The Vichy army is recruiting

The Vichy army is recruiting

  • Armistice Army Recruitment Poster - GENIE.

  • Armistice Army Recruitment Poster - ARTILLERY.

  • Armistice Army Recruitment Poster - LA CAVALERIE.

To close

Title: Armistice Army Recruitment Poster - GENIE.

Author :

Creation date : 1941

Date shown: 1941

Dimensions: Height 78 - Width 59

Technique and other indications: Paper poster (four-color printing)

Storage location: Army Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Laurent Sully-Jaulmes

Picture reference: 08-528297 / 20657.1

Armistice Army Recruitment Poster - GENIE.

© Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Laurent Sully-Jaulmes

To close

Title: Armistice Army Recruitment Poster - ARTILLERY.

Author :

Creation date : 1941

Date shown: 1941

Dimensions: Height 78 - Width 59

Technique and other indications: Paper poster (four-color printing)

Storage location: Army Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Laurent Sully-Jaulmes

Picture reference: 08-528298 / 20657.2

Armistice Army Recruitment Poster - ARTILLERY.

© Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Laurent Sully-Jaulmes

To close

Title: Armistice Army Recruitment Poster - LA CAVALERIE.

Author :

Creation date : 1941

Date shown: 1941

Dimensions: Height 77 - Width 58

Technique and other indications: Paper poster (four-color printing)

Storage location: Army Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Laurent Sully-Jaulmes

Picture reference: 08-528299 / 20657.1

Armistice Army Recruitment Poster - LA CAVALERIE.

© Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Laurent Sully-Jaulmes

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

The "new army" of Vichy

Under article 4 of the armistice agreement signed with Germany on June 22, 1940, the French army is limited to "troops necessary for the maintenance of internal order". From June to November 1940, Vichy demobilized most of the troops that had not been captured in 1940 and then, in November, the Armistice Army was set up.

Apart from officers and non-commissioned officers, who are active soldiers, it should only be made up of volunteers. The suspended military service is replaced by a period of eight months in the “Youth Workshops”. Taken from a corpus of around ten, these three posters were published in 1941 by the Ministry-Secretary of State for War and produced in Clermont-Ferrand (the large town closest to Vichy, seat of the government of the 'French State) by the Mont-Louis printing press, under the aegis of the Sogno agency.

Image Analysis

A desire to display modernity

The three posters shown here are for engineers, artillery and cavalry. They are organized in a similar way: one or more soldiers in campaign dress, sketched in an attitude representative of their specialty, stand out against a very sober background. The emphasis is on technicality, excluding any reference to the exoticism that characterizes the poster of colonial units. The slogan "enlist, re-enlist" signals the desire to recruit trained and experienced soldiers. In order not to weaken the message, the age and marital status conditions, the financial advantages as well as the formalities to be accomplished are not specified on the poster, but grouped together in a separate and widely distributed leaflet. Above all, the desire to break with the defeated army of 1940 is evident. The soldiers are dressed in the campaign uniform defined in 1941 (so-called "golf pants", a metal helmet with a leather bead initially reserved for motorized troops, leather boots and leggings). It is important to give the best possible image of this "new army", an expression used in two posters. That of engineers, which aims to recruit "technicians", prefers to use the formula "weapon of specialists".

Each of the three posters emphasizes the particular characteristics of each weapon. That of engineers puts forward a non-commissioned member consulting what seems to be a plan. The man stands out against the image of a bridge under construction, treated as a "blue", ie a technical document. The red and black of the characters of the word "GENIUS" correspond to the traditional colors of this weapon (as recalled by the soldier's collar badge). The artillery poster also uses the traditional color, red, present in some of the letters and in the collar patch. The scene shows a field artillery piece in battery, ready to fire, with the ammunition box open. The chef de piece, recognizable by his sleeve stripe, has just ordered the fire. The shooter (right) prepares to fire the shot while the servant (kneeling) appears to be preparing the next bus. The collective action of the team (actually more numerous) is here reduced to three characters to symbolize the "core business". The orientation of the scene, which puts the viewer in the shoes of the officer commanding the battery, reinforces the power of the message.

The poster for the cavalry is based on a double register that sums up the slogan "Modern and sporting weapon". The three soldiers illustrate three supposedly attractive activities, horse riding, motorbikes and armored cars. The armored turret, in the foreground, and the posture of the commander in his traditional leather jacket, aim to reinforce the idea of ​​power associated with mechanization. There is nothing to indicate whether it was a tank (which the Armistice Army lacks) or a simple armored car, since the body of the machine and its running gear are not shown. The blue of the characters corresponds to the traditional color of the hussars, that is to say of the light cavalry.

Interpretation

A greatly embellished reality

These three posters attempt to give the Armistice Army the image of a modern and efficient instrument when in reality it is tiny and totally outmoded in a modern conflict for lack of sufficient motorization.

The fairly static image of the engineers is devoid of any reference to an assault involving motorized units characteristic of blitzing. As for the artillerymen, they use a 75 mm cannon, the maximum caliber authorized by the armistice convention, which had its heyday at the start of the First World War, but turned out to be totally outdated in 1941. Finally, the cavalry , which has less than a hundred machine guns to support its squadrons on horseback or by bicycle, remains totally incapable of effectively opposing the motorized or armored units of the Wehrmacht.

Under these conditions, it is quite understandable that the Armistice Army attracts few candidates, hence the retention of conscripts. Consequently, unable to rely on its military capacity properly speaking, the "new army" strives to overcome the obstacle represented by its limited resources by emphasizing moral training, which moreover corresponds to one of the main ideological axes of the State of Vichy. To this end, she practiced sport intensively, especially athletics (but not gliding or parachuting, prohibited by the June 1940 convention). She also shows great rigor in holding or organizing ceremonies. Finally, this army was dissolved in November 1942, when the Germans invaded the southern zone without fighting.

  • Vichy regime
  • army
  • War of 39-45
  • Petain (Philippe)
  • poster
  • propaganda
  • military service

Bibliography

BACHELIER Christian, "The French army between victory and defeat", in France in the dark years, tome 1, Paris, Éd. du Seuil, 1993.

CORVISIER André (dir.), Military History of France, T. IV, From 1940 to the present day, Paris, PUF, 1992.

DELPERRIÉ DE BAYAC Jacques, The Kingdom of the Marshal, History of the free zone, Paris, R. Laffont, 1975.

PAXTON Robert, The Vichy Army - The corps of French officers 1940-1944, Paris, Tallandier, 2004.

SEREAU Raymond, The Armistice Army, 1940-1942, Paris, Nouvelles Editions latines, 1961.

To cite this article

Jean-François BRUN, "The Vichy army is recruiting"


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