Wartime collaboration

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Wartime collaboration is cooperation with the enemy against one's country of citizenship in wartime.[1] As historian Gerhard Hirschfeld says, it "is as old as war and the occupation of foreign territory".[2]

The term collaborator dates to the 19th century and was used in France during the Napoleonic Wars. The meaning shifted during World War II to designate traitorous collaboration with the enemy. The related term collaborationism is used by historians who restrict the term to a subset of ideological collaborators in Vichy France who actively promoted German victory.



The term collaborate dates from 1871, and is a back-formation from collaborator (1802), from the French collaborateur. It was used during the Napoleonic Wars against smugglers trading with England and assisting in the escape of monarchists. It is derived from the Latin collaboratus, past participle of collaborare "work with", from com- "with" + labore "to work".

The meaning of "traitorous cooperation with the enemy"[3] dates from 1940, originally in reference to the Vichy Government of France, which cooperated with the Germans after the fall of France and during their occupation, 1940–44.[4] It was first used in the modern sense on 24 October 1940 in a meeting between Marshal Philippe Pétain and Adolf Hitler in Montoire-sur-le-Loir a few months after the Fall of France.[citation needed] Pétain believed that Germany had won the war, and informed the French people that he accepted "collaboration" with Germany.[5][6][better source needed]



Collaboration in wartime can take many forms, including political, economic, social, sexual, cultural, or military collaboration. The activities undertaken can be treasonous, to varying extent, and in a World War II context generally means working with the enemy actively.[5]

Stanley Hoffmann subdivided collaboration into involuntary (reluctant recognition of necessity) and voluntary (an attempt to exploit necessity). According to him, collaboration can be either servile or ideological. Servile is service to an enemy based on necessity for personal survival or comfort, whereas ideological is advocacy for cooperation with an enemy power.[7] In contrast, Bertram Gordon used the terms "collaborator" and "collaborationist" for ideological and non-ideological collaboration, respectively, in France.[8] James Mace Ward has asserted that, while collaboration is often equated with treason, there was "legitimate collaboration" between civilian internees (mostly Americans) in the Philippines and their Japanese captors for mutual benefit and to enhance the possibilities of the internees to survive.[9] Collaboration with the Axis Powers in Europe and Asia existed in varying degrees in all the occupied countries.

Collaboration with the enemy in wartime goes back to prehistory, and has always been present. Since World War II, historians have used it to refer to the wartime occupation of France by Germany in World War II. Unlike other defeated countries which capitulated to Germany and fled into exile, France signed an armistice, remained in France, cooperated with the German Reich economically and politically, and used the new situation to effectuate a transfer of power to a cooperative French State under Marshall Phillipe Pétain.[2]

In the context of World War II Europe, and especially in Vichy France, historians draw a distinction between collaboration and collaborator on the one hand, and the related terms collaborationism and collaborationist on the other. Stanley Hoffmann in 1974[10] and other historians have used the term collaborationnistes to refer to fascists and Nazi sympathisers who, for anti-communist or other ideological reasons, wished a reinforced collaboration with Hitler's Germany.[10] Collaborationism refers to those, primarily from the fascist right in Vichy France, who embraced the goal of a German victory as their own, whereas collaboration refers to those among the French who for whatever reason collaborated with the Germans.[11][12]





In some colonial or occupation conflicts, soldiers of native origin were seen as collaborators. This could be the case of mamluks and janissaries in the Ottoman Empire. In some cases, the meaning was not disrespectful at the beginning, but changed with later use when borrowed: the Ottoman term for the sipahi soldiers became sepoy in British India, which in turn was adapted as cipayo in Spanish or zipaio in Basque with a more overtly pejorative meaning of "mercenary".[citation needed]

Harki is the generic term for native Muslim Algerians who served as auxiliaries in the French Army during the Algerian War from 1954 to 1962. The word sometimes applies to all Algerian Muslims (thus including civilians) who supported French Algeria during the war. The motives for enlisting were mixed. They are regarded as traitors in independent Algeria.[13]

Napoleonic Wars


Afrancesados ("Frenchified" or "French-alike") were upper-and-middle class Spanish supporters of the French occupation of Spain. The afrancesados saw themselves as heirs of enlightened absolutism and saw the arrival of Napoleon as an opportunity to modernize the country.[14]

World War II


During World War II, collaboration existed to varying degrees in German-occupied zones.


In France after liberation by the Allies, many women had their heads shaved as punishment for having had relationships with Germans.

In France, a distinction emerged between the collaborateur (collaborator) and the collaborationniste (collaborationist). The term collaborationist is mainly used to describe individuals enrolled in pseudo-Nazi parties, often based in Paris, who believed in fascism or were anti-communists.[15] Collaborators on the other hand, engaged in collaboration for pragmatic reasons, such as carrying out the orders of the occupiers to maintain public order (policeman) or normal government functions (civil servants); commerce (including sex workers and other women who had relationships with Germans and were called, "horizontal collaborators"); or to fulfill personal ambitions and greed. Collaborators didn't necessarily believe in fascism or support Nazi Germany.[16][17]

With the defeat of the Axis, collaborators were often punished by public humiliation, imprisonment, or execution. In France, 10,500 collaborators are estimated to have been executed, some after legal proceedings, others extrajudicially.[18]

British historian Simon Kitson has shown that French authorities did not wait until the Liberation to begin pursuing collaborationists. The Vichy government, itself heavily engaged in collaboration, arrested around 2,000 individuals on charges of passing information to the Germans. They did so to centralise collaboration, ensure that the state maintained a monopoly in Franco-German relations and defend sovereignty so that they could negotiate from a position of strength. It was among the many compromises made by the Vichy government.[19] Adolf Hitler gave Germans in France plentiful opportunities to exploit French weakness and maximize tensions there after June 1940.[20]

On June 25, 1940, Jean Moulin, a French civil servant who served as the first President of the National Council of the Resistance during World War II, was advised by German authorities to sign a declaration condemning an alleged massacre of Chartres civilians by French Senegalese troops. Moulin refused to collaborate, knowing that the bombing massacre was carried out by Germans. He was then incarcerated by the Germans, and cut his throat with glass to prevent himself from giving up information.[21]

Low Countries


In Belgium, collaborators were organized into the VNV party and the DeVlag movement in Flanders, and into the Rexist movement in Wallonia.[22] There was an active collaboration movement in the Netherlands.[23]


Vidkun Quisling and Jonas Lie inspect the Norwegian Legion

Vidkun Quisling (1887–1945), a major in the Norwegian Army and former minister of defence. He became minister-president of Norway in 1942, and attempted to Nazify the country, but was fiercely resisted by most of the population. His name is now synonymous with a high-profile government collaborator, now known as a Quisling.[24][5]



After the German invasion of Greece, a Nazi-held government was put in place. All three quisling prime ministers, (Georgios Tsolakoglou, Konstantinos Logothetopoulos and Ioannis Rallis), cooperated with the Axis authorities. Small but active Greek National-Socialist parties, like the Greek National Socialist Party, or openly anti-semitic organisations, like the National Union of Greece, helped German authorities fight the Resistance, and identify and deport Greek Jews. In the last two years of the occupation prime minister Ioanni Rallis, created the Security Battalions, military corps that collaborated openly with the Germans, and had a strong anti-communist ideology. The Security Battalions, along with various far-right and royalist organizations and some of the country's police forces, were directly or indirectly responsible for the brutal killing of thousands of Greeks during the occupation. Contrary to what happened to other European countries, the members of these corps were never tried or punished, due to the Dekemvriana events immediately after the liberation, followed by the White Terror and the Greek Civil War two years later.


Leader of the Independent State of Croatia, Ante Pavelić, shakes hands with Adolf Hitler in 1941

The main collaborating regime in Yugoslavia was the Independent State of Croatia, a puppet state semi-independent of Nazi Germany. Leon Rupnik (1880–1946) was a Slovene general who collaborated as he took control of the semi-independent region of the Italian-occupied southern Slovenia known as the Province of Ljubljana, and which came under German control in 1943.[25] The main collaborationists in East Yugoslavia were the German-puppet Serbian Government of National Salvation established on the German-occupied territory of Serbia, and the Yugoslav royalist Chetniks, who collaborated tactically[26] with the Axis after 1941.[27]



Collaboration in Poland was less institutionalized than in some other countries[28] and has been described as marginal,[29] a point of pride with the Polish people.[30] However, the Soviet Union did find some individuals who would work with them, and this is demonstrated notably by the Lublin government set up by the Soviets in 1944 that operated in opposition to the Polish government-in-exile.[5]



German citizen and non-Nazi Franz Oppenhoff accepted appointment as mayor of the German city of Aachen in 1944, under authority of the Allied military command. He was assassinated on orders from Heinrich Himmler in 1945.[31]



Vietnamese emigres and expatriates living in France gained inspiration from the Nazi occupation in the country. These people believed in many European nationalist ideas at the time — these being a belief in an organic ethnocultural national community and an authoritarian corporatist state and economy. At the time Vietnamese feared that colonialism had "systematically destroyed all elements of social order ... which would have led the intellectual elite to oppose the bolshevization of the country."

When German forces invaded France in May 1940 amid World War II, the French military and government saw a collapse. In addition, six to ten million people were forced to become refugees. The political response was then provoked by the Vietnamese in the country.

France also had a group of Vietnamese students and professionals in Paris called the Amicale annamite. They expressed a heavy dislike for French colonial rule without moving forward with any explicit ideological agenda. Their motives were expanded in 1943, with the addition of wanting to improve the situation of Vietnamese soldiers interned as POWs. This included improvements in conditions at camps, better food, health care, education, and vocational training.


Japanese-American Iva Toguri, known as Tokyo Rose, was tried for treason after World War II for her broadcasts to American troops.

High-profile German collaborators included Dutch actor Johannes Heesters or English-language radio-personality William Joyce (the most widely known Lord Haw-Haw).[32]

Postwar examples


More recent examples of collaboration have included institutions and individuals in Afghanistan who collaborated with the Soviet occupation until 1989 and individuals in Iraq and Afghanistan recruited by the Coalition of the Willing. In 2014 during the occupation of Crimea and ongoing War in Donbass, some Ukrainian citizens collaborated with the invading Russian forces.

Palestine / Palestinian Territories


In Palestinian society, collaboration with Israel is viewed as a serious offence and social stain[33] and is sometimes punished (judicially or extrajudicially) by death.[34] In addition, during the period of 2007–2009, around 30 Palestinians have been sentenced to death in court on collaboration-related charges, although the sentences have not been carried out.[33]

In June 2009, Raed Sualha, a 15-year-old Palestinian boy, was brutally tortured and hanged by his family because they suspected him of collaborating with Israel.[34] Authorities of the Palestinian territories launched an investigation into the case and arrested the perpetrators.[35][36] Police said it was unlikely that such a young boy would have been recruited as an informer.[34]



Governments, non-state actors, and private individuals cooperated and gave assistance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) during the Syrian Civil War, Iraqi Civil War, and Libyan Civil War.[37][38][39][40][41][42][43][44]

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine


The Ukrainian government has had broad support from its population, but support for Russia within Ukraine gained prevalence in the Donbas region during the years of Russian occupation. The Ukrainian government has since compiled a "registry of collaborators." It says that pro-Russian collaborators have acted as spotters to assist Russian shelling. Anti-collaboration laws were enacted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after the invasion started, with offenders facing 15 years in prison for either collaborating with Russian forces, making public denials about Russian aggression or supporting Russia.[45]



Sometimes people collaborate with the enemy to benefit from war and occupation, or simply to survive.[citation needed]

The reasons for people collaborating with the enemy in wartime vary. In World War II, collaborators with Nazi Germany were found in Stalin's Soviet Union[46] and in other Western European countries,[47] and Japanese collaborators operated in China.[48]

Public perceptions of collaborators


Heonik Kwon: "Anyone who studies the reality of a modern war, especially life under prolonged military occupation, will surely encounter stories of collaboration between the subjugated locals and the occupying power...The cooperation is often a coerced one; people may have no choice but to cooperate. Since the authority that demands cooperation may have brutally harmed the locals in the process of conquest, collaborating with this authority can be a morally explosive issue...the history of war inevitably involves stories of collaboration..."[49]

Timothy Brook: "On 30 October 1940, six days after meeting with Adolf Hitler in the railway station at Montoire, Philippe Pétain announced on French radio that 'a collaboration has been envisioned between our two countries.' Since then, 'collaboration' has been the word by which we denigrate political cooperation with an occupying force."[6]

Edilberto C. de Jesus and Carlos Quirino. "Collaboration with the Japanese was a necessary evil embraced by the internee government [at Santo Tomas Internment Camp, Philippines] as preferable to a more direct and more oppressive enemy rule."[50]

John Hickman identifies thirteen reasons why occupied populations might hold collaborators in contempt,[51] because they are perceived as:

  1. scapegoats for defeat
  2. opportunistic
  3. benefiting from their own poor decisions as leaders before the occupation
  4. violating the norms of the traditional political order
  5. having no lasting political loyalties
  6. guilty of more than collaboration
  7. cowardly
  8. deceived by the occupier
  9. self-deceived
  10. cheaply bought
  11. diverting political focus
  12. representing powerlessness
  13. escaping their own guilt

See also



  1. ^ Darcy, Shane (27 December 2019). "Coming to Terms with Wartime Collaboration: Post-Conflict Processes & Legal Challenges". Brooklyn Journal of International Law. 45 (1): 75–76.
  2. ^ a b Hirschfeld, Gerhard (1989). "Collaboration in Nazi-Occupied France: Some Introductory Remarks". In Hirschfeld, Gerhard; Marsh, Patrick (eds.). Collaboration in France: Politics and Culture During the Nazi Occupation, 1940–1944. Oxford: Berg. p. 11. ISBN 9780854962372. OCLC 848564154. Collaboration with the enemy is as old as war and the occupation of foreign territory., as quoted in: Lemmes, Fabian (16 April 2008). "Collaboration in wartime France, 1940–1944". European Review of History: Revue européenne d'histoire. 15 (2): 157–177. doi:10.1080/13507480801931093. hdl:1814/16538. S2CID 145508606. Collaboration with the enemy is not unique to the Second World War but 'as old as war and the occupation of foreign territory'.[1] Its present political and historiographical conception has, however, been essentially shaped by the events of the Second World War and its aftermath. While there was collaboration in all European countries occupied by Nazi Germany, the specificity of the French situation was due to the combination of two characteristics: after refusing to go into exile (as the Norwegian, Dutch and Belgian governments did) and signing a political armistice (instead of a purely military capitulation like the Norwegian, Dutch and Belgian case), the French government under Pétain did not confine itself to an inevitable technical collaboration with the occupying authorities but engaged voluntarily in political and economic state collaboration with the Reich. At the same time, it took advantage of the occupation to proceed to a regime change and a 'national revolution'.
  3. ^ collaborate in The Oxford English Dictionary Online (2014)
  4. ^ Webster 1999, p. 70
  5. ^ a b c d Tucker, Spencer C., ed. (6 September 2016). World War II: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection [5 volumes]: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection. ABC-CLIO. pp. 429–430. ISBN 978-1-85109-969-6. OCLC 1300495135.
  6. ^ a b Brook, Timothy (2 July 2008). "Collaboration in the History of Wartime East Asia" (PDF). The Asia-Pacific Journal. 6 (7). 2798.
  7. ^ Stanley Hoffmann. 'Collaborationism in France during World War II." The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 40, No. 3 (Sep., 1968), pp. 375–395
  8. ^ Bertram N. Gordon, Collaborationism in France during the Second World War (Cornell University Press, 1980)
  9. ^ Ward, James Mace (May 2008), "Legitimate Collaboration: The Administration of Santo Tomas Internment Camp and its Histories, 1942-2003," Pacific Historical Review, Vol 77, No. 2, p. 159, 195-200. Downloaded from JSTOR.
  10. ^ a b Hoffmann, Stanley (1974). "La droite à Vichy". Essais sur la France: déclin ou renouveau?. Paris: Le Seuil.
  11. ^ Waschuk, Roman; Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (20 June 1986). Boshyk, Yury; Wynnyckyj, Andriy (eds.). Ukraine During World War II: History and Its Aftermath. CIUS Press. pp. 45–. ISBN 978-0-920862-36-0. OCLC 1065422517. In France, collaborationists were committed to the victory of the Third Reich and actively worked toward that end.
  12. ^ Bertram M. Gordon (1980). Collaborationism in France During the Second World War. Cornell University Press. pp. 20, 143. ISBN 978-0-8014-1263-9. OCLC 1004807892. Collaborationists openly embraced fascism. ...They had to continue to believe in German victory or cease to be collaborationists.
  13. ^ Naylor, Phillip C. (6 August 2016). "A practical guide to French Harki literature". The Journal of North African Studies. 22 (1): 153–156. doi:10.1080/13629387.2016.1216732. S2CID 147769533.
  14. ^ Joes, Anthony James. Guerrilla Conflict Before the Cold War, pp. 109-110. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996. Google Books. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  15. ^ George Grossjohann. 2005. Five Years, Four Fronts. New York: Ballantine Books. p. 155
  16. ^ Philippe Burrin, France Under the Germans: Collaboration and Collaboration (1998)
  17. ^ Hirschfeld, Gerhard; Marsh, Patrick, eds. (1989). Collaboration in France : politics and culture during the Nazi occupation, 1940-1944. Oxford: Berg. ISBN 0-85496-237-9. OCLC 18715079.
  18. ^ Jackson, Julian (2003), France: The Dark Years, 1940–1944, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 577
  19. ^ Kitson 2008, p. [page needed]
  20. ^ Hoffmann, Stanley (1968). "Collaborationism in France during World War II". The Journal of Modern History. 40 (3): 375–395. doi:10.1086/240209. JSTOR 1878146. S2CID 144309794.
  21. ^ Jackson, Julian (2001). "France: The Dark Years, 1940–1944". doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198207061.001.0001. ISBN 9780198207061. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  22. ^ Eddy de Bruyne and Marc Rikmenspoel, For Rex and for Belgium (2004)
  23. ^ Gerhard Hirschfeld Nazi Rule and Dutch Collaboration: The Netherlands under German Occupation, 1940–45, Berg Publishers (1992). Transl. by Louise Wilmot
  24. ^ Hans Fredrik Dahl, Quisling: A Study in Treachery (2008)
  25. ^ Stevan K. Pavlowitch, Hitler's new disorder: the Second World War in Yugoslavia (2008) p. 142
  26. ^ Milazzo 1975, p. 182.
  27. ^ Milazzo, Matteo J. (1975). The Chetnik Movement & the Yugoslav Resistance. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 182. ISBN 978-0-8018-1589-8.
  28. ^ Hobsbawm, Eric (1995) [1st pub. HMSO:1994]. "The Fall of Liberalism". Age of Extremes The Short Twentieth Century 1914-1991. Great Britain: Abacus. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-349-10671-7. [T]he Poles, though strongly anti-Russian and anti-Jewish, did not significantly collaborate with Nazi Germany, whereas the Lithuanians and some of the Ukrainians (occupied by the USSR from 1939-41) did.
  29. ^ Wojciechowski, Marian (2004). "Czy istniała kolaboracja z Rzeszą Niemiecką i ZSRR podczas drugiej wojny światowej?". Rocznik Towarzystwa Naukowego Warszawskiego (in Polish). 67: 17. Archived from the original on 2021-01-14. Retrieved 2018-04-12. kolaboracja... miała charakter-na terytoriach RP okupowanych przez Niemców-absolutnie marginalny (collaboration ... on the territories of German occupied Poland can be characterized as absolutely marginal)
  30. ^ Connelly, John (2005). "Why the Poles Collaborated so Little: And Why That Is No Reason for Nationalist Hubris". Slavic Review. 64 (4): 771–781. doi:10.2307/3649912. ISSN 0037-6779. JSTOR 3649912.
  31. ^ Rempel, Gerhard (1989). Hitler's Children: The Hitler Youth and the SS. UNC Press. pp. 244–245. ISBN 0-8078-4299-0.
  32. ^ "Nederlanderse-entertainer-sin-Duitsland". Die Welt (in Dutch). 17 April 2010. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
  33. ^ a b "Woman Convicted as Israeli Abettor". Daily Express. June 15, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  34. ^ a b c "Palestinian boy 'hanged for collaboration'". BBC News. June 12, 2009. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  35. ^ Khaled Abu Toameh, Palestinian family kills 15-yr-old son[permanent dead link], Jerusalem Post 11-06-2009
  36. ^ Palestinian teen killed by his family, United Press International 12-06-2009
  37. ^ Phillips, David L. (11 September 2014). "Research Paper: ISIS-Turkey Links". Huffington Post. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  38. ^ Bodette, Meghan (9 September 2018). "ISIS intelligence figure captured by YPG: "things were facilitated by Turkish intelligence"". The Region. Archived from the original on 27 April 2021. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  39. ^ Graeber, David (18 November 2015). "Turkey could cut off Islamic State's supply lines. So why doesn't it?". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  40. ^ Zaman, Amberin (10 June 2014). "Syrian Kurds continue to blame Turkey for backing ISIS militants". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  41. ^ Wilgenburg, Wladimir van (6 August 2014). "Kurdish security chief: Turkey must end support for jihadists". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  42. ^ Cockburn, Patrick (6 November 2014). "Whose side is Turkey on?". London Review of Books. 36 (21): 8–10. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  43. ^ Norton, Ben (30 June 2016). "Turkey's "double game" on ISIS and support for extremist groups highlighted after horrific Istanbul attack". Salon.com. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  44. ^ Hersh, Seymour Hersh (7 January 2016). "Military to Military". London Review of Books. 38 (1): 11–14. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  45. ^ "Ukraine cracks down on 'traitors' helping Russian troops". AP NEWS. 29 April 2022. Retrieved 29 April 2022.
  46. ^ Edele, Mark (2017). Stalin's Defectors: How Red Army Soldiers Became Hitler's Collaborators, 1941-1945. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-879815-6. OCLC 1000267874.
  47. ^ Morgan, Philip (2018). Hitler's Collaborators: Choosing Between Bad and Worse in Nazi-occupied Western Europe. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-923973-3. OCLC 1004759541.
  48. ^ Brook, Timothy (2007). Collaboration: Japanese Agents and Local Elites in Wartime China. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-02398-7. OCLC 1106720722.
  49. ^ Kwon, Heonik (2008), "Excavating the History of Collaboration," Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 6, No. 7, p.2
  50. ^ Ward, pp. 160-161
  51. ^ John Hickman. The Occupier's Dilemma: Problem Collaborators. Comparative Strategy, Vol. 36, No. 3 (2017)



Further reading