We Have Confidence in Our Arms
WE ARE FIGHTING FOR THE INDEPENDENCE OF ALL
By PAUL REYNAUD, Premier of France
Over radio from Paris, France, June 6th, 1940
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VI, pp. 530-531.
I SPOKE twice recently, each time announcing bad news. On May 21 I told the Senate that the Germans were at Amiens. On May 28 I told you that the Belgian King had betrayed us and that the road to Dunkerque was open.
Today, at an hour which is still grave, I will outline my reasons for hope—not mere words but facts.
Germany embarked upon three enterprises, one after another, summoning, as usual, all her brutality and cunning.
The first enterprise: German propaganda announced that the Allied Armies fighting in Belgium were encircled and ready to be destroyed, that, cut off from the sea, lacking munitions and food, they were heading for an unprecedented capitulation.
In view of the impossibility of making up for this loss, the Germans declared that the Allies, morale had collapsed. However, the iron circle was not closed. Three hundred and thirty-five thousand Allied soldiers embarked from Dunkerque, showing Germany what control of the sea signifies.
Far from collapsing, the morale of our troops and of our country proved worthy of our ancestors. The heroism of the combats in Flanders and of the battles in Dunkerque belongs to history. The greatness of our military chiefs magnificently revealed itself in those days.
Cites Revival of Glory
This morning I received Admiral [Jean Charles] Abrial, the defender of Dunkerque. In the face of such men, who forced the admiration of the whole world, France feels how the eternally young glory of the generals of the revolution and the admirals of the Kings of France comes to life again.
This glory was revived by thousands of obscure sacrifices. Maybe living witnesses will verify the deeds of our army of the North, our air force and our sailors. These heroes redeemed us. After the surprises of the first combats the soldiers of 1940 revealed themselves the equals of those of 1914, who never doubted victory, even when the Germans were at Senlis. So much for the first German enterprise.
The second aimed to break the morale of Paris. Last Monday Hitler organized a spectacular raid on Paris. He mobilized hundreds of bombing and chaser planes. It is of small importance what objectives were aimed at since everybody knows that women and children would necessarily be hit, whatever the objective.
Has all this affected Paris? Not for a minute. A fewminutes after the bombing I saw on the spot the proud facesof our men and women workers of Paris who cannot tremble.
We know what the colossal raid means for the people ofParis—nothing.
You know that we did not leave the raid without reply. On Tuesday night several waves of British bombers attacked factories in the Ruhr and bombs fell at Dortmund, Frankfort, Dusseldorf and Cologne. The fire of oil tanks in Essen was visible for 150 kilometers. French bombers flew over Mannheim, Ulm, Ludwigshafen and Munich. The huge factory of the Badische Aniline works was set afire. There will be similar reprisals for each raid of a French town in the future.
The most decisive German enterprise is the one we see today. It is the battle of France. It is an attack in grand style preceded by the proclamation of Hitler to his troops. All means, we know, are utilized, planes, armored units seeking to infiltrate and then to break the front.
The battle has hardly begun. I will not tell you anything except what Weygand [General Maxine] told me: "I am satisfied with the manner in which the battle is engaged and my orders to resist at any cost are being executed."
We are forced to improvise our resistance according to the terrain. The French now show they can adapt themselves to new war conditions. Hundreds of enemy tanks have been destroyed.
Since the beginning of the battle the whole world has been following breathlessly the vicissitudes of the struggle, since its fate will be decided for hundreds of years, as Hitler said, by the battle of June, 1940. The whole world now bows the risk of domination for Europe and beyond—a regime of oppression in which people of non-Germanic blood would play the role of slaves.
There would be ruses at first, but insults and lashes, the whipping of the faces of workers, the physical and moral destruction of the elite would follow. This is the new world Hitler announced in his proclamation—the Middle-Ages which would not be illuminated by the charity of Christ.
Sees Hitler's Dream Fall
The dream of German hegemony will clash with French resolution. The France resisting Hitler today is not one between two wars. It is a different France, just as England combating Hitler is not the England of the past twenty years. We of June, 1940, shall not lose our time debating responsibilities when the country is in danger.
We shall not weaken France by dividing her. We all bear responsibilities, every one of us.
Our first duty is to recognize our faults. In their governments the public opinion of democracies long lackedclearsightedness and courage. The idea of patriotism, of military valor, was neglected. We must admit it once and for all and close this chapter of the history of the world with the indomitable energy of those whose eyes were opened.
What is discord good for? Who is interested to serve [Dr. Joseph] Goebbels's [Reich Minister of Propaganda] propaganda by it? The French masses hear with contempt his slogan describing France as a plutocratic country. France, like her ally, is calm and proud.
For some time there have been circulating tenacious rumors of new conflicts. The Allies have one in interest in common with all other European countries, namely, to pre-
vent German hegemony. Our soldiers on the Somme and Aisne are fighting for the independence of all.
There is no nation with whom France could not settle peacefully divergences which seemingly separate them. I have publicly said, and I repeat, that France wishes the settlement of these problems and expects the reconstruction of a Europe wherein the independence and the prosperity of every nation is insured.
All spectators of the tragedy of the Battle of France must comprehend this quickly; for immense values are at stake and time is limited.
As for us, more than ever, we have confidence in our arms.