You have already heard our Chief, Marshal Petain, tell you that it was with his approval that I went at the invitation of Chancellor Hitler and that conversations between the Chief of the German Reich and myself had been approved by him and by the Government.
The Marshal, having given me the undoubted honor of designating me as his second in his heavy task, I have come to bring you details which you have been impatiently awaiting.
The Chancellor did not ask me to hand over our fleet to him. Every one knows-and the English better than any one-that I will never hand it over.
The Chancellor did not ask me for any colonial territory. He did not ask me to declare war on England.
Why has he acted so?
Germany began the war alone and judges herself able to end it alone against no matter what coalition.
At no moment in the conversations was there any question of France abandoning in any way her sovereignty.
France freely is choosing the road she is taking. On her depends her present and her future. She will have the peace which she makes herself. She will have the place in the organization of Europe which she will have made for herself.
Remember-some seem to have forgotten-that France has suffered the gravest defeat in her history, that three-fifths of her continental territory has been occupied, that we have a million and a half prisoners.
This defeat was due to our past errors. From 1919 to 1939 our governments and our legislative assemblies stored up errors and let themselves be led to defend interests which were not our own to the detriment of our own.
Domestically, they permitted sabotage of morale of the nation; they legalized laziness and disorder.
Abroad they carried out an incoherent policy; they made us the protectors of small European powers without having been capable of forging the indispensable arms for carrying out that mission.
They decided to give aid to every one, which made necessary a powerful offensive army. Our governments and our assemblies, however, only gave the country a defensive army.
Not having known how to prepare for war, either morally or materially, our governments nevertheless declared it. We lost it because of the mistakes and weakness of those who led us into it.
And it is as a result of the indescribable débâcle of which many of you have horrible memories, it is as a result of the defection of our former allies, it is as a result of the default of the government which declared it was ready to continue the fight without having the means, but which in reality only thought of flight, that the Marshal was called to take the destiny of the country in his hands and ask an honorable armistice.
In June, 1940, the victor could have refused us an armistice, beaten us and wiped France off the map of the world. They did not do it. In May, 1941, the victor has agreed to negotiate with the French Government.
Since the Montoire interview, during which the principle of collaboration was decided, France has shown by acts her desire to continue that policy.
These are acts which determined Chancellor Hitler to grant us ameliorations of the consequences of defeat and of the conditions of the armistice which you just learned.
Listen well to my words.
On the result of the negotiations in course directly depends the future of France. It is necessary for her to choose between life and death. The Marshal and the Government have chosen life.
Your duty is clearly traced: follow the Marshal, aid him with all your force, as I am doing in his work of national restoration.
Like him and like me, in your thoughts and in your acts, be inspired only by the interests of France.
[New York Times, May 24, 1941.]