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This later perception forever tainted Pétain’s military reputation as a soldier who served France his entire life and led the French Army through the crucible of Verdun, the morale crisis of 1917, and on to final victory in the Great War. He was despised for his actions as an octogenarian in June 1940. With the bulk of the French Army already destroyed and Paris itself wide-open to attack, Pétain, then eighty-four, immediately sought an armistice with Germany to halt further bloodshed. While others fled, Pétain took what he considered the braver course by staying and doing what he could to safeguard the remnants of his army and his nation. So began his descent into collaboration, treason, and the destruction of all that he had accomplished and stood for throughout his life.
Posted September 13, 2014
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