Faced with imminent defeat following the German invasion of France, on 10 June 1940 the French National Assembly granted full power to Marshall Phillipe Petain. Petain, a WWI hero, quickly suppressed the French parliament and set up a dictatorial regime that collaborated with the Germans.

The center of the collaborationist government was in Vichy, southeast of Paris. Though officially neutral Vichy France actively collaborated with the Germans, including questions of racial policy. Vichy had control of civil administration over all of metropolitan France, excluding the region of Alsace-Lorraine, which came under German administration.

After the Allied invasion of North Africa, the Wehrmacht occupied southern France. The Vichy government continued to exercise administrative power over France until liberation following the 6 June 1944 Allied invasion of Normandy. The Vichy government went into exile in Germany, where it was disbanded in April 1945. Vichy France was one of the puppet governments set up by Germany; though Vichy ostensibly retained both diplomatic and administrative powers and was supposedly an independent government, in reality it was almost totally controlled by the Germans.