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© Photo Josse / Leemage
Publication date: September 2020
The National Revolution of the Vichy regime
Promote the National Revolution
The defeat against the German army (May-June 1940) marks the end of the IIIe Republic and the birth of the French state led by Marshal Pétain (July 10, 1940). Anxious to establish its legitimacy and promote its principles, the new power resorted to all-out propaganda which notably praised the merits of the "National Revolution", presented as the official ideology of the regime in 1940.
Widely used during the period, posters played a central role in this great enterprise of education, conviction and subjugation of consciences. So it is with National Revolution, produced in 1941 (or 1942) for the Center de propaganda de la Révolution Nationale d'Avignon (caption at the bottom of the image) by René Vachet, a relatively unknown illustrator at the time, whom we unfortunately do not know if he was ideologically linked to the Plan or only an occasional employee.
By radically opposing the France of before (that of the IIIe Republic and more particularly that of the Popular Front of 1936-1938) to the new France (that of the Vichy regime), National Revolution intends at the same time to work of "pedagogy", to give hope to the French people still marked by the debacle and traumatized by the Occupation which followed it, and to show the way to follow and the values on which to rely for straighten the house France.
It is also one of the most widely circulated, famous and striking images of the time.
The two France
According to a rather efficient simplistic Manichean logic, National Revolution opposes the vices of IIIe Republic with the virtues of the new regime.
On the left, the house is obviously dilapidated (closed shutters, cracks, a dead tree). Bad and uncertain foundations (bags of sand and rubble, a base that cracks) led to the fall of the France house, which leans clearly to the left. While we can read "France and Co. »On the pediment, we also see a torn red flag floating on the building, also placed under a (bad) Star of David, in which also appear the three points in triangle of Freemasonry (also in red, as shutters and roof). In a rather original way, a series of terms appear on the bags of sand and rubble piled up without order, which evoke the excesses of this period. Finally, the Republican motto Liberty, Equality, Fraternity has been replaced by another triptych: Laziness, Demagogy, Internationalism.
On the right, the France house has finally become itself again (tricolor flag). The sky is blue and, under the good graces of Pétain (the seven stars are those of the rank of Marshal in the Army), she has found life. The shutters are open, the smoke evokes a roaring fire in the hearth, the tree is green, a human presence in a rather radiant posture even appears at one of the windows. The building stands upright, upright, supported by massive columns (school, crafts, peasantry, legion) and resting on solid and well-ordered foundations (discipline, order, savings, courage). The republican motto was replaced by that of the Vichy regime, clearly visible in blue white red: Work, Family, Fatherland.
Rediscover the "real" France
Saturated with signifiers, the poster National Revolution delivers its message in a fairly transparent manner.
It seems to explain first of all that the defeat was not due to the Nazis or to the Marshal, who nevertheless signed the capitulation and agreed to collaborate with the occupier. Indeed, France was already lost (before 1940) rather thanlost: she was no longer really herself ("France and Co. ") Since it was actually a country abandoned (as well as the house) in the hands of "foreign agents", distorted by the harmful, polymorphic and moreover contradictory influence of business capitalism ("Cie"), of communism (red flag), of the Jews ( Star of David) and Freemasons (the three points in a triangle).
The causes of the rout are thus multiple, given here jumble - as they present themselves under the house whose foundations they have ruined - but mercilessly denounced by the new regime which now intends to eradicate them to straighten the country and put it back in order. Most of these “threats” are directly named, but we can specify that “laziness” and “demagoguery” refer to the social policy of the Popular Front (paid holidays and the 40-hour week) while the “bribes” Evoke the corruption which has plagued the Republic since its inception and the cases which marked its last years (the Stavinsky affair in particular). As for "internationalism", it could just as easily refer to the supposed influence of Moscow as to global capitalism in the hands of "cosmopolitan" Jews.
If the National revolution deploys a first and foremost “negative” nationalist ideology (anti-Semitic, anti-communism, anti-parliamentarian, anti-republican, xenophobic, anti-capitalist and anti-democratic), it promotes by contrast (and in mirror image) “positive” values, supposed to refer to what makes the "Real" France. At the heart of Vichy policies and representations, we thus find work, if possible manual (crafts and peasantry), the family (basic unit of society) and the homeland, here tinged with militarism (legion, courage, stars of the Marshal). As for the school, it must be freed from the influence of Republican teachers to inculcate the new discipline and prepare the youth and the country for a happier future.
- Petain (Philippe)
- Popular Front
- Vichy regime
- Judeo-Masonic plot.
- War of 39-45
- Third Republic
AZEMA, Jean-Pierre, From Munich to the Liberation, 1938-1944, Paris, Éditions du Seuil, 1979.
AZEMA, Jean-Pierre and Wieviorka, Olivier, Vichy, 1940-1944, Paris, Perrin, 1997.
COINTET, Michèle, New history of Vichy, Paris, Fayard, 2011.
PAXTON, Robert, The France of Vichy, 1940-44, Paris, Éditions du Seuil, 1973.
ROSSIGNOL Dominique, History of propaganda in France from 1940 to 1944, Paris, PUF, 1991.
To cite this article
Alexandre SUMPF, “The National Revolution or the recovery of the“ France house ””