'MARSHAL PÉTAIN HAS SPOKEN'
Charles de Gaulle
THE SPEECHES OF GENERAL DE GAULLE pp. 24- 25.
Last Wednesday evening, in a voice of gloom, Marshal Pétain spoke on the situation in France.
He painted it in sombre colours. Furthermore, the head of the Vichy State attempted to exonerate himself. Finally, the head of the Vichy State gave free rein to his anger at discovering so many obstacles in his path.
Having failed to overcome these obstacles, he now asks the French to put up with them.
Unfortunately, it is only too obvious that life is not worth living under the material and moral regime imposed on France as a result of the abominable armistices. The armistice terms were drawn up by the enemy with the sole intention that they should be intolerable.
The occupation of two-thirds of our territory, the threat overhanging the remaining third, and the systematic separation of the two zones would, in themselves, be enough to render any form of national life impossible. But the enemy is doing everything in his power to add to the general disorganization —looting our economic resources, imposing forced labour on many of our compatriots, creating artificial separatism, and corrupting French minds by means of treacherous wireless and newspaper reports. There can be no doubt as to his intention: to reduce France to despair, after which the enemy imagines he can mould at will the body and soul of our country. That is what Monsieur Hitler calls 'organizing the continent of Europe'.
Marshal Pétain bears the terrible responsibility of having asked for and accepted these infamous armistices. He has put forward excuses for the capitulation. Marshal Pétain and his retinue first of all advanced the argument of a so-called 'guilty' France. According to them, the French people deserve their present misfortunes. So much the worse for them if they must now take their punishment. Marshal Pétain and his retinue likewise maintained that, since all was lost, surrender was an absolute necessity. Finally, Marshal Pétain and his retinue spread the illusion that, thanks to them, France would be reborn.
We now see the excuses advanced by Marshal Pétain for what they are worth—that is to say, nothing. The French people remember that they wholeheartedly
accepted every sacrifice demanded by their leaders. If the armies of France were caught unprepared by this war of machines, it was due to the fact that the necessary steps had never been taken. One day, I hope to give chapter and verse for this statement.
The French people can see that the war is by no means lost. They know that by surrendering their arms and separating France from her Allies the best cards in their hand were thrown away.
The French people know that the reconstruction of their country is absolutely impossible under the armistice regime. They know they are condemned to slavery and destitution so long as the enemy remains on their soil and his collaborators exercise what they are pleased to call power.
Marshal Pétain may well seek to offer dismal justification for his actions. They are only empty phrases. The French were betrayed, and they see to what a plight they have been brought. But I myself know, too, that with each day that passes they see more clearly where salvation lies.
The way to salvation is through victory. The French people look to those who fight—to the men Marshal Pétain and his retinue condemn as traitors—to ensure that victory. We who are fighting for victory have an easy conscience and hearts full of hope, for we all know the day is not far distant when everyone will realize who is betraying France and who are her true servants.