Monday, 22 June 2015

June 22nd - On This Day In 1940 France Signs An Unconditional Surrender To The Axis Powers

A day of shame in French history. France signed an unconditional surrender with Italy & Germany on June 22nd 1940. Not only did France have to do this, but Hitler insisted that the venue be Compiegne, and in the very same railway carriage in which Germany signed their surrender in 1918.

In short, the French were to lay down their arms, and govern an area of France unoccupied by Germany from the spa town of Vichy. The French naval fleet was to be based in Africa, and be crewed by no more than half of its peacetime crew. (The French had promised Britain it would not be handed over to the Germans). The entire north French coast would be used by Germany, and Paris occupied. 

The day after the French signed the armistice, Hitler ordered it to be destroyed. Paris would be occupied for four years, and France would be fully occupied by Germany in November 1942. Britain was now left alone to fight on.

The carriage in which the French signed their surrender in 1940