1944.08.25.De Lilian T. Mowrer - Concerning France.Article
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By Lilian T. Mowrer
Publisheb by The Union for Democratic Action, Educational Fund, Inc
As this pamphlet goes to press*, Allied Armies, with the help of gallant Frenchman, are liberating the war-shattered soil of France. Those who have wondered whether the France they have known and loved could ever rise again out of the ashes of betrayal and defeat now have ample proof that her people can surmount every disaster. It is a time for rejoicing. But we know that much territory is still to be won and that many problems remain to be solved.
Lilian Mowrer is an ardent friend of France. With her husband, Edgar Ansel Mowrer, she lived there during the critical years in which the conspiracies of which she writes came to have a decisive influence upon the military defeat of that country. Since her return to the United States she has continued to interest herself in the material which forms the background of this pamphlet, interpreting it in the light of her knowledge of French affairs.
It would not be fair to tell this story now, unless, at the same time, we recall the peculiar vulnerability of France to attack, and her well-founded fears of German aggression. And we, in the United States, need these facts in order to be forewarned. For there is a curious tendency in this country to discount conspiratorial revelations. To the average American they seem unreal. Possibly the emphasis given in other publications to the merely personal and exotic aspects of the French betrayal has served to distract attention in America from the very striking parallels between our own situation and that of France.
For it is misleading to suppose that conditions there were more complicated and corrupt than elsewhere. The Cagoulards and their ilk, who were considered as crackpots or "rabble" by the majority of their more enlightened and patriotic countrymen, have their counterparts here in the armed bands and colored-shirt organisations which have sought consistently to discredit democracy at home. The few Frenchmen who were so blind as to risk their country's honor and security for their own selfish ends were afflicted with an international disease, and one for which we shall have to find the antidote in all countries, including our own.
This postscript on the fall of France is a warning to all people everywhere who went to war in order to put an end to international anarchy. If we take the lesson embodied in this document with sufficient seriousness, we shall remember that military victory is not enough. The disease which causes a myopia so complete that governments become the prey of international financiers and industrialists must be conquered by the people's knowledge of its danger and by their continued and determined attack upon it.
* August 25, 1944
Synarchy and international cartels
The chief French contribution to world reaction, and the chief link of French cooperation with Germany was, however, a group of over-ambitious French industrialists and bankers who organized, presumably in 1922, something they called the Mouvement synarchique d'Empire (MSE). The synarchy (Greek: "syn-archy", the opposite of "an-archy") aimed at nothing less than the overthrow of French democracy, the establishment of a ruthless monopoly at home and cooperation with similarly-minded groups throughout the world in a kind of international super-cartel.
Its founder was a certain Jean Coutrot, who had held various government posts under the Republic, and was an intimate of Marshal Pétain. Most, if not all its members were graduates of the great French Schools, the Ecole normale supérieure, the Ecole des sciences politiques and particularly, the Ecole polytechnique. Many members were inspectors of Finance, that is, men who had gone through a special training qualifying them for high functions in the Treasury. Owing to the indecently intimate relations between the French Government and the financial world, it was easy for them to pass into privately owned banks. The Banque Worms and the Banque d'Indochine became the bases of their activities and, by maintaining their contacts with the Treasury and stretching out into heavy industry, they gradually gathered power into their hands.
Important in the MSE were the following:
1.) Paul Baudoin, a former Inspector of Finance, and later a director of the Banque d'Indochine, a fervent admirer of Mussolini, (who got himself appointed to the Reynaud War Cabinet in June, 1940 through the influence of Reynaud's mistress, the ultra-defeatist Hélène de Portes), arch collaborationist with the Germans and Vichy's first Minister of Foreign Affairs;
2.) Jacques Guérard, of the same bank, who shared the views of his chief and, in the Spring of 1941, was sent to Syria to persuade the local French commanders to permit the passage of German arms and munitions to the Iraki engaged in fighting the British; he later became Vichy Ambassador to Portugal (January 1944);
3.) Gabriel Le Roy Ladurie, assistant director of the Banque Worms, brother of Pétain's Minister of Agriculture, a former hanger-on of Hélène de Portes, charged by some with being the real head of the MSE;
4.) Francois Lehideux and Jacques Barnaud, two other flowers of the Banque Worms, the latter becoming head of the Vichy office for Franco-German economic relations; under him, German industry, working through the Banque Worms, began to take over all important French industries, beginning with the reorganized French chemical trust, Francolor. According to Liberation, the French Underground Newspaper, "Berlin had every reason to trust him";
5.) Jacques Benoit-Mechin, a "student of German affairs", a pro-German, previously hired by the German Nazi to write the history of the Reichswehr, became after the Armistice a director of the Banque Worms;
6.) Yves Bouthillier, Inspector of Finances, a particular patron of Admiral Darlan; first Vichy Minister of Finance;
7.) Jean Bichelonne, delegate of heavy industry; an early member of the MSB but close to Laval and without pre-war links to the Germans; became a collaborationist;
8.) Pierre Pucheu, Vichy Minister of the Interior, organizer of the Franco-German steel cartel, a director of the Banque Worms, worked during the Vichy regime in close cooperation with Pierre-Etienne Flandin and Marcel Peyrouton.
Men like these were the natural allies of the Nazi. Not only did they seek to destroy the British financial hold on France, but they saw vast opportunities of personal profit within an expanded German system of closed economy - manipulated markets, jacked-up prices and all the blessings of cartel technique. In the back of their minds was a grandiose scheme to obtain international power through monopolistic economic juggling and political treason. They were the brains and backers of the Hooded Dynamiters (Cagoulards). Cautious to the point of cowardice in meeting competition; desirous of preserving all the benefits of private enterprise and individual initiative without risk; fearful of trying to compete with more powerful German industry, they built up a sinister brain trust aimed at bringing all of their country's resources and political power under their own managerial control".
Closely connected with the MSE group were Jacques Lemaigre-Dubreuil and his alter ego and factotum, Jean Rigaud (later Commissioner of Interior of the short-lived Giraud regime in North Africa) who participated in all his boss' ventures. Jacques Lemaigre-Dubreuil, head of Huiles Lesieur (peanut oil refineries spread from Dunkirk to Dakar) and an important figure in the Banque de France; closely linked with the Banque Worms; several years before the war, founded the "Taxpayers' League" (Ligue des contribuables) as a cover for armed mobs organized for street fighting. He was one of the chief moving forces behind the 1934 attempt to overthrow the Third Republic, beginning with riots on the Place de la Concorde in Paris, February 6th; and is a classic example of the self-made tycoon screening his "higher aims" behind a facade of little people. Jacques Lemaigre-Dubreuil, with the help of Jean Rigaud, was known for years as the distributor of large sums to all sorts of fascistic publications. He acted in the name of a mysterious "group of friends" who entrusted him with these funds. Today it appears clear that these funds were used in accordance with the aims of the Synarchy.
The general staff's counter-revolutionary views
While the Synarchists' pro-Germanism may have been primarily "economic", the Royalists and officers on the General Staff, who worked with them, were motivated by enmity of the Republic and of all democracies. They dreamed of restoring the ancien regime. It was by promising them such a restoration that the Synarchists "got at" the Army, and won the confidence of Pétain himself. The Army connection with the Cagoulard plot becomes clear when explained in these terms; horrified by the Popular Front, certain Army elements had decided to take matters into their own hands in order to restore social hierarchy and discipline. Yet, owing to the link between the Deuxième Bureau (the department of the War Ministry where the Cagoulard plot was hatched) and the German-corrupted editorial staff of "Je suis partout", French officers who believed themselves moved by pure patriotism, and who would have scorned a bribe were, for political purposes, induced to make use of money some of which came from an enemy country.
The officers implicated in the Cagoulard plot were without exception devoted to Marshal Pétain, whose own thirst for gloire was insatiable; whose abhorrence for the Republic was notorious; who identified communism with the anti-Christ, and who wanted nothing so much as to see his country become a land of devout, unlettered peasants, disciplined and hard-working - a conception which fitted admirably into the picture Hitler cherished of a future de-industrialized France, a "garden of Europe".
Owing to the interdepartmental relations of the War Ministry, the Cagoulards penetrated not only into the Second Bureau (dealing with military espionage and counter-espionage) but into the First and Third Bureaus as well (dealing respectively with Operations and Supplies); i.e. the very departments responsible in 1940 for issuing conflicting orders, and for the failure to get ammunition and air support to the front line troops.
Pétain's rols in the French debacle
How far was Pétain responsible for the French defeat? To what extent was he a tool of the Synarchists? Or did he and those around him merely profit by events over which they had no control? It is perhaps too early to determine, but evidence is piling up against the Marshal.
Political theory, current since Dreyfus' days in French reactionary circles, maintained that no change in the French constitution was possible except under pressure of a military defeat. Gustave Hervé revived this theory in a brochure written in 1935 in which he eulogized Pétain as future "savior of France," and Pétain's admiration for Hervé was well-known. Curiously enough, the pro-German editor Lucien Pemjean published in April 1939, i.e. before the outbreak of the war, an article on Le Grand Occident with the banner headline, Pétain Shall Rule, using the double-headed Frankish axe which later became known in Vichy as Pétain's insignia. German agents were thoroughly familiar with this political theory and possibly had it
in mind when the Nazis were seeking loopholes for preliminary penetration of French defenses. Pre-war conversations between German delegates and members of the French General Staff and French bankers certainly took place. Both in 1937 and 1939 Otto Abetz, Ribbentrop's special envoy to France, arranged for groups from the Cagoulard organization and the "Je suis partout" editorial staff to visit Berlin. Nothing is known of any precise plans laid at the time. But it is not entirely unlikely that a general understanding was reached concerning the "token resistance" which France would make "in the event of a war". For men of Ptain's mental level, without the remotest conception of fascism, what mattered most was the internal political "reform" of France. It was not too difficult to persuade a simpleton who imagined that one could make a "gentleman's agreement" with Adolf Hitler that France's defeat would not mean real defeat, but merely an opportunity to refashion the French nation after his own heart. Despising the Republic as he did, he snapped eagerly at the Nazi bait: a regenerated fascist France, allied to Germany on equal terms, ruling Europe in amicable partnership.
How far complicity actually went it is impossible to prove. Pertinax, in his detailed and lengthy analysis of the French defeat (The GraveDiggers of France, Doubleday Doran, 1944) accuses Pétain of conspiring against the Republic over a period of years. Under his influence several successive French cabinets made inadequate war preparations; various generals appointed by him failed as commanders. Pétain, according to Pertinax, wanted defeat. Certainly, as Ambassador in Madrid during the immediate pre-war months, he showed marked cordiality to German Ambassador Eberhard von Stohrer. "My relations with my colleague from Germany have never ceased to be excellent," he is reported to have said. Other statements made at the time take on a suspicious significance when remembered today. In H.R. Knickerbocker's book, "Is Tomorrow Hitler's", the author reports that Pétain entertained two prominent Spaniards in Hendaye in November 1939, and told them: "Do not Judge France by its present appearance. Democracy is finished everywhere. Next spring you will see a movement in France comparable to your own uprising." The collaborationist deputy, Anatole de Monzie, reports another conversation with Pétain in March 1940, in a book he wrote and was permitted to publish under the Vichy regime in the same year, in which the latter declared: "They will need me in the month of May."
The synarchists tightened their links to Germany just before the outbreak of the war. Le Roy Ladurie spent the summer of 1939 in Wiesbaden in the company of General Fedor von Bock. Several times, after the declaration of war, he and Jacques Barnaud went to Basle, Switzerland, presumably on business with the Bank of International Settlements which had its seat there. But the closest collaborator in Germany with the Worms Bank in France was the Schroeder Bank (heavy backer of the Nazis and principal instrument in arranging the meeting in 1933 between Papen and Hitler, which resulted in the latter's nomination as Chancellor.) It was commonly rumored in Paris at the time that Le Roy Ladurie's visits to Basle were to maintain contact with Schroeder.
Defeat and duplicity
Then came Spring, 1940, after seven months of "phoney" war. During the entire Polish campaign the French General Staff (just as though it had given formal guarantees to do nothing) refrained from an offensive against the Germans, allegedly against the desire of the Government. Nor did it show any inclination to profit by the lessons in blitz tactics which the German invasion of Poland had taught. In May, Georges Mandel, Minister of the Interior, arrested for high treason the editors of "Je suis partout"; he dared not order the arrest of leading General Staff officers, although he suspected them of complicity with these men. The generals were, of course, unconscious of the fact that members of the War Ministry also worked for the pro-German weekly. Even General de Gaulle - according to the American correspondent, H. R. Knickerbocker - took what he saw in his colleagues not for treason but only for "apathy and inertia."
Then during 37 days, an army of five million, reputedly the best in the world, never once stopped retreating. Never once did it hold out against the German attack for more than a few days. A constant element of disorder, also created by mysterious military orders, was the wholesale exodus of panic-stricken civilians who blocked the roads, hampered the soldiers' movements and contributed to a confusion unparalleled in military history. Even while fleeing, the French population reached the conclusion: "We are betrayed."
From the French government installed at Tours, Churchill secured Premier Reynaud's promise that the French would continue the fight either in Brittany, with the British Fleet guarding the flanks, or in North Africa. Apparently the Premier knew nothing of the influence being exerted by the Synarchists over his ill-fated mistress, Hélène de Portes. In the last hectic days before the final collapse, she publicly championed defeatism, and, at the instigation of the MSE, clamored for an armistice. In the hysterical atmosphere of Bordeaux, General Weygand, vigorously supported by Marshal Pétain, solemnly swore that an armistice was the only way out. He quoted General Nogues as saying that French soldiers would die like flies in the North African summer (1) and conjured up a horrific picture of a government-in-exile forsaking a defeated army at home, that would gradually break up into little local groups "like a lot of Soviets" !!!
This fear of communism had been stressed by General Weygand at Tours and at Bordeaux in the final sessions of the Council of War. Pierre Laval, who up to that moment had not come into the picture, was called in to back up the defeatist generals. Laval had always declared that Russia, not Germany, was the real enemy of France and that it would be wise to obtain an armistice with the Germans while the French army was still intact. In a secret meeting in Bordeaux with deputies and senators, he implored them to turn over their constitutional controls to Pétain since there existed between the Nazis and the Marshal a secret agreement, and that France would secure much better terms if Pétain were voted unlimited powers.
Fernand-Laurent, the French conservative deputy, tells in his book "Un Peuple ressuscité (Brentanos) how Pétain confided to him in February 1942: "Have pity on me for I have got myself into a terrible predicament."
Subsequent events seem to suggest that some sort of secret agreement did exist between the Germans and Pétain. On June 16, 1940, with the Chamber and Senate still reluctant to capitulate, retain announced over the radio that he had asked for an armistice - thereby precluding all hope of further resistance - an amazing step... unless he already knew what terms he might expect.
Pétain addressed himself to Hitler as "soldier to soldier" on the assumption that France would be treated "as an equal partner"; that the armistice was to be a mere episode in the destruction of democracy... in fact, that it was a phoney defeat.
Before the armistice was signed, Pétain called in Laval. The old man needed Laval's experience and help in instituting his "National Revolution." Under this label, he envisaged nothing less than the erasure of the ideals of both the French and the American revolutions; the blotting out of equalitarian philosophies; the restoration of paternal autocracy, of an exclusively agrarian society and, if possible, of the pre-Reformation unity of the Catholic world. The dazed and contrite Parliament was half bulldozed, half tricked, largely through Laval's maneuvers, into giving the Marshal full powers, and his administration was launched with a series of farreaching decrees dating from July 23 - November 9, 1940. Laval received his reward: Pétain recognized him as the "Dauphin," something which the wily old man calculated would prevent any blackmail in the form of a threat to reveal what Laval knew of Pétain's prewar arrangements with the Germans.
The synarchists go to work
Laval's appointment pleased members of the MSE not at all. They had not plotted and planned in order to have an outsider reap the political rewards. Though they had all been given important government jobs, and had so many representatives in the Cabinet that, as Liberation commented wryly, the "Vichy government looked like a subsidiary of the Worms and Indochina Banks," Laval at the top could still block their schemes. He was not one of their group. He had no old school tie. Resentfully, the synarchists began looking for a new "front man" for their movement. They finally picked Admiral Jean Darlan whose ambition made him a ready tool of anyone who promised power. The MSE had already made an economic agreement with the Japanese. So Darlan obligingly replaced patriotic General Catroux (Governor of Indochina, who had requested American support) by Admiral Decoux, who on Vichy's orders allowed the Japanese to enter Indochina. At home Darlan began filling every important military and civilian post in North Africa with Vichy-minded officials. The way was finally clear for the synarchists.
Their plan was very simple - the application of a technique first perfected by the Nazis in Germany, and subsequently used abroad, whereby economic penetration supplemented the military stranglehold on conquered nations.
Let it be noted that Pétain's first Cabinet included a group of men up to that time unknown in government, and drawn exclusively from financial circles. One might have supposed that the old Marshal would have appointed prominent political leaders who shared his views, or military leaders, or competent technicians. Instead, nearly all of his appointees had cultivated German contacts for years before the armistice with Germany gave them their opportunity of realizing a synarchial control of France.
No one can say precisely to what extent these men were the willing and conscious tools of the Nazis. What is certain, however, is that they accepted their country's defeat as a prerequisite to the overthrow of French democracy and the erection, in its stead, of an oligarchy in which the MSE could be all-powerful. Once in control, there was no alternative to working with and for the Germans; at least, not so long as they considered a German victory inevitable.
Within Germany proper, the Nazis had systematically made sure that the big financial and economic powers within the Reich, and particularly the banking groups headed by Baron von Schroeder and the whole IG Farben organization, would remain on their side. First, "old party-members" were put into remunerative key positions, to prevent the growth of power blocs independent of the Nazi government. Second, the Nazis took over, step by step, the assets of the banks, insurance companies and other institutions in exchange for government bonds backed by nothing but the guarantee of national productivity. Since German currency had no gold backing, corresponded to no known world standard and was not negotiable abroad, such German bonds were good only as long as the Nazis ruled Germany. Thus the Nazis cemented their hold on their people, for German banks are nation-wide institutions with millions of depositors. Practically everyone in the country thereby became a partner of the Nazis and could escape bankruptcy only so long, as the latter remained in power.
In dealing with foreign countries, the Nazis habitually selected some private bank or banks as exclusive agent, granting favorable remuneration for services rendered. Just as their military subjugation was prepared by an infiltration of spies disguised as tourists, so also, was their economic absorption accomplished. Actually, the Reichsbank instructed a German bank to establish a branch in the country slated for attack. Having made the requisite "contacts" with friendly native banks, the Nazi-trained personnel supplied to these institutions then turned them into information and espionage centres where all data needed by the Berlin planners was filed.
In France, the Nazis chose the Banque Worms and the Bank of Indochina. Then the synarchists revealed themselves as financial quislings. They had established their pre-war contacts with Germans; they compelled other French sister banks to comply with what amounted to a legalized robbery of all their assets. Finally they proceeded to "buy up" for the Germans the larger French enterprises, pocketing fat commissions, and keeping their thumbs in all the economic pies.
Pressure of all kinds was brought to bear upon French owners of individual enterprises, and the amount of collateral transferred put industry and trade completely under German domination. The Worms Bank and the Bank of Indochina did the buying. Nevertheless, the process went slowly for all concerned, and it occurred to members of the MSE that matters could be speeded up if the French government would force the various designated victim enterprises to turn over control to the Nazis. Laval, curiously enough, refused to sanction such action. Despite his shady financial transactions, there was left in him a minimum of legal caution, and the certainty that, once the war was over, such decrees would be contested. He himself seems not to have been implicated in the deals of the Banque Worms; his personal economic instrument was the Banque nationale du commerce et de l'industrie (BNCI) which kept aloof from the Worms' transactions, but tried to carve commissions from dummy transfers really in order to protect French industry from complete absorption by the Germans.
Politically, Pierre Laval was even more of a collaborationist than the MSE. His reluctance to play their particular game must be attributed to nothing more noble than commercial rivalry. Yet his continued opposition angered the Synarchists. With the connivance of Marcel Peyrouton - Pétain's Minister of the Interior -- and of Pierre Etienne Flandin, Laval was formally arrested by Pétain's newly formed Gardes du Corps.
For a whole year Laval sulked in Paris, in semi-exile. At last Pétain, at the command of the Nazis, appointed Darlan to take his place in Vichy. Darlan, who, according to a report in the French underground press, had definitely gone over to the Synarchists, did not hesitate to sanction the decrees which enabled the MSE to gain a stranglehold on French industry and banking. He announced a "new era in collaboration, the transformation of French economy."
The MSE controlled prices and surrounded French workers with enough benevolent social legislation to stifle any possible revolt. Only the undismayed stand of the British, whose immediate capitulation the Synarchists had taken for granted, and increasing Lend-Lease and other aid from America gradually raised doubts in their minds. What if Germany lost the war after all? Could they have been backing the wrong horse?
Why the synarchists hate and fear de Gaulle?
The synarchists could not - as matters stood - survive a United Nations' victory. True, the American diplomats at Vichy seemed to have little inkling of the real aims of the Vichy officials. They were apparently ready to swallow the stories about the "ineluctable necessities of defeat" and the inevitability of communist chaos, had the French continued resistance in the colonies. The real nature of the M.S.E. was a closed book to them. While bitterly opposed to the Nazis, the Americans were full of indulgence for "honest" Frenchmen who merely wished to utilize the French defeat to "clean up" France.
Not so the British. Winston Churchill and the mass of the British people considered themselves betrayed by a half-beaten ally that preferred to capitulate and make up to the conqueror rather than fight to the end. London gave no credence to Pétain's explanations of the need for "temporary" submission. London knew all about the old Marshal's desperate efforts to bring France as a full-fledged partner into a European "New Order" that must inevitably be anti-British. London knew all about General Weygand's predictions of an early British defeat in the summer of 1940. Little chance for the synarchists to make peace with London.
In the eyes of the synarchists, Brigadier General Charles de Gaulle was even worse than the British. If only that stubborn officer had remembered his conservative antecedents, stayed in France and "collaborated"! The MSE would have been glad to forgive his former cooperation with ex-Premier Paul Reynaud. Instead, he had flown to London and, by announcing that France had lost a battle but had not lost the war, managed to become the leader of Free France abroad.
To Charles de Gaulle, even more than to the British, all Frenchmen who urged capitulation to Germany and who helped overturn the Third Republic were simple traitors and, if he got his chance, the syn-archists well knew that he would deal with them as such.
De Gaulle's success in seizing portions of the Empire was disquieting in the extreme to the synarchists, for it gave him something to offer the Allies beyond the few ships, the few hundred aviators and the few thousand French soldiers and sailors who rallied to his cause throughout the world. To cite but one example, de Gaulle's forces were in control of the vital Allied air and caravan route across Africa.
Still Britain could not hold out forever, they argued, and de Gaulle would soon be just another exile - if not a German prisoner. Unless the United States got into the war in time to save Britain. None watched the gradually stepped-up American aid to Britain with more attention than did the members of the MSE. Did this mean that America would go the whole way? Still, there seemed nothing to worry about.
When Hitler attacked the Soviet Union, the French traitors rubbed their hands with glee. This was what they wanted most - the elimination of communism. It would all be over in a few weeks.
But it wasn't. The Russians held. Moscow held. And then came Pearl Harbor. The international picture changed entirely. Germany might be defeated. There was just time to take out an insurance policy against possible German defeat. Anything would do, provided it eliminated the "vindictive" de Gaulle as an international factor. This required, if possible, dealing with Americans rather than with the British, and, above all, building up a pro-allied rival French leader who, while acceptable to the Allies, would remain a secret puppet in the hands of the MSE. It might require letting some Americans into the financial ring.
The synarchists intrigue to oust de Gaulle
Accordingly the synarchists began to hedge and play both ends against the middle. If Hitler won, their partner, the Schroeder Bank, would protect them. If Germany lost, they would have deserved something of the Allies, and Charles de Gaulle would not be in a position to carry out his dreaded "purge" since "their" man would have the ear of the Allies.
Only against this background does the deeper meaning of North African events become clear. From the French viewpoint, the sudden swing-over to the Allies of a group of Vichyites was the struggle to retain power by a group of French capitalists who had first deliberately chosen subservience to Germany under the delusion that the Germans would permit them to profit indefinitely therefrom.
Keeping power in their hands demanded the elimination of the French leader who would not accept defeat; who was aware of their treason and who had sworn to bring them to justice.
Jacques Lemaigre-Dubreuil was the man charged by the synarchists with the delicate operation of finding someone to oust de Gaulle. Before undertaking to represent the MSE and the Worms Bank's interests in this transaction, he succeeded in becoming a full-fledged Worms' partner. According to documentary evidence in the USA, this was done in the fall of 1941. Owing to his extensive business connections in North Africa (he managed the Lesieur Oil Concern), he felt he could guarantee collaboration there, both of the French officials and of certain French generals (henchmen of the MSE). Convinced that he had a quid pro quo in his pocket, he approached the British with the offer to facilitate Allied landings in North Africa. But on one condition: de Gaulle should have no part in the expedition. The British may not have understood the Synarchists' fear of de Gaulle, nor the determined efforts they were making to get rid of him, but they were perfectly aware of Lemaigre-Dubreuil's dubious reputation and refused to negotiate with him. He then tried to find someone to whom they would listen. He sought out Herriot; endeavored to sell him the synarchists' line of goods and get him to make the necessary arrangements with the British. Herriot also knew Lemaigre-Dubreuil and his associates and refused the offer. No progress was made until after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Shortly after December 7th, 1941, Lemaigre-Dubreuil approached the American chargé d'affaires in Vichy, S. Pinkney Tuck, and, by him, was put in touch with Robert Murphy, already engaged in organizing undercover work in North Africa. The Americans listened to Lemaigre-Dubreuil much more readily than had the British. But when a substitute for de Gaulle was mentioned, they too suggested Herriot as the only possible leader. Faced with this alternative, and determined to keep de Gaulle out at any cost, Lemaigre-Dubreuil again went to Herriot to repeat his plea. Once more Herriot refused to have anything to do with the synarchists. In desperation Lemaigre-Dubreuil finally suggested a certain General Giraud as a possible leader of the coming North African expedition.
Henri-Honoré Giraud was an old-fashioned soldier, well thought of by the General Headquarters, but completely unknown to the French public. He had been taken prisoner by the Germans in May, 1940, and was actually confined in the fortress of Koenigstein. Like so many of his colleagues, Giraud was a monarchist reactionary, though his record was clean of all pre-war dealings with the Nazis. Lemaigre-Dubreuil knew from experience, however, that persons with such a background might readily acquiesce in the synarchists' proposals, particularly if these were presented with the stock-in-trade, "prevent the spread of communism" angle with which they sanctified all their dealings.
The Americans were informed that Giraud had, in his prison, expressed "anti-German" sentiments. Disregarding (or perhaps ignorant of) the fact that the General was being groomed to serve the purposes of a financial ring, they accepted him as French leader instead of de Gaulle, who was 'difficult" to deal with anyway. What worried them was how to get Giraud out of prison.
"The Underground will arrange his escape," declared Lemaigre-Dubreuil, thinking not of the valiant French underground fighting the Nazis, but of the Synarchists' intricate network spun between France and Germany.
"Giraud est un zéro."
Giraud escaped. Back in France, his first act was to make a public statement of complete sympathy with and loyalty to Vichy! Despite this, the Americans definitely promised him the leadership of the North African expedition. The synarchists would really have preferred Darlan, already proven so pliable to their wishes. But they could not hope to impose such a figure even on the Americans - not after he had offered his services to Hitler at Berchtesgaden (in May 1941) and had succeeded the notorious Lavall! Pierre Pucheu, at his Algiers trial for treason in March 1944, testified that he had tipped off Darlan concerning the Anglo-American landing. Darlan hurried to Algiers. Pierre Pucheu went there too, ready for any task; Flandin could not afford to miss a gathering of vultures all excited over the coming contact with American "life savers".
Events proved that Giraud's presence in North Africa had little effect upon the tide of the war. Frenchmen did not recognize his authority. Anglo-American landings were made at Oran, Algiers and several points on the Moroccan coast. French resistance was quickly overcome. North Africa had been taken by force of arms. But just at this time, with all trumps in their hands making any deal unnecessary, Eisenhower and Murphy clutched at a "temporary expedient". They accepted Admiral Darlan1s reluctant offer to give the order to "cease fire", Not Giraud but Darlan emerged as the United Nations' ally. The MSE were again in power.
The assassination of Darlan has never been entirely explained, though his tight hold on the North African Administration probably provoked private rivalries within the MSE. It is known that the bullet was fired by a young Royalist, Fernand Bonnier de la Chapelle. The Royalists were, however, not the only ones who wanted Darlan out of the way, so that Bonnier de la Chapelle may have acted under other inspiration. Lemaigre-Dubreuil and Jean Rigaud had begun to see that the Admiral's usefulness to the synarchists had been destroyed by the world-wide, and almost unanimously adverse, reaction to the turncoat. They realized that, in the event of a United Nations' victory, they would need a front man universally acceptable to the Allies. Certain it is that de la Chapelle had contacts with these two synarchists. As "Minister" of the Interior, Jean Rigaud was a party to his immediate execution after a drum-head court martial. Equally certain is the fact that the youth was summarily executed before he could utter a word as to who had instigated the murder. Washington, it may be recalled, announced that the murder must be swiftly avenged.
De Gaulle versus the synarchists
It is not within the scope of this paper to retrace the steps of the North African campaign nor the political intrigue which accompanied it. The struggle of the synarchists to retain power and property, and de Gaulle's expressed determination to purge the lot and make a decent France became the basis of the so-called "confusion" that existed in French politics. The salient events are clear: Lemaigre-Dubreuil suggested Peyrouton's name to Giraud. Giraud (and Murphy) insisted on the appointment of Peyrouton as Governor-General of Algeria, with the official whitewash that he was "against Laval and, therefore, acceptable to the United Nations." Yet Peyrouton had to be dropped when the vigilant American press exposed this maneuver by recalling that Peyrouton had arrested Laval, not because the latter was a willing collaborator, but simply because he would not sanction, financial decrees desired by the MSE.
In the light of synarchial activities, General de Gaulle's recent bringing to justice of high-ranking figures becomes understandable. These admirals, generals and former cabinet ministers were not the hapless victims of personal spite; still less were they unfortunate creatures forced by circumstances to play the German game. They were all more or less conscious participants in a giant cartel conspiracy, organized before war broke out in anticipation of a German victory accepted as prelude to the conspirators' power and prosperity in a fascist world. General Giraud was not one of the original group; yet professional solidarity (and possibly to a degree, the rancor of a five-star general compelled to submit to a two-star general) led him to try and save many collaborationist army officers.
The state department and Vichy's synarchists
It is the State Department's contention that its partnership with the Vichy traitors saved American lives. Until all evidence is available this cannot be entirely refuted, though the Department's obstinate efforts to block investigation by outsiders weakens its arguments. Certainly some of the actions of the Vichy government prolonged the African campaign and lost American lives.
On November 9th, 1942, the day after the Anglo-American landings, Admiral Platon was flown from Vichy to Tunisia with orders to the Resident-General Admiral Esteva, not only not to prevent the Germans from entering Tunis and Bizerte, but to assist them.
This Esteva did. At the very hour when French naval forces, outside Casablanca, Algiers and Oran were, upon orders, firing upon the Allies; at the very hour when all France was being invaded by Hitler, Esteva turned Tunisia over to the Nazis and, with his staff, fought at their side to the last moment, - flying to France only two days before the Allied invading forces entered Tunis. And Darlan countermanded the order to resist the Germans in Tunisia.
Back in Paris, May 12th, 1943, in an interview published in "L'Oeuvre", the Admiral declared: "I must say that I have constantly felt I had moral support from Marshal Pétain and Monsieur Laval." After receiving full military honors from the Luftwaffe and ranking Nazis both at Le Bourget and the Vichy airdrome, he was honored by a personal letter of congratulations from the Marshal, ending with the words: "With such servants as you France cannot despair. I embrace you, Philippe Petain". From Berlin, German Foreign Minister Von Ribbentrop sent him a congratulatory telegram, beginning: "Admiral, I have been informed of the contribution made by your Excellency in the defense of Tunisian territory against the Anglo-American invaders and against dissenting generals, traitors to France and Europe." (i.e. General de Gaulle.)
Secretary of State Gordell Hull's argument that his Vichy policy kept the French fleet out of Nazi hands is not watertight, either. It was the crews' patriotic scuttling of the ships rather than any diplomatic maneuvering which saved it. Contrary to its promises to the American Administration, Vichy concentrated all the available ships back at Toulon, where a few admirals showed a most unbecoming pro-Nazi attitude. When the Allies landed in North Africa, Admiral Auphan, Secretary of the Navy at Vichy, wrote a stirring letter to Admiral Raeder, head of the German Fleet, and, as "patriot to patriot," declared, "Faithful to its word, the French Navy fought strongly and without the slightest yielding to its aggressors who were your enemies..." and Admiral Raeder, equally cordial, replied, as "patriot to patriot": "The German Navy understands the heavy sacrifices which the French Navy suffered in order to keep faith with its treaty and its honor... Up to now the attitude of the French Navy justifies our conviction that it will not fail in its task."
The crews were so far from sharing these cordial sentiments that Admiral de Laborde was forced to condemn their anti-Nazi manifestations and their demand that they be sent to Africa. "The fortress of Toulon remains under the command of the French Navy," so ran his address to them. "We owe this situation to the feeling of admiration which the Axis military authorities feel for our comrades' conduct in Algeria and in Morocco where they remained faithful to their oath up to death. Whether we continue to hold this position depends on you."
Any fleet goes to the bottom rather than fall into enemy hands, though the conservative Deputy Fernand-Laurent, has stated that Pétain actually sent an order to the fleet to surrender to the Germans -- an order which never arrived, because the German's themselves had cut all communications in order to prevent warnings from reaching Toulon. The fact remains, however, that at the moment when the gallant crews were sending themselves to their death, Vichy was repeating its orders to fire on Americans and denouncing the French Generals who had joined the United Nations' cause.
Today General de Gaulle is the undisputed leader of the Fighting French. The French Committee of National Liberation, following de Gaulle's recent successful talks with President Roosevelt, has agreed to a tri-partite compact with Great Britain and the United States which gives it wide powers of administration in liberated France.
But the synarchists do not consider that their game is up. In Algiers - and in Lisbon too - many agree with them. So long as there is the remotest possibility that the Allies may accept some sort of cooperation with ex-Vichy-men, the synarchists can continue to hope. Some top ranking American officers in North Africa still seem unable to distinguish good Frenchmen from bad. The President of the United States invervenes to save from trial and summary punishment men like Pierre-Etienne Flandin, Marcel Peyrouton and Pierre Boisson. General Giraud failed the MSE. He was too politically naive. But the links abroad are still holding, it would seem.
There are those who are beginning to suspect that the synarchists movement is but the French section of a kind of Bankers and Big Business International. Its members certainly have close contacts with British and American industrialists, though whether these contacts have been incorporated into an actual organization is another matter. Mr. Charles E. Wilson's recent warning to the National Association of Manufacturers in his address of December 8th, 1943, is a straw in the wind. "I tell you frankly," he said, "that I am deeply alarmed today over the possibility that a right wing reaction may draw some sections of capital so far away from our traditions as to imperil the entire structure of American life as we know it."
The appeal of the Synarchists remains far-reaching. And their counterparts in every land understand them. Those in every country who thought it profitable to do business with Hitler still do not gag at hobnobbing with Franco and Franco's stooges. When the war is won they may well seek to intervene in favor of the Nazis and of the Nazis' allies elsewhere. Some of our largest corporations have already refused to abandon cartel arrangements with Germany when the present fighting stops.
For the domestic struggle in France, though pushed to drastic extremes by reason of the German invasion, is only a part of the world-wide struggle in which citizens of every land have a stake. Only constant vigilance and the untiring fulfilment of civic and national responsibilities can dispel that mirage of fascist appeal: unlimited temporary gains for a favored few at the expense of peoples and nations.
Today Vichy is a ruin. With the liberation of France, Pétain's New Order becomes a ghastly joke. Increasingly repressive measures ordered by Laval and the use of the French police to send Frenchmen to forced labor in Germany had, long since, destroyed the last bit of respect for the regime. Families which had rallied to the Marshal because they hated communism or feared the Popular Front began to reconsider their political views when their younger sons were shipped as slaves to the Reich. The militia created by Laval to offset Doriot's gangsters met unrelenting hatred. "Order" became increasingly difficult to maintain. Each social class has contributed to this gradual evolution: the bourgeoisie, seeing themselves ousted from political power and economic privilege by a small gang of Vichy favorites, are turning against those whom they first welcomed; career officers, after serving Pétain for two years and condoning a defeat that did away with the Republic, were dismissed when the Army was dissolved (November 1942), and now dream of revenge. Industrialists, who, while not participating in the MSE privileges, nevertheless "submitted" to collaboration, arguing that it kept hundreds of workers employed in the factories, now realize that the game is up. Lack of raw materials; transport difficulties; loss of men and technicians (transferred to Germany) and above all, the colossal Nazi corruption have made them almost as anti-Nazi as the workers themselves.
From the first, the majority of the lower Catholic clergy, as well as some of their superiors among the hierarchy, were opposed to Vichy principles and to the Nazi, and loyal to the Republic. Those whose allegiance wavered changed their minds after the passage of the anti-semitic laws and the wholesale deportation of Jews.
The principal victims of Vichy and Berlin have been the working classes; they have been hunted, imprisoned and deported for their "thick-headed obstinacy". Yet their resistance to the Nazi-dominated regime has grown and grown - as has that of the peasants who have never forgotten their debt to the Revolution. In their opinion, Pétain has tried to wipe out 150 years of history. The greatest change of all is in the peoples' attitude toward the person of the aging Marshal. Their respect for him has gone. Even his most recent attempt to gain credit by offering to restore the Republic has not saved him from deep mistrust.
Up to the end of 1941 the word "treason" in French mouths implied no more than an indictment for criminal ineptitude. Pétain's inadequate preparation for war, plus his published assertion that the invasion of France by Germany was impossible, were attributed more to stupidity than design.
Then followed a period when his faulty war preparations, as well as his conduct at the time of the armistice, began to be scrutinized. For in publicly announcing a truce before he knew whether it would be acceptable to the Germans (or did he know?) he caused the capture of more than a million French soldiers who stopped fighting before the Germans laid down their arms.
Yet even this the people sought to excuse.
Today his implication in a widespread plot involving the General Staff and "certain financial groups" is generally admitted. Traitors will be brought to trial.
If given satisfaction, this mood can do only good. If opposed by France's democratic friends in the United States and in Great Britain, it may push the French people far to the left, and play into the hands of the communists. It is for this swing that the traitors of 1940 are waiting. Any considerable spread of communism would, they hope, bring about a revulsion in British and American opinion favorable to the MSE and its world confederates. German militarists look forward to World War III. Hitlerism, defeated in most of Europe, looks forward to finding refuge in Spain, in Latin America and - why not? - in the USA. Franco is already busy trying to throw a cloak of conciliation over his bloody falange. An outburst of violent radicalism in France, accompanying the military victories of the USSR might indeed cause a wave of reaction in the rich, middle-class, Anglo-Saxon countries. Hitler might soon be forgotten and Stalin become enemy N°1. This is what the synarchists still hope.
They count on our desire for "prosperity": they count on our social snobbery - the willingness of our social registrees to shake illustrious hands stained with blood. They count on our impatience with ideologies (resulting from our loss of values) which makes what a man thinks seem less important than his style of living and the clothes he wears. They count on our provincialism - our almost passionate unwillingness to treat foreign events, however significant, as anything more than romantic entertainment for Americans. Finally, they count on that ignorance which makes us facile dupes.
Nor must it be forgotten that European reaction has twice put its money on Germany and then been defeated almost at the moment of victory by the armed intervention of the United States. A third attempt, to be successful, must have made really sure of American neutrality or support. How better to do this than by attempting to build up the United States itself as the main citadel of world reaction?
One thing is sure: if the Nazis and fascists are to be allowed to save themselves as synarchists, are to be granted shelter in the Americas and from there are permitted to burrow their underground way once more back into European society, then indeed the next war is just around the corner.
Vigilance remains the price of liberty -- and of peace.
 See The Grave-Diggers of France by Pertinax.
 The man who used the Banque Worms as his French correspondent was Kurt von Schroeder, head of the Nazi Fachgruppe for private banks; the man in whose house at the beginning of January 1933 von Papen arranged a final deal between Hitler, the Junkers and the heavy industrialists. Schroeder is the banker who coordinated the heavy industry group's finances in the Ruhr, and is also behind the Herman Goeringwerke, A. G.
 According to a very well-informed French writer in this country.