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Collaborationism describes the treason of cooperating with enemy forces occupying one's country. As such it implies criminal deeds in the service of the occupying power, including complicity with the occupying power in murder, persecutions, pillage, and economic exploitation as well as participation in a puppet government.


The term collaborate dates from 1871, and is a back-formation from collaborator (1802), from the French collaborateur as used during the Napoleonic Wars against smugglers trading with England and assisting escape of monarchists, and is itself derived from the Latin collaboratus, pp. of collaborare "work with", from com- "with" + labore "to work." Collaboration as "traitorous cooperation with the enemy" dates from 1940, originally in reference to the Vichy Government of France and those who cooperated with or helped the Nazi Germany following the Battle of France defeat.

History of criminal collaboration

In France, a distinction emerged between the "collaborateur" and "collaborationists." The latter expression is mainly used to describe individuals enrolled in pseudo-Nazi parties, often based in Paris, who had an overwhelming belief in fascist ideology. "Collaborateur," on the other hand, could engage in collaboration for a number of more pragmatic reasons, such as preventing infrastructure damage for use by the occupation forces or personal ambition, and were not necessarily believers in fascism per se. Arch-collaborators like Pierre Laval or René Bousquet are thus distinct from collaborationists.

Recent research by the British historian, Simon Kitson, has shown that France did not wait until the Liberation to begin pursuing collaborationists. The Vichy government, itself heavily engaged in collaboration, arrested around 2000 individuals on charges of passing information to the Germans. Their reasons for doing so was to centralise collaboration to ensure that the state maintained a monopoly in Franco-German relations and to defend sovereignty so that France may negotiate from a position of strength. As Kitson has shown, the government engaged in many compromises along the way.

The term in this negative meaning is also used for German individuals and institutions cooperating with the Nazi regime, though in their case it was not a foreign occupation, and later to people cooperating with or helping other dictatorial regimes in their own countries, even when foreign occupation was not involved.

Among Palestinians

In Palestinian society, collaboration with Israelmarker is viewed as a serious offence and social stain. Suspects are often summarily killed: in the few years preceding 2009, hundreds of suspected collaborators have been killed by fellow Palestinians. In addition, during the period of 2007-2009, around 30 Palestinians have been sentenced to death in court on collaboration-related charges, although the sentences have not been carried out.

In June 2009, Raed Sualha, a 15-year-old Palestinian boy, was brutally tortured and hanged by his family because they suspected him of collaborating with Israel. Palestinian authorities launched an investigation into the case and arrested the perpetrators. Police said it was unlikely that such a young boy would have been recruited as an informer.

During the Arab Uprising against British rule in Mandatory Palestine in 1936, a large number of the thousands of Arabs who died were accused of collaboration with Jews. These included people with contact with Jews, such as village elders, teachers, students, farm laborers, skilled laborers, nurses and businessmen. Many of those deemed pro-Jewish often retaliated, but more either left Palestine or ended contact with Jews out of fear for their lives. This ended not just a source of Arab-Jewish contacts, but forced Jewish residents to take on roles that they often left to Arabs (especially in field work, the docks at Haifa Bay and building trades).

Alleged collaborators

See also



  • Paul Webster, Petain's Crime: The Complete Story of French Collaboration in the Holocaust, Ivan R. Dee, 1999 ISBN 1566632498
  • The Oxford English Dictionary, vol.3, Oxford University Press.
  • Henry L. Wilson, When Collaboration becomes Plagiarism: The Administrative perspective, in Lise Buranen, Andrea A. Lunsford, Alice Myers Roy, Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in a Postmodern World, SUNY Press, 1999 ISBN 0791440796
  • .

Further reading


  1. p.469, Oxford English Dictionary
  2. p.70, Webster
  3. p.?, Kitson
  4. Woman convicted as Israeli abettor, Press Association 14-06-2009
  5. Palestinian boy 'hanged for collaboration', BBC News 12-06-2009
  6. Khaled Abu Toameh, Palestinian family kills 15-yr-old son, Jerusalem Post 11-06-2009
  7. Palestinian teen killed by his family, United Press International 12-06-2009

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