Original poster here. After reading an academic paper online,* I think I understand a bit better how the Vichy government depicted the Germans.
Unlike some other Axis satellites - or Soviet satellites after the war - Vichy France does not seem to glorify its domineering neighbor.
Indeed, it seems to want to ignore the Germans altogether. Vichy propaganda is extremely inward-looking.
The narrative seems to have gone like this:
The decadent, immoral Third Republic launched a war, and as a result, our country experienced a kind of “divine retribution.”*
We, Vichy France, have pulled the Third Republic’s irons out of the fire and are making the best of a bad situation.
The country is suffering because it went astray morally. It needs to atone for its sins.
We need to focus on “work, family, and homeland” - on tilling the soil and returning to our traditions.
The nation’s enemies are the British, the Jews, the Communists, and De Gaulle.
A New Order - anti-Communist and right-wing - is forming in Europe. If we play our cards right, we will thrive within it.
[All with as little direct mention of the Germans as possible!]
- “Art as Propaganda in Vichy France, 1940-1944,” digitool.library.mcgill.ca/thesisfile112592.pdf