ON THE OCCASION OF THE CHURCHILL-DE GAULLE AGREEMENT
Charles de Gaulle
THE SPEECHES OF GENERAL DE GAULLE pp. 20- 22.
The enemy's cunning and the lies of his accomplices have forced our country to conclude these vile armistices. The enemy and his accomplices succeeded in creating such a poisonous atmosphere that France was overpowered, like a man chloroformed. They managed to make many people believe that surrender was imperative because all was lost. They were able to spread the illusion that the presence in the Government of one excessively aged Marshal flanked by old defeated generals (whose battles were lost through their own fault) would be sufficient to counter the hatred and rapacity of the invader. They even went so far as to speak of the reconstruction of France under the yoke of the conqueror!
But events are moving rapidly in this war of speed. The few weeks that have elapsed since the conclusion of the
abominable armistices have sufficed to reveal the full extent of the crime committed. Now it appears in its true colours.
We see, in the first place, that, contrary to the statements made by the Vichy dotards, France still possessed powerful fighting means at the very moment when she was induced to lay down her arms. We see that our fleet—second only to one other in Europe—was still intact, and that we yet possessed a large air force and a vast Empire.
We see the British Empire growing rapidly in strength on land, on sea, and in the air. We know that America has embarked on a huge armament programme to help the Allies.
As for the policy of 'appeasement', we realize of what it consists. It is now plain that Germany is bent on smashing France both materially and morally, so that she may the more easily reduce her to the level of a slave state.
How is it possible to think dispassionately of the so-called 'reconstruction' of France promised by the Vichy dotards? How could they reconstruct anything in the abyss of infamy into which they have dragged us? Having chained themselves to the bridle of the conqueror, their sole remaining reason for existence is to submit humbly to the kicks of Hitler's charger and Mussolini's ass.
No! France has nothing to expect either from the enemy who hates and crushes her or from the men who have surrendered her.
But, notwithstanding this terrible ordeal, I say that France can and must have everything to expect from victory over the enemy. When Germany and Italy are one day crushed in their turn, hope will revive for France, but on one condition: that this victory is also the victory of France.
My aim, my sole aim, is to see to it that, despite the momentary surrender, the might of France is still enlisted in the fight, and that the might of France is present at the victory.
That is why I recently signed a most important agreement with His Majesty's Government. By virtue of this agreement, I, who am now Leader of the Free French, undertake to organize an army, a navy, and an air force to fight at the side of our Allies. His Majesty's Government, for their part, agree to restore the full independence and greatness of France after victory.
That is what I have done, and what I want to do. I here and now render this account of my stewardship to the French people, in whose service I have placed myself once and for
all! The enemy and his Vichy accomplices have seen fit to brand my conduct, and that of all true Frenchmen who have joined me in the fight, as treachery. Nothing, in our eyes, could be more encouraging, because nothing more clearly shows that the path we have chosen is the right path.