Charles de Gaulle


The hideous ambiguity imposed on France by the terms of the armistice is nearing its end. The semblance of sovereignty

on which the men responsible for the capitulation pride themselves vanishes in its turn, giving place to shame and panic. Behind the crumbling façade, the nation now sees the reality. That reality is the enemy: an enemy exploiting his slaves in order to reduce them to still more abject servitude; an enemy bringing pressure to bear on his collaborators in order to gain still more active collaboration; an enemy trading on dishonour to impose still baser infamy.

Faced by this fresh lapse on the part of Vichy, we, the Free French, consider it our right and duty to speak our minds in no uncertain terms. We have the right to do so, because we have never for a moment submitted to the law imposed by the enemy. We have the right to do so, because enemy soldiers have been killed or captured, enemy ships sunk, and enemy planes shot down by our arms. We have the right to do so, because a thousand men from our Army, Navy, and Air Force have given their lives for France since the armistice. We have the right to do so, because France has been placed at the enemy's mercy, so that now, gagged and crushed, she has no voice but ours to speak for her.

We maintain that the enemy is still our foe. So long as the Germans are in Paris and Bordeaux, in Lille, Rheims, and Strasburg, so long as Germans and Italians seek to impose their will on the French nation, there is but one thing to do—fight. To treat with such enemies, accepting their control and collaborating with them, is treason in the true sense of the word.

We maintain that although the French army may have lost a great battle through lack of proper organization in accordance with the methods of modern warfare, France has not lost the war. For this is a world war. The enemy may have won initial successes, but he has not won the war, and he knows it. Already he is suffering severe reverses. All over the world, vast forces are assembling to crush him. France's Allies have realized this—Poles, Czechs, Dutch, Belgians, Norwegians, Luxemburgers, and Greeks alike. Not a single Government of the belligerent countries has treated with the enemy, with the sole exception of the so-called Government of France!

We maintain that France must play a decisive part in this world war. Our Empire is intact. If, at this very moment, French North Africa, Syria, and the French Fleet were fighting for France, the great Battle of the Mediterranean would be decided forthwith by an overwhelming French victory.

We maintain that if only all Frenchmen, wherever they may be and whatever their situation, rank, or opinions, will take up arms again for France, we shall be with them unconditionally and without a moment's hesitation. We promise that all French leaders—whatever faults they may have committed in the past—who decide to draw again the sword they sheathed, will find us at their side. To this we make no exceptions, and for ourselves we have no ambition. If French Africa rises at last to fight in the war, she will have the backing of the Free French territories.

By observing the Hour of Hope on January 1st, by not appearing in the streets between 2 and 3 p.m. in unoccupied France, and between 3 and 4 p.m. in occupied France; by deserting the streets of our towns and villages for sixty minutes, the French people will show the enemy that they still regard him as their foe. By this vast plebiscite of silence, France will show the world that for her there can be no future save in liberty, no greatness save in independence, no salvation save in Victory.