SECRETARY OF STATE CORDELL HULL'S STATEMENT ON FRANCO-GERMAN COLLABORATION
June 13, 1941
[Department of State Bulletin, June 14, 1941.]
In response to further inquiries since his statement of June 4, 1941, the Secretary of State said on June 13:
"From the standpoint of the French people and others who have a love for freedom and have freedom, the attitude of the present Government of Vichy is a matter of the deepest disappointment and sorrow.
"The original scheme of the Darlan-Laval group to deliver France politically, economically, socially, and militarily to Hitler seems now to have been brought out into the open by a succession of public statements by French authorities and especially those by Messrs. Laval and Darlan.
"When Germany recently desired to make use of Syria to attack British forces in Iraq no objection, much less resistance, to this action was made by France, although the terms of the armistice between France and Germany did not require that France permit territory under French control outside occupied France to be used as a base for German military operations, and Marshal Petain declared as recently as a few weeks ago that he would not permit such use. The use of Syria is a vitally important part of the general plan of Hitler's to invade Iraq, Egypt, the Canal area, and Africa. When the French authorities in Syria, acting under the Vichy Government, made no effort to prevent German use of Syria as a military base, and when they permitted even the shipment from Syria of military supplies of French manufacture to be used by the Germans against France's former ally, they permitted Germany to extend the theater of war into French mandated territory. To resist this further expansion of German aggression the British forces in the Near East entered Syria to prevent German actions there which the French, under the direction of the Vichy Government, were permitting if not abetting. Yet the French authorities in Syria have considered it necessary to contest bitterly this British effort to prevent Syria from being used as a German base. These facts unmistakably demonstrate that the German military effort is making use of France and that the German initiative in Syria is resulting in a conflict, not only of France against Britain but of Frenchmen against Frenchmen. Germany seems to have prevailed on the Vichy Government to do Germany's fighting in the Syria area of the general German advance.
"But aside from the situation in Syria and considering the broader aspects of Franco-German collaboration, the public statements of the Darlan-Laval element demonstrate that the people of France are expected not only to surrender permanently and unconditionally their loyalty to all French traditions, institutions, liberties, interests, culture, and the entire way of life which made France great, but actually to transfer all of these loyalties-all hope of the future-to Hitler in the hope of securing his personal favor. The general adoption of Hitlerism would set the world back five to ten centuries.
"In a statement on June 10, Admiral Darlan, Vice Premier of France, urged the French people to conquer their illusions and consent to sacrifices and indicated that France would be utterly destroyed unless the French people should take this unprecedented and revolutionary action.
"Unless a military invader is devoid of all human attributes he extends to the conquered all of those considerations and recognitions contemplated by the rules and principles of civilized society. An armistice signifies a temporary cessation of hostilities between the parties to it. It does not contemplate that the successful belligerent shall make inhuman demands upon the country and people of the defeated belligerent nor does it contemplate that they shall be bludgeoned into becoming allies of their enemy. If, therefore, Hitler cannot be depended upon, as implied by Darlan's statement, to observe such rules and laws in dealing with the conquered, how much less can he be depended upon to show the least consideration in these vital respects should the conquered peoples prostrate themselves before him and bestow upon him unrestrained license to deal as he may see fit with their lives, their liberties, and their entire future welfare.
"It remains to be seen whether the French people accept this preposterous status and thus pave the way for them to find themselves assisting Hitler as his co-belligerents in his desperate effort to conquer Great Britain and secure control of the high seas.
"In the prevention of such a possibility, both the French people and the people of the United States have a common interest of tremendous importance to the future."