Joseph Darnand (1897-1945) was a French traitor and leader of the Vichy French Milice.
Joseph Darnand was born in 1897 at Coligny, Ain, Rhone-Alpes in France. He fought in the First World War and received seven citations for bravery. After the war he worked as a cabinetmaker and later founded his own transportation company in Nice. He also supported the royalist group Action Francaise.
At the beginning of the World War Two Darnand volunteered to join the French army and served in the Maginot Line. He was captured in June 1940 but fled to Nice. He became a leading figure in the Vichy French organization Légion Francaise des combattants (French Legion of Veterans) and recruited troopers for the fight against Bolshevism.
Next year he found a right-wing group Service d'Ordre Légionnaire that supported Henri Philippe Petain and Vichy France. He offered his help against French Resistance. In January 1 1943 he transformed the organization into the Milice and it became the secret police for Vichy France. Although Pierre Laval was its official president, Darnand was its de facto leader. Darnand took an oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler in October 1943 and received a rank of Sturmbannfuehrer in the Waffen SS. In December 1944 he became head of police and later secretary of the interior.
After the Normandy Invasion and allied advance Darnand fled to Germany in September 1944 and joined Petain's puppet government in Sigmaringen. He was eventually captured after the war and taken back to France, where he was executed on October 10, 1945.