7) WWII: Hebertism ... without Hébert

1940: The Palestra of Deauville is destroyed by bombardements! As had been the "college of Athletes of Reims" in 1914, the "master class" of Hébert must close.


The new goverment , recently settled in  Vichy, understands  the physical unpreparedness of the French armies. Once again...



Jean Borotra

On June 17, 1940, when he wanted to join England, Jean Borotra, tennis player, winner of Wimbledon and Rolland Garros, was appointed to the General Sports Commission. He is a convinced Hebertist and he wishes to implement the Natural Method.


But nobody dares to consult Georges Hébert to associate him with the government, sensing his reaction and his refusal: "In Vichy, we were afraid of the old Master" Gay-Lescot Jean-Louis, "The Government of Vichy and the natural method" , in Terret Thierry (edited by), Spirales, n ° 9, CRIS, Université Lyon I, 1995, p. 27-37.)

And in fact, Georges Hébert stands aside and refuses to meet Borotra.

He sticks to  his independence and writes, as he has already done on numerous occasions in the journal Physical Education, his position in a brochure: "Les champs d'ébats" :

"It is not speak ill to see the chronic impotence of state services to solve the problem of physical education of youth"

phare dans la tempête.webp

The Vichy government will nevertheless adopt, without the support of Georges Hébert, the Natural Method, which then becomes the national method.


Under this regime, the Natural Method will be applied "brutally", out of the Hebertist spirit. Teachers and coaches were not trained in pedagogy especially in schools and youth camps. Many young people will therefore be completely disgusted by the "Method" because they could only see what was presented to them.

In addition, Georges Hébert (who has connections with the french resistance)  is placed under surveillance by the authorities. This will result in a search in his office and home by the Gestapo.(Régis HEBERT; Souvenirs personnels de la guerre)


At the end of the war, Georges Hébert, who was then 70 years old, decides to continue his monumental writing work.