Maurice Thorez 1944
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2004.
Broadcast over Radio Moscow August 31, 1944.
Frenchmen and women:
The treason of the Lavalliens and the appeasers made our country the prey of the Hitlerites. France was plunged into an abyss of sufferings and humiliations. But France couldn’t die. With the precious assistance of all of its allies France has already liberated two thirds of its territory. France has begun to climb the slope, thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of the best of its sons, thanks to the unity of all the French in the fight against the occupiers and traitors. The unity of the nation, forged in the resistance and in combat, the unity of the nation, cemented by the blood of our heroes and martyrs, was and remains the essential factor in re-born French strength. National unity was the condition for the victorious fight to liberate Paris, Marseilles, Toulon and a number of cities and villages of France. National unity remains the condition for the victorious fight to liberate Lille, Nancy, Metz, and Strasbourg, to complete the liberation of our country. National unity is the guarantee of the complete and rapid regeneration of France.
The unity of the French nation was little by little affirmed in the refusal to subscribe to the shameful Rethondes capitulation. It was affirmed by the irrevocable condemnation of the Vichy regime imposed on France by Hitler. The unity of the French nation was manifested, during the occupation, by the moving solidarity of peasants, artisans, and small owners with the workers and young people who were particularly struck by deportation and mobilization in service to Germany. Or yet again by the unanimous protest of all Frenchmen – Catholics, Communists, Radicals, monarchists, socialists – against the persecution of the Jews by the Hitlerites and the Vichyssois. The unity of the French nation is a living reality inside the groups of Francs-Tireurs et Partisans, among the Forces Francaises de l'Interieur, or the former combat officer shoulder to shoulder with the worker, the peasant, the functionary. The unity of the French Nation found its expression in the Conseil national de la Resistance and the Provisional Republican Government.
All of the French know the price of this fecund and salutary national unity. All of the French have but one desire: to further reinforce national unity in the combat that is continuing in order to crush Hitlerite Germany; to organize for unity ever more solidly, in factories and in the villages, through the Liberation Committees and the National Front – the name matters little, it is the thing itself that counts. In this decisive phase of war against accursed Hitlerism, any attack on national unity would be a crime against the fatherland. Decisive victory over Germany is near. Nevertheless, it demands the mobilization of all our resources, of all our forces. It demands the radical liquidation of the Vichy regime. It demands the maintaining and the continuous reinforcement of national unity.
Victory is near. The Anglo-American armored divisions are pursuing their advance. Our allies have passed Soissons, Reims, and Vitry-le-Francois. They are before Lyons. Every day our Francs-Tireurs et Partisans liberate some new city, some new parcel of territory. Victories on the Danube and in the Carpathians respond to the victories on the Seine and in the Alps. The Germans are in retreat everywhere. Romania, following Italy, has just turned its arms against Germany.
And the Red Army is effectively contributing to the liberation of our country.
But the Hitlerite Brigands are resisting, and will resist with a ferociousness born of desperation. They have become worse than mad dogs. Their ferocity no longer has any limits. Chased from the capital by the Parisians themselves, the Germans immediately bombed the heavily populated neighborhoods of the 11th and 13th arrondisements, and the working class faubourgs of Ivry and Montreuil. The Germans are avenging themselves against the Parisians by massacring their women and children. Millions of Frenchmen and women in the regions still occupied remain exposed to the violence of the Hitlerites. And our imprisoned soldiers, along with the workers and hostages deported to Germany, are still at the mercy of these bandits.
Frenchmen and women, our country, which has suffered so much from the German occupation, has an interest in a rapid end to the war. It has an interest in a total, complete defeat of Hitlerite Germany. The enemy must be crushed on his own territory. The Allies and, among them, our soldiers, will not stop at our eastern border. They will cross the Rhine. Together with the Red Army they will enter Berlin. Then the conditions for a lasting peace can be elaborated. The German imperialists will be put in a position where it will be impossible for them to carry out new aggressions against the freed peoples. It’s enough, it’s too much, that in three quarters of a century the Germans have invaded our country three times. It’s too much that our generation has been terribly tested by two world wars unleashed each time by imperialist Germany.
Victory demands the mobilization of all the nation’s forces. And in the first place the creation of a great French, national, democratic army through the fusion, the amalgamation, of our divisions that are covering themselves with glory in Africa and Italy with our large battalions of Forces Francaises de l'Interieur, free corps and detachments of the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans, which have burst forth on the very soil of the fatherland. And then we will begin the reorganization of our shattered economy, ruined by four years of foreign occupation and so-called “national revolution;” the factories, the means of transport will be put back in a condition to work in order to meet the needs of our army and the entire populace; normal exchange between the city and the country will be reestablished; provisioning will be ensured and, above all, we will immediately make a serious effort to give our children and young boys and girls health and vigor, and hope to our country.
Frenchmen and women, victory demands that the edifice of reaction and oppression installed in our country by the coup d'état of July 10 be torn down. It’s not only a matter of tracking down and exterminating the traitors. It’s not only a matter of promising Pétain and Laval implacable punishment. The institutions and organisms of Vichy must be uncompromisingly destroyed. Some have spoken of a “synthesis” which should include, they say, “that which is efficacious in the totalitarian systems, and that which is noble in liberal ideology.” There is talk of the “reconciliation of authority and freedom.”
The “synthesis” cannot be a “reconciliation” between good and evil. The synthesis can only be born of the negation of the fascist evil: it presupposes the total annihilation of fascism. There is nothing “efficacious,” nothing good in fascism, in Hitlerism or in Vichyism, it successor. It’s not for us to preserve who knows what Vichy institution, but rather to radically destroy everything of Vichy, to extirpate fascism to its deepest roots. We must install a real democracy.
In this regard we should learn a lesson from our tragic trials and reveal the true causes of the defeat, of the invasion, of all the ills that fell upon our
people. It isn’t true that our country succumbed to an excess of democracy. To the contrary, it was the continual restrictions on the functioning of democratic institutions, the arbitrary limits imposed on democracy that facilitated the treasonous work of the Cagoulards and the other agents of Hitler in France. It’s enough to remember that since 1934 the practice of decrets-lois had become the rule, and that it deprived parliament of its main prerogatives: the establishment of laws and the control of the government. In fact, the great treason doesn’t date to June 16, 1940; it goes much further back. Vichyisme was prepared by appeasement. And appeasement was the expression of the fear of the popular masses and the culpable complaisance towards the aggressive forces of internal and external fascism. Munich was a black plot against democracy and the Soviet Union, the valorous champion of the cause of free peoples. The facts have proven that the Soviet Union saved the world from fascist barbarism. The facts have proven that the Soviet Union saved France. How can we not judge with severity those whose anti-Sovietism blinded them to the point that they lost sight of the interests of our country. Today, when the people of France is affirming its will to liquidate the Vichy regime and to strike down the traitors, it has no intention of treating the appeasers gently, these harbingers of the defeat and the invasion. Especially when the impenitent appeasers, echoing Goebbels’ campaign, are recommencing their intrigues in order to smash national unity and demoralize and divide the people.
National unity is more necessary than ever.
Completing the liberation of France, pursuing the war at the side of our Allies until the crushing of Hitlerite Germany, working for the rapid rebirth of the war, assuring for our fatherland in the world of tomorrow the rank of a great nation that it should have: these are not the tasks of only one party, nor of a few statesmen. It’s the task of the entire people, rising up in the enthusiasm of effort and sacrifice. It’s the task of millions and millions of Frenchmen and women, strongly united around the flag in order to make a strong, democratic and independent France.
Long Live the Unity of the French nation!