Publié : 4 juillet 2005
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The reaction of non-Jewish French people.

It’s a question which needs a long and developed answer as it is not simple. We can generally say that there were two important periods. The first period was the catastrophe that all French people thought (like a lot of the world) they had one of the strongest armies in the world and after having been occupied and invaded, the French world cried. It cried to the point of turning to le Maréchal Pétain. Le Maréchal Pétain launched what he called the National Revolution, against the socialism that had been before. At the beginning the Germans wanted to make people believe that they were decent, that everything was ok. Lots of French people joined the patriotic associations to try to protest. All of the associations more or less went along with the Germans under the pressure of the Vichy government, Pétain’s government.
At the same time as Pétain’s government in France we had Pierre Laval, who was collaborating with the Germans. He was convinced that is was necessary to make policies according to the German’s wishes. As with most of Europe he was convinced that he had to unite with Germany against Bolshevism.
There were a few people in France who took arms and resisted. During the first period, between 1940 and 1942, very few people joined the Resistance and the number increased very slowly. Admittedly only 3% of French people were members of the Resistance and were truly fighting against the opposition.
Another group was searching just to eat because France had been totally pillaged. It was a very rich country from an agricultural point of view but everything had been pillaged so people were dying of hunger. Then there was a group who had been very, very close to the Germans and had closely collaborated. France had two forces, the first which I have called the political police, the Malice, who hunted the resisters and worked alongside the German police and against the resisters and Jews. Then there was a military division called the Charlamagne, who went to fight in Russia alongside the Germans and fought wearing the uniform of the German Waffen S.S.
So, whilst at the end of the war de Gaulle said that all of France was resistant, or made people believe so, in fact it was not true. But, like all political issues, de Gaulle’s political worry was to try to solve the problems of a nation, and to solve them he told marvellous lies.