VICE PREMIER DARLAN'S SPEECH TO THE FRENCH PEOPLE
Vichy, France, June 10, 1941
[New York Times, June 11, 1941.]
In my previous message I told you the Marshal (Henri Philippe Petain, Chief of State) had taken the destinies of our country in his hands at the most critical moment of our history. To take power under such circumstance was not the work of an ambitious man, but of a great patriot. We can never be grateful enough to our Chief, who gave himself to France to save her.
She is not yet saved. This is not the hour for sterile disputes or biting criticisms against the government. The hour is one for discipline and union. Defeat always engenders unhappiness. It is the French tradition to make the government responsible for the nation's misfortunes.
We owe our present misery to a regime that led us to defeat, to that regime and not the government of the Marshal, which fell heir to the disastrous situation and is trying to remedy the ills from which you are suffering and to shorten their duration.
To succeed needs courage, tenacity, abnegation and the support of the nation. If the nation does not understand this, it will perish. There are many who are trying to darken the nation's understanding. You are nervous and anxious because unhappily many of you believe anything that is said and whispered even without taking time to reflect-many believe that what you hear every day over the clandestine or dissident radio, paid for by a foreign power, is the absolute truth. They do not take the trouble to compare the disturbing similarity between the de Gaullist and Communist propaganda, which aim at the same goal-to create disorder in the country, to increase the misery of the population, to prevent the rebirth of the nation.
And this leads us to believe that the orders which the Communist leaders obey and the money they receive may come from west of our frontiers.
Frenchmen, beware and help the government in its heavy, very heavy task. This task of the government is triple: to ameliorate the French people's situation, to prepare for peace in that measure a conquered nation can, and to prepare France's future in a new Europe.
It is well that you should remember that the armistice is not a peace. The armistice is a suspension of hostilities under conditions fixed by the conqueror and accepted by the vanquished. For France not to fulfill loyally the armistice conditions and thereby give the conqueror reason to denounce her would be tantamount to suicide for France and the empire.
To apply the armistice without trying to make its conditions better means maintaining that state of things from which you are suffering so much. Since the armistice was signed by Germany and us, we have got to negotiate with Germany if we want to modify it. The Marshal entrusted the negotiations to me. He approves the developments.
You ask yourselves why the Germans agree to negotiate since they are the conquerors. Because Germany, which intends to reconstruct Europe, knows that this cannot be done feasibly unless the different European nations participate in this reconstruction of their own free will, Germany does not let victory run away with her to enable us to keep our heads above defeat. Let us know how to reduce the effects of defeat and think of the France of tomorrow.
Do you think that the armies of occupation will consent to reduce their requisitions if they have the feeling that our hostility persists? Do you think that they will permit our farmers to return to their farms if they feel France is still the hereditary enemy? Do you think our prisoners will be liberated if it appears that they will only increase Germany's enemy? Do you believe our farmers who were obliged to leave their farms could return if the Germans have the impression that France remains her hereditary enemy?
These few examples suffice, I think, for you to understand the necessity for the negotiations which, on the Marshal's orders, I have been pursuing several weeks to make your conditions better. That is the government's first task.
The second task of the government is to prepare for peace. The present situation is unprecedented in history. One of the powers with which we must negotiate is at war with another power and its troops are engaged in operations occupying part of our soil. The signature of a definite peace remains difficult as long as the major problems that are the basis for the present conflict are unsolved.
But now, without waiting for the end of hostilities, the government's duty is to act so as to create an atmosphere favorable to the establishment of an honorable peace. That atmosphere cannot be created unless we dominate our defeat. That means we must regulate our acts reasonably. Face realities courageously. Do not give way to sentimental reactions that have no other result than to widen further to our disadvantage the gap which so many wars have created between two neighboring peoples and which in the interests of European peace we must both start filling.
If that atmosphere cannot be created, I fear a disastrous peace for France. That fear is not founded on impression; it is founded on certainty.
The third task of the government is to prepare for France's future in a new Europe. That task cannot be usefully undertaken unless the second is successful.
If we do not get an honorable peace, if France is cut up into many departments and deprived of important overseas territories and enters diminished and bruised into the new Europe, she will not recover, and we and our children will live in the misery and hatred that breed war.
The new Europe will not live without a France placed in the rank that her history, civilization and culture give her the right to occupy in the European hierarchy. Frenchmen, have courage to dominate your defeat. Be assured that the future of the country is bound closely with that of Europe.
If to go along the path the Marshal and his government invite you to follow, it is necessary to conquer your illusions and consent to sacrifices, find your strength in the certainty that that path is the sole path of salvation for your country.