TO THE FRENCHMEN OF THE EMPIRE
Charles de Gaulle
THE SPEECHES OF GENERAL DE GAULLE pp. 14-16.
Frenchmen, to-day I want to speak to you about our Empire. As a result of the abominable armistices of June, we are well on the way to losing it.
These armistices might possibly have taken on some
semblance of justification had they been limited to a military agreement affecting only the mother-country.
But, so far as the Empire is concerned, they are wholly unjustifiable and inexcusable. The Empire was intact. The enemy had not even tried to attack it. Yet, through the armistices, the Empire has been placed at his mercy. Our colonies are to be disarmed. Strategic points are to be evacuated. German and Italian commissions are to be established on the spot to control whatever they choose. After which, without difficulty for them, without honour for us, our enemies can take possession of the lands given to France by her explorers, her soldiers, her missionaries, and her colonists.
I would add that the native population—which is full of loyalty, trust, and respect towards France—indignantly condemns this surrender of the Empire without a struggle. One of the first results of these foul armistices will be disaffection and probably revolt.
Finally, what will be the economic situation of our unfortunate colonies under the armistice regime? Cut off by the blockade at sea, how will they obtain supplies? Where can they find a market for their produce? They are faced with appalling confusion and threatened by terrible distress. In the midst of such chaos and destitution, how can men entrusted with the administration of the country exert their authority?
And, in the event of a rising, what would be the fate of the French men and women in our colonies?
Since, therefore, it has now been proved that the men who are looking after themselves in Vichy are nothing but servile tools of the enemy, I solemnly declare, in the name of France, that the Empire must not submit to their disastrous orders. I solemnly declare, in the name of France, that in spite of them the French Empire must remain a French possession.
High Commissioners, Governors-General, Governors, Administrators, and Residents of our colonies and protectorates, your duty to France, your duty to our colonies, your duty to those whose interests, honour, and lives are in your hands, is to refuse to carry out these abominable armistices. You are the administrators of that French sovereignty which is now being allowed to lapse. Many of you have already joined me in order to continue the struggle at the side of our Allies. Help will be forthcoming for these men. But I call upon the rest of you to do likewise. If need be, I call upon the population of the Empire.
Frenchmen of the new France, the France beyond the seas! You, the free, the young, and the brave, show yourselves worthy of the new France which is also free and young and brave—the France that will emerge from victory.