that pushed local inhabitants into
the arms of resistance groups. In response, army authorities no longer
subordinated military units to the SS during anti-partisan operations.

Lieb, Konventioneller Krieg oder NS-Weltanschauungskrieg, pp. 3218; Meyer, LOccupation

allemande en France, pp. 1635; Kedward, In Search of the Maquis, pp. 1328.

labor deportations and resistance

Operations carried out in the Dordogne followed the pattern established

by the 157th Reserve Division in the Glieres plateau. In conjunction
with French police and paramilitary forces, German soldiers and policemen
under the command of General Walter Brehmer swept through Correze
and the Dordogne between 30 March and 4 April 1944. Regular and
reserve army divisions destroyed 3 resistance camps, burned 62 houses,
shot 55 terrorists, and arrested 388 suspected terrorists, refractaires, and
otherwise suspicious characters. In April, troops assigned to OB West
carried out 3 other major and 138 minor anti-partisan sweeps in which
569 terrorists were shot, 4,463 arrested, and 528 sent to Sauckels labor
Although OB West mounted several large-scale sweeps in southern
France, other portions of the Hexagon remained quiet. Stationed along
the Atlantic coast in Normandy and Brittany, the Seventh Army attributed
one death to resistance activity in February 1944. One month later, a
German corps noted no instances of sabotage around Le Havre. The
regional branch of the military government in northwest France recorded
only eleven instances of assault and four German casualties in May 1944.
Rundstedt let Sperrles order for bloody reprisals stand, but he refused to
fuel the MBFs anti-partisan and labor campaigns by releasing supplies of
gasoline. Aside from calls for bloody reprisals, OB West paid little attention
to refractaires and resistance groups.
Anti-partisan sweeps in southeastern and southwestern France reveal
subtle but important distinctions in the behavior of army, SS, and French
units. While locked in combat, troops subordinate to OB West employed
ruthless tactics and did not distinguish irregular combatants from civilians.
They burned down houses and turned over all who looked askance
to police colleagues. SS policemen and members of the French Milice
displayed an even greater brutality that lasted long after the shooting
stopped. SS forces and their French auxiliaries employed torture and
shot prisoners who may or may not have been involved in anti-German
activity. Yet although they were brutal and bloody, German tactics did

USNA, RG 242/T-77/1430/798836. Luther, Der franzosische Widerstand, pp. 235,

Lieb, Konventioneller Krieg oder NS-Weltanschauungskrieg, p. 265; BAK, All. Proz.
21/209/251255; USNA, RG 338/Foreign Military Studies/C032/339.

after the fall

not involve widespread use of dead zonesthe complete devastation of

an entire regionthat were common in Russia.
Large-scale sweeps spread terror through the French countryside,
destroyed any remaining support for Franco-German collaboration, and
leavened expectations of liberation. From Germanys perspective, they
supplied Sauckel with slave labor and advanced the racial goals of the Nazi
regime. Neither arson, deportation, nor summary executions persuaded
resistance groups to abandon their ght. As the probability of liberation
waxed, the efcacy of draconian reprisals and labor deportations waned.

BALW, NS 19/2175; BALW, R 19/318/3151; Shepherd, War in the Wild East,

pp. 166187.

Invasion and retreat

The Allied invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944 posed new dilemmas to

Nazi leaders. During the 1940 Western campaign, Army High Command
insisted that uniformed German paratroopers who were deployed behind
enemy lines qualied as lawful combatants as dened by the Hague
Convention. Hermann Goring threatened to shoot ten Allied pilots for
every German paratrooper who was mistreated by Allied authorities. D-Day
promised to reverse the roles played by Allied and Axis leaders regarding
airborne troops. With vulnerable rear areas and few security troops on hand,
German leaders worried about sabotage as the threat of invasion loomed
large. In 1944, Allied leaders planned to disrupt German movements
with a combination of airborne troops and indigenous resistance forces.
Now that the shoe was on the other foot, Hitler ordered subordinates
to treat all commandos as unlawful combatants who could be summarily
Released in October 1942, Hitlers Commando Order tted within a
larger pattern of gradually increasing and nally unrestrained violence. Both
right- and left-wing radicals had shot hostages as they vied for power during
the 1919 Revolution in Germany. While he led the nascent Nazi party,
Hitler seized left-wing hostages to ensure safe passage back from a rally in
Coburg. Inuenced by a long history of guerillaphobia in the German army,
the MBF released comprehensive anti-partisan regulations that included

BAMA, RW 35/209/175; USNA, RG 242/T-77/1428/797; Weinberg, A World at Arms,

pp. 679683, 6868.
after the fall

hostage seizures in September 1940. Building upon a concept that had

deep roots in German political and military culture, Hitler expanded the
scale and scope of traditional hostage policies employed in the Franco-
Prussian War and World War One. Keitels 16 September 1941 regulation
described 50 or 100 hostage executions as appropriate, and the Nacht und
Nebel Erlass exchanged hundreds of hostage executions for thousands of
deportations. In response to the August 1942 Dieppe raid, the Fhrer
ordered subordinates to treat commandos as unlawful combatants. Eager
to ght re with re, the Fhrer employed increasingly ruthless tactics
against an expanding list of enemies that started with Jews and communists,
incorporated commandos and refractaires, and, by the end of the war,
included Allied terror pilots. In 1945, Hitler considered abrogating the
Hague Convention altogether in an attempt to gain an advantage.
Hitlers increasing propensity for violence, the prospects of impending
defeat, and the threat of war crimes trials eventually convinced a minor-
ity of German ofcers to overthrow the Nazi regime. On the night of
20 July 1944, Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel and a number of his subor-
dinates told colleagues that the SS had killed Hitler and launched a coup
detat in Berlin. In order to prevent unrest, the MBF ordered army security
forces to arrest the SS. Stlpnagel successfully carried out his part of the
plot to overthrow the Nazi regime, but news of Hitlers survival eventually
reached Paris. Although the coup failed, a scheme to cover up the scope
of anti-Nazi conspiracy in France succeeded. By working together, Carl-
Heinrich von Stlpnagel, Otto Abetz, Helmut Knochen, and Carl Oberg
concealed widespread participation in the plot and, except for Stlpnagel,
managed to save their own skins. When they worked together, German
agencies could achieve surprising results.
British troops did not completely abandon continental Europe after
the Dunkirk evacuation. Small groups of Allied commandos periodically
attacked military installations situated along the French coast. One hundred
British soldiers destroyed a radar station in Bruneval (Seine-Inferieure) on
the night of 27/28 February 1942. One month later, a larger force blew

Burleigh, The Third Reich, pp. 40, 55; Hitler, Mein Kampf , Chapter 9, Section 2, The
expedition to Coburg in October 1922; Isabel V. Hull, Absolute Destruction. Military Culture and
the Practices of War in Imperial Germany (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005), pp. 324333.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1430/168170, 176182; Lieb, Konventioneller Krieg oder NS-
Weltanschauungskrieg, pp. 314; USNA, RG 242/T-77/1429/245257.

invasion and retreat

up the only French dry dock that could repair large German warships and
limited the battleship Tirpitz to Norwegian waters. Designed in part to
test the feasibility of a large-scale invasion, the 19 August 1942 Dieppe
raid involved approximately 6,000 uniformed soldiers but proved to be a
asco. Commando operations alarmed German commanders and provoked
Hitler to release the so-called Commando Order on 18 October 1942. The
directive ordered all German troops to refuse the surrender of commandos
and hand over mistakenly captured commandos to the SD. Armed or
unarmed, dressed in mufti or military uniform, whether encountered in
combat, in ight, or while trying to surrender, all commandos were to
be annihilated (niederzumachen). Since they were inserted behind enemy
lines, the 3 divisions of Allied paratroopers, 2,000 British commandos from
the Special Air Service, and American Jedburgh teams deployed during the
1944 invasion could all be described as commandos and thus subject to
Hitlers Commando Order.
OKW insisted that the Commando Order remain in force after the Allied
invasion of France. On 26 June 1944, Keitel informed senior commanders
in western Europe that all troops inserted outside the Normandy combat
zone must be destroyed as hostile terrorist troops or turned over to the SD
for execution after interrogation. Toward the end of July, Hitler reiterated
his basic anti-partisan strategy and directed German troops to execute
all non-Germans suspected of terrorism. With unagging support from
OKW, Hitler championed the immediate execution of commandos and
alleged terrorists; leaders of the Nazi regime did not inch as the prospect
of defeat loomed large.
Five days after D-Day, Ob West directed subordinate commanders
to treat all French civilians who resisted German authority as guerrillas.
Wounded resistance ghters and French partisans who wore a uniform
or other distinguishing mark (beret, armband, etc.) would be treated as
terrorists and shot out of hand. American and British paratroopers dropped
behind enemy lines might also qualify as guerrillas and be eligible for special
treatment if found beyond the ill-dened Normandy combat zone. Even
General Johannes Blaskowitz, a vocal critic of German atrocities in Poland

Weinberg, A World at Arms, pp. 360, 367; Lieb, Konventioneller Krieg oder NS-Weltanschau-
ungskrieg, pp. 317, 1417; USNA, RG 242/T-77/1430/168170.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1428/794795; BAK, All. Proz. 21/213/277.
BAMA, RW 35/551/24.

after the fall

and commander of Army Group G in southwest France, approved of Ob

Wests sharp countermeasures. He argued that terrorists and commandos
could only operate with the help of local Frenchmen and therefore
presumed the local French population to be complicit in sabotage and
resistance. Accordingly, he endorsed Ob Wests reprisal policy and cited
the indiscriminate bombing of German cities as further justication for
German methods. The argument advanced by General Blaskowitz suggests
that some non-Nazi ofcers succumbed to guerillaphobia and voluntarily
carried out bloody reprisals in 1944.
Subordinate to Ob West, the commander of the LXVI Reserve Corps
condemned troops who disgraced the good reputation of the clean-
ghting German soldier and vowed to prosecute the mistreatment of
enemy civilians and unauthorized reprisals. An intelligence ofcer on the
MBFs staff tried to support the LXVI Reserve Corps commander in
a memo on 19 July 1944. He paid lip-service to Hitlers anti-partisan
policy by saying that softness against an adversary who ghts mostly
from ambush and disregards the laws of war is misplaced, but added that
(n)o German soldier assaults helpless women and children! Some German
ofcers believed that soldiers had a duty to protect civilians even if guerrilla
operations made it difcult to distinguish friend from foe.
Walter Bargatzky, a senior ofcial in the military administration legal
ofce, advised subordinates to treat prisoners according to regulations set
forth in the Militargesetzbuch. Opponents who carried their weapons openly
and could be identied as enemies from a distance would be treated as
prisoners of war according to the Hague Convention. Combatants who
did not meet these criteria would be treated as guerrillas and turned over to
the SD. Bargatzky advised military judges to consult the arresting ofcers
before deciding how to treat suspected guerillas. His legal opinion violated
the spirit of Hitlers Commando Order, Keitels subsequent explanation,
and Ob West directives. Immediately after the Allied invasion of France,
the MBF also offered an amnesty to partisans who surrendered to German
police forces. Ob West quashed the MBFs program because it violated

BAK, All. Proz. 21/213/167171.

BAMA, RW 35/551/54, 57; Lieb, Konventioneller Krieg oder NS-Weltanschauungskrieg,
pp. 2734, 2835.
USNA, RG 242/T-77/1626/folder 75486/nfn (Der MBF, Verwaltungsstab Abteilung Justiz;
Paris 14.10.43; Az Vju 257.43g.820; Betreff Volkerrechtliche Stellung der Angehorigen der frz.
Geheimarmee; Sachbearbeiter: KVR Bargatzky).

invasion and retreat

Hitlers guidelines and ordered all subordinate commands, including the

MBF, to shoot guerillas and commandos.
In theory, Ob West embraced Nazi methods. In practice, soldiers
attached to Ob West displayed a range of behaviors with regard to
Hitlers Commando Order. Troops assigned to Ob West shot British
commandos near Bordeaux in December 1942 but incarcerated other
paratroopers in army POW camps. Provisions of the Commando Order
allowed paratroopers caught in a combat zone to be treated as law-
ful combatants and protected most commandos deployed in Normandy
on D-Day, but Free French paratroopers who fought in British uni-
form could face a summary execution. As usual, Waffen-SS formations
assigned to Ob West treated partisans, paratroopers, and commandos with
characteristic brutality. In response to a military administration report of
atrocities carried out by the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich near
Toulouse, the commander of the LVIII Corps accused French authorities
of exaggeration. He believed that the terrorist nuisance could only be
answered with the sharpest measures and added that divisional comman-
ders understood the relevant orders from Ob West. The commander of
the LVIII corps believed that investigations were absolutely unnecessary
and quashed further proceedings. Like many other smaller atrocities, the
notorious massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane went unpunished by German
In keeping with the 1943 Moscow Declaration, General Dwight D.
Eisenhower ordered a small group of captains and lieutenants to fan out
across France and collect evidence of German war crimes. Advancing
behind combat troops during the fall of 1944, the team collected data
with varying degrees of precision. After they arrived in a particular region,
some ofcers asked local resistance leaders about atrocities committed
by German troops and recounted ndings in summary reports. More
diligent counterparts avoided hearsay evidence, interviewed eyewitnesses,
studied police records, and tried to distinguish legitimate war crimes

BALW, R 70 Frankreich/12/54.
Lieb, Konventioneller Krieg oder NS-Weltanschauungskrieg, pp. 144154; BAMA, RW
35/551/5556; Max Hastings, Das Reich. The March of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Through France
(New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1981), Chapters 46, 810; Sarah Farmer, Martyred
Village: Commemorating the 1944 Massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane (Berkeley, CA: University of
California Press, 1999); Robin Mackness, Oradour: Massacre & Aftermath (London: Bloomsbury
Publishing, 1988).

Figure 11.1. Forty-four French hostages shot in Premilhat, near Montlucon, on
14 August 1944.
Photograph courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
invasion and retreat

from ambiguous reprisals. The thirteen volumes of evidence suggests that

Wehrmacht and SS units often shot nearby civilians and burned houses
after taking enemy re during the August 1944 retreat. German and French
police often tortured suspects and executed prisoners as they ed toward
Germany. One investigator concluded that
[t]he troops when in ight feared the maquis so much that they killed anyone they
suspected of being in the resistance. When soldiers of the German Army were
wounded or killed the others immediately took reprisal measures against the rst
person they found. In the cases involving the SS and Gestapo, whenever a person
was arrested, he was usually beaten and tortured until he revealed the names of
other persons engaged in resistance, and then killed. In this never ending process
many persons were the victims of relentless beatings and death.
The uncivilized actions of the Germans were not restricted to special troops, rather
they were prevalent in all organizations, particularly after the landing of the Allies
in France. The Gestapo specialized in torture, the SS in mass executions and
torture, and the German line troops in reprisal actions.

A second investigator, Captain Perry Miller, recognized that Germans

used resistance activity to justify brutal reprisals. He believed that the
German argument gained increasing plausibility as resistance activity
increased, and the ofcer in charge of the Allied investigation in Brittany
concurred. After recounting a typical story of reprisals carried out in August
1944, he described the reaction of the local population.
If they [partisans] had been merely shot and decently buried, there would have
been, as even the local French admit, no complaint, as they realize that the
Germans might have some legal grounds for treating them as franc-tireurs in spite
of the fact that they were covered by the declaration of General de Gaulle and
wore the FFI brassard.
But the state of these bodies proved without a shadow of a doubt that these men
had been tortured and beaten with inhumane ferocity before being killed. No
international law can justify such brutality and sadism.

Some Frenchmen recognized the dubious legality of armed resistance but

contended that many German reprisals surpassed the limits of humanity.

USNA, RG 153/145/100/folder 109-5/16; USNA, RG 153/135/boxes 6770.

USNA, RG 153/135/70/folder 15/12.
USNA, RG 153/135/69/folder 13/10; Lieb, Konventioneller Krieg oder NS-Weltanschauungs-
krieg, pp. 2538.

after the fall

Investigators also identied a pattern of behavior and degree of organi-

zation in German actions.
[I]t is evident that most of the atrocities listed were organized or ordered by
responsible German ofcers, and formed part of a plan and were not, merely, the
brutal excesses of individuals or groups of individuals. The natural sadistic nature
of the Germans facilitated the execution of such orders, and, in some cases, the
men concerned probably gave free rein to their imagination in this respect.

Allied investigators concluded that some German forces carried out Hitlers
orders with considerable enthusiasm. Regular Wehrmacht troops comprised
the bulk of German forces in France, and they probably carried out many
reprisals or, in German parlance, sabotage countermeasures. Although one
Allied investigator detected some reluctance to carry out atrocities, it was
probably the rapid Allied advance rather than any special regard for the
rules of war that limited the scope of reprisals. Cautionary orders from the
military administration in Paris did not inuence the behavior of many
German soldiers.
Advancing Allied soldiers eventually obtained a copy of Hitlers Com-
mando Order, which General Eisenhower pointedly referred to in a solemn
warning that he transmitted to OKW. The Supreme Commander of Allied
Expeditionary Forces promised to prosecute Wehrmacht and SS ofcers
who shot Allied paratroopers. Designed to protect Allied soldiers, Eisen-
howers warning did not cover French resistance groups, innocent civilians,
and other alleged terrorists. Unlike their German counterparts, Allied lead-
ers favored deliberate prosecution over immediate reprisals carried out in
the eld. Eisenhowers reaction suggests that Hitlers Commando Order
posed a real danger to Allied personnel that had to be countered with threat
of prosecution.
After the war, the French government estimated that 29,660 French
citizens had been shot during the Occupation. Anecdotal evidence col-
lected by Allied investigators indicates that calls for moderation expressed
by dissidents within the military administration had little inuence. As they
retreated toward Germany, soldiers followed a shoot rst, ask questions

USNA, RG 153/135/67/folder 5/130131; USNA, RG 153/135/68/folder 8/34.

USNA, RG 242/T-77/1428/748750.
IMT , vol. XXXVII, p. 212; Lieb, Konventioneller Krieg oder NS Weltanschauungskrieg,
pp. 412415.

invasion and retreat

later policy that killed thousands of French civilians. Rooted in an institu-

tional fear of guerillas and accelerated by criminal directives from OKW and
Ob West, German soldiers shot everybody who impeded the retreat toward
Germany. Responsible commanders in Ob West declined to investigate,
much less prosecute, war-crimes accusations. By 1944, calls for moderation
fell upon deaf ears.
While they served as the MBF, both Otto and Carl-Heinrich von
Stlpnagel became acquainted with the goals and methods of the Nazi
regime. Otto von Stlpnagel worked within the chain of command to
ameliorate unwise and unlawful policies. Unable to reconcile ideological
directives from superiors in Berlin with the dictates of his conscience, he
retired from military service. Carl-Heinrich learned from Ottos mistakes
and chose a different course. As MBF, he did not bicker with the SS, try
to curb the destructive behavior of Nazi potentates like Fritz Sauckel, nor
condemn Hitlers Commando Order. Rejecting the entire Nazi system, he
conspired against the regime.
As a junior ofcer, Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel had forged bonds with
future leaders of the anti-Nazi movement. He worked with General Ludwig
Beck during the nal years of the Weimar Republic and denounced Nazi
policies in letters to the General in 1936 and 1937. During the Munich
Crisis and Phony War, Stlpnagel discussed Hitlers overthrow with, among
others, Franz Halder, Erich Hoeppner, and Helmuth Groscurth. He
curtailed his conspiratorial activity while serving as the head of the Franco-
German Armistice Commission and during his term as the commander
of the Seventeenth Army but resumed contact with anti-Nazis upon his
return from the Russian front. Helmuth James Graf von Moltke, Graf
Yorck von Wartenburg, Eugen Gerstenmaier, Alfred Delp, and Adam von
Trott zu Solz tried to recruit the MBF while visiting Paris, and their efforts
eventually paid off. In December 1943, Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel
agreed to play an active role in Stauffenbergs plot against Hitler.
Carl-Heinrich conspired against the Nazi regime with other ofcers
linked to the Stauffenberg family. Colonel Eberhard Finckh had studied

Bcheler, Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel, pp. 108114, 1357; BAMA, N 5/24/25; Peter Hoff-
mann, The History of the German Resistance, 19331945, translated by Richard Barry (Cambridge,
MA: MIT Press, 1977), pp. 128144.
Bcheler, Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel, pp. 2445, 275287; Gerd van Roon, German
Resistance to Hitler: Count von Moltke and the Kreisau Circle, translated by Peter Ludlow (London:
Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1971), pp. 167175, 211.

after the fall

with Claus von Stauffenberg before the war and served as Ob Wests
Deputy Chief of Staff in 1944. Stauffenbergs cousin, Caser von Hofacker,
served on the MBFs staff and played an active role in the anti-Nazi
conspiracy. Finckh, Hofacker, and Stlpnagel developed plans to arrest
supporters of the Nazi regime in Paris, brought additional ofcers into
the conspiracy, and coordinated their efforts with confederates in Berlin.
When Stauffenberg launched his assassination attempt, the three main
conspirators in Paris could rely on assistance from, among others, Colonel
Hans Otfried von Linstow, Stlpnagels Chief of Staff; Elmar Michel, the
head of the MVW; Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Bargatzky, an MVW legal
advisor; Lieutenant-Colonel Friedrich Freiherr von Teuchert, an MVW
ofcial in the government subsection; Lieutenant-General Freiherr Hans
von Boineburg-Lengsfeld, Commandant of Greater Paris; Major-General
Brehmer, Deputy Governor of Paris; Colonel Karl von Unger, Boineburg-
Lengsfelds Chief of Staff; and Lieutenant-Colonel Kurt von Kraewel, the
commander of the garrison regiment in Paris. Stlpnagel, Finckh, and
Hofacker developed a substantial network and made contact with dissidents
in Ob West.
On the night of 19 July 1944, Hofacker told some of his fellow
conspirators that a coup was imminent. The next morning, Colonel Finckh
heard similar news from condants in Berlin. There had already been
two false alarms during the previous fortnight, so many plotters remained
apprehensive. On 20 July, Stlpnagel followed his normal routine and
lunched in the Hotel Raphael with Ernst Jnger, but the conversation
seemed constrained. At a neighboring table, Bargatzky discussed plans to
prosecute SS ofcers while other patrons greeted one another with Heil
Hitler. Sometime after 2:00 p.m., Finckh received a second telephone call
from Berlin and learned that the exercise was nished. He immediately
traveled to Ob West and told General Blumentritt that the Gestapo
had assassinated Hitler and launched a putsch. Around three or four in

Robert B. Kane, Disobedience and Conspiracy in the German Army, 19181945 (Jefferson, NC:
McFarland & Company, 2002), pp. 207211; Gerd R. Ueberschar, Casar von Hofacker und
der deutsche Widerstand gegen Hitler in Paris, in Martens and Vasse (eds.), Frankreich und
Deutschland im Krieg, pp. 621631.
Schramm, Conspiracy Among Generals, pp. 210211; Jackel, France dans lEurope de Hitler,
pp. 4734.
Hoffman, The History of the German Resistance, 19331945, pp. 470471; Bcheler, Carl-
Heinrich von Stlpnagel, p. 302; Bargatzky, Hotel Majestic, p. 132.

invasion and retreat

the afternoon, Stauffenberg told Hofacker that Hitler had perished in an

Hofacker immediately passed the news to Stlpnagel. Throughout the
afternoon, Stlpnagel, Linstow, Michel, and Boineburg-Lengsfeld pre-
pared to arrest the SS. In addition to his duties as military governor,
Boineburg-Lengsfeld commanded 25,000 soldiers assigned to the 325th
Security Division stationed in Paris. Earlier in the war, he had commanded
the 23rd Panzer division and survived being run over by a Russian tank
before being relieved of his command on charges that had sent others to
prison. Stlpnagel told the resilient general that the Gestapo had made an
attempt on Hitlers life and had launched a coup in Berlin, gave him a
map of SS barracks, and ordered him to arrest the SS after the 11:00 p.m.
curfew. The MBF authorized Boineburg-Lengsfeld to use deadly force if
members of the Black Corps resisted arrest. Around 6:00 p.m., Stlpnagel
spoke with General Beck over the telephone. Beck told Stlpnagel that he
did not yet have details about the explosion at Hitlers headquarters and
asked the MBF to enlist the commander of Ob West, Field Marshal Hans
Kluge, in the plot.
Around 6:15, Stlpnagel received an invitation to dine with Kluge in
La Roche-Guyon. Leaving Linstow to manage events in Paris, Stlpnagel
took Hofacker to the critical meeting with his superior. As Stlpnagel and
Hofacker drove to dinner, Kluge received contradictory news from Berlin.
Radio reports and a telephone conversation with Major-General Stieff in
Berlin indicated that Hitler was alive; Beck, Stauffenberg, Hoeppner, and
General Fromm all claimed that Hitler was dead. Although sympathetic to
the anti-Nazi resistance, Kluge hesitated. Shortly before Stlpnagel arrived
at his headquarters, the Field Marshal guessed the truth and told staff ofcers
that its just a bungled assassination attempt.
Stlpnagel and Hofacker reached La Roche-Guyon around 7:30 p.m. and
met with Kluge, Gnther Blumentritt, and Hans Speidel. All three ofcers
from Ob West had had some contact with the anti-Nazi conspiracy,
but none had foreknowledge of Stauffenbergs plot. After listening to

Schramm, Conspiracy Among Generals, pp. 237, 38; Liddell-Hart, German Generals Talk,
pp. 2613.
Hoffmann, The History of the German Resistance, 19331945, p. 471; Mitcham, Hitlers Legions,
p. 222; Schramm, Conspiracy Among Generals, p. 40.
Hoffmann, The History of the German Resistance, 19331945, pp. 4723.

after the fall

Hofackers description of events in Berlin, Kluge concluded that his guests

had inside information and suspected that the coup had indeed failed, but
he still asked everybody to join him for dinner. After an awkward meal
by candle light, Stlpnagel told Kluge about the impending arrest of SS
personnel in an attempt to force the Field Marshals hand. Kluge refused
to support the coup, told Stlpnagel to consider himself suspended from
duty, and advised the MBF to hide out in Paris. Unlike Clever Hans,
Carl-Heinrich realized that he had already crossed the Rubicon and was
compromised beyond the point of return. Without shaking hands with
Kluge, Stlpnagel left La Roche-Guyon around 11:00 p.m. on the night of
20 July.
As Stlpnagel left Ob West, Boineburg-Lengsfeld and Major-General
Brehmer assembled their troops in the Bois de Boulogne. Neither Brehmer,
a member of the Nazi party Blood Order, nor his subordinates expressed
surprise when they learned about the purported SS coup. One soldier told
Boineburg-Lengsfeld that he looked forward to locking up the SS. At last
were going to nish with the black bastards. Then well soon have peace.
As Brehmer arrested Oberg in person, the HSSuPF expressed surprise and
added that it was all a misunderstanding. Soldiers incarcerated Oberg and
Knochen with a bottle of brandy in the Hotel Continental. By the time
Stlpnagel arrived back in Paris shortly after midnight, army authorities had
detained the other 1,200 members of the Black Corps in the Fort de lEst
and Fresne military prison.
While the coup unfolded on the streets of Paris, conspirators gathered
in the Hotel Raphael, which served as the barracks for senior military
administration personnel. Around 10:30 p.m., Linstow told Bargatzky,
Teuchert, and others that, according to Stauffenberg, the coup was col-
lapsing in Berlin. Boineburg-Lengsfeld reported the successful arrest of the
SS around midnight, and the party retired to the hotel bar for refresh-
ment. Upon his return, Stlpnagel dropped by the Raphael, spoke with
his fellow conspirators, and passed along news of Kluges refusal to join
the conspiracy. Other patrons had nary an inkling of the attempted coup
in Berlin or the recent arrests in Paris, but they all listened to Hitlers
triumphant 1:00 a.m. broadcast that conrmed the failure of Stauffenbergs

Liddell-Hart, German Generals Talk, pp. 2614; Hoffmann, The History of the German
Resistance, 19331945, pp. 4745; Schramm, Conspiracy Among Generals, pp. 4465.
Schramm, Conspiracy Among Generals, pp. 6670.

invasion and retreat

plot. To make matters worse, Goring ordered Luftwaffe personnel to go

on alert, and the chief of Naval Group West, Admiral Theodor Krancke,
threatened to march 1,000 marines into Paris if the MBF did not release SS
personnel. As news of the failed coup spread, pressure mounted on the mil-
itary administration in general and General Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel
in particular.
Sometime after 1:00 a.m. on the morning of 21 July, the conspirators
began to cover their tracks. While Hofacker burned evidence in the
Hotel Majestic, Stlpnagel retired to the Raphaels Salon Bleu and ordered
Boineburg-Lengsfeld to release the SS. The Commandant of greater Paris
drove to the Hotel Continental and found Oberg and Knochen sitting
with a bottle of brandy and a radio. After the obligatory Heil Hitler salute,
Boineburg-Lengsfeld returned Obergs sidearm, invited both men to the
Hotel Raphael, and initiated a reconciliation. Oberg found Stlpnagel,
Hofacker, and Linstow drinking wine with Abetz and greeted the MBF
with a sneer. After listening to a plea for unity from Abetz, Oberg gradually
calmed down, listened to the ambassadors advice, and began to forge a
common front with the conspirators. The HSSuPF could be found liable
if the full extent of the Paris conspiracy leaked out, and Stlpnagel had an
obvious interest in hushing things up to protect his staff. Under the guidance
of Abetz, Oberg and Stlpnagel agreed that the arrests had been a big mistake
carried out under false orders from Berlin. Junior ofcers, soldiers, and SS
personnel would be told that the arrests had been an exercise.
Back in La Roche-Guyon, Kluge began to worry about his own
neck. Shortly after Stlpnagel left for Paris, Admiral Krancke told Kluge
that the SS had been arrested in Paris and demanded an explanation.
Kluge sent Blumentritt to Paris with orders to straighten out the mess,
formally notied Berlin of Stlpnagels dismissal, and thereby doomed
Carl-Heinrich. Blumentritt picked up Admiral Krancke and Knochen on
his way to the Hotel Raphael, and the group arrived sometime after 2:00
a.m. They found a bizarre celebration in full swing. As the champagne
owed, army and SS personnel agreed to treat the entire affair as an

Bargatzky, Hotel Majestic, pp. 1335; Schramm, Conspiracy Among Generals, pp. 936.
Hoffmann, The History of the German Resistance, 19331945, pp. 4767.
Fest, Plotting Hitlers Death, pp. 2847; Schramm, Conspiracy Among Generals, pp. 100101.
Abetz, Das offene Probleme, p. 290; Hoffmann, The History of the German Resistance, 19331945,
p. 478.

after the fall

exercise carried out under false orders from Berlin and let bygones by
The preposterous tale proved to be too much for Admiral Krancke.
The commander of German naval forces in the West erupted in a tirade
about Stlpnagel, treason, and perdy before storming out of the
room. With Krancke out of the way, Blumentritt followed Abetzs lead
and began to talk about mistakes and false alarms. Under the inuence
of champagne, Oberg, Knochen, Abetz, and the military administration
agreed to work in unison for the rst and last time. They conjured up an
implausible explanation of the evenings events and doggedly adhered to
the party line of an exercise ordered by Berlin. Oberg and sympathetic
army ofcers controlled the inquiry and allowed the cover-up to succeed
beyond reasonable expectations. The ensuing investigation revealed only a
handful of conspirators in Paris.
Acting on Kluges account of events in Paris, Keitel ordered Stlpnagel
to report to Berlin on the morning of 21 July. After a brief round of
goodbyes, Carl-Heinrich left Paris and traveled by car toward Germany.
Along the way, he stopped by an old battleeld near Verdun and attempted
suicide. After hearing a shot, Stlpnagels driver found the General lying
in a canal with a single wound to the head. Unaware of the MBFs role
in the previous days events, the driver assumed that partisans had attacked
Stlpnagel and drove his commanding ofcer to a hospital in Verdun.
Oberg visited his former regimental comrade while he recovered, but the
contents of their conversation remain unknown. Stlpnagel made no
attempt to escape punishment but did not turn in comrades. Blinded by his
suicide attempt, Stlpnagel eventually returned to Berlin, faced a summary
trial before the Peoples Court, and was executed in Plotzensee prison on
30 August 1944.
Back in Paris, Oberg conducted a lackadaisical investigation. The
HSSuPF usually questioned suspects in the presence of a senior army
ofcer (often Blumentritt) and never resorted to the third degree. Obergs
lackluster attitude could not obscure the activities of Linstow, Hofacker,

Liddell-Hart, German Generals Talk, p. 264; Schramm, Conspiracy Among Generals, pp.
101105; Hoffmann, The History of the German Resistance, 19331945, p. 478.
Fest, Plotting Hitlers Death, p. 285; Schramm, Conspiracy Among Generals, pp. 109111;
Abetz, Das offene Probleme, p. 136.
Schramm, Conspiracy Among Generals, pp. 120121, 1267, 169170; BAMA, N 5/24/26.

invasion and retreat

or Finckh. All three died in prison. Boineburg-Lengsfeld and General

Brehmer received reprimands and transfers for their part in the coup, but
Michel, Bargatzky, Teuchert, and several other conspirators continued as
if nothing had happened. The commander of the regiment that actually
arrested the SS, Lieutenant-Colonel Kraewel, remained at his post and
hindered the demolition of Paris during the nal days of the Occupation.
Oberg followed Abetzs formula, wrapped up his investigation quickly,
and may have intervened in favor of Stlpnagels family who, unlike most
of the Stauffenberg clan, survived the war.
Why did Oberg help Abetz and Stlpnagel cover up the 20 July coup
in Paris? First, the HSSuPF and Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel had served
together during World War One. Second, the HSSuPF had developed an
effective working relationship with the MBF and shared a common view
of France with the military administration. While in charge of security,
Oberg expressed little enthusiasm for draconian reprisals. Like the MBF,
the HSSuPF favored labor deportations that contributed to the German
war effort. For his part, Stlpnagel did not tamper with SS affairs. Oberg
followed a pragmatic course, carried out orders to the best of his modest
abilities, and rarely seized the initiative. With Allied armies approaching
Paris and the war all but lost, blind loyalty to a dying regime made little
sense to the pragmatic Oberg.
Allied soldiers, not the 20 July conspirators, liberated Paris and ended
the Occupation by force of arms. Paris teetered on the brink of revolution
and approximately 100,000 Frenchmen participated in demonstrations on
Bastille Day: 14 July 1944. Hitler replaced Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel
with General Dietrich von Choltitz, a veteran of the attack on Rotterdam
and the siege of Sevastopol. After meeting with Hitler and receiving orders
to not surrender without explicit permission, Choltitz assumed command
of German forces in Paris on 9 August 1944. French railway workers
walked off the job the day after Choltitz arrived, and Ob West ordered

Schramm, Conspiracy Among Generals, pp. 1725; Hoffmann, The History of the German
Resistance, 19331945, pp. 517518, 529; Liddell-Hart, German Generals Talk, pp. 2667; BAMA,
N 5/24/1113.
Birn, Die Hoheren SS- und Polizeifhrer, pp. 2559, 341; Lappenkper, Der Schlachter von
USNA, RG 242/T-175/65/25805622580563; Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, Is
Paris Burning? (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1965), pp. 336, 468.

after the fall

the MBF to disarm French policemen on 12 August. Unfettered by orders

to ght to the last man, SS policemen began to ee on 10 August. The
last MBF would have to hold Paris without help from Ob West, French
collaborators, or the Black Corps.
Communist partisans called for a general strike and mobilized their forces
on 18 August, and non-Communist leaders quickly followed suit. General
von Choltitz threatened to answer resistance with the sharpest means, but
his threats proved hollow. Skirmishes broke out across Paris and, despite
local ceasere agreements, continued until 24 August. General Eisenhower
would have preferred to bypass the French capital, but General de Gaulle
forced his hand. Elements of General Leclercs Free French forces entered
Paris on 24 August and accepted the surrender of General von Choltitz
the following day. Given the forces at his disposal, Choltitz had no other
realistic choice. Despite contrary orders from Hitler, Paris escaped total
Approximately 60 per cent of the military administration survived the
retreat to Germany by joining regular military units. Survivors eventually
gathered in Potsdam during the winter of 19441945 and, in an attempt to
avoid combat, began to write a history of occupied France. Veterans of the
military administration did not escape the malevolent attention of Heinrich
Himmler. The Reichsfhrer SS asked Keitel to reassign MVW ofcials to
combat units immediately after they nished writing their reports. Oddly
enough, the process lasted until 7 May 1945the day Jodl agreed to an
unconditional surrender.
Final reports written by the military administration contain a wealth
of information pertaining to the occupation of France during World
War Two. Although rich in detail, many were written by people who
feared prosecution for war crimes after the end of hostilities. Veterans
of the military administration excused their own actions by crediting
war crimes to the SS, the German embassy in Paris, Sauckels labor
organization, senior military leaders in Berlin, and orders from Hitler.

Jackson, France. The Dark Years 19401944, p. 561; BALW, R 70 Frankreich/33/7; BAK
All. Proz. 21/209/3941.
BAMA, RH 19 IV/141/che 2/94; Jackson, France. The Dark Years, 19401944, pp. 5619.
BAMA, RH 3/206/30, 5759, 66, 95, 99; Jackel, France dans lEurope de Hitler, pp. 508,
BAMA, RW 35/244247.

invasion and retreat

Although interspersed with references to the Hague Convention and

leading scholars of international law, arguments amounted to little more
than somebody else did it or you did it too. Every parent can appreciate
the value of such rhetoric.
Often portrayed as an absolute dictator in scholarly discourse and popular
imagination, Hitler recognized the limits of his power. An anti-Semite
to the core, Hitler understood that German society did not share all
of his opinions regarding Jews and proceeded with caution. As Nazi
electoral prospects improved in the 1930s, the Fhrer toned down anti-
Semitic rhetoric in favor of the need for living space and the iniquity
of parliamentary politics. After assuming control of the German state
in 1933, Hitler implemented his anti-Semitic agenda in stages that began
with defamation and discrimination before proceeding to despoliation and
concluding with extermination during the war. After defeating the French
on the eld of battle, Hitler followed the same pattern and pursued French
Jews in stages but proceeded without any regard for French sensibilities.
Ignoring legal arguments raised by military administration ofcials, the
Fhrer approved the conscation of Jewish property and antagonized the
Vichy government in short order. The advent of deadly resistance activity
allowed Hitler to up the ante in 1941. Speaking through Keitel, Hitler
outlined a reprisal policy of 50 to 100 executions for each and every
German casualty. The Fhrers brutal strategy liquidated racial opponents,
intimidated neutral Frenchmen, and shocked the French public. Condent
of victory, Hitler refused to accommodate French concerns and pushed his
anti-Semitic agenda forward.
The Vichy regime went to extraordinary lengths to accommodate
German needs. After the Moser assassination, French courts executed six
communists to satisfy Germanys thirst for vengeance. Darlan allowed
French rms to work for the German war machine even when such
contracts made France vulnerable to Allied bombing raids. Neither Darlan
or Laval displayed a preference for anti-Semitism during the interwar era,
but both supported the defamation, discrimination, and despoliation of
French Jews and the deportation of foreign Jews of their own accord. Until
the very last weeks of the Occupation, many French police cooperated with
their German counterparts in an effort to seize Jews, round up refractaires,

Kershaw, Hitler, 18891936: Hubris, pp. 288, 330.

after the fall

and maintain order. The French government accommodated Nazi goals

and persecuted Jews in an attempt to vanquish common enemies and secure
a place in Hitlers new order.
During his tenure as MBF, Otto von Stlpnagel indulged some French
concerns in order to expand economic collaboration. For example, he
opposed travel restrictions that divided occupied and unoccupied France
because they impeded commerce. In a 1940 letter, the MBF asked General
Jodl to send vital raw materials to France because one must give a cow
fodder in order to get milk. During the hostage debate, Otto von
Stlpnagel condemned Polish Methods that made future rapprochement
more difcult. Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel followed the policies of
his cousin and minimized the number of hostage executions while he
remained in charge of German security policy. Both MBFs placed economic
cooperation above racial considerations and tried to accommodate French
sensibilities while they supported the military war effort.
Oberg certainly understood Nazi racial goals based on his SS background,
rst-hand experience in Poland, and talks with Heydrich during the latters
May 1942 visit to Paris. Personnel shortages drove Oberg to negotiate
with French counterparts and accommodate some French concerns in
order to secure indigenous support. To mitigate the number of unpopular
reprisals, he did not report every incident to higher authorities in Berlin.
In exchange for accelerated labor deportations in the rst half of 1943, the
HSSuPF quashed plans for accelerated deportations that were championed
by Eichmann, Dannecker, and Rothke. Neither Oberg nor Knochen
threatened dire repercussions after Laval failed to publish denaturalization
legislation that would facilitate the deportation of more Jews. Under
Obergs command, SS police forces focused on refractaires and resistance
groups that endangered order. Obergs support for the cover-up of the
20 July coup can be characterized as another act in a series of modest
Pragmatic considerations may have informed Obergs decision to accom-
modate the Vichy regime. The HSSuPF could not fulll his entire mission
with the 3,000 German policemen at his disposal. Unilateral German round-
ups alienated the French populace and drove people toward resistance

BAMA, RW 35/244/3235; Jackel, France dans lEurope de Hitler, p. 139.

USNA, RG 242/T-501/122/711712.

invasion and retreat

groups. Assassinations had discredited Otto von Stlpnagel in late 1941.

Burgeoning resistance activity and widespread participation in the coup
against Hitler threatened to do the same to the HSSuPF in 1944. Once in
charge of security, Oberg had an interest in securing French cooperation
through accommodation. Obergs predecessor, SS Brigadefhrer Thomas,
had helped the Einsatzstab Rosenberg conscate Jewish property, bombed
synagogues, antagonized the military administration, and upset the leaders
of the Vichy regime. Relative to Thomas, Oberg acted with some dis-
cretion and accomplished some of Himmlers goals while accommodating
some concerns of his French and German colleagues.
The logic of accommodation also shaped racial and labor deportations.
Fritz Sauckel furloughed one French POW for every three workers sent
to Germany through the Releve program. Subsequent drives exempted
policemen, agricultural laborers, and other key Vichy supporters in return
for French assistance. Labor campaigns mounted in the nal months of
the Occupation failed in part because they included few exemptions and
incurred widespread hostility. Racial deportations followed a similar course.
Initial round-ups exempted assimilated French Jews, focused on unpopular
refugees, and were backed by the Vichy regime and French policemen.
Once the supply of foreign Jews ran short, SS ofcials pressed for the
deportation of recently naturalized and later assimilated French Jews, but
they could offer nothing in return for French cooperation. With a brief
limited to security, the SS could not offer political or economic concessions
that Laval craved. Finally, the military administration helped Sauckel
collect French workers but played a junior role in racial deportations after
1 June 1942. As long as they could accommodate the concerns of other
German agencies and the Vichy regime, both Sauckel and Oberg enjoyed
a degree of success, but with more to offer, Sauckel enjoyed the greater
The balance of Franco-German accommodation inevitably favored the
Reich. At the beginning of the Occupation, French leaders expected to
pay a price for Frances defeat and accepted German measures with a
degree of resignation. The annexation of Alsace and Lorraine surprised few
observers. French policemen turned over common enemies and undesirable
refugees to Himmlers SS. Laval passed legislation that sent hundreds of
thousands of French workers to Germany in exchange for a few prisoners
of war and short-lived exemptions for select Vichy supporters. Eager to

after the fall

preserve French sovereignty, the Vichy regime surpassed terms of the 1940
Armistice Agreement in an attempt to curry German favor, demonstrate
French loyalty, and secure a place in Hitlers new order. In return, the
Fhrer gave France the ashes of Napoleon Bonapartes son and four long
years of cold, hunger, and oppression.
The Vichy regime and, by extension, the French public, may not have
had any other realistic choice. Foreign communists associated with the
Main-duvre immigree answered Stalins call for resistance and carried out a
series of dramatic assassinations in 1941, but most French communists stuck
to propaganda and sabotage. Deadly German reprisals forced Charles de
Gaulle to back down in 1941 and underscored the folly of armed resistance
while German soldiers stood at the gates of Moscow. With few weapons
at their disposal, resistance forces could not attack Germany directly and
focused their ire on French collaborators in 1943 and 1944. Resistance
groups and the French public had to accommodate overwhelming German
Hitlers strategy succeeded in so far as it ran parallel to traditional goals,
long-standing prejudices, and popular stereotypes. Eager to avenge the
Versailles Agreement, many German ofcers overlooked unpalatable facets
of the Nazi regime, supported rearmament in the 1930s, and acquiesced
in aggressive foreign policy initiatives that culminated in World War
Two. Playing upon an institutional fear of partisans who operated behind
German lines, Hitler secured military support for an expanded denition
of reprisals that included racial opponents of the Nazi regime. Although
the scale and scope of cooperation between the Nazi party and German
army remains a controversial topic of historical inquiry, both Hitler and the
army shared some common goals. Despite the occasional pinch, Hitlers
Nazi glove usually t the Wehrmachts iron st quite well. Ofcers may
have complained about and bristled under Hitlers leadership on occasion,
but they endured ve long years of war before mounting a serious attempt
to overthrow the Nazi regime. By satisfying the armys desire for revenge
and manipulating a widespread fear of partisans, Hitler maintained control
over most of the Wehrmacht until the bitter end.
The French and Nazi governments, as well as the German military
administration, all accepted the fundamental legitimacy of the so-called
Jewish Question but could not agree upon a common answer to the alleged
problem. In a plebeian attempt to satisfy latent French anti-Semitism and

invasion and retreat

curry favor with the Nazi regime, the Vichy government inaugurated a
campaign against Jews in the press, stripped Jewish immigrants of their
French citizenship, and allowed prefects to imprison foreign Jews. Prime
Minister Laval created a temporary administration agency (SCAP) to take
over Jewish businesses and Aryanize the French economy. Admiral
Darlan created the General Commissariat for Jewish Affairs (CGQJ) to
coordinate French anti-Semitic initiatives. Aggravating traditional anti-
Semitic prejudices that survived throughout Europe, Hitler enlisted French
support in comprehensive defamation, discrimination, and despoliation
Perceiving Jews as a security threat, the military administration deported
Jews from coastal provinces and ordered Jews to register with local police.
Playing upon widespread guerillaphobia within the German army, Hitler
also tried to enlist the MBF in the Final Solution via hostage executions.
Characterizing Otto von Stlpnagels response to resistance as much too
mild, the Fhrer directed the MBF to execute 50 to 100 hostages after
every resistance attack. Upping the ante in December 1941, Hitler allowed
military commanders to exchange hundreds of hostage executions for
thousands of deportations by way of the Nacht und Nebel Erlass, and
ancillary documents reveal deportation as equivalent to death. In any case,
both hostages and deportees would be drawn from anti-German groups
that were, in Hitlers mind, invariably led by Jews and Jewish stooges. By
demanding immediate reprisals, Hitler guaranteed that investigators would
not have time to catch bona de perpetrators and ensured that reprisals
would fall squarely on the usual suspects: Jews. Otto von Stlpnagel
protested against Hitlers reprisal policy, resigned his command, and proved
that neither he nor the military administration could be relied upon
to wage Hitlers deadly war against the so-called international Jewish
conspiracy under the guise of reprisals.
Opposition to the Einsatzstab Rosenberg and a lack of enthusiasm for
deadly reprisals discredited the MBF in the Fhrers eyes. In response,
Hitler placed French and German police forces in the hands of a man who
accepted his broad denition of security. Obergs appointment signaled
another major defeat for the military administration and provides further

Gerhard Weinberg (ed.), Hitlers Second Book, translated by Krista Smith (New York: Enigma
Books, 2003), pp. 229234.

after the fall

evidence that neither Stlpnagel served as Hitlers willing executioner. As

HSSuPF, Oberg had the authority to address the so-called Jewish Question
to Hitlers satisfaction, but he lacked the resources to carry out the Fhrers
will on his own. Dependent upon French police and German military
assistance, Oberg concentrated on common enemies in an attempt to carry
out part of his mission. Although willing, he was not able to fulll the
racial goals of the Nazi regime.
During their tenure as Militarbefehlshaber in Frankreich, Otto and Carl-
Heinrich von Stlpnagel gained rst-hand knowledge of the methods and
goals of the Nazi regime. Otto von Stlpnagel worked within the chain of
command and condemned Nazi policies in a series of letters, memoranda,
and ofcial reports. After resigning his command and retiring to Berlin, he
survived the war only to be arrested by Allied authorities. Carl-Heinrich
von Stlpnagel also rejected the Nazi regime but followed a different
course. Rather than condemning specic policies, Carl-Heinrich turned
against the entire Nazi regime. Conspirators in Paris arrested the SS in an
attempt to change the political balance of power within the Reich and
eliminate a baneful inuence within German society. Despite pursuing
very different courses, both Stlpnagels ultimately paid a high price for
their conduct. Carl-Heinrich met his fate before a Nazi court in Berlin,
and Otto committed suicide while awaiting trial for war crimes in a French
prison. Tainted by their association with the Nazi regime and anti-Nazi
resistance, neither man could escape the hangmans noose.
On the whole, members of the military administration may have behaved
in a more humane fashion than some of their civilian and SS counter-
parts. But the military administration can be characterized as humane or
proper only when juxtaposed with the SS. The military administration
ruthlessly exploited French industrial resources to support the German war
effort. Senior ofcers used ambiguous language in the Hague and Geneva
Conventions to justify harsh reprisals that stopped short of genocide but
still resulted in mass murder. Carl-Heinrich von Stlpnagel and his con-
federates may have detested Hitler, but they made no overt preparations to
end the Occupation or rescind criminal regulations from OKW. Guer-
rilla tactics employed by resistance groups may not have been completely
legal, but they cannot excuse the transgressions of the MBF or his military

Jackel, France dans lEurope de Hitler, p. 475.

invasion and retreat

administration. American and British ofcials followed a very different

course as they governed western Germany after the war. American, British,
and French jurists operated under the same ambiguous rules of war set
forth in the Hague Convention, but they made veterans of the German
occupation stand trial after hostilities ceased. Carl Oberg, Helmut Knochen,
Otto Abetz, Werner Best, and Elmar Michel all managed to survive the
Allied occupation.

This page intentionally left blank
Bundesarchiv, Abteilung Koblenz (BAK).
Allgemeine Prozess 21 (All. Proz. 21): Prozesse gegen Deutsche in europaischen
N 1023: Nachla Best.
Bundesarchiv, Abteilung Reich und DDR, Lichterfelde West, Berlin (BALW).
NS 19: Reichsfhrer SS Personalischer Stab.
R 19: Ordnungspolizei.
R 43 II: Reichskanzlei.
R 58: Reichssicherheitshauptamt.
R 70 Frankreich: Polizeidienststellen im Bereich des Militarbefehlshaber in
Bundesarchiv, Abteilung Militararchiv, Freiburg im Breisgau (BAMA).
N5: Depot Stlpnagel.
RH 3: OKH Generalquartiermeister.
RH 19: Heeresgruppenkommandos.
RH 36: Kommandanturen der Militarverwaltung.
RW 5: OKW Ausland Amt und Abwehr.
RW 34: Rstungsdienst.
RW 35: Militarbefehlshaber in Frankreich und nachgeordnete Dienststellen.
United States National Archive and Records Administration, College Park, Mary-
land (USNA).
Record Group 153: Records of the Judge Advocate General, Army.
Entry 133: War Crimes branch, Treaty Analysis Project.
Entry 135: JAG Law Library, 194449.
Entry 143: Case les. Cases les pertaining to France.
Entry 144: Personnel and subject dossiers.
Entry 151: French War Crimes Cases.
Record Group 242, Captured German Records.
T-77: Records of the Headquarters, German Armed Forces High Command
T-78: Records of the German Army High Command (OKH).
T-120: Records of the German Foreign Ofce, 18871920 and 19201945.
after the fall

T-175: Records of the Reich Leader of the SS and Chief of German Police.
T-501: Records of German Field Commands, Rear Areas, Occupied Territories,
and others.
T-580: Miscellaneous SS (non-biographical) material, also known as the Schu-
macker Files.
Record Group 338: Records of the United States Army Commands, 1942.
Foreign Military Studies.


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Abetz, Otto 528, 63, 66, 71, 72, 758, 88, 102, 113, 133, 137, 149, 157, 158,
79, 87, 112, 128, 142, 143, 1469, 160, 162, 163, 164, 165, 166, 168, 169,
152, 164, 206, 207, 20810, 227, 228, 170, 171, 172, 174, 180, 195, 197, 198,
236, 253, 257, 260, 274, 2857, 295 218, 224, 238, 2689, 275, 280, 281,
Abwehr 65, 138, 158, 160, 180 294
Action Francaise 205 Aryan race and culture 54, 68, 119, 124,
Aero-Club 155 212, 215, 244
Africa corps 56 Aryanization process 61, 66, 180, 21116,
Ain (Swiss border) 269, 270 219; see also French economy
Alibert, Raphael 84, 86 Atignac, Joseph 206
Alliance Israelite Universelle 80 attentisme, see France; Vichy regime
Allied forces 25, 26, 28, 302, 122, 191, Auphan, Admiral Paul 5
195, 196, 197, 242, 274, 275 Auschwitz concentration camp, see
and bombing raids 83, 244, 261, 289 concentration camps
conquest of Sicily 202 Austria 11, 59, 83, 135, 226, 227
in North Africa 194; see also North German annexation of (Anschluss) 43,
Africa 199, 226
and prospects for victory 40, 167 see also Jews
and World War One 97 Axis powers 28, 39, 194, 195, 197, 221,
see also Allies, the; British forces; D-Day; 236, 242, 273
France; Normandy; United States retreat of the (1942) 194
Allies, the 1, 4, 17, 23, 24, 26, 28, 30, 39,
56, 147, 188, 241, 248, 27381, 2878 Badoglio, Marshal Pietro 241
Alsace 39, 47, 57, 58 Bahnke, Dr. 79
German annexation of 106, 291 Baku 26, 33
American Civil War 99 Balz, Rudolf 105
Andurain, Jacques d 135 Barbie, Klaus 239
Anglophiles 217 Bargatzky, Walter 276, 282, 284, 287
Anglo-Saxon hegemony 210 Bartov, Omer 1314
Anschluss, see Austria Battle of Britain 62, 74
anti-German activity by French resistance Baudouin, Paul 34, 39
groups 65, 122, 1345, 148, 173, 216, Baumettes prison camp 2656
217, 218, 293 Bavaria (relief train) 47
anti-Semitism 16, 19, 50, 68, 111, 196, Beck, General Ludwig 12, 170, 281, 283
199200, 20910; see also Final Beer Hall Putsch (1923) 59, 68
Solution to the Jewish Question; Behr, Baron Kurt von 78
France; Hitler; Jews; SS; Vichy regime Belgium 30, 41, 44, 111, 149, 150, 151, 178,
Arc de Triomphe 65 221, 223, 230, 257, 258
Ardennes 26, 31, 39 German invasion of (1940) 24, 26, 302
Argonne 39 and World War One 85, 97, 111
Armee Secrete (Armee Sauckel) 250 see also Jews
Armed Forces High Command Benoist-Mechin, Jacques 144
(Oberkommando der Wehrmacht or Berlin 21, 23, 41, 48, 50, 56, 61, 65, 66, 72,
OKW) 12, 15, 24, 41, 60, 71, 74, 87, 73, 79, 81, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 97, 111,

Berlin (cont.) Brassillach, Robert 201

113, 119, 120, 122, 124, 1278, 129, Brauchitsch, General Walter von 245, 40,
132, 135, 137, 138, 144, 148, 154, 155, 412, 44, 48, 64, 65, 66, 75, 76, 79,
156, 157, 160, 161, 163, 165, 166, 168, 80, 82, 86, 88, 1267, 137, 141, 151,
174, 175, 181, 183, 186, 190, 192, 195, 170, 195, 215, 224
199, 209, 210, 211, 215, 225, 226, 229, despoliation campaign against
230, 242, 252, 274, 281, 282, 283, 284, Jews 21112
285, 286, 290, 294 Bredow, General Ferdinand von 11, 170
Berlin Museum 75 Brehmer, Major-General Walter 271, 282,
Bernheim-Jeune art gallery 75 284, 287
Best, Werner 456, 76, 7880, 85, 86, 87, Briand, Aristide 33, 53
1525, 174, 206, 208, 216, 228, 229, Brinon, Fernand de 11516, 118, 184, 236
295 British Expeditionary Force (BEF) 30
Beumelburg, Walter 116, 117, 118, 140 British forces 32, 34, 89, 110, 274, 275
billet vert (green ticket) 217, 228 British government 59, 145
Bizerte 56 British liberals 112
Black Corps, 19, 20, 65, 67, 80, 89, 1323, British Manual of Military Law (1929) 98
175, 183, 223, 225, 238, 244, 283, 284, British propaganda 174
288; see also SS British resistance 77, 196
Black Reichswehr in Silesia and the British war effort 251
Ruhr 170 Brittany 271, 279
Blanke, Kurt 212 Brunner, Alois 243
Blaskowitz, General Johannes 41, 42, 43, Brussels conference (1874) 91
46, 64, 211, 2756 Brustlein, Gilbert 135, 136
Blomberg, Werner von 25 Buhler, Josef 171
Blomberg-Fritsch affair (1938) 11, 25, 52, Buhrmann, Major-General Robert 60
88 Bulgaria 232; see also Jews
Blum, Leon 33, 34 Bunjes, Dr. Hermann 812
Blumentritt, General Gunther 2823, Burckel, Joseph 47
2856 Burrin, Philippe 8
Bock, Fedor von 170, 195 concept of accommodation 8, 9, 16, 21
Boer War 110 Bussche, Freiherr von 43
Bohemia 250
German occupation of (1939) 33, 36 Calais 57
Bohme, Franz 225 Calisse, Alberto 241
Boineburg-Lengsfeld, Lieutenant-General Campinchi, Cesar 35
Freiherr Hans von 2825, 287 Canaris, Admiral Wilhelm 158, 180, 183
Bois de Boulogne 284 Case Yellow (Fall Gelb) 246, 30, 31, 40,
Bolshevism 28, 210 170
ght against 252, 258, 260 Catholic Church 8, 236
Bolshevism against Europe exhibition 209 central and south American countries 144
Bordeaux 34, 36, 66, 84, 135, 225, 234, Chamberlain government (UK) 112
243, 277 Champs Elysees 65
assassination 135, 141, 144, 145, 148, Chautemps, Camille 34
150, 159, 165, 178, 182 Chiang Kai Shek 44
executions 139, 140, 142, 144, 146, 155 China 43
Bormann, Martin 77, 125, 238, 264 Choltitz, General Dietrich von 2878
Bousquet, Rene 167, 184, 1858, 202, Churchill, Sir Winston 35, 144, 194
2301, 232, 233, 234, 236, 238, 240, City of Light, see Paris
265 Clausewitz, Carl von 149


Clemenceau, Georges 97 D-Day 273, 275, 277

Clermont-Ferrand (town) 7 Dahlerus, Birger 59
Comite de Coordination des Oeuvres de Dakar 56
Bienfaisance Israelites a Paris 227 Daladier, Edouard 34, 62, 66
Commander of the Security Police and SD Daladier government 33, 34, 112, 113, 134,
in France (Befehlshaber der 245
Sicherheitspolizei und des SD or Daluege, Kurt 265
BdS) 182, 224, 225, 226, 232, 241, Dannecker, Theodor 209, 22635, 237,
242, 244, 256 244, 290
Commissariat General aux Questions Juives Danzig-West Prussia 221
(CGQJ) 867, 167, 184, 199, 202, Darlan, Admiral Jean Francois 4, 5, 8, 9,
2047, 209, 216, 219, 2278, 37, 86, 1414, 146, 164, 1668, 185,
293 199, 2056, 207, 209, 210, 212, 227,
Communist International (Comintern) 67 289
communists 223, 264, 274 assassination of (1942) 245
deportation of 1578 Darlan government 204, 245
execution of 149, 166 Darnand, Joseph 2, 206
see also French Communist Party; French Darquier de Pellepoix, Louis 167, 184,
communists 202, 206, 207
Compiegne 266 Darwinism, social 68
concentration camps 48, 63, 114, 169, 226, Deat, Marcel 56, 129, 186
243, 250 death camps 20, 158, 174, 234, 244
Auschwitz 15, 174, 202, 207, 218, 223, Decree concerning Military Jurisdiction
228, 230, 233, 234, 237, 238, 239, during War and Special Operations
240 (Kriegsstrafverfahrensordnung or
Beaune-la-Rolande (Loiret) 228, 230, KStVO) 1002, 192, 268
232 Decree concerning Special Military Crimes
Chateaubriant 140 during War
Drancy 228, 230, 232, 233, 234, 237, (Kriegssonderstrafrechtsverordnung or
239, 240 KSSVO) 1012, 192
in France 204, 228, 230 Deloncle, Eugene 567, 66, 129, 130,
Pithiviers 228, 230, 232 132
in Poland 169 Delp, Alfred 281
Sobibor 240 Denmark 30, 178, 221, 222
see also death camps; prisoner of war German invasion of (1940) 28
(POW) camps deportations 15761, 163, 165, 166, 169,
Correze 267, 271 1745, 1901, 193, 207, 218, 274
Court of St. James 52 labor 177, 180, 203, 24772, 287, 290,
Crete, German invasion of (1941) 194 291
Creuse 267 racial 22046, 263, 291
Crimean War (185456) 90 Deutsch-Franzosische Gesellschaft 53, 54
crimes against humanity 1; see also war Dienststelle Ribbentrop 53
crimes Dieppe Raid (August 1942) 274, 275
criminal police (Kriminalpolizei or Dijon 66, 225, 243
Kripo) 65, 224, 225 attack 159
Crome, Major Hans 127, 136, 138 Dordogne 271
Custine, General Adam Philippe 95 Doriot, Jacques 2, 56
Czechoslovakia 25, 59, 135, 227; see also Dreyfus, Captain Alfred 206, 222
Jews Drumont, Edouard 201


Dunkirk 34, 194 in France 20, 90, 1978, 200, 206, 211,
British escape from 62, 274 217, 218, 220, 223, 224, 226, 227,
German capture of (1940) 32 230, 235, 245, 263, 293, 294
Dyle plan 30 in the Italian zone 241
Finckh, Colonel Eberhard 2812, 287
Eastern Front, ghting on the 86, 87, 109, Finland 26, 34
119, 129, 159, 165, 166, 177, 190, 195, Soviet invasion of (1939) 26, 33
196, 229, 248 Flanders 39
Eben Emael (Belgian fortress) 30 Foch, Marshal Ferdinand 36, 58
Ebert, Dr. Georg 778 Fort de lEst and Fresne military prison 284
Ecole Rabbinique 80 France 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20,
Egypt 194 24, 25, 28, 334, 37, 39, 40, 43, 44,
Eichmann, Adolf 199, 225, 226, 22930, 48, 50, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 64,
2345, 236, 237, 238, 240, 242, 83, 84, 95, 98, 128, 133, 134, 135, 143,
290 148, 149, 151, 160, 167, 169, 178, 197,
Einsatzstab Rosenberg 18, 19, 20, 54, 61, 237
62, 66, 67, 69, 70, 72, 73, 7688, 130, agreement with Italy (1940) 36
165, 199, 200, 208, 291, 293 Allied invasion of 206, 242, 243, 263,
and anti-German conspiracies 70, 73, 78, 267, 27395
80, 85, 130, 218, 225, 264 anti-Semitism in 199201, 205, 206,
Eisenhower, General Dwight D. 277, 280, 217, 222, 227
288 and the attentiste (wait and see)
England 38 attitude 36, 134, 148, 167, 203,
German planned invasion of 47, 216 264
English Channel 26, 32, 199, 200, 211, civilian crimes in 10611
216, 219 declaration of war against Great Britain
Europe 1, 11, 44, 95, 122, 132, 166, 180, and the United States 56
194, 196, 197 German anti-partisan policy in 89, 106,
conquest of Western 61, 64, 179 119, 122, 1245, 157, 161, 165, 177,
Eastern 9, 59, 135, 158, 216 180, 193, 196, 244, 270, 271, 2734
European France exhibition 209 German conscation policy in 7188
executions 279 German invasion of (1940) 24, 25, 28,
hostage 173, 174, 186, 189, 190, 1923, 30, 313, 166, 170, 194, 247
217, 270, 274, 290 German occupation of southern
mass 141, 163, 165, 166, 169 (1942) 238
see also French resistance; Hitler, Adolf; the HSSuPF in 17893, 197, 224, 236,
Jews 238
and immigration 201
Liberation of (1944) 1, 2, 7, 190, 192,
Falkenhausen, General Alexander von 41, 193, 206, 272, 27395
44, 46, 150, 151, 152, 178 politics in 3, 5, 33
fascism 33, 112; see also Mussolini, Benito rearmament of 33, 36
Federation Republicaine 205 SS court in 1912
Ferdinand, Franz, assassination of (1914) 85 Second Empire (1870) 96
Fighting League for German Culture 68 sword and shield theory in 24
Final Solution to the Jewish Question 11, Third Republic 2, 54, 201, 264
18, 72, 1245, 1323, 158, 166, 174, unoccupied 47, 48, 54, 60, 71, 183, 205,
17980, 196, 198, 200, 217, 221, 222, 206, 207, 220, 231, 232, 233, 234,
226, 228, 230, 235 259, 290


and World War One 97 French communists 4, 36, 65, 66, 104, 112,
see also Final Solution to the Jewish 113, 115, 125, 134, 149, 169, 176, 186,
Question; Vichy regime; 195, 209, 210, 217, 225, 226, 243, 288,
occupation, French 292
Franco, General Francisco 183 deportation of 160, 1578, 165, 169,
Franco-German accommodation 9, 107, 174
291 execution of 138, 146, 149, 159, 163,
Franco-German Armistice Agreement 173, 176, 189, 289
(1940) 4, 6, 9, 17, 18, 33, 3540, 48, persecution of 11319, 121, 123, 124,
50, 51, 55, 56, 58, 59, 60, 66, 88, 112, 134, 149, 180, 187, 218, 238, 242
128, 134, 142, 164, 199, 203, 211, 221, French economy 38, 45, 50, 55, 5961,
246, 250, 254, 292 130, 152, 203, 221, 249, 251, 259
Franco-German Armistice Commission 38, Aryanization (arisierung) of 66, 130,
56, 5960, 77, 86, 171, 253, 281 199200, 203, 21116, 219, 293
Franco-German collaboration 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, French government, see Vichy regime
9, 534, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 66, 77, 89, French law 83, 84
106, 128, 136, 141, 146, 147, 161, 187, French liberals 112
188, 199, 202, 203, 207, 222, 223, 243, French Ministries:
272 of Finance 204
economic 17, 378, 88, 162, 223, 290 of the Interior 184
and resistance 6, 7, 8, 21, 134, 167; see of Justice 114
also French resistance French National Assembly 143
see also Franco-German relations 1875 Constitution 143
Franco-German peace settlement 87, 141, French nationalists 134, 217
161 French navy 37, 39, 40
Franco-German relations 5, 19, 21, 367, French police 15, 20, 54, 67, 112, 113, 114,
38, 52, 53, 58, 62, 63, 72, 113, 135, 117, 122, 130, 137, 147, 160, 1689,
140, 144, 184, 223, 254; see also 173, 1779, 182, 1848, 192, 200,
Franco-German collaboration 207, 211, 216, 217, 219, 220, 223, 224,
Franco-Prussian War 96, 110, 274 227, 2301, 232, 234, 235, 236, 237,
Francs Tireurs et Partisans/ Mouvement 239, 240, 241, 242, 244, 245, 250,
Ouvrier International (FTP/ MOI) 189 2601, 263, 264, 265, 266, 269, 271,
Frank, Hans 179 279, 288, 289, 291, 293, 294
Freemasons 53, 85, 87, 209, 210, 243 French resistance 3, 6, 8, 9, 1718, 19, 34,
French anarchists 104, 11314, 187, 217 67, 77, 80, 87, 89, 90, 95, 105, 106,
French army 6, 30, 32, 34, 36, 37, 39, 58, 110, 11233, 1345, 145, 148, 149,
95, 112, 167 155, 1567, 160, 161, 166, 167, 172,
Spanish campaign (1808) 956 176, 177, 18892, 200, 216, 21719,
French business and industry 38, 50, 61, 222, 223, 226, 2389, 241, 24772,
158, 2034, 211, 24853, 294 275, 276, 279, 280, 288, 2901, 292
French Communist Party (Parti Communist and German reprisal policy 1357, 168,
Francais or PCF) 3, 33, 34, 667, 112, 172, 175, 177, 180, 187, 188, 190,
11314, 117, 1345, 138, 162, 175, 192, 193, 21718, 2389, 276, 279
217, 218 and suspected British activity 137, 138,
bataillons de la jeunesse 135, 172, 1756 141, 150, 188
groupes de brulots 135, 139, 152, 155, 157, propaganda for leaets and newspapers
160 distributed by resistance groups 50,
Main-doeuvre immigree (MOI) 135, 292 112, 173, 255
and policy of resistance 134, 140, 155 trials of members of the 1757, 191
see also French communists French Revolution 95, 96


French workers 9, 127, 128, 160, 169, 172, German forces 1, 6, 23, 32, 43, 48, 83, 102,
253, 287; see also deportations, labor 109, 110, 112, 122, 128, 129, 159, 162,
Frejus (Var department) 266 195, 197, 241, 243, 258, 259, 261, 268,
Frick, Wilhelm 49 269, 271, 275, 277, 280, 287
Fromm, General Friedrich 283 German Foreign Ministry 52, 69, 207, 235,
Fuhrerbefehl 11, 40, 87 237
German Foreign Ofce 9, 51, 52, 53, 55,
Gabolde, Maurice 202 59, 60, 61, 75, 79, 86, 113, 136, 148,
Gamelin, General Maurice 23, 24, 30, 32 222, 241
Gaulle, General Charles de 2, 3, 6, 35, 134, German Imperial Army 245, 50, 100,
146, 217, 279, 288 196
and the Free French movement 145 German law 71, 72, 73
and the French National Committee German military administration 16, 17, 18,
(CNF) 145 19, 20, 212, 55, 72, 108, 115,
and the French people 148 11718, 121, 122, 125, 126, 127, 140,
and German reprisals 145, 292 142, 147, 148, 149, 161, 173, 183, 199,
and the sword and shield theory 2, 3, 200, 204, 211, 216, 217, 224, 248, 250,
143 251, 252, 264, 276, 288, 289, 291, 293,
Gaullists 137, 148, 217 294
Geissler, Kurt (SS Hauptsturmfuhrer) 66 German Ministries:
Geneva Convention 1, 73, 195, 261, 294 of Armaments and Munitions 60
rst (1864) 90 of Economics 601
second (1929) 934, 96, 97 of Finance 84
genocide 9, 158, 165, 218 of the Interior 45
George, Stefan 53 of Propaganda 69, 77, 140, 150
Georges, Pierre (aka Fredo and later see also German Foreign Ministry
Colonel Fabien) 135 German navy 172
Gerlier, Cardinal Pierre-Marie 202, 236 German police 1067, 108, 110, 120, 122,
German Africa Corps 155, 194 160, 168, 173, 1778, 182, 184, 191,
German army 914, 15, 16, 20, 24, 30, 38, 193, 217, 220, 223, 224, 228, 232, 234,
44, 50, 76, 79, 85, 86, 104, 107, 108, 241, 242, 243, 250, 257, 2601, 262,
122, 126, 136, 177, 187, 192, 193, 200, 263, 265, 269, 271, 279, 290, 293
211, 220, 221, 222, 224, 273, 279, 292 German U-boats 172
civilian attacks against the 104, 107, 108, German war economy 16, 18, 24, 28, 38,
109, 114, 127; see also French 45, 160, 223, 2479, 262, 263
resistance German war effort 8, 33, 38, 40, 49, 57, 61,
see also German forces; Luftwaffe; 67, 71, 81, 87, 105, 112, 120, 127, 162,
Wehrmacht 169, 200, 211, 213, 216, 221, 252, 263,
German Army Groups 26, 312, 171, 197, 286, 294
198, 276 Germany 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 23, 26, 28, 30, 35,
German Army High Command 36, 37, 38, 39, 44, 49, 50, 55, 56, 58,
(Oberkommando des Heeres or 59, 63, 67, 68, 69, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79,
OKH) 10, 12, 24, 41, 48, 50, 65, 76, 81, 84, 86, 87, 96, 98, 110, 116, 117,
81, 86, 88, 119, 128, 132, 137, 145, 118, 122, 123, 125, 128, 134, 140, 141,
159, 162, 170, 171, 175, 195, 197, 198, 142, 143, 144, 151, 160, 162, 167, 170,
203, 224, 273 173, 180, 187, 193, 1956, 206, 211,
German consumer market 17, 2478 214, 221, 237, 248, 250, 251, 252, 253,
German farms and factories 2478, 250, 254, 256, 257, 258, 261, 264, 265, 269,
258, 261 279, 280, 286, 288, 292, 295


defeat at Stalingrad 167 Heydrich, Reinhard 45, 129, 132, 175,

Nazi 6, 10, 11, 334, 112, 113, 132, 180, 181, 184, 185, 186, 226, 22930,
134, 135, 158, 161, 172, 176, 217 290
191819 Revolution 28, 64, 273 assassination of 186
and World War One 967 Himmler, Heinrich 20, 42, 45, 49, 50,
see also Jews 637, 69, 70, 72, 80, 89, 125, 132, 133,
Gerstenmaier, Eugen 281 158, 175, 17882, 183, 186, 189, 191,
Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei) 59, 64, 65, 192, 218, 221, 224, 225, 226, 236, 237,
80, 207, 224, 234, 279, 2823 238, 241, 250, 2623, 2646, 288, 291
Goebbels, Joseph 52, 689, 74, 125, Hitler, Adolf (Fuhrer) 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 1113,
14952, 155, 159, 178, 198 1415, 16, 18, 19, 20, 24, 25, 26, 28,
Goring, Carin 61 33, 35, 37, 38, 40, 41, 423, 44, 46, 47,
Goring, Hermann 18, 45, 49, 50, 51, 48, 49, 50, 52, 53, 545, 56, 57, 59,
5963, 67, 69, 70, 72, 813, 86, 125, 61, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 86, 88, 89,
1557, 159, 1645, 189, 249, 273, 285 97, 100, 106, 112, 113, 119, 126, 127,
interest in art 612 129, 136, 140, 142, 143, 144, 145, 147,
Grand Orient de France 80 149, 152, 155, 159, 162, 163, 164, 167,
Grau, Wilhelm 7980 170, 178, 179, 181, 185, 192, 195, 198,
Great Britain 1, 24, 28, 33, 34, 35, 51, 52, 205, 210, 211, 221, 231, 247, 252, 254,
55, 56, 59, 68, 98, 113, 141, 144, 194 256, 258, 259, 260, 262, 264, 267, 268,
German planned invasion of 48 2734, 280, 284, 287, 288, 289, 294
rearmament of 33, 36 anti-partisan policy 1246, 157, 161,
Special Air Service 275 162, 163, 165, 172, 180, 196, 197,
see also England; London 268, 275, 276
Greece 220, 221, 222 anti-Semitism 50, 57, 71, 86, 90, 124,
ancient 68 158, 166, 172, 196, 197, 28990
German invasion of (1941) 48, 194 assumes direct control of OKH 195
see also Jews Commando Order (1942) 191, 273, 275,
Greiner, Major 76 2767, 280, 281
Groscurth, Helmuth 281 Commissar Order 12, 171
Guderian, General Heinz 10, 119 and communist insurgence 123, 124,
Guernica 24 137, 138, 166, 197
gypsies 47 declares war on the United States 195
expansive denition of security 501,
Hagen, Herbert 225, 226, 232, 235, 236 8990, 162
Hague Convention 1, 13, 15, 16, 389, and the Final Solution to the Jewish
40, 41, 71, 73, 80, 83, 98, 99, 102, 103, Question 133, 199, 206, 207, 220,
105, 166, 195, 269, 273, 274, 276, 289, 232, 293
294, 295 and France 48, 578, 62, 72, 128, 245
(1899) 912, 93, 94, 96, 97 and the French 55, 57
(1907) 925, 96, 98 and the German policy of
Martens clause 94, 97 conscation 712, 73, 74, 75, 77,
Halder, General Franz 171, 281 78, 79, 82, 83, 87, 88, 89, 208
Haute Savoie 267 and the German war economy 2479
Heer, Hannes 14 and the Hoffmann case 119, 120, 122
Hemmen, Hans 60, 86, 2523 and hostage executions 1456, 14951,
Hexagon 17, 20, 36, 59, 84, 95, 128, 160, 155, 1723, 175, 192, 293
197, 199, 205, 226, 234, 236, 249, 258, and the Hotz case 137, 139
259, 263, 271; see also Occupation, Mein Kampf 48, 57, 58
French and military law 1003, 111


Hitler, Adolf (Fuhrer) (cont.) invasion of Egypt (1940) 194

and the Night and Fog Decree (Nacht and the Jewish Question 2413
und Nebel Erlass) 1578, 190, 293 see also Jews
9 March 1942 directive 1823, 184
plots against 256 Jackel, Eberhard 56, 8
Polish methods 166, 290 Japanese government 44
racial agenda 14, 15, 18, 20, 43, 501, The Jew and France exhibition 209
124, 158, 169, 196, 222, 28990 Jewish art, business, and property,
reprisal policy 158, 1623, 172, 173, conscation of 18, 19, 54, 55, 612,
175, 178, 192, 195, 289, 292, 293 66, 70, 712, 76, 78, 80, 83, 84, 86,
Stauffenbergs plot against (20 July 87, 89, 130, 133, 158, 178, 198, 199,
coup) 2817, 290, 291 204, 2078, 21116, 224, 227, 237,
Stuckart Memoranda 57 289, 291
worldview (Weltanschauung) 125, 133 Jewish conspiracy 196, 209
Hitler Youth 12 international 124, 132, 218, 293
Hoeppner, Erich 281, 283 see also Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy
Hofacker, Caser von 2827 Jewish organizations 74, 80
Hoffendank, assassination of Private 173 Jewish property, abandoned
Hoffmann, assassination of Sergeant (herrenloser) 7880
Ernst 11821, 122, 1278, 129, 135, Jews 4, 14, 17, 18, 53, 54, 57, 65, 74, 80,
141, 145, 150 81, 856, 87, 111, 169, 176, 179, 195,
Holland 41, 149 196, 209, 210, 218, 247, 250, 264, 274
German invasion of (1940) 24, 26, 30 arrest of 160, 163, 216, 217, 231, 232,
Holocaust 222 239, 265, 266
Hobach, Colonel Friedrich 170 and Aryans 18, 19
Hotel Continental 284, 285 Austrian 217, 228, 232, 236
Hotel Majestic 19, 20, 50, 133, 148, 184, Belgian 220, 222, 223, 230, 236, 237
186, 285 Bulgarian 237
Hotel Raphael 282, 284, 285 Czech 217, 228, 232, 236
Hotz, assassination of Lieutenant-Colonel defamation of 198, 201, 204, 207, 208,
Karl Friedrich 136, 138, 139, 141, 209, 219, 289, 293
146, 154 denaturalization of 2013, 207, 229,
Hugenberg, Alfred 49 234, 240, 242, 293
Hungary 220, 221; see also Jews deportation of 15, 16, 156, 1578, 160,
Huntziger, General Charles-Leon 36 163, 165, 169, 171, 174, 188, 196,
200, 202, 216, 218, 219, 22046,
Ingrand, Jean 11516, 118 289, 290, 293
International Military Tribunal at despoliation of 16, 199, 201, 203, 204,
Nuremberg (1945) 1, 10, 13 207, 208, 216, 218, 219, 227, 289,
Iraq 56 293
Isere 267 discrimination of 16, 198, 201, 203, 204,
Italian anti-fascists 264, 265 207, 208, 213, 219, 289, 293
Italian army 220, 240, 242, 243 Dutch 220, 221, 223, 230, 236, 237
Italian Foreign Ofce 241 Eastern European 1768, 220
Italian government 240 Estonian 237
Italian occupation of southeastern execution of 64, 119, 121, 124, 138, 156,
France 2402, 243 157, 159, 163, 166, 172, 173, 190,
Italian resistance 243 218, 244
Italy 59, 221 expulsion (forced emigration) of 47,
German occupation of 221 106, 196, 199, 200, 216, 218


extermination of 12, 158, 168, 179, 220, Kohl, Lieutenant-General Otto 230
227, 289 Kraewel, Lieutenant-Colonel Kurt
foreign 8, 9, 15, 204, 207, 213, 227, 228, von 282, 287
230, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 236, Krakow 14
237, 239, 241, 243, 245 Krancke, Admiral Theodor 2856
French 8, 15, 20, 54, 66, 67, 80, 106, Kubler, Dr. 154
117, 130, 132, 2013, 204, 205, Kuchler, General Georg von 64
206, 207, 209, 214, 216, 218, Kummel, Dr. Otto 745
22046, 265, 289, 291, 293 Kunsberg, Baron Eberhard von 75, 789,
German 232, 236 208
Greek 220, 237
Hungarian 220, 221, 236 LIllustration 54
Italian 221, 222, 235 La France au Travail 54
Lithuanian 237 La Gerbe 54
Polish 217, 228, 232, 236 La Patrie 4, 23
Portuguese 235 La Roche-Guyon 283, 284, 285
Rumanian 237 La Roziere, Frederic de 140
Russian 232 La Vie Nationale 54
Serbian 179, 223 labor, forced 16, 257; see also deportations,
Spanish 235 labor
and the Star of David 240 labor camps 244; see also deportations,
stateless 202, 232, 238 labor
sterilization of 196 Lammers, Dr. Hans 823, 86, 125, 1512,
Swiss 235 178, 262
Yugoslav 221, 237 Lao-Tzu 43
see also anti-Semitism; Final solution to Laval, Pierre 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 37, 55, 56, 58,
the Jewish Question 62, 106, 129, 147, 1667, 172, 1846,
Jodl, General Alfred 10, 166, 245, 288, 201, 2034, 205, 206, 207, 210, 212,
290 219, 231, 234, 236, 240, 242, 249,
Jouvenel, Bertrand de 53 2525, 257, 25861, 263, 264, 289,
Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy 136, 158, 218 290, 291, 293
Junger, Ernst 282 Laval governments:
Jura 270 rst 204
second 167, 172, 245
Kaiserreich 11, 44, 1