Thursday, August 27, 2009

Maréchal, nous voilà!


Copy of a French WW2 poster dating from 1940.
(Courtesy of the Deportation Museum & Archives, Tarbes, France)
The poster is exhorting the French people to support Marshal Pétain
(Head of State of the Vichy Government between June 1940 - August 1944)
[
Photograph: J. Ritson]

For additional information click on 'Comments' below

5 Comments:

Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

(1) Marshal Pétain becomes 'Head of State'

In May and June 1940 the Germans invaded France and occupied much of the country. Ultimately, this led to the northern and western parts of France being 'Occupied' by the Germans while - at least until November 1942 - parts of southern and eastern France became an 'Unoccupied Zone' with a nominally independent government based at the spa town of Vichy (Allier department). In November 1942 the Germans also occupied this previously 'Unoccupied Zone', and stayed there until August 1944 following the Allied Landings in Provence.

'Head of State' ('Chef de l'Etat français) of this new French state in 1940 (which replaced the 'Third French Republic') was Marshal Philippe Pétain. By then he was 84 years old. His powers were invested by what was left of the French National Assembly (10 July 1940). The central government for this 'Unoccupied' or 'Free' Zone of France remained in Vichy while Pétain was Head of State.

From 1942 onwards the Pétain government had a policy of political collaboration with the Germans. Initially, French people were exhorted to take part in a 'National Revolution' and both the traditional French adage of 'Liberty, Equality, Fraternity' and the National Anthem (the 'Marseillaise) were replaced.

(2) 'Come to me with confidence'

Following the shock of the French defeat of 1940 many French people had a sense they had been betrayed or abandoned by the Government. Marshal Pétain was still regarded by many at that time as a hero of the 'Great War' (WW1), having been labelled 'The Hero of Verdun', saving the garrison there of falling into German hands. The poster shown above is an attempt to portray Pétain as a strong, forceful hero who has stood by the French people and they can follow him with confidence. it can be translated as follows:

"French People!

You have not been sold out, nor betrayed nor abandoned.

Come to me with confidence."

The reality proved to be rather different, particularly after November 1942 when, as stated above, the Germans occupied the whole of France. Between August 1944 and April 1945 Marshal Pétain evacuated with the Occupiers to Germany and based himself in Sigmaringen. In the subsequent trial at the French High Court of Justice Marshal Pétain was condemned to death. However, this was later commuted to life imprisonment. He died at Ile d'Yeu in 1951.

(3) A new anthem

While Pétain was in power an 'official' song replaced the National Anthem and was regularly heard on the wireless in 'Unoccupied France'. This song, 'Maréchal, nous voilà!' (Marshal, here we are!) was written by C. Courtioux and A. Montagard. In 1941 probably the best known version of this song was recorded by the male singer André Dassary.

Many children in the schools at Assembly would be expected to sing this song. It would also be sung when the Marshal visited various towns and cities in the same way that the 'Marseillaise' would have been played before the war when the French President was making an official visit somewhere.

This is the refrain of 'Maréchal, nous voilà!' followed by a translation into English:

Refrain (French):

Maréchal, nous voilà!
Devant toi,
Le sauveur de la France.
Nous jurons,
Nous, tes gars,
De servir et de suivre tes pas.
Tu nous as redonné l'espérance
La Patrie renaîtra !
Maréchal, Maréchal, nous voilà !


Refrain (English):

Marshal, here we are!
Behind you,
The saviour of France.
We swear this,
We, your boys,
To serve you and follow your footsteps.
The nation will be reborn
Marshal, Marshal, here we are!
_______________________

Acknowledgements:
Thanks to the Museum of Deportation at Tarbes, High Pyrenees department, France for their assistance with this article.
________________________

Thursday, 27 August, 2009  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

(4) The words of the complete song of ‘Maréchal, nous voilà! (in French)

Maréchal, nous voilà !
(Sung by André Dassary, 1941)

Une flamme sacrée
Monte du sol natal
Et la France enivrée
Te salue Maréchal !
Tous tes enfants qui t'aiment
Et vénèrent tes ans
A ton appel suprême
Ont répondu "Présent"

[Refrain]:

Maréchal nous voilà !
Devant toi, le sauveur de la France
Nous jurons, nous, tes gars
De servir et de suivre tes pas
Maréchal nous voilà !
Tu nous as redonné l'espérance
La Patrie renaîtra !
Maréchal, Maréchal, nous voilà !

Tu as lutté sans cesse
Pour le salut commun
On parle avec tendresse
Du héros de Verdun
En nous donnant ta vie
Ton génie et ta foi
Tu sauves la Patrie
Une seconde fois :

[Refrain]:

Maréchal nous voilà !
Devant toi, le sauveur de la France
Nous jurons, nous, tes gars
De servir et de suivre tes pas
Maréchal nous voilà !
Tu nous as redonné l'espérance
La Patrie renaîtra !
Maréchal, Maréchal, nous voilà !

Quand ta voix nous répète
Afin de nous unir :
"Français levons la tête,
Regardons l'avenir !"
Nous, brandissant la toile
Du drapeau immortel,
Dans l'or de tes étoiles,
Nous voyons luire un ciel :

[Refrain]:

Maréchal nous voilà !
Devant toi, le sauveur de la France
Nous jurons, nous, tes gars
De servir et de suivre tes pas
Maréchal nous voilà !
Tu nous as redonné l'espérance
La Patrie renaîtra !
Maréchal, Maréchal, nous voilà !

La guerre est inhumaine
Quel triste épouvantail !
N'écoutons plus la haine
Exaltons le travail
Et gardons confiance
Dans un nouveau destin
Car Pétain, c'est la France,
La France, c'est Pétain !

[Refrain]:

Maréchal nous voilà !
Devant toi, le sauveur de la France
Nous jurons, nous, tes gars
De servir et de suivre tes pas
Maréchal nous voilà !
Tu nous as redonné l'espérance
La Patrie renaîtra !
Maréchal, Maréchal, nous voilà !

Thursday, 27 August, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great piece of information and translations !
I'll just add that the French motto 'Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite' was then replaced with 'Travail, Famille, Patrie' (Work, Family and Homeland) - putting women where he thought they belonged: at home to raise many children who would later sing his anthem in schools !
Catherine L

Monday, 31 August, 2009  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Thanks for the comments, Catherine. The Museum at Tarbes was set up in the late 1980s and covers a lot about the resistance movement in the Hautes-Pyréneés and a lot of information about the people with links the the High Pyrenees area who were deported for various reasons.

I also thought they have done an excellent job in covering the wider context of the war, concentration camps etc. I managed to find out a lot about the war in France and Europe that I had not come across before and I have lots more photographs and articles I intend to post as time allows.

The Museum is part of a network of Museums and Archives centres throughout France. So I imagine there should be similar museums in your own region, Catherine.

Tuesday, 01 September, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a 'Musée de la Résistance' in Nice that is a wealth of written documents and photos about the resistance in the area. Further west there is an interesting war museum in Provence, in Fontaine de Vaucluse, which also shows the locals' everyday living conditions during the war.
Thanks for the info on the Pyrenees. I intend to visit the camps there one of these days - my mother was a detainee in Gurs for a few months. I know that now they acknowledge the existence of this camp (and of the one in Rivesaltes) - while for years there was silence around them....
So, you see, your/our work is somewhat useful!
Catherine L. (whose password is again not recognized on the blog!!)

Tuesday, 01 September, 2009  

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