ON THE OCCASION OF THE SETTING-UP OF THE IMPERIAL DEFENCE COUNCIL
Charles de Gaulle
THE SPEECHES OF GENERAL DE GAULLE pp. 31-32.
So Vichy has taken another step forward along the path of treason.
The men of Vichy have agreed not only to annexation by the enemy of part of our territory, but also to allow him to gain a footing in the French Empire which, up to now, remained intact.
It is true that, in exchange, the men of Vichy will doubtless be authorized by their masters to take up residence in Paris on the left bank of the Seine, within a stone's throw of the German soldiers on the right bank. This by no means prevents the gentlemen in question from asserting that they are, and will remain, independent of enemy control.
But neither does it prevent—far from it!—the planes, troops, and officials of Hitler and Mussolini, and perhaps even a third invader, from gradually taking possession of French North Africa, Syria, and French West Africa. At the
same time, the Japs and Siamese are establishing themselves in Indo-China.
It is now easy to understand why, and for whose benefit, the men of Vichy were so prompt, after having first disarmed the Empire, in making an appeal for unity.
It is now easy to understand why, and for whose benefit, the men of Vichy are forcing hapless French sailors, airmen, and soldiers to turn their weapons against other French sailors, airmen, and soldiers who mean to defend the Empire and France herself against the enemy.
It is now easy to understand why, and for whose benefit, the men of Vichy are hounding down, imprisoning, and condemning to death those who refuse to resign themselves to infamous servitude.
But it is likewise easy to understand how and why all Empire territories which have been able to break away are now ranged together in the indomitable resolution to set France free from the enemy and his satellites.
In the same way, it will be understood why I declare that Free France represents a force which is growing by leaps and bounds, for I have just toured the whole of French Equatorial Africa and the Cameroons and myself witnessed the enthusiasm and determination shared by Frenchmen and natives alike. Moreover, knowing as I do the strength and resolve of our splendid British Allies, and knowing as I do—I, who speak from Leopoldville—the spirit animating the brave Belgian Allies we hold so dear and the means at their disposal, I have every reason to declare that Free French Africa, together with the British Colonies and the Belgian Congo, will form a warrior bloc which will weigh heavily in the scales of victory.
That is why, in view of the fact that the Vichy Government have finally gone over to the enemy and that from now on the Free French represent our country's last resort, I, their leader, am now organizing an Imperial Defence Council. In the name of France, this Council will exercise the full powers of a war-time Government over all French territories now in the fight or which may join us at a later date.
Officers, soldiers, and citizens of France! At this very moment, infamous or senile leaders are engaged in handing over our Empire intact to the enemy.
Arise! To arms!