Hollande acknowledges French role in Holocaust


Oh good, well at least the man is honest. Now is time to put history straight and unravel some of the absolute fluff de Gaulle inserted into the world about the Second World War.

Firstly, when Germany invaded the French and their allies defending their borders were ill prepared, it took the Axis from 10 May to 22 June to take France. The government hightailed it from Paris to Bordeaux and eventually over to London. The Resistance were undoubtedly exemplary, but what had preceeded that is shocking.

When the Normandy and South of France invasions happened there were a few hundred thousand Free French Army only. Compared with the rest of the invasion forces they did very little. When de Gaulle later did the victory parade and liberation speech in Paris he made out it was ONLY the Free French Army who had liberated France.

A million and some hundreds of thousands took part in the invasion and conquest of Germany. That they were allowed to be part of the partitions of Germany and Austria and were granted sectors of both countries, plus in Berlin and Vienna in astonishing. Again, de Gaulle made out to the French that France had single-handedly invaded and conquered Germany.

I have no issue with the French themselves. They were as courageous as anybody else, indeed wounded and dead troops were enormous numbers in both 1940 and 44/45. It remains to be very publicly acknowledged that it was French politicians who would not listen and arm their country adequately, then that a great deal of gratitude is owing to the American and British military personnel who were in France and gave support to the Resistance, especially arranging for drops of weapons and explosives to enable the Resistance to give the Germans as hard a time as imaginable. Then with regard to the actually relatively small role the undoubtedly highly motivated and courageous Free French Army was able to play in the invasion of Europe in 1944, then the occupation of Austria and Germany and the propaganda that fed the French people with fantasy notions of their leading role in the victory.

It is not about France or its people at all, it is more to do with politics. Whilst France was one of the motivating countries to create a union of European countries in the 1950s with de Gaulle being an enthusiastic European, earlier than that he instilled some of the attitudes that persist today. Hence French governments have a tendency not quite to get on with their former Allies as they might. It is time that ended, the world needs unity. Apologising for collaborating to exterminate Jews is just one of the bits of putting history straight the French people deserve to hear, because they have a right to the truth.

Terry Williams reco'd a book on de Gaulle a while ago, which I did not buy but looked at several online reviews and abstracts and from those alone I see that he was a quite complex character, aloof and quite solitary in many ways, but needing to be at the heart of things. Churchill was a francophile but could not like de Gaulle. Stalin, Kruschev, MacMillan and Truman all kept arm's length. It is intriguing to know more about this man that became so central to the French identity of the post WW2 years and perhaps hangs on quite powerfully in a kind of mythology around what he did.

Also have a read of 'Petain's Crime' by Paul Webster

Interesting read. I always thought Case Anton was when the Resistance really started.

De Gaulle in London was in touch with Vichy as historians have revealed since. Quite clearly, had Pétain or Maurras made way for him to return then he would probably have done so with Hitler and Co gloating at the coup. In fact I agree about puffed up popinjay and, when he skidaddled as Colonel before promoting himself to General (find somebody in military authority who gave him that rank...) he was a hopeless soldier anyway.

Oh yes, documentation of antisemiticism in France is nasty reading, along with what they did to Roma and others. Centuries of shame, in the case of the latter group still not ended. As for de gaulle the pro-European, his blocking of British entry contributed to setting in chain events even leading up to the present crisis. Had the UK entered early then on the basis off what British economists foresaw, the Euro might well have appeared earlier with UK as one of the motivating forces alongside Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium who were always far more enthusiastic than France. In his time de Gaulle was as obstructive as Cameron is now, but far less tolerant toward other Europeans and overtly blocking the UK on the back of a very personal grudge. Time to clean up all our houses, but again I say Hollande has made one of many necessary good steps.

If you want to read the background to France's vacillations and subsequent conduct in 1939/40 then Eugene Weber " France _ The Hollow Years" is not a bad starting point. I have no time for De Gaulle who was a puffed up popinjay in 1940 and an embarassment to France and the British government in 1940 and practically wet himself in '68 during "les évenements" flying in panic to the French Army in occupation in Germany to save his neck. De Gaulle's failure to recognise his own unimportance in 1940 and his resulting treatment by the British Government was to produce a long standing grudge on his part which hindered the UK's entry to the emergent European Union. Regarding the Resistance the only force capable of offering resistance in 1940 was the French Communist Party which was under orders from Moscow to do nothing because of the Ribbentrop/Stalin accord. A situation which continued until Hitler began Barbarossa after which all bets were off. France was since before Dreyfus a deeply antisemitic country (thanks to you guys in the Catholic Church) and apart from a few true Catholic heroes who hid and passed Jews to safe havens few tears were shed by French people for the deportation of Jews. A situation I might dare to say would have been the same had Hitler crossed the Channel.

Jim, you start with an extraordinary phrase 'mankind suffers from learned behaviour'. I will not disagree, but I am a social scientist, so do not look through my eyes and mind in a way that alows me such a luxury.

I am a Scot, we glorify Scotland's past. Take a close look at history and it is quite grizzly, very much of it is not nice. Like England, like most everywhere else.

I use fluff as a perhaps sarcastic or ironic repayment for the light consciences of people who could stand up in front of a nation and, without needing to lie, avoid the truth. Yes, the allusion to a special relationship with the land of the free, a country that still has forced labour (chain gangs) as a penal practice and where an African-American is 60 times more likely to be sentenced to that, even when white offenders are considered to be more criminal. A country where people who are still minors in law, children some might say - youth at least are executed. Their freedoms are superficial and yet we (not I, I must say) aspire to their values.

Parochial statement? No, the opinion of two people. Note, I expressed no opinion at all. The jury is out. I am now living in my fourth or fifth country where the Code Napoleon is the basis of law, where the modern social democratic state is derivative of things Boney brought about. Actually, he was merely a revolutionary soldier in his 20s when he chose the Francophone version of his name himself. I used the name Corsican (Italian, if you like) speakers used for him. He was most certainly not amongst the people who promulgated the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen in 1789, but he did remind the French that it was the foundation of their post-revolutionary society.

Correcting history is much the same as changeing it. It can be revised any which way. That is what politicians have done since at least the Greek Republic two and a half thousand years ago and K'ung Fu-tzu in China at roughly the same time. It is, perhaps, a great political tradition. I believe people should be told truth, not a de Gaulle version of X's opposing version, but the plain straight, sometimes cold truths. Hollande has just done that, it is a step in the direction toward political honesty on a path of unknown length.

It's clear that all of mankind suffers from learned behaviour. Normally we take on the prides and prejudices of our fathers and mothers. For us citizens of the connected states of Britain though, it seems that the allegorical ring through the nose is sufficient to drive us in a pre-determined direction. It matters little that the metal ring. 'doth not ring true'.

We hade long lived under the cruel misapprehension that the stout, English yeoman won for us a franchise. The list of those eligible to vote was but a drop in the ocean of population. Those eligible to sit in parliament but a tincture of that drop.

I am left to assume Brian, that you use the term 'fluff' to denote France's lighter and more elegant tissue of lies, rather than bullshit, which best denotes the fabric of deceit peddled by us Islanders and our special relations from the 'Land of the Free and the home of The Apocalypse'.

I was charmed to read your very parochial statement that your first wife, a Corsican, believed Napoleon Bonaparte to be a monumental world figure? By the way we don't say Wilhelm II or Benjamin ben Ysroel. We say William II and Benjamin Disraeli. Napoleon's name was changed for the same reason. Is there really a danger that he might not be recognised as a monumental world figure? The man who gave the whole of Europe its Law Code. The man who was instrumental in founding Science and Historical Societies with teeth. 0f unifying Germany 70 years before Bismark. 0f freeing Italy, giving her a model constitution 90 years before the Piedmontese Republic. Who promulgated' The Rights of Man' who gave black men the vote before we even put a stop to slavery, for god's sake. Not the stout independent yeomanry of Albion; but the benighted peasant farmers of France. France doesn't need more ex-pats. Certainly not the ones who condescend to correct their version of history. Correcting history is yet another product of taught (nose ring schooled) behaviour. Last, but by no manner of means least, who was it who stopped the shattered remains of world Jewry from leaving Europe to settle their homeland? And all of this despite The Balfour Declaration? Think on Brian.

I think it is probably more prudent to evaluate the facts and then base an interpretation on that rather than ‘believe what we want to belive’

Richard, calm down. Make a cup tea and read other posts, nobody wants to stir up hornets nests again.

Crystal machine? Did you ever play in Poitiers in the 1970s? Psychedelic stuff, think I might have gone to a gig with some German friends I was on holiday with.

F.M. Catholic right who wanted to have pre-Revolution power back, quit the Vichy government and joined the Resistance, asked the Communists to join his government. Promise 1 I knew and right. Complicated man. Bousquet, yes, but the amnesty of Vichy collaborators, especially ones who helped send Jews to be exterminated, that was inexcusable.

Politically, as I always say, I am quite a long way to the left of Marx, have a bit of Proudhon in me, and whether it is FN, BNP or other similar groups... I shall not say. For all of that, I know an ex-UK PM, probably the most boring of all PMs in history too, because we went to the same school and for some years he was a local MP and I was very politically active and all of them got to know my friends and I.

Take it easy.

That's v impressive, Tim!

You See, Brian ... You are a good writer - You have won me back immediately !

It's really strange being me ! Here I am Anarchist Artist, and I'm probably the only one here to have shaken hands with no les than 4 French Presidents ... G.d'E, F.M., J.C. - and even ... god forbid , but as he doesn't , he didn't, N.S. ( wow.. if looks could kill !!)

Obviously , the hardest part- historicaly speaking -was for F.M. - he was a minister under Vichy.. here we pardon "indelicatesse" as we overlook sexual matters ... C'est la France , merde ! (Et comme je l'aime !), so one had to be patient for Bousquet , ... C'est comme ca ! Actually, Mitterand is unique - 2 promises upheld ! 1: He put and end to the Guillotine - an electoral promise ... !
2: While shaking my hand when I was part of the artistique movement to get him elected, at La Villette in 1978, he said " If I get elected.. this will be a place for Musique" at the exact place today, is a plaque " Ici Francois Mitterend a inaugure la Cite de la Musique" - a lovely Museum, a great Salle de Spectacle, and hundreds of of offices for overpaid 'Fonctionaires' who do nothing ! I would be Mad to complain ! It's a unique record ! ( It's also the place were I as ' Crystal Machine' and the Steve Hillage Band played to raise money to buy the Rainbow Warrior , so , You can't please all of the people all of the time ! )

'C'est la France" Love it or Leave it ! I voted with my feet 42 years ago !

I never got "Chevalier des Arts et Lettres" - my only regret .... but I'm not French !
As we say " Onward" !

Indeed David and Guy, within families even!

Tim, excuse me! I am very happy here, I have no problem with the French if you read carefully, but above all the politics of the Second World War in their own right are scandalous, but there is a lot to apologise for all round, not just in France. My point is how dishonest French politicians have been with the French people who deserve better than that and how long it takes for the true story to out.

As David's point shows, there is a long list here as almost certainly everywhere else. Blair in front of a court, please, he deserves it too. Khadafi, too early to say as yet, but no doubt lots of complicity. Syria is heartbreaking, again there is too much unsaid and inaction as ever.

Treaty of Versailles, not really part of what you are saying although Thomas Lawrence was there representing the UK. But certainly the Arab coalition that had fought north from the Red Sea to Damascus, under Lawrence's guidance, was cheated of promised independence. Four different promises were made, all contradicting each other, by different parts of the British government. Nobody has ever apologised for that either. That's politicians for you.

As for comments about writing for the BNP, that I find offensive and ever try that again...

So there are different views of Nappi amongst the French, then - thanks David!

My experience amongst my French friends of greater academic achievement is that Napoleon is seen as the architect of French penury and lack of economic influence thereafter, just about on a par as the Revolution or the Edict of Nantes. In short French mistakes benefitted Britain enormously. Yet many of us on this site have left Britain, in many cases to enjoy a "better lifetstyle". More comment on Britain as of this morning. Bulgarian builders are undercutting Polish builders. Will they be giving ten year guarantees as required under French law? I think not. I have a miniature amongst others of Boney as well as one of Josephine. A French friend was incredulous as he said that he wouldn't have them on his walls (I suspect that several of his noble family suffered under the Terror).

Let us hope that he is as honest about the massacre of Algerians by French police in Paris in October 1961. Who was in charge of the Police? Why our old friend Maurice Papon the man who organised the deportation of Jews from Bordeaux where he was head of the police and then from Paris where he occupied the same position.


A war orphan speaks :!
Right I know all about this - Grandfather in W.W.1 - Father in W.W.2

It took a lot for the French to successfuly prosecute Bousquet and all - but they did it ! albeit 50 years late !
In doing so, the French government pronounced an huge "Mea Culpa" as the plaques on Railway Stations , and Schools in the 19th /20th arrs. of Paris are there to show!

De Gaulle was a puppet , invented by Churchill, his speeches on the BBC hit the spot - et c'est tout!

I gather from the tone of your writing, you are not happy here - are you leaving soon?
I'm told there are openings for writers at the BNP, and I don't mean the bank !

Hopefully it will take less time to get Blair etc in front of a court for the illegal trashing of Iraq..

Or Sarkosy, Cameron and Hague, for what amounts to the assination of Khadafi, and the arming of all the El-Queida like elements across Africa - although it's clear , Sarko had something to hide here ...

Srtange , no one is really that upset by what's going on in Syria ...
But wasn't it the "Allies" intervention in creating non- existing leaders in Syria that caused Lawrence and Fiesel to up and walk out of the Treaty of Versailles conference ? (Pushing the king out of Mecca, and introducing a new power base over the Oil reserves)

Politicians don't work-wherever they come from ! Check out J-J Rouseaus definition of war - it says it all !

Guy, do not get me started on Boney. My first wife was Corsican and held Napoleone di Buonaparte, to use his real name, as a monumental figure in world history. That is extraordinary, given that she came from a Corsican speaking minority family and her father cursed him for having a major part in the suppression of their language. She was sent to the UK to study English, rather than mainland France to study in French, a language she preferred not to use. Since Boney became such a prominent French figure and even king of the country she would not accept her island to belong to, I was confused about the adulation. Mind you, she never got the hang of me saying that the bloke who invented the famous boots gave Boney a bit of a kicking!

Ah the French and history! We were amazed the other day when the subject of Napoleon came up, and we were asked what the British thought of him... Errr humm.... We don't really, we said, apart from Waterloo Station etc. This did not go down very well - it appears the man is still a major hero here in Aquitaine. I expect it applies all over France. Odd.

Good to see Hollande putting some realism out there, though. Even when he's vacillating about many of his pre-election promises.