French Marshal Philippe Petain, the ‘Hero of Verdun’ and the traitor head of the early 1940s Vichy Government had an interesting philosophy as regards what really mattered in life. What was this?

Answer: During the First World War General Philippe Petain was in command of the defense of the French fortress of Verdun.

The fortification had near mystical meaning to the French, as throughout history it was a central stronghold through which would-be invaders had to pass, to reach Paris.

In defending it, Petain made the famous statement, ‘They shall not pass’, and became known as the ‘Hero of Verdun’.

After the war he was made a Marshal of France and was a national hero.

When history repeated itself and the Germans invaded France in 1940, the French fought gallantly, but surrendered within six weeks.

Petain, aged 84, was made head of the exiled Vichy Government, which presided over unoccupied France, until the country was liberated by the allies in August 1944.

After the war Petain was tried for treason and given a life sentence.

He died in 1951 aged 95.

A renowned ladies man, while head of the Vichy government, officials once tried to find the 86 year old for a meeting, only to eventually track him down in bed with a pretty 18 year old, presumably not discussing French historical fortifications.

Petain famously said that there were two things that mattered in life: food and sex.

Source: Petain by Charles Williams

More at: History

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