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After the eight-month Phony War, the Germans launched their offensive in the west on .
A part of French society had never accepted the Republican regime issuing from the Revolution, and wished to reestablish the Ancien Régime.
While this debate continued, the government was forced to relocate several times, finally reaching Bordeaux, in order to avoid capture by advancing German forces.
Communications were poor and thousands of civilian refugees clogged the roads.
This was made apparent by the leader of the monarchist Action française, Charles Maurras' glee, who qualified the suppression of the French Republic as a “divine surprise”.
France declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939 following the German invasion of Poland.
Government and military leaders, deeply shocked by the debacle, debated how to proceed.
Many officials, including the Prime Minister, Paul Reynaud, wanted to move the government to French territories in North Africa, and continue the war with the French naval fleet and the resources of the French empire.
Although Vichy's “Armistice Army” was disbanded, thus diminishing Vichy's independence, the abolition of the line of demarcation made civil administration easier.
Vichy continued to exercise jurisdiction over most of France until the collapse of the regime following the Allied invasion in June 1944.
As last President of the Council of the Third Republic, Pétain suppressed the parliament and immediately turned the regime into a non-democratic government collaborating with Germany.
Vichy France was established after France surrendered to Germany on June 22, 1940, and took its name from the government's administrative center in Vichy, southeast of Paris.
The main arguments advanced against Vichy's right to incarnate the continuity of the French state were based on the pressure exerted by Laval on deputies in Vichy, and on the absence of 27 deputies and senators who had fled on the Massilia ship and could thus not take part in the vote.