I have grave things to tell you!
For the last several weeks I have felt an ill wind
rising in many regions of France. Disquiet is overtaking minds; doubt
is gaining control of spirits. The authority of my government is made
the subject of discussion; orders are often being ill executed.
In an atmosphere of false rumors and intrigues, the
forces of reconstruction are growing discouraged. Others are trying
to take their place without their nobleness or disinterestedness. My
sponsorship is too often involved, even against the government, to justify
self-styled undertakings of salvation which, in fact, amount to nothing
more than appeals for indiscipline.
A real uneasiness inflicts the French nation. The
reasons for this uneasiness are easy to understand. Cruel hours are
always followed by difficult times.
While at the frontiers of the nation--which defeat
has put out of action but whose empire leaves her vulnerable--the war
goes on, ravaging new continents every day, everybody wonders with anguish
about the future of our country.
Some feel themselves betrayed; others think they are
abandoned. Some wonder where their duty lies; others first seek their
The London radio and certain French newspapers add
to this confusion of minds. The sense of national interest in the end
loses in justice and vigor. From this disorder of ideas springs disorder
of affairs. Is this, indeed, the fate France has deserved after thirteen
months of calm, of work, of incontestable revival?
Frenchmen, I put this question to you. I ask you to
measure its scope and answer it in the confines of your consciences.
Our relations with Germany have been defined by an
armistice convention tile character of which could only be provisional.
Dragging out this situation makes it that much harder to support in
so far as it governs relations between two great nations.
As for collaboration--offered in the month of October,
1940, by the Chancellor of the Reich under conditions that made me appreciate
their deference--it was a long-term labor and has not yet been able
to bear all its fruits.
We must be able to overcome a heavy heritage of distrust
handed down by centuries of dissensions and quarrels and to turn ourselves
toward broad perspectives that can open up a reconciled continent to
That is the goal toward which we are heading; but
it is an immense labor, which requires on our part as much will as it
does patience. Other tasks absorb the German Government, gigantic tasks
in developments to the east in defense of a civilization and which can
change the map of the world.
As regards Italy, our relations likewise are controlled
by an armistice convention. Here again our desires are to escape from
these provisional relations to create more stable ties without which
the European order cannot be constructed.
I would also recall to the great American republic
the reasons why it has no cause to fear a decline of French ideals.
Certainly our parliamentary democracy is dead, but it never had more
than a few traits in common with the democracy of the United States.
As for the instinct of liberty, it still lives within us, proud and
The American press has often misjudged us. Let it
now make an effort to comprehend the quality of our souls and the destiny
of a nation whose soil, through the course of history has been periodically
ravaged, whose youth has been decimated, whose well being has been troubled
by the fragility of a Europe in whose reconstruction France intends
today to participate.
Our domestic difficulties have sprung above all from
troubled minds, from lack of men and from scarcity of products.
Troubled minds do not have as their sole origin the
vicissitudes of our foreign policy. They come especially from our slowness
in building a new order or, more correctly, in imposing one. The National
Revolution, which I outlined in my message last Oct. 11, has not yet
taken its place among accomplished facts.
It has not yet forced its way through because between
the people and me--who understand one another so well--there has risen
a double screen of partisans of the old regime and those serving the
The troops of the old regime are legion. I rank among
them without exception all who place their personal interests ahead
of the permanent interests of the State--Freemasonry, political parties
deprived of clientele but thirsting for a comeback, officials attached
to an order of which they were beneficiaries and masters--or those who
have subordinated the interests of the Fatherland to foreign interests.
A long wait will be needed to overcome the resistance
of all these opponents of the new order, but we must start in now to
smash their undertakings by decimating their leaders.
If France did not understand that she was condemned
by the impact of events to change her regime, then she would see open
up before her the abyss in which Spain of 1936 just missed being swallowed
and from which she was saved only by faith, youth and sacrifice.
As for the power of the trusts, it is trying to reassert
itself, using for its own ends the institution of Committees of Economic
Organization. These committees were created, however, to rectify the
errors of capitalism. They had in addition the purpose of entrusting
responsible men with necessary authority to negotiate with Germany and
assure equitable distribution of raw materials indispensable to our
The choice of members for these committees was difficult.
It was not always possible to find impartiality and competence united
within the same minds. These provisional bodies created under the sway
of a pressing need have been too numerous, too centralized and too unwieldy.
The big corporations assumed too much authority and often inadmissible
In the light of experience, I shall correct the work
I have undertaken, and I shall renew against a selfish and blind capitalism
that struggle which the sovereigns of France waged and won against feudalism.
I shall see to it that France is rid of the most despicable tutelage,
that of money.
Irresponsible trade organizations, governed by commercial
considerations, have too long been directing our food supply. I already
have taken sanctions and struck at an entire system in the person of
a single man: that of national distribution centers which have assured
the great commercial agents exclusive and usurious control of all questions
of food supply to the detriment of producer and consumer.
We are still suffering, but I do not wish our suffering
displayed in front of the scandal of fortunes built out of the general
misery. It would be all the more revolting, inasmuch as this nation
has in the past year accomplished an immense labor, despite privations
of all kinds and under the most difficult conditions.
I have in mind our farmers, who, without laborers,
without fertilizer, without sulphate, have succeeded in obtaining results
better than those of the year before. I have in mind the miners, who
have worked without respite night and day to obtain coal for us. I have
in mind all those workers who return from work only to find fireless
homes and meagerly set tables.
It is thanks to their unceasing efforts that the life
of the country has been able to be maintained, despite defeat. It is
with them and through them that we will be able tomorrow to build a
France free, powerful and prosperous. Let them wait with me for better
times. The trials of France will have an end.
As for the lack of man power, that is due above all
to the absence of those who are prisoners. As long as more than a million
Frenchmen, comprising the young and vigorous elements of the nation
and the best section of its elite, remain outside of the country's activities,
it will be difficult to build a new and lasting edifice. Their return
will make it possible to fill the great gap from which we suffer. Their
spirit, strengthened by camp life, matured by long reflection, will
become the best cement of the National Revolution.
And yet, in spite of these difficulties the future
of our country is being built with a precision that becomes more assured
The family, communities, trades, provinces will be
pillars of the constitution at which the best workers for our reconstruction
are laboring tirelessly. Its preamble will open up clear perspectives
for the future of France.
Our most recent reforms are being made the object
of methodical revision, the outline of which will appear clearer as
soon as legislative texts have been simplified and codified.
But lawmaking and building are not enough. Governing
is needed. It is both the necessity and the will of the whole people.
France cannot really be governed except from Paris.
I cannot yet return there, and I shall not return there until certain
facilities are offered me.
France cannot be governed except without the assent
of public opinion--an assent more necessary than ever in the authoritarian
This public opinion is today divided. France cannot
be governed unless the initiative of her chief finds corresponding exactness
and faithfulness in the bodies transmitting it. This exactness and faithfulness
are still lacking.
France, however, cannot wait. A nation like ours,
forged in the crucible of races and passions, proud and courageous,
as ready for sacrifice as for violence and ever bristling when its honor
is at stake, needs certainties, space and discipline.
The government's problem thus goes far beyond the
framework of a simple ministerial change. It demands above all the unqualified
maintenance of certain principles.
Authority no longer emanates from below. The only
authority is that which I entrust or delegate.
I delegated it in the first place to Admiral Darlan,
to whom public opinion has not always been favorable or fair, but who
has ever helped me with loyalty and courage.
I have given him the Ministry of National Defense
in order that he may exercise more direct control on all our land, sea
and air forces.
To my government I shall leave the necessary initiative,
but in various fields I intend to trace for it a very clear line. This
is what I have decided:
1. Activity of political parties and groups of political
origin is suspended until further notice in the unoccupied zone. These
parties may no longer hold either public or private meetings. They must
cease any distribution of tracts or notices. Those that fail to conform
to these decisions will be dissolved.
2. Payment of Members of Parliament is suppressed
as of Sept. 30.
3. The first disciplinary sanctions against State
officials guilty of false declarations regarding membership in secret
societies has been ordered. The names of officials have been published
this morning in the Journal Officiel Holders of high Masonic degrees--of
which the first list has just been published--may no longer exercise
any public function.
4. The Legion of War Veterans remains the best instrument
in the free zone of the National Revolution. But it is able to carry
out its civil task only by remaining in all ranks subordinate to the
5. I will double the means of police action, whose
discipline and loyalty should guarantee public order.
6. A group of Commissars of Public Power is created.
These high officials will be charged with studying the spirit in which
the laws, decrees, orders and instructions of the central power will
be carried out. They will have the mission of ferreting out and destroying
obstacles which abuse of the rules of administrative routine or activity
of secret societies can oppose to the work of National Revolution.
7. Powers of regional prefects, the first units of
those who will be Governors of provinces in the France of tomorrow,
will be reenforced. Their power, so far as the central administration
is concerned, is increased. Their authority over all heads of local
services is direct and complete.
8. The labor charter designed to regulate, according
to the principles of my St. Etienne speech, relations among workers,
artisans, technicians and employers in an agreement reached with mutual
understanding, has resulted in a solemn accord. It will be published
9. The provisional statute of economic organization
will be revamped on a basis of reorganization of committees with larger
representation of small industry and artisans, with revision of their
financial administration and their relations with provincial arbitration
10. The powers, role and organization of the National
Food Supply Bureau will be modified according to means which, safeguarding
the interests of consumers, permit the authority of the State to make
itself felt at the same time on a national and regional basis.
11. I have decided to use the powers given me by Constitutional
Act No. 7 to judge those responsible for our disaster. A Council of
Justice is created to that effect. It will submit its reports before
12. In the application of this same Constitutional
Act, all Ministers and high officials must swear an oath of fealty to
me and engage themselves to carry out duties in their charge for the
well-being of the State according to the rules of honor and propriety.
This first series of measures will reassure the French
who think only of the well-being of the fatherland.
Prisoners who still are waiting in camps and who are
preparing yourselves in silence for the work of national restoration,
peasants of France who are gathering harvest in particularly difficult
conditions, people of the reserved [occupied] zone who place all your
confidence in the unity of France, workmen of our suburbs, deprived
of meat and wine and of tobacco and yet so brave, you are the ones I
think of. You are the ones to whom I address these French words.
I know by my calling what victory is; I see today
what defeat is. I have received the heritage of a wounded France. It
is my duty to defend that heritage by maintaining your aspirations and
In 1917 I put an end to mutiny. In 1940 I put an end
to rout. Today I wish to save you from yourselves.
When a man of my age dedicates his person to his country
there is no sacrifice that he can evade. His only concern is the public
salvation. Remember this:
If a beaten country is divided against itself it dies.
If a beaten country can unite it is reborn. Vive la France!