- Published: 26 January 2011 26 January 2011
- Last Updated: 07 April 2012 07 April 2012
(Tricolors Legion. In French, “tricolore” invariably means the 3 colors of the French flag: Blue, white and red)
The Legion tricolore fiasco was purely a petty attempt of the French collaborationist politicians to create a “real” French fighting unit, independent from the German. The leader of this initiative was Jacques Benoit-Mechin, State secretary in the Laval government formed in Vichy in April 1942.
Pierre Laval and Marechal Petain gave their approval on the project and the Legion Tricolore is announced on July 22, 1942. As the new Legion was supposed to absorb the LVF, as the French LVF organization was dissolved the same day. On July 9, 42, the SS General Oberg accepted the project. On July 18, the Legion Tricolore was officially created under governmental supervision and funding, unlike the LVF, which was a private organization. Jacques Benoit Mechin believed that all potential obstacles were removed when the Colonel Mayer, representative in France of the OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht) told him: “Start with getting volunteers, we will see after”.
So, he jumps ahead and starts to organize the recruitment and the assembly of volunteers in several French military bases.
Tough luck, the final German OK will never came. The Colonel Mayer was be degraded and sent to the Eastern Front where he was be killed.
The OKW is definitely against this project. Their statement is clear: “Through this Legion, you want to end the relationship between winner and looser that prevails between Germany and France. This is exactly what we do not want.” For the Germans, the fact that the LVF was dissolved has no importance.
“Call it Legion des volontaires francais or Legion tricolore, for us they are the Franzosischer Infanterie-Regiment 638”.
Jacques Benoit-Mechin resigned on October 9, 1942. The Legion Tricolore was be dissolved few days later. The volunteers were given the choice between joining the LVF or being discharged. As many others, these French collaborationists attempt to build a kind of “free alliance” with the Third Reich failed. The Third Reich did not want allies, but only slaves or vassals.