The Montoire interview

The Montoire interview

  • Meeting between Hitler, von Ribbentrop and Pétain.

    HOFFMANN Heinrich (1885 - 1957)

  • Interior Minister von Ribbentrop and OKW Chief Keitel greet Marshal Pétain.

Meeting between Hitler, von Ribbentrop and Pétain.

© BPK, Berlin, Dist. RMN-GP - Heinrich Hoffmann

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Title: Interior Minister von Ribbentrop and OKW Chief Keitel greet Marshal Pétain.

Author :

Creation date : 1940

Date shown: October 24, 1940

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: The Minister of the Interior von Ribbentrop (in the middle) and the head of the OKW (High Command of the German Army) Keitel (in front) greet Marshal Pétain before the start of the discussions with Hitler

Storage location: Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen: Neue Pinakothek (Munich) website

Contact copyright: © BPK, Berlin, Dist RMN-Grand Palais - Photographer unknown website

Picture reference: 04-505703

Interior Minister von Ribbentrop and OKW Chief Keitel greet Marshal Pétain.

© BPK, Berlin, Dist RMN-Grand Palais - Photographer unknown

Publication date: March 2012

Historical context

The meeting of October 24, 1940

On October 24, 1940, Marshal Pétain met Hitler and his Minister of Foreign Affairs for the first time in the station of Montoire-sur-le-Loir (Loir-et-Cher). Preceded and prepared by the meeting of October 22 between Pierre Laval (then Minister of Foreign Affairs), Hitler and von Ribbentrop, this interview aimed at clarifying the principles of the collaboration of the French government with Nazi Germany has no official character. and does not lead to any precise measurement.

However, it has a strong symbolic value, which gives it historical and political importance. Made by Heinrich Hoffmann on October 24, 1940 as part of the shooting of a newsreel devoted to the event, the two photographs studied here, "Meeting between Hitler, von Ribbentrop and Pétain" and "The Minister of the Interior von Ribbentrop and OKW leader Keitel greet Marshal Pétain, ”are therefore in themselves very significant.

Image Analysis

Defeat Incarnate

Taken by one of Hitler's "official" photographers, Heinrich Hoffmann, the shot "Meeting between Hitler, von Ribbentrop and Pétain" is quite striking. It seems to have been taken on the spot, out of any pose (von Ribbentrop, almost out of shot, looks surprised). The three men took their places around a table in a very dark wood-paneled compartment with the curtains drawn. The light scattered by the flash in this cramped space strikes even the shiny hair of the Führer. Looking lost, Petain clasped his hands under Hitler's almost carnivorous sidelong gaze.

"Interior Minister von Ribbentrop and OKW Chief Keitel salute Marshal Pétain" immortalizes the meeting between the two delegations. It is centered on the handshake exchanged between Marshal Pétain and the head of the German Army High Command Keitel (in the foreground), both in uniform, then composed along the diagonal line formed by the Nazi delegation. . In the background and to Keitel's right, Home Secretary von Ribbentrop (also in uniform) greets another member of the French delegation, who remains invisible here. In the background further to the right, a private Wehrmacht armed with his rifle stares at Pétain, his face three-quarters of the way from the target.


The victors and the vanquished

These two photographs show first of all that defeated France intends to collaborate with the occupying power. Welcomed and received by the highest Nazi officials, the Marshal is treated and respected as a statesman (and as a soldier), greeted and seated at the same table as Hitler. As a full partner, France would thus retain its sovereignty, its dignity and its honor. For the Vichy regime, this is to mean that defeat can be turned into equal participation in the new order. For the Nazis, this staging could serve to secure the collaboration of the French people which, if not essential, is still a strategic and tactical asset.

However, many elements distinguish quite clearly and harshly the victor and the vanquished and suggest French humiliation. Thus, we can oppose the plural of the winners to the singular of the vanquished, since Pétain appears alone facing the Germans in the two images. On the other hand, and while the meeting is taking place in France, it is indeed the Nazis who welcome Pétain: the armed soldier in the second image recalls that order is ensured by the occupants, while the "Rencontre entre Hitler, von Ribbentrop and Pétain ”is indeed that of Hitler, who chairs the meeting (at the end of the table). Finally, this last image offers the striking contrast between a tired, haggard-looking old man and a chief whose dark, cruel and determined gaze has all that, humiliating, of the raptor on his prey.

The ambiguity of such an image actually embodies that of the Vichy regime, which attempts to reconcile defeat and honor.

  • Hitler (Adolf)
  • Nazism
  • Occupation
  • War of 39-45
  • Ribbentrop (Joachim von)
  • collaboration
  • Petain (Philippe)


AZEMA, Jean-Pierre, From Munich to the Liberation, 1938-1944, Paris, Éditions du Seuil, 1979.AZEMA, Jean-Pierre and WIEVIORKA, Olivier, Vichy, 1940-1944, Paris, Perrin, 1997.DELPLA, François, Montoire, The first days of the collaboration, Paris, Albin Michel, 1996. FERRO, Marc, Questions about the Second World War, Firenze: Casterman, 1993. PAXTON, Robert, The France of Vichy, 1940-44, Paris, Éditions du Seuil, 1973.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "The Montoire interview"

Video: Intermarché Montoire sur le Loir 41