'THE NATION WILL NOT TAKE DISASTER LYING DOWN'
Charles de Gaulle
THE SPEECHES OF GENERAL DE GAULLE pp. 36 37.
It has now been proved beyond any shadow of doubt that though the sword of France has been shattered by unworthy leaders, the nation refuses to submit to disaster.
It has now been proved beyond any shadow of doubt that though the would-be rulers of our country, panic-stricken and maddened by the consequences of their crime, are trying to force France to collaborate with Hitler, our people refuse to cast themselves into that particular inferno.
It has now been proved beyond any shadow of doubt that though the enemy and his collaborators vent their fury by heaping insults and threats on the heads of the Free French, it is to these same Free French that the nation turns, it is on these same Free French that our trampled country centres her sorrowful pride and trembling hope.
Yes, the flames of French resistance, smothered for a moment beneath the ashes of treason, are leaping up and blazing anew. And to us, the Free French, has fallen the glorious duty, the supreme honour, of embodying the spirit of this national resistance.
But just because this duty is so noble, this honour so supreme, we feel it all the more incumbent upon us to give the people of France some account of what we are and what is our aim.
What are we? We are an army, an army of volunteers. Not indeed that all Free Frenchmen bear arms, for in this total and world-wide conflict, fighting takes many forms. But nevertheless we are an army, and an army of volunteers, because all of us, without exception, have but one aim—to serve.
Each one of us is a man who fights and suffers—yes, fights and suffers—not for himself alone, but for all the rest.
What results can we show? Well, at this very moment we have 35,000 men under arms, twenty warships in commission, sixty merchantmen at sea, a thousand airmen, a number oftechnicians engaged on armament work, territories active on behalf of our cause in Africa, French India, and the Pacific, important centres in all parts of the world, growing financial resources, newspapers, wireless stations, and, above all, the certain knowledge that at every minute of the day we are present in the hearts and minds of all our fellow-countrymen in France.
What is our aim? First and foremost, to fight. To fight, and so contribute to the enemy's defeat. And to defeat him we must not only drive him from our soil, but indeed disrupt this physical and moral entity, the weight of which is crushing the world, body and soul.
But we, the army of the Free French, want this victory— this certain victory—to be, to the greatest possible extent, a French victory. That is why we mean to bring back into the war, little by little, the whole of the Empire and the whole of France, even if those Frenchmen who are now prevented from doing their duty by the appalling quibble of obedience to treacherous rulers have to be set free by force.
And out of this certain victory—our victory—we Free Frenchmen intend a new France to arise. This war is a revolution, the greatest the world has ever seen. We, the Free French, by our contribution of vigorous action, high ideals, and purity of motive, mean so to fertilize the ground that from it shall one day spring a splendid harvest of loyalty, unselfishness, and mutual aid.
In this way, France—our France—will live again.