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World War II: Marshal Petain's Speech to the French People in Vichy

(May 15, 1941)


You have learned that Admiral Darlan recently conferred with Chancellor Hitler. I had approved this meeting in principle. The new interview permits us to light up the road into the future and to continue the conversations that had been begun with the German Government.

It is no longer a question today of public opinion, often uneasy and badly informed, being able to estimate the chances we are taking or measure the risks we take or judge our acts.

For you, the French people, it is simply a question of following me without mental reservation along the path of honor and national interest.

If through our close discipline and our public spirit we can conduct the negotiations in progress, France will surmount her defeat and preserve in the world her rank as a European and colonial power.

That, my dear friends, is all that I have to say to you today.

[New York Times, May 16. 1941.]

Sources: ibiblio