The showdown came at 7 in the morning. German General von Neubronn ordered his SS men to break down the door to old Marshal Petain's bedroom. To the half-dressed Chief of the Vichy State, he issued an ultimatum.
At 8 o'clock, six automobiles whisked through the city of Vichy, sped northeastward, convoyed by German Army motorcycles. Among the passengers: Pétain, his wife, his personal physician.
By 9 o'clock, friends of Pétain were passing out circulars, with the Marshal's farewell message:
"Frenchmen! At the moment you read this message, I am no longer free. Although I could not be your sword, I tried at least...