'THE SELF-STYLED COURT OF JUSTICE
LONDON, 8 AUGUST 1940
Charles de Gaulle
THE SPEECHES OF GENERAL DE GAULLE pp. 19- 20.
The so-called court of justice which is sitting in Riom does not, of course, aim at punishing the men really responsible for France's momentary defeat. No serious-minded person sees in this court anything but a mise en scéne. The wretches who delivered up France by their act of capitulation are trying to mislead public opinion with regard to their own crime. They therefore hasten to accuse others.
They charge some with having agreed to the war, and others with having made inadequate preparations for it. They pretend to believe that Hitler and Mussolini are by no means the unscrupulous conquerors we all know them to be.
They declare that it would have been quite possible, before coming to grips, to reach agreement by appealing to the Dictators' goodwill.
From this point of view, I think France's self-appointed rulers are perfectly right. By falling to her knees without fighting, allowing the occupation of her territory, gratuitously surrendering her Empire, sheathing her sword without striking a blow, willingly accepting the laws of the enemy both within and without her frontiers, in short, by capitulating in advance, our country would have had no war.
Of course, a France thus dishonoured would no longer have been France; but this consideration doubtless has not occurred to the Vichy prosecutors.
Very well, then! I wish to make a contribution to the trial which is taking place in Riom. I believe, indeed, that the culprits should be condemned, and I shall name them.
Those who are guilty before God and man of having willed the war and who, moreover, proclaim it from the house-tops, bear names which are indeed fairly well known: they are called Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini.
Those who, in France, are guilty of having failed to make adequate preparations for the war are the very men to whom these preparations were entrusted. This is a mechanized war, and our armies were overwhelmed by German mechanized forces. Therefore, whether war ministers or generalissimos, the men who neglected to reorganize the French forces in time are primarily responsible for our disasters. Now, I am
under the impression that at least two such men are at present at the head of the so-called Vichy Government.
Finally, the men in France who are guilty of having lost the battle are the leaders who were in command, or who abused their authority to induce us to lay down our arms when they were still firmly in our grasp. I am under the impression that at least two such men are now at the head of the so-called Vichy Government.
The great debate on responsibilities therefore becomes a very simple matter. Justice will be done when the masters of Germany and Italy, who let slip the dogs of war, have been defeated. Justice will be done when the French leaders, who proved themselves unworthy of the name, have been condemned.
You can see how it all follows and hangs together. The punishment of both categories of guilty men will take place simultaneously. Oh! certainly not to-morrow, for justice moves slowly, but some day, without the slightest doubt. Justice for the world and for France is as necessary to us all as the sun in the heavens. Justice will therefore come. It will be borne on the wings of victory.