Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 5, No. 8. October 6, 1942
France and Freedom
France and Freedom
"I wish for Germany's victory." (Pierre Laval, June 22nd, 1942, two months after becoming Chief of the Vichy Government, Minister of Foreign Affairs the Interior, and Information).
"The hour of liberation for France is the hour when Germany wins the war." (Pierre Laval, August 11th, 1942).
With the arrival in New Zealand of M. Antoine de la Tribouille and his recognition by the New Zealand Government as Delegate of Fighting France, a strange situation has arisen. "The functions that M. de la Tribouille will exercise as Delegate in. New Zealand will include the issue of passports and visas and other administrative and legal formalities concerning Frenchmen who adhere to Fighting France," said the Rt. Hon. P. Fraser, Prime Minister of New Zealand. "The New Zealand Government will continue in the future as in the past to treat only with the French National Committee in regard to matters in which the collaboration of Fighting France is involved or required, in particular concerning those Frenchmen and French possessions and territories [unclear: who] adhere to Fighting France"
These diplomatic [unclear: pron] by the Prime Minister glide over the fact that side by side with the Fighting French Delegation in Wellington there exists still a Consulate representing, in the person of M. Andre Pouquet, the Government of Vichy. It is an invidious position in which to place M. de la Tribouille, envoy of, an Ally and a signatory of the Washington declaration. It is the sort of thing which makes a people distrust its leaders, that slows down the war effort in bewilderment and weakens morale.
It seemed a clinging to the tattered shreds of outmoded diplomacy for an Allied state to maintain any relations with the Vichy Government which is illegal and unconstitutional anyway, A young nation like ours, less tangled in protocol and precedent than older states, should have been the First instead of the last of the British Dominions to break with Vichy. Cannot the present Government yet recall that it was a People's Government and act decisively in favour of an Ally on the anti-fascist front? Has it forgotten that once its representative at Geneva proudly Opposed recognition of Italian rule in Abyssinia (May 1938) or supported the principle, of collective aid to China (May 1939)?
Obviously the whole effort of the United Nations at Present must be to encompass the military defeat of fascism. It is therefore a betrayal of the Fighting French, their National Committee and its leader, General de Gaulle, to treat in any way with Laval and his shady crew, the Cabinet which has declared the Fighting French traitors and sentenced their leaders, if caught, to death, and the ranks to loss of citizenship.
"Vichy is not France," said Mr. Fraser. "We do not look upon Vichy as representing France. We look upon Vichy as representing bankruptcy of what was France." There is the principle: on which to act.
This is not the place to go into legal expositions: anyone who has studied the question knows, and others will just have to take my word for it, that the Vichy Government is illegal, and that General de Gaulle's Comité National is the body leading, as the General himself says, "those good Frenchmen who persist in applying the laws of the Republic, who light even unto death against the totalitarian power, and set it as their high duty to deliver the enslaved peoples and once again to give them sovereignty.
"It would be intolerable that the so-called realism which from Munich to Munich has led liberty right to the edge of the abyss, should continue to delude the earnest, and to betray the spirit of sacrifice. How persuade the people that all our future is in victory, dishonour is in capitulation, and that the path of duty is the way to glory, if by mischance our very Allies accept the neutralisation of France, as dictated by Hitler to Vichy, and recognise for the purpose of negotiations of things of interest my country, only the traitors who oppress the people and take their orders from the enemy?"
We have to believe in General de Gaulle if we are to believe that France is capable of resurrection. Else what has happened to the country that once illumined Europe and America with the spirit of revolution and anti-oppression and the ideals of freedom and equality? Therefore why cannot the Allies—and why cannot New Zealand lead the Allies hare—recognise the Committee of General de Gaulle as a Government de factor-After all, Franco's government was so recognised!
There is one path open to the New Zealand Government, one path honourable and loyal: in diplomatic language, to hand M. Pouquet his passport.