The Sorrow and the Pity (1969) Movie Script

Wedding in Germany
Fallingbostel, May 1969
Dear children, even though your stomachs
are full, you can stand a little speech.
Thirty years ago,
when your mother and I married,
the sky was blue, but dark clouds
were already looming on the horizon:
the clouds of World War Two.
AIl of us gathered here today
hope with all our hearts
that you be spared such suffering.
Clermont-Ferrand: 134,000 residents
in the Puy-de-Dme region.
The capital of uvergne is 240 miles
from Paris and 37 miles from Vichy,
which was the capital of France
from 1940 to 1944.
Gergovie, a nearby Gallic town, used to be
the fortified town of Vercingtorix,
conquered by Julius Caesar.
father tells his children
about a more recent defeat.
In 1939, I was 27 years old.
I was the father of a large family,
so I hadn't been sent to the front.
The front was the Maginot Line.
I'd been sent to Montferrand,
near Clermont,
and my wife's dairywoman, Mrs. Michel,
had criticized me for not going to the front.
So after the rout,
I told her that there was no point
in me going to the front,
since the front came to me.
Was there anything other than courage
in the Resistance?
Of course. But the two emotions
I experienced the most frequently
were sorrow and pity.
The Colonel was a French action man,
the Major was a moderate.
The Captain was all for the diocese,
the Lieutenant couldn't stand the church.
Chronicle of a French city
under the Occupation
AIl these men made excellent Frenchmen.
Excellent soldiers who march in time.
Thinking that the Republic
is still the best thing going.
Now most of these strapping lads
don't share the same political views.
But they all agree,
no matter what their view...
Two brothers, both local farmers,
live a few miles from Clermont.
They have many memories
of German occupation.
Is that your village?
That's where I was born.
I was born near that church there,
and later I lived
on the farm facing the school.
You can't help but love your country.
Did you think about it in Buchenwald?
Not much.
-You didn't?
-What did you think about?
-Surviving. That's it.
That's mainly what I thought about.
But I'm talking about me,
about how I saw things.
I'm not talking about those who...
There were some people who cried.
When I saw them cry,
I knew that they would never make it.
No way.
You had to think about yourself first.
and think about others after.
This politician also has
reasons to remember.
For me, it was an experience
that I will never forget.
This experience may have had
a few secondary effects,
but I don't believe
it has affected my attitude or behavior.
Has it not made you feel bitter
towards certain French people?
No, I wouldn't say that.
It showed me that there are
certain tendencies and habits,
which, when they are fired,
fed, or stimulated,
crop up like weeds,
and so we must always be on the defense.
We have to protect our youth
from this type of propaganda.
We have to talk to them about it
more than we talked about it
a generation or two ago.
The manager of the Philips company
also has reasons to remember.
As I was saying, his friends would ask me
why I joined the Resistance.
Why? Because going into a restaurant
and seeing Germans at a table,
and being told there's only four steaks
left for the Germans and none for us
was a little frustrating,
seeing as that steak
came from our cows in uvergne.
So it was our right to eat it
before giving it away.
That's my first reason.
My second reason was that the Germans
were forever imposing curfews.
It was, after all, a Nazi regime,
a totalitarian regime,
no matter how you look at it.
It was worth fighting for,
it was even worth dying for, rather than
to live as slaves. Hence, the Resistance.
Lasting peace is what we need.
There's nothing dumber than fighting.
That's what I think.
-Depends on what you're fighting for.
-Do you think they really knew?
-They didn't know?
-I doubt it.
There are a few fanatics who know why.
-Did you know why?
-Yes, I did.
-But you weren't a fanatic?
-No, but...
But when I went off to war in 1940...
I left in 1939, on September 2,
and I was sent to Modane.
What could I have done?
I knew nothing. I was going
to kill guys I'd never seen before,
who had never harmed me.
Later, they did harm us when they arrived
in France. They messed us up.
Even in moments of calm,
the soldiers are ready to fight.
Faced with the enemy,
they have the winning qualities of
patience, courage,
vigilance, determination,
and confidence.
In right-thinking circles,
in high society in Paris,
they sympathized with our soldiers,
whose troubles were unfortunately
nothing compared to what came later.
and consequently, during this period,
people sought to distract them,
to entertain them,
to relieve them from the boredom
of the Maginot Line,
where time passed at a snail's pace.
It must've been painfully boring.
So the right-thinking women
of the Parisian bourgeoisie
decided to form a committee
to entertain our valiant soldiers,
to provide them
with a more pleasant view.
The idea was to plant rosebushes
on the Maginot Line,
to make it look prettier,
to create a nicer atmosphere.
and there were people who donated
money towards these rosebushes,
so that our soldiers didn't have
to look at the horrid, concrete walls,
and to give them
a flowery environment in which to live.
It's pathetic when you think
about the awful things that came later.
The infantry is advancing at great intervals.
In Oisemont, the enemy has set fire
to the tanks of an oil factory.
It took two weeks in Poland.
We felt it would be just as quick in France,
as we were anxious to go home.
and, indeed,
we took France in just one month.
and onwards it goes. Next stop: Paris.
we attacked on several occasions,
but the hardest time was in Oing,
on the Belgian border.
The Belgian blockhaus weren't ready,
but we had to take position in them.
The Germans arrived equipped with tanks.
AIl that we had were machine guns.
They proceeded to kill everyone inside,
because it made such an easy target.
There were no battlements.
They hadn't even put up reinforced doors.
I'm telling you, we walked...
We withdrew,
and we must have walked
at least 20 miles,
without running across any troops.
Not one single troop.
Nothing, nothing, nothing.
First of all, I'd like to emphasize
the fact that the German staff
was not expecting to achieve
such a quick, resounding success.
We soldiers, unlike Hitler,
were convinced that we were facing
the same adversary as in 1914-1918,
a determined, brave adversary,
prepared to fight to the bitter end.
Unfortunately, I must admit
that Hitler was right in this case.
He was always saying
how the French were incapable
of repeating their performance
in World War l,
and he never missed an opportunity
to add to this statement
a few disagreeable and derisory
remarks or comments
on the general emotional
and moral state of France.
Near Noyon, General Stummel,
taking the vanguard with his troops,
with his adjutant, took several prisoners.
It began with two.
Later, many others surrendered.
The prisoners come from every nation
and every walk of life.
So-called defenders of the great nation.
In fact, a shame for the white race.
These are the Black brothers of the French.
In the words of Chamberlain,
"We, together with our allies,
are the guardians of civilization."
"Together we fight medieval barbarism."
These are the guardians of civilization.
These are the barbarians.
This is the war
of the Franco-English plutocrats.
They began this war rashly without
taking any heed of the consequences,
to fight for the English lords,
not only until the last Frenchman,
but until the last French house.
Mrs. Tausend, you stayed in Germany.
Did you read the papers?
Did you watch the German news?
Yes, we followed the events closely.
Naturally, we were a bit frightened.
But the news of victory made us happy.
These cars are stopped for a lack of gas.
The Jewish warmongers
and Parisian plutocrats,
with their suitcases full of gold
and precious stones, have fled.
This shortage of gas
put a crimp in their plans.
The streets were hopelessly blocked.
Yet these English-loving
traitors and deserters
continued their journey on foot.
These are the French people
who have been mercilessly evacuated
and dragged along in the flood
of the routed French army.
Soon, these people
will be able to go home.
The German people were spared
such a trial,
thanks to the Fhrer
and his German soldiers.
During that time,
there was an enormous upsurge
of the people,
who were completely panicked, terrified.
Fate willed that I should be given leave
in the last few days of the month April.
Consequently, I was in Paris in early May
when the Germans invaded.
On the roads, people were going mad,
terrified by the bombings.
With them, they brought what they could:
children, pets, precious objects...
Some rode on wagons, others on bicycles.
It was a mish-mash of everything
and everyone. It was awful to see.
It was all the more awful in that
the Germans, in an effort to block
and ruin the roads for the soldiers
didn't hesitate in bombing
these columns of refugees.
s a result, and I can attest to this fact,
that there were bodies strewn
all over the place: men, women, horses.
Car wrecks sprinkled the roads.
It was a scene from hell.
and yet this wave, this flood of people,
continued to move south.
Our impressions?
We saw destroyed villages, burned lands...
It did have a certain effect on us.
-and the people on the roads?
-They were fleeing the bad guys.
What do you mean?
Weren't you the bad guys?
t first, we were seen as the enemy
who was set to destroy the country.
Then they began to see
that we just wanted to help.
and that reassured them.
The officers or the staff
were clearly out of their depth.
Having the trains, the roads,
and all telecommunications cut off
Led to a situation in which
any plans the soldiers had made
were suddenly completely ruined.
In addition, certain military circles
shared the attitude of many civilians,
and tackled the war unenthusiastically.
After all, they were living in...
I'm not saying they were traitors.
In any case, there were very few traitors.
But this attitude
of preferring Hitler to Lon Blum
was an attitude that had become
very popular in bourgeois circles.
and this was a circle
to which many of the soldiers belonged.
On June 14, 1940,
the Germans occupied Paris.
In Clermont, the papers went mad.
Le Moniteur took a stand,
asking the people to stand up and fight,
to resist,
to remain free.
The owner of this anti-defeatist paper,
Pierre Laval,
a deputy for uvergne, was,
at the same time, preparing for surrender.
The last government of the Third Republic
slowly moved southwards.
Paul Reynaud wanted to keep fighting,
but Philippe Ptain was already
taking charge.
In Briare,
Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden
met with their allies for the last time.
I've always felt
that Reynaud wanted to continue,
that he remained calm and firm.
Everyone was
in a very difficult position then.
I also believe, and this is something
he told both Churchill and me,
that he wasn't very happy
having Ptain as a part of his government.
-He'd foreseen the difficulties?
-Yes, already in Briare.
Now, I was a young soldier in World War l,
and for me, Ptain was the hero of Verdun.
But his character had changed.
That's to be expected with age.
I'm sure he was opposed to the idea
of your cities being destroyed,
because he spoke of it at dinner,
saying, "It's awful seeing
our lovely cities destroyed."
and I had to answer, "Yes, I understand.
"It's hard for an Englishman to say this,
but there are worse things
"than the destruction of cities."
But I don't think he was convinced.
We flew over France at a very low altitude.
In June, there's nothing quite like
the Norman and Breton countryside.
and I remember,
as if it only happened yesterday,
I remember thinking it was lovely,
but would I ever see it again?
and it seemed rather unlikely that I would.
Then the political climate changed
and became unbearable in Bordeaux.
Suddenly, treason was everywhere.
There was a will to surrender,
and a desire to get along
with the victors at any price.
Anglophobia, ever-present in France,
resurfaced with new vigor.
and all this went hand in hand
with a horrible kind of cynicism.
The military leaders, the ones who had
messed up, weren't even mentioned.
Instead, people blamed
absolutely everything on Lon Blum,
the Front Populaire and so forth.
and so we consoled ourselves
for the downfall of our nation
by getting petty revenge
in matters of internal affairs,
a trend which, as you know,
continued long afterwards.
On June 16,
the government met in Bordeaux.
Paul Reynaud was defeated by
the deputies who refused to leave France
and Ptain became
the head of government.
Adolf Hitler's elite S.S. troops
have invaded Vichy.
I felt terribly humiliated,
as I had been sent on a mission
on an English motorcycle
and was heading to Paris, when I saw
the Germans going the other way.
Now, being rather absent-minded,
I saw there were some people
following these German troops,
and assumed it was the English.
So they were going one way,
and I was going the other.
I saw the swastikas on their helmets,
and I thought I should go no further.
But no one asked me to stop.
Everyone was too busy
going their own way.
If I didn't like it, tough.
The Resistance in Clermont
was quickly crushed.
But the struggle,
albeit subdued, continued.
Hitler's S.S. division
conquered Clermont-Ferrand.
German troops occupied
the city for three days.
Zepp Dietrich, division commander,
declared victory on Jaude Square,
as his troops polished their boots
in front of the locals,
before heading off to new victories.
The Germans didn't return
to Clermont until November 1942.
Our aim now is to take
the arms depot in Etienne.
n entire infantry regiment has
simply surrendered.
t first, I did the same as everyone.
I hadn't understood.
On the morning of June 24,
the lieutenant declared that
Marshal Ptain had requested an armistice.
I knew what he meant by armistice,
but I wasn't sure about "Marshal."
I was never particularly
in favor of Ptain's regime.
like the other 40,000,000 Frenchmen
who experienced that same moment,
when I saw the rout, when I saw
that the Germans were in Biarritz,
and that France had been
completely invaded,
I thought, like everyone else,
"Will anyone be able
to end this massacre?"
People of France, as requested
by the President of the Republic,
I shall henceforth be the leader
of the French government.
Convinced of the affection
of our admirable army,
whose heroism stands as testimony
to our long military tradition
as they fight an enemy
which outnumbers them,
convinced that our army's resistance
has fulfilled our duty towards our allies,
convinced of the support
pledged by the former soldiers I led,
convinced of the French people's
faith in me,
I give France the gift of myself,
to ease its troubles.
In these difficult times,
I think of the poor refugees,
who, in the depths of despair,
trudge across our roads.
I extend my compassion
and concern for them.
My heart is heavy as I tell you today
that the fight must end.
Last night, I spoke with our adversary
and asked if they were prepared
to help me, between soldiers,
after the fight, with honor intact,
to find a way to end the hostilities.
From the Fhrer headquarters
a historical piece of news:
The prime minister
of the new French government, Ptain
has declared,
in a broadcast to the French people,
that France should lay down its arms.
Of course, I was happy to hear we'd won.
The defeat gave me the same feeling
I would get when I played rugby.
I don't like losing,
especially when it's 60 to 0.
I hate drawn-out defeats.
This stone is a reminder
of the humiliation of Germany
on November 11, 1918.
Is it true
that France had given England
its word of honor
that it wouldn't agree to a separate truce?
I think we... That was before
I was a member of government.
I think we had reached an agreement
whereby neither party
would cease fighting.
-Without the other party's consent.
But we didn't discuss that at all
when Churchill and I were there,
because we accepted
the position France had taken.
-In Briare, he said...
-That he'd accept an armistice?
No, he said we accepted the fact
that you may not be able to go on.
Nothing was said about an armistice.
It's clear that between a ceasefire
and an armistice, there's a big difference.
He simply said, "We understand
that you cannot go on any longer."
That was clear.
The question was quite simply,
"What are you going to do?"
I even sent Churchill a short letter
after we returned from Briare,
which has since been published,
saying that we must make
a clear distinction.
If the French can no longer fight,
that's one thing.
But if they make it easy for the enemy,
that's another.
La Madeleine. Early today in Paris,
the Fhrer made an unexpected visit.
During his tour of Paris,
he also visited this building.
Place de la Concorde.
The Arc de Triomphe.
look at the Eiffel Tower.
On the Fhrer's left, Professor Speer.
One thing we should remember
is that when France agreed to an armistice,
even though we didn't want to lose,
how many Frenchmen said,
"It's well that ends well.
So much the better."
s for Marshal Ptain,
he knew what he was doing in Vichy.
In every canton and every town,
he formed what was called
the French Legion.
-The Legion of Companions.
-It was meant for us veterans
who'd fought in World War l.
Everyone, except me, went on Sundays.
I'm the only one
who never set foot in there.
It's true.
They would attend the raising
of the colors on the market place
every Sunday, wearing their hammer
and francisc. No, not hammer.
I don't mean the hammer and sickle.
What was it called again?
-The sword.
They'd all been given a beret.
Can you imagine?
Of course, I never set foot there.
Not on your life.
But when I saw what happened,
I understood.
So suddenly, this old marshal
suggests an armistice
with French honor intact and so forth.
s a young Frenchman,
do you feel the defeat was justified?
Does it not disgust you?
No, defeat was the inevitable consequence
of French politics.
In fact, this was the theme
propagated by the Vichy government.
If we were defeated, they claimed,
it was because for so many years,
we had to put up with party politics,
which is the reason
France is in this situation today.
How did that phrase go?
"The parties which have
harmed us so much..."
It was... No, that's not it.
-Something about lies.
-The lies that harmed us.
Right. "I hate the lies
that have harmed us so much."
t the same time, there was
another appeal launched by de Gaulle,
an appeal which apparently
very few people in France heard.
I certainly didn't hear it.
But as a pilot,
weren't you slightly tempted to...
I imagine that a certain number of people
in the same unit as you
chose to "continue the struggle,"
as they said.
There weren't many who did.
Let's get it straight.
It's true that some people
attempted to flee to North Africa.
Later, the situation stabilized.
Not so many fled.
Did it ever cross your mind to flee?
Of course.
But I didn't think about it for long.
My father quickly made me understand
that Marshal Ptain guaranteed
a new order, renewed honor, etc.
The victor of Verdun guaranteed
France's honor
and the establishment of a new order.
This seemed not only desirable,
but necessary, to many Frenchmen.
They respected
and had faith in the Marshal.
In Clermont, the spirit of renewal filled
Pierre Laval's Le Moniteur.
Editorials sought those responsible
for defeat and found them.
"Let's be French.
"Too much foreign influence
has led to many problems."
On June 26, 1940,
in the magistrate's court,
Ren Mons was sentenced
to three months in jail for defeatism.
We demand that those responsible be tried
and an analysis of our problems ensue.
This quickly led to xenophobia,
Anglophobia and anti-Semitism.
Gaining French nationality became harder.
Vichy came out with the decree:
"The French elite must be restored."
On that day, July 29, 1940,
Clermont butcher Antoine Labronne
was tried
and given a large fine
for having sold rotting ham.
Did you ever speak about
what the papers said back then?
We were totally cut off from the world,
because there was one value
that we all shared,
and that was caution.
We didn't know what the butcher thought,
or the milkman,
or the engineer or the intellectual.
We had no idea.
Like everyone else,
we stayed on our guard.
What do you think
people's main concern was back then?
That took up most of your time?
Animals were illicitly butchered.
One needed a bit of meat to survive.
s you know,
the French are very good at cheating.
One had to have a bit more bread
than the usual ration,
or a bit more tobacco
by smiling nicely at the tobacconist.
bit more of everything.
So every weekend, a regular parade
of cyclists would go for supplies.
They had devised a system
based on tickets, on ration cards.
Personally, I was a smoker,
and it was awful not having cigarettes.
It was a horrible situation.
People would do anything, even steal.
I got so desperate that I even rolled
artichoke leaves and smoked them.
The children who were born
during that time,
between 1942 and 1944,
should have suffered from rickets,
and I say this as a doctor.
In our family, it was ironic.
These young ladies have a brother,
who is 27 years old, and was born in 1942.
He's six foot one!
We fed him so much to avoid rickets
that he turned into a giant.
He's a great tennis player,
an architect, and a giant to boot.
Are you what they call "a bourgeois"
in a large provincial town?
If being bourgeois means eating properly,
hunting in Cologne,
having a hunting ground
in Sanscoin and in Srye,
and a son-in-law
who owns Lake Montcinire,
then I'm a bourgeois.
When did you first begin to experience
the consequences of the times,
in other words, persecution?
How did you feel about that?
Did anything happen?
Not before 1942.
The only extraordinary event that occurred
is that before the children were born,
once again,
in September 1942,
the hunting season was re-opened.
What an event.
It was important to the hunters.
Game had been untouched for two years
so there was an abundance of it.
It was a very satisfying experience
for those who owned a gun.
In their little nests in the backyard,
my little rabbits are so sweet.
Until recently, I hated hutches,
and I despised and insulted
our gentle little friends,
now the center of our attention.
Just think, a rabbit!
Firstly, it will delight the cook.
and as its skin dries in the wind,
the whole family rejoices.
Follow my example
and give rabbit breeding a try.
s you can see, I love, you love,
we all love rabbits in every form!
In reality, the French
aren't normally very involved in politics.
Once in a blue moon, they decide
to take action and storm the Bastille,
or to fight religious wars for 50 years,
or to initiate the French Revolution,
or to set off to conquer Europe.
But, normally speaking,
they're just as peaceable as anyone else.
One thing is for sure:
the French, in general,
Like a peaceful regime,
a regime which has authority,
but is preferably humane.
In any case,
they feel the need to be protected.
They're quite paternalistic.
Does this explains Ptain's popularity?
Definitely. I might add that,
as a sergeant in the French army,
I've seen a routed army.
and it's not a pretty sight.
There's no denying that, for some time,
Ptain was extremely popular.
He was viewed as one of
the good old guys, perhaps a bit senile,
but after all,
he had given himself to France.
That was a clever way of putting it.
He gave the gift of himself.
So everyone thought that an old guy
like him couldn't do any harm.
He could only help France.
t his age, what harm could he do?
These arguments, albeit feeble,
were how people justified Ptain.
THE MRSHL'S VISI I missed Mers-el-Kbir.
I only heard about what happened
two weeks later.
I never understood Mers-el-Kbir.
Even now, having read many books
on the subject of Mers-el-Kbir,
I still don't understand.
It was always a mystery to me.
Mers-el-Kbir was a mystery indeed.
Do you mean you don't understand
why the English did what they did?
No, I never really understood the English.
After leaving Churchill,
I was a member in the House of Commons,
I went to the House of Commons,
got my car,
and drove myself through Hyde Park.
In the middle of the park,
I saw a group of French sailors,
with their little red pompons
on their kepis.
They were running and playing
with an equal number of girls,
or "young ladies" rather.
They were running
and playing and screaming.
They couldn't understand a word
of what the other was saying.
Then a horrible feeling swept over me.
It was sheer luck
that I didn't crash the car,
because suddenly I remembered
Churchill's ultimatum I'd just read,
and I thought of those French boats
in Mers-el-Kbir,
where there were other sailors,
also wearing kepis with little red pompons,
and I wondered what was going
to happen to them tomorrow.
These are the victims of the most base
and loathsome attack ever.
Clearly, France's former ally only attacks
those who cannot fight back.
On the morning of the attack,
Admiral Gensoul received
the English ultimatum.
Admiral Somerville proceeded
to send several delegations,
in order to explain to Gensoul
the options proposed by Churchill:
they could join the Free French,
allow themselves to be disarmed,
or head to a neutral port
which was out of German reach.
Admiral Gensoul refused all three options,
as he considered them
dishonorable solutions.
What we didn't dare to risk happening
was letting the boats
fall into enemy hands.
We simply couldn't take the risk.
But wasn't there also a psychological risk?
Yes, a considerable risk.
It allowed the Germans
to spread propaganda.
and Vichy, too.
Lord knows they used the opportunity.
I think we understood that, but at the time,
we had very little choice in the matter.
There were 1,600 sailors
killed by the British Navy.
The British Navy attempted
to take over the French Navy.
That was clear to us at the time.
We thought that...
We believed the armistice
would be respected by the Germans.
In France, we thought,
as the Vichy government had told us,
that the French Navy would
never be given over to the Germans.
For us, that was a fact.
I was brought up to believe
that promises were kept,
and I just couldn't imagine
that there could be political dealings
that would eventually lead
to the French Navy being given away.
There was no way.
So we viewed it as a brutal attack.
There was also
an additional moral problem,
in that, according to many testimonies,
the sailors whose boats were shelled
by the British
believed at that moment
they were going to cast off
in order to join the British fleet.
That's terrible.
Had we felt there was any hope of that,
we would never have attacked.
But there was no hope.
Everything we said about the Germans
was proved in Bizerta,
where the Germans proceeded to give
the French admiral
twenty minutes to surrender,
to surrender boats and all,
on pain of an immediate bombing attack,
or of being taken prisoner.
Our predictions all came true.
We knew who we were dealing with.
It was then, shortly after these events,
that the French, whose faith in the English
had been greatly shaken,
made contact with us for the first time,
through General Huntziger
at the armistice Commission
in Wiesbaden,
to discuss the possibility
of changing the armistice clauses
to allow military collaboration.
and it was the discussion of such options,
for which each side undoubtedly
had its own personal motivations,
that initiated the negotiations,
which are now known as "collaboration."
While the talks were beginning,
Hitler and Ptain agreed
to meet in Montoire.
In our first meeting,
Laval told me he was a Germanophile.
and as he had known me for years,
he asked me to put in a good word
for him with Hitler. and I did.
I think Hitler felt Laval was sincere,
at least in one aspect:
when he spoke of collaboration.
and that was the main issue
at the second meeting.
In such cases, the defeated want to know
what will become of them.
What will the peace treaty be like?
Whereas the victors I've often seen
generally don't know what's next
and cannot answer such questions.
That's how it went in Montoire.
Hitler didn't know
how to answer Ptain's questions
about boundaries or the fate of prisoners.
So it ended with everything up in the air.
Ah, Montoire... Now that was quite a story.
Where was this Montoire, anyhow?
Everyone was looking it up in the atlas
to see where it was.
When we heard what had transpired,
it was depressing.
Some even cried the next day.
-People were crying?
Soon afterwards,
a new slogan became popular,
"Collaboration is:"
"Give me your watch,
I'll give you the time."
That was the slogan.
That was collaboration.
He often said, also in my presence,
that he hadn't yet decided
whether England or France
should pay for the war.
On the basis of his "race ideology,"
or whatever you can call this point of view,
many felt much more related
to the English than to the French.
I am convinced that France,
as Hitler saw it,
could only play a minor role
in a National Socialist Europe.
He had never been in France
or anywhere else in Europe.
Whatever knowledge he had
was derived from books,
which had first been adapted
to his point of view.
In his mind,
he felt that a decline of the French people
was unavoidable. and this idea
was confirmed by the French defeat.
During his travels, Hitler sometimes
shared his thoughts with others.
April 5, 1942. Suppertime.
The Fhrer says that if one plans on
ignoring the terms of a contract,
no use quibbling over details.
Hence, we must assure ourselves
that the French are sincere.
No point in trying to pickpocket
an experienced pickpocket
Like the Fhrer himself.
In any case,
France's main task for the next 50 years
is to repair the damage done at Versailles.
April 24, 1942. Suppertime.
The Fhrer says he is against
marriages between
the Wehrmacht and foreigners
in occupied lands.
Such demands are generally based on
sexual frustration,
which is common in troops abroad.
He is struck by the contrast
between the photos of the German men,
and those of the women,
who are very shabby looking.
The Fhrer feels that such marriages
are doomed from the start,
both in terms of individual happiness
and racial purity.
He is more in favor
of harmless passing fancies,
which are inevitable
in this type of situation.
The conditions created by
National Socialism
within German structures at that time
made it impossible for us to respect
the clauses of the armistice.
We couldn't help what happened,
any more than we could have helped
all the other horrible things
which continue to haunt
any rational human being.
We couldn't stop Hitler and company
from invading Alsace and Lorraine,
making them a part of the Third Reich,
and eventually incorporating their youth
into the Wehrmacht.
This was all out of our hands.
We can reproach ourselves
until kingdom come,
but there was nothing we could do.
You say that after Russia,
you were sent to Alsace, and then France.
Why? Was Alsace not France?
No. For us, it wasn't French territory.
The people were pro-German.
I even brought my whole family.
There were some people
with bad intentions,
some patriots who were ready
to do anything.
But there weren't many.
So I felt like
I was in a country of German origin.
and now?
I've never gone back.
No, but what do you think of it now?
I think it's true.
I think it belongs to Germany.
Here a show is being put on for the S.S.
Bruno Fritz's amusing ice hockey report.
The German player is taken by surprise
and falls down on...
on the ice!
He stands up again. It feels too cold.
Thanks to Franco-German
economic collaboration,
100,000 French workers now work
in Germany.
Four trains leave the capital weekly
and head for German industrial regions.
Today, at North Station,
the war councilor Michel
has come to shake the hand of worker
number 110,000: Edouard Lefbvre.
Tell us, Mr. Lefbvre,
were you unemployed?
-That's right.
-For how long?
It's been two years now.
-Are you married?
-With children.
This vast organization has already had
good results:
Lower unemployment rates,
and understanding between workers.
I'd worked for the Finance Minister
and the State Secretary since 1923.
In 1940, Mr. Lansfried requested
that I go to Paris,
as head of the military-controlled
finance division in occupied France.
He didn't want a National Socialist
party member in this position.
Were you not a member of the party?
Yes, shortly before, I had joined the party,
again at the request of Mr. Lansfried.
We tried to be as reasonable as possible,
and as fair as possible,
not only in our own interests,
but in those of France as well.
This famous democracy,
in the past 20 years,
has proved itself incapable
of eliminating such poverty.
The Third Reich, however,
aims to provide its workers
everywhere in Germany
with healthy and beautiful hometowns.
This is a new settlement
in a small industrial town,
which naturally has a daycare center,
a clinic, a center for mothers and children
and an X-ray lab.
One gets the impression from such reports
that German propaganda was
quite open in its racial prejudice,
and often implied
that German discipline and structure
were necessary qualities to clean up
what was considered
to be "the French mess."
Yes, there is some truth in what you say.
In our offices in Paris,
we also had a propaganda department.
But it received orders directly from Berlin.
and I would like to point out that,
from the outset of my job...
It was the first ministerial-level
visit from the French government,
the Minister of Transport
visited in September 1940.
He was accompanied
by the owner of a racing stable,
who wanted permission
to begin horse racing again,
as it was a very popular national pastime.
The races are ever-popular.
One thing is clear,
Paris has become Paris once again.
I listened to my collaborators
and said, "Why not?"
and so the races started up again,
and continued until 1944.
Thanks to us, the theaters were able
to open their doors again.
We often went to the theater,
alone or with friends.
The Germans also attended the races,
which is how the different parties
made contact quite spontaneously.
Personal relationships developed
between the different sides,
probably for various reasons.
I'm sure you're aware there has been
a tendency in France since the war
to deny that such contact ever existed.
Yes, but it did exist.
Germany was triumphant,
and there wasn't a single front
from which it failed
to come home victorious.
There's no denying that the German army
made quite an impression
on the youth in France.
Seeing that army of young men,
stripped to the waist...
After all, I'm the son of a soldier
and I was a soldier myself.
sense of responsibility,
hierarchy and discipline mean a lot.
well-disciplined army was important
to people like us.
This was the first time
we had seen such an ideal army.
The French army was nothing compared to
this army who could put
the fear of God into an entire people.
It sounds awful to say,
but it's the truth of the matter.
We solemnly swear
to unite
and to place our forces,
our faith,
our ardor,
at the service of the Marshal,
at the service of France.
This campfire draws
a three-day meeting to an end,
during which the discipline
and dedication of these young men
were proved once again.
The French believe servicemen
should be tough as nails,
and at the end of the day,
they always turn to servicemen,
whether it be to restore order,
to prevent a coup-d'tat,
or to organize a coup-d'tat.
But the serviceman is omnipresent,
with his cap, his pompon, his saber,
no matter what his rank may be.
The French love their army.
Poem by Officer C. Languillon,
published on the front page of
Le Moniteur on November 24, 1940.
"His name rings as a gun shot.
"Ptain ready for the challenge?
The soul is willing.
"But goodness is ever aloof.
"The great victor, even greater in defeat.
"Schemers, foreigners, buffoons and fools,
"have brought you to your knees, O France.
"The hero of Verdun, cleaning the slate,
"Is setting our house in order
from top to bottom.
"A Herculean labor, a difficult recovery.
"From the ruins come muffled groans.
"Former profiteers writhe in the rubble."
Ptain, in a series of speeches,
drew conclusions from this defeat.
and he did so with skill.
He could woo his audience.
If one was to read the texts now,
I haven't read them in years,
but I bet if you read them now,
you would be quite surprised.
Yes, the texts relied heavily
on the people's collective unconscious.
Absolutely right.
-He blamed the parliament.
-Yes, the parliamentary system...
Certain employers were suspect... foreign...
cosmopolitan, not to mention dark-skinned.
and of course,
he blamed the Communist Party.
The Communist Party was the cause
of all evils.
All hotels were requisitioned,
and the Park Hotel was occupied
by Marshal Ptain and his staff.
This is where I met up with my friend,
Colonel Gorosse-Tardou,
who lived with Ptain.
He was the chief of staff
for his aviation department.
I was often at the Park Hotel.
It was always busy,
with lots of people milling around.
Everyone kept their voices down
and spied on their neighbors.
Personally, I wasn't used to their system,
but when I spoke,
I followed everyone's example.
They were forever shushing one another.
-Everyone was very suspicious.
-Of the enemy or of one another?
bit of both.
Are you a Republican?
Not really.
-Not really?
You're more of a Monarchist?
Yes, that's right.
French news. Late 1940.
Pilot-sergeant Gonthier de Basse,
veteran of WWI,
volunteer in '39, hurt in Dunkirk,
has, of his own free will,
agreed to make the following declaration.
Ever since my return from England
aboard The Sphinx on October 5,
I've been surprised by the number
of my compatriots who still believe
the wounded in Narvik and Dunkirk
were all well-treated by our ex-ally
and this is why I've decided
to share my memories with you.
When we arrived in England,
we harbored no grudge
against our English comrades.
But after the tragedy in June,
when we were invited
to come serve under a new flag,
when they offered
to pay us our dues in pounds sterling,
we could only reply
with disdain and indignation.
We French soldiers can only serve
under our own colors.
Anything else would be treason.
Fellow Frenchmen, comrades,
our duty is to stand side by side
behind our leader, Marshal Ptain,
to guarantee France a place of honor
in a new Europe,
and to allow the prisoners
to return home immediately.
It is a difficult task.
Those who try to divide us are enemies.
United we stand, divided we fall.
The idea was to get out of the war,
come what may,
as quickly as possible.
There were 15,000 French sailors
in Liverpool.
I went and spoke to them.
I tried to persuade them
to continue the war.
But there was no way.
We were so low on people
that we needed them to dig the trenches,
and we offered them wages to do so.
They said no.
They said, "France is no longer in the war.
"We no longer have the right
to dig trenches."
You see... the kind of attitude they had.
Their desire to get out was almost spiteful.
s for what would become of England,
they didn't give a care.
That's the kind of attitude they had.
They felt that it was inconceivable
that the English succeed
where the French army had been beaten.
On June 17, 1940,
the steam liner Le Massilia
headed from Bordeaux to Morocco.
Several parliamentarians were aboard.
This event caused much ink to flow.
I boarded Le Massilia
without suspecting that it was a big trap.
Those who stayed behind in Bordeaux
quickly understood
that they could exploit the circumstances,
and influence the public
to think that the departure of the boat
and the fact that
a number of politicians were aboard,
was a sign we were panicking,
running away, abandoning them.
In other words, deserting.
The people aboard Le Massilia
who actually wanted to fight
were quickly judged to be cowards
who were fleeing the fight.
It was paradoxical that some of us,
including Vinot, Jean Zay, Wiltzer and l,
were tried for desertion,
when in fact their original plan
had been to go fight.
and as far as I was concerned,
I was almost obliged to go,
seeing as my unit had gone,
and it was my duty to follow them.
Everyone wound up in Rabat.
There were tons of people.
Once there, I went to lunch
at "Balima," Rabat's best restaurant,
where everyone met.
One of my cousins,
Du Jonchay, a pilot, was there,
and naturally we discussed
what had happened.
He showed me Pierre Mends-France,
who was sitting at a table
with a lovely woman, who was his wife.
My cousin turned to me and said,
"Our State Secretary there
is responsible for our defeat."
There he sat, our little lieutenant,
drinking champagne.
That champagne completely infuriated me.
I walked up to him,
and told him this was no attitude to have,
after being defeated,
drinking champagne in public
as if he was delighted
about what had happened.
Then what?
I told him
if I saw him again, I would kick him out.
and I gave him my card.
-It caused quite a stir.
-You were picking a fight.
No, I simply gave him my card
to let him know who I was.
Not to hide my identity.
How did he react?
He got up, stood to attention,
and said nothing.
I was a captain, he was a lieutenant.
I see.
There was surrender and treason.
But anti-Semitism had also begun
to rear its ugly head.
Many who used to hide their feelings
openly declared their anti-Semitism
to the point that France began adopting
certain German values,
and sought to get closer to Hitler,
in the hope of creating a Europe where
France and Germany would collaborate
and obviously anti-Semitism
became a common element
between many Germans and Frenchmen.
and, of course, Jean Zay and I
had the misfortune of being Jewish.
Actually, I was Jewish.
Jean Zay was only partly Jewish.
He had converted, as had his father,
but he was of Jewish origin.
This didn't detract from
the atrocious campaign against him,
which, as you know,
ended in his being killed.
Jean Zay was arrested.
His pregnant wife was in Casablanca.
She had a very tough time
to find a hospital bed,
or even someone
willing to help her give birth.
There was such hatred.
When clinics or hospitals heard
that she was Jean Zay's wife,
they didn't have the courage to admit her.
You can't imagine how rampant
sectarianism had become.
In any case, Mrs. Zay's pregnancy
was certainly a very trying time.
She lived with my wife
and they spent many long hours together
during which they were
abused and insulted.
My wife also had a very rough time of it.
Madeleine Zay eventually gave birth
to this baby,
whom I had the opportunity to meet,
as I was arrested
shortly after the baby's birth.
and when I was transferred
to Clermont-Ferrand,
where I met up with Jean Zay,
I'd seen his daughter and he hadn't.
To appear in Court Tomorrow
The committing magistrate was
Colonel Leprtre.
I don't want to name names,
but this man's reputation lives on today.
The man was very intelligent,
very bright, clever and cunning,
but he had a very perverse side to him,
in that he harbored great hate
for the accused,
especially if the accused was left-wing.
He got a certain morbid pleasure
from seeing an important man accused.
Even outside of cross-examination,
he would sometimes visit the prison,
just to sit and chat with the prisoners.
He would go in their cells,
and sit on their beds,
pretending to speak with them simply.
He clearly got a great deal of pleasure
out of holding the fates
of such formerly important men
in his hands.
There was something very sick,
very odd about it.
strange man.
So he would confess to certain things
in moments of relaxation?
One day, he said to me,
"I know what you think of me."
The man was bright enough to understand.
Very intelligent.
He said to me,
"I know what you think of me,
"but in an organized society,
there are certain tasks,
"tasks which must be done,
and which require people to do them."
"Every society needs garbage men."
He chose that word.
Were you able to emphasize
the racial and political background
and motives to the trial?
No, our main concern was
to obtain satisfying results,
and we knew that these judges
wouldn't appreciate such arguments.
Even if we had said that his being Jewish
should have nothing to do with the trial,
we knew perfectly well
that it would be a major issue.
The hearing was extremely tense.
It began at 9.00 a.m. with an introduction
by Pierre Mends-France,
which the Colonel received
with obvious contempt.
He had been given a table
and a jug of water.
He began with the following
introductory statement:
"Colonel and gentlemen,
I am Jewish, I am a Freemason,
"but I am not a deserter.
May the trial begin."
The court was presided over
by a rather frenzied man,
called Colonel Perret,
a colonel in charge of tanks,
who harbored a particular hatred
for General de Gaulle,
because they had served in Saint Cyr
together and were both competitive.
He hated anything to do with de Gaulle,
Gaullism or Gaullists.
he was a very frenzied character,
who ran the hearings
in an atrocious manner.
My sentence was nothing compared to
the death sentences he gave out.
He was responsible for executions,
which is considerably worse
than the sentence he gave me.
I must say that those present
at the hearing were extremely hostile.
The audience had been rigged,
no two ways about it.
Women whose faces were filled with hate.
I won't name any names,
but they were hateful people,
people who were hoping
for the cruelest of sentences,
who were hoping I'd be killed immediately,
who didn't think I should even
be allowed to defend myself.
Some 300 or 400 entry cards
had been delivered,
but only six were for the defense.
The cards were quite a story.
s only a limited number existed,
and they were in high demand,
a new black market developed.
There were bistros in Clermont
that hawked the cards.
Flatteringly enough,
they were very expensive,
twenty francs for the show.
It cost more than the movies.
There's no denying
that public opinion was strongly influenced
by the papers at that time,
which felt that the politicians
who were accused
should automatically be declared guilty.
My colonel, my lieutenant-colonel
and my general
all took the stand
and said, "He didn't desert."
When the commissioner,
whose name I won't give either,
stood up and announced in a choked voice
that he was sentenced
to six years for desertion,
Mends told him,
"Sir, I'm sure you'll be rewarded.
"You've served the master well."
Former State Secretary / Sentenced
to six Years in Jail for Desertion
I don't know if Rochat told you
that a man came to see him the next day.
and this man told him,
"I'm a Ptain supporter,
"and I am appalled by what happened
yesterday. It's scandalous.
"The Marshal must not be aware
that such things are happening.
"The Marshal must be informed
of such goings-on.
"I saw you stenograph the hearing."
Which indeed he had.
"Could you get a copy for me
to bring to the Marshal himself?"
Rochat gave him a copy
which he took to the Marshal.
Naturally, nothing ever came of it.
and the man who took the copy
was a certain Mr. Giscard d'Estaing.
It is these children,
the pupils of French schools,
in whom the Marshal sees hope
for our country.
He has come to speak simply,
as only he can,
in a modest school in the town of Prigny.
You may sit down now.
You don't have to stand to listen.
Young pupils of our French schools,
the reason I wanted to speak to you today
on this day
as you begin a new school year,
is that it's important for you
to know that I am counting on you
to help me rebuild our country, France.
So work hard, stand firm,
and do your best.
Il rise.
I had to pass through Vichy
to reach my posting in Billancourt
in the first two weeks of August 1940.
Many people told me
that Marshal Ptain was very tired,
and was only lucid for two hours a day.
Imagine my surprise when I met this man,
who, although elderly, stood bolt upright,
with his look of steel,
which many people have commented on,
and with the greatest of ease,
politely asked me to sit down
and make myself comfortable,
then said, "Mr. Lamirand,
there's been much talk about you here."
The secretary general of youth,
Mr. Georges Lamirand
recently visited Lavalette camp,
the main goal of which
is to train the men of tomorrow.
He visited these young men
who are united by a common ideal,
and live life
in continual contact with nature,
work and simplicity,
these values upon which
we must rebuild our country.
We talked and I thought to myself,
"What bad luck.
"They say he's only lucid two hours a day,
and I chance upon those two hours."
The problems of youth are fascinating,
but I had absolutely no idea that,
in the position
Marshal Ptain wanted to grant me,
there were so many fascinating
subjects and problems to solve.
Repeat after me: Long live France!
Long live the Marshal!
Louis Renault finally agreed
to give me leave,
saying to Ptain,
"I'll lend him to you for a month."
and Marshal Ptain,
in his infinite cleverness,
"Fine, one month.
"But if you don't mind,
let's make the job renewable."
and he renewed it 30 months.
Mr. Lamirand is inaugurating
an exhibition of drawings
sent to Ptain by French schoolchildren.
The little ones wanted
to answer the Marshal's call,
they wanted to show the Marshal
their towns, villages and homes,
hence sharing a piece
of their daily lives with him.
school girl, perhaps the youngest
in France, had the luck
of being allowed to give Ptain
her lovingly written letter in person.
It was about adding a new element
to the famous triptych of the time:
Work, Family, Nation.
Honor your work, your family,
and your nation.
national revolution?
You said it.
Marshal Ptain has already told you
several times
what he meant by social revolution.
He feels that our social system is unfair.
There is too much poverty,
too much injustice.
and that is what he wants to change.
He is bound and determined
to bring happiness to France,
and asks us all
to join in a communal effort.
Dear friends, this is his social revolution.
That was when he started
planning his escape.
He grew his beard, shaved it off,
grew it out again,
and one fine day, he left.
I must admit I'm not very athletic,
but I prepared myself by working out
for several months beforehand.
I was high up,
so I had to jump off a high wall.
But I had to run the risk.
and once I had jumped,
I would be a free man again.
Just as I was about to jump...
There were trees planted along the avenue.
I heard the unexpected sound of voices.
I tried to see in the semi-darkness.
There was a couple sitting under a tree.
You can imagine
what they were discussing.
He knew what he wanted,
but she hadn't decided yet.
It seemed to last an eternity to me.
She ended up saying yes,
but I had the impression
she had put up a great deal of resistance.
Finally, they left. and so I jumped.
and let me assure you
that I was even happier than he was.
I'd really like to meet him someday
and let him know
how much I experienced
with the two of them that night.
How you admired his audacity.
Yes, and how her lack of audacity
struck me as being so untimely.
Love, fate and escape
eventually won the day.
Did you disguise yourself?
I was disguised, but not very well.
You see, many people back then
who wanted to disguise themselves
would let their beards grow.
So, bearded men
automatically arose suspicion!
I let my moustache grow,
I gave myself a new hairstyle,
parted straight down the middle.
I got a pair of glasses.
and of course,
I changed the way I dressed and so forth.
The next day,
I went for my daily visit with him,
to see if he had escaped or not.
I arrived and saw all these people
with decameters in hand,
taking all sorts of measurements.
They were hysterical.
They asked me what I wanted.
I said I was there to see my client.
They asked if I knew
Pierre Mends-France had left. I said no.
I burst out laughing,
which made them angry.
They carried out a huge security check
of all the roads and trains.
But my plan was to not contact anyone,
to not count on anyone,
to be cut off from everything and everyone.
I must say that life in France at that time
is very difficult to imagine,
and even more so to describe.
You had an old pair of shoes
you hoped would last.
If they got a hole,
there was no leather to fix them.
There were no plates,
there were no matches, there was nothing.
It is very difficult, in hindsight, to describe
what it was like living in a country
where everyone was always
searching for everything.
The new rage in Paris
is silk stockings without the silk.
Il you have to do, ladies, is dye your legs.
It's easy and practical. great idea.
The ladies are trading in
their garters for paintbrushes.
Worried about what will happen
when you bathe?
No problem.
Paint-on stockings are waterproof.
On top of that,
Elizabeth Arden guarantees they won't run!
That's a Parisian habit
which will disappear.
Where is France headed?
Where is Europe headed?
Some 3,000 people in Chaillot will hear
Mr. Alphonse de Chateaubriant
discuss The French Drama.
t this very moment,
a huge continental unit
is slowly taking shape.
It will be one gigantic geographical piece
in the puzzle,
with one single political
and economical doctrine,
stretching to the very tip of Europe,
the very tip of which is France.
Therein the importance of France
becomes clear,
as France becomes,
in this new division, the outer edge,
the last bastion on the Atlantic
of this immense continent,
faced with another large continent,
which is ready to take over
the ancient order of things,
the ancient riches and capitalist creeds,
the ancient gold and the ancient man,
in order to make it their last refuge,
their last fortress,
and their last army.
I sincerely hope
that everything I have said tonight
will give the word "collaboration"
new meaning in your eyes.
It's not surprising that, at first,
such poison won over many new converts.
Little by little,
people began to realize it was propaganda,
and to see that
the government was practicing a policy,
which they themselves called
collaboration with the enemy.
Slowly but surely,
people began to open their eyes,
and change their minds.
But this propaganda
still won over many new converts.
You know as well as I do
that anti-Semitism and Anglophobia
are never hard to stir up in France.
Even if reactions to such things
are dormant or stifled,
all it takes is one event, one incident,
one international crisis
or one Dreyfus affair,
for feelings we thought long gone
to suddenly re-emerge in full force,
for beliefs we thought dead
to be simply dormant.
Edouard Drumont was the first in France
to examine the Jewish question.
The institute of Jewish Questions
celebrates his memory today.
Mr. Laville has agreed to say a few words.
Out of 100 Frenchmen of old stock,
at least 90 are pure white,
free of any other racial mixture.
This isn't true of the Jews.
The Jews are born of a mixture
which dates back thousands of years,
between aryans, Mongols and Negroes.
Therefore, Jews have unique faces,
bodies, attitudes and gestures.
It is reassuring to see
that the public is interested
in studying the characteristics presented
in the morphological section
of "Jews and France."
In October '40,
when I came home on leave,
I heard that a good friend of mine,
a teacher,
wasn't allowed to keep teaching that fall,
because his mother was Jewish,
making him half-Jewish.
I'd met Jews before,
but I treated them
the same as Catholics, Protestants,
or people with no religion in particular.
It wasn't a revolution yet,
but it did give me food for thought.
-Did you have any Jewish teachers?
-Let me see...
We did have one.
Yes, he was fired.
The same old story.
No one ever told us anything.
Listen, I think we should
make a little nuance here.
I think that when you take cases
like this teacher we mentioned,
I think that we tried,
to the best of our ability,
to get these people some work
tutoring and so forth.
We did that for another colleague, too.
Like you say, it wasn't much,
but we did have sympathy for them.
Did you really try?
Did every single teacher in Clermont
give in their resignation?
No way. You've no idea
what the mentality was like back then.
collective resignation? Come on!
In 1940, Vichy came out
with the Jewish decrees.
In the small ads of Le Moniteur,
a local merchant announced
that he was 100%%% pure French.
Sir, are you Marius?
Yes, I'm Marius.
You're weighed down with medals.
I fought in World War l.
-They're all medals from WW l?
-That's right.
You must be a very brave man.
I followed the others. I did my duty.
When France was demobilized,
when France was defeated in the 2nd war,
how did you react?
We certainly weren't very happy.
s veterans of World War l,
the defeat affected us deeply.
Were there many Jewish stores?
Yes, there were.
So you must have seen a lot?
You could say that.
They all packed up their bags and left.
They went into exile.
and there weren't any arrests?
There were arrests everywhere.
and you saw them?
Yes, unfortunately.
Tell me, when what were called
"the Jewish decrees" came out,
apparently you took out an ad.
That's correct.
It was an ad in Le Moniteur.
You're certainly well-informed.
You see, sir, we were four brothers.
It was the solution I found,
as people thought we were Jews.
My name, Klein, sounds quite Jewish.
But I'm a Catholic.
and this was a real source of concern.
I had some problems because of that.
Four of my brothers fought in the war.
It was important that I tell people
that I am really French.
In other words, you wanted
your clients to know you weren't Jewish.
That is correct.
Because some said I was Jewish.
Jews were being arrested,
and they said we were Jewish.
Do you see?
I couldn't very well allow myself
to be labeled as a Jew since I'm a Catholic.
So that's why, as you said,
I took out an ad.
Four of my brothers fought in the war.
One was killed.
-The other three were imprisoned.
-But Jews fought in World War l, too.
That's true. I realize that.
I've never been a racist.
Jewish or Mahometan,
all that mattered to me
was that the man did his duty,
in which case,
he was as French as the rest of us.
You understand?
You weren't high on the priority list
of those persecuted by Hitler's regime.
But did you know any Jews,
Communists, or Freemasons who were?
I met more Jews than I'll ever meet again.
I had two girls working at the pharmacy,
who were considered to be evil
just because they were Jewish.
One was the daughter of an amazing man,
a Parisian polytechnician.
She was a pretty amazing girl herself.
The other was the daughter of Hirsch,
a colleague in Strasbourg.
Nobody wanted anything
to do with these girls.
He had warned every pharmacy
in Clermont not to hire these girls.
-Who is "he?"
-The pharmacy inspector.
The movie industry gave them a chance
to steal billions of francs.
Tannenzaft, better known as Nathan,
who in the eyes of the world,
was the ultimate symbol of French cinema,
has cost the public
nearly 700,000,000 francs.
Mr. Pierre Mends-France, did you enjoy
going to the movies back then?
I went to the movies because I enjoyed it,
but I had yet another reason,
as I had quickly discovered
that movie houses provided a refuge
which was both fun and comfortable,
you could sit down in a movie theater
at 3:00 in the afternoon,
and stay there in the darkness
for hours on end,
without anyone ever seeing you.
It was a great hiding place.
In many pre-war French movies,
there were Jewish actors
or Jewish directors.
and in the credits of these movies,
the Jewish names had been erased.
Today World News was able to film
a part of the trial
of the Jew Tannenzaft, Bernard Nathan.
Our presence clearly disturbed the accused
who wanted his privacy.
He raises an objection,
but is overruled by the court.
Go away. Leave me alone.
This is a tragedy, not a comedy!
The Germans were discreet about it,
but they wanted to see their movies.
There were operettas.
There were the first movies in color.
Some, like La Ville Dore,
weren't propaganda, others were.
Films like Le Juif Suss
were pure propaganda.
and the thing that I found most revolting
was that they weren't
only German productions,
which would have been understandable
since they had occupied us,
but that they were made with the blessing
of the French authorities,
on behalf of French organizations,
dubbed by French actors.
The events in this film
are based on historical fact.
t first, movie-goers probably thought
these movies were
just like any other German movie.
But people very quickly began to realize
that it was just typical propaganda,
in the worst sense of the word.
This led to a kind of strike among viewers.
Even those who weren't
especially interested in the Free French,
who had gotten into the habit
of seeing normal German movies,
were extremely revolted
and refused to have any part in it.
this Jew's criminal record shows nothing
of the suffering of our people
during his tyranny.
This is why I give the floor to the person
who has suffered most.
I ask for nothing.
You are the judges, not me.
Please, Sturm, you are the one
with the most right to judge him.
It is not my decision to take.
Suffering is too subjective.
It would be unfair.
However, I see an ancient article
of criminal law which applies:
"If ever a Jew commits a sin...
"If ever a Jew commits a sin of the flesh
with a Christian woman,
"he shall be publicly hung
without further ado."
"If ever a Jew commits a sin of the flesh
with a Christian,
"he shall be publicly hung
without further ado,
"as punishment,
and as an example for all others."
Have mercy! I've done nothing wrong!
I've always acted in the name of my savior!
It's not my fault
that your duke wanted to betray you!
I can fix everything, I swear. Everything!
Take all that I own. Take all my money.
But don't take my life!
I am innocent!
I'm just a poor Jew. Let me live.
I want to live!
I want to live! Live!
The State Council and I speak
for all Wurtemburgers in decreeing
that all Jews must leave Wurtemberg
in the next three days.
This is valid across the entire country.
This decree has been taken in Stuttgart
on February 4, 1738.
May our descendants remember this,
for in doing so, they will spare themselves
much pain and suffering,
and will keep their blood pure
of the influence of this accursed race.
There were only certain people
who actually enjoyed Le Juif Suss,
the anti-Semites who saw
their beliefs confirmed in the movie.
The collaborators would also see it.
Then there were those
who were taken by surprise.
I'd say that 80%%% of the people
who came to see Le Juif Suss
assumed it would be just like
any other light-hearted movie.
The German films weren't
particularly good.
they featured many French film stars,
as Continental had made
many French films before the war.
Tino Rossi and the like
filmed at Continental.
s an artistic endeavor,
several actors are off to Germany.
t East Station,
we've spotted Albert Prjean.
Danielle Darrieux.
Suzy Delair.
Junie Astor.
Viviane Romance.
Dr. Karl Frhlich, president
of the German Cinema Corporation,
has invited them on a 12-day studio tour
of Vienna, Munich and Berlin.
Today Mr. Heydrich,
general of the S.S. and head of security,
was sent to Paris by Mr. Himmler,
chief of the S.S. and the police,
to officially install Mr. Oberg
in his new post in occupied territory.
Mr. Heydrich is president
of the International Criminal Police,
a commission to which
France has always belonged.
Mr. Heydrich visited Mr. Bousquet,
secretary general of the police,
and Mr. Hiller,
secretary general of administration.
He also had a chance
to see Mr. Dartier de Pellepoix,
in charge of Jewish Questions,
as well as Mr. de Brinon.
What was Paris like back then?
There were two sides to Paris.
There were those struggling to survive,
and there was high-society.
Il we were missing was Rgine.
There's no doubt about it.
Everyone's ashamed to say it today,
but for some, life in Paris was great.
Maxim's and Le Boeuf sur le Toit
did a booming business.
The movie industry was in full swing.
From what I've heard,
actually, or so they say,
French films were so good then
because a certain category
of producers had fled to the States.
Many directors have gone on
to do very well in their careers,
but they forget what they said then.
Paris was a fun and crazy place.
Let me assure you that there were
some wild and crazy times back then.
Il right, boys. This way.
We'll go straight to the source
to whet our whistles.
What happened to you in 1937?
You can't even begin to imagine.
-It's a long story.
-Be careful...
First give us a drink,
then we'll see what's up.
I think we're going to earn our drink today.
-Is that red wine?
-Yes, it's as Red as I am.
So what happened in here?
This cellar has seen everything.
The Resistance in uvergne began here.
The night the first weapons arrived,
we met in this very cellar.
and we sang the Internationale.
We weren't Communists,
but as Ptain sang the Marseillaise,
we had to sing the Internationale.
You see, people attended
the raising of the colors reluctantly.
-Yet they still came?
-They had no choice.
It is in times like those
when you begin to realize
what people are really like.
-How do you mean?
-They were scared stiff.
With only a few exceptions.
-Was it really a risk not to come?
-Risk or no risk, they still came.
-So they thought there was a risk?
-They thought so.
I was under the impression
that there were quite a few students here
who ardently supported General de Gaulle.
For example,
there was the son of a colleague
whose name escapes me, among others.
What about among the teachers?
I really can't say
how many teachers supported him.
We were sympathetic
to the young people's cause,
but there wasn't the same enthusiasm...
the same enthusiasm
which was gaining momentum
among the young people.
Why do you think that is?
It often seems to be the case in life.
Young people are, in general,
more sincere and more dynamic.
They don't think things through.
I think it would be fair to say
that they are less cautious.
They are more open and friendly.
What do you think?
-They're not as scared.
Some of my students got caught.
I can't really say who.
Not so many, just a few of them.
In fact, many of them now have
streets named after them here.
There was Bacaud.
The street going to Fontvige
is named after him.
-I taught this charming boy.
-He was in the Resistance?
These people,
as Dionnet was saying earlier,
had created a network.
We only found out about it later.
They continued to pretend
they were just your average students.
But we only found out about this later.
Perhaps Dionnet,
who was in the Resistance, knew.
What was it like for the others?
How did the others react
when someone's desk was empty?
I don't know. I can't remember.
When a student's parents were arrested,
and the son showed up at school
the next day, how did they react?
-I can't remember.
-How can you forget?
Can you remember?
No, I can't.
No specific examples.
I see some examples on the wall.
Those are our former students...
Aren't those the students
who died in World War l?
It says World War ll.
I'm trying to remember, but I can't.
Clermont-Ferrand is giving
Marshal Ptain a warm welcome.
He has come to approve
the constitution of the Peasants' Union,
and the end of the winter crusade
for National id.
The head of state will then receive
the donations to National id
brought by peasants
from all over the region.
It is a symbolic ceremony
for the French mutual aid campaign.
great day for France as our hearts
beat together in collective hope.
Stories of an Occupied City
Demarcation Line
Do not cross
On November 11th, on the French
German demarcation line at 7 a.m.,
under orders from the Fhrer,
the Wermacht
crossed unoccupied France
to the Mediterranean.
This is a response to Anglo-American
aggression in French North Africa
preventing the enemy from landing
on the southern coast of France.
At first, we called them the Fritzes,
then the Jerries,
the Krauts, the Boches,
the Beetles, the Verdigris.
Public imagination
was very fertile back then.
Why call them Beetles?
Because beetles eat potatoes
and leave nothing behind.
The Germans also left nothing behind.
-Not even potatoes?
-No potatoes.
What can you say in French?
I learned the rules of etiquette, greetings.
I learned to make myself understood,
especially to young ladies.
To go for a walk: "Excuse me, miss,
would you care to go for a walk?"
And what else?
Good day, sir. Good evening, sir.
Good night, ma'am.
This afternoon,
there were concerts in the occupied cities.
-Best out of three?
Of course, races were rare then.
In 1940, racing was almost obsolete.
It was only in 1941, 1942, and 1943
that racing really began.
I started in 1943.
-In 1943?
-That's right.
I started in 1943
in the Dunlop final with Bobet.
-We were in the same class.
-Is that right?
The class of '45 was pretty big.
There was Casara, Lazarids, Bobet...
You must understand that back then,
and I'm talking about cycling,
it was the only way
people had of getting around.
You started off your adult life
in a rather difficult age.
For example, what about girls?
-How was dating under Occupation?
It's true that there was a problem.
First of all, we were young.
On Sundays or in the evenings,
American Avenue was packed
with people "doing the avenue,"
as we called it.
From Jaude Square to Gaillard,
that was the place to be.
For a young man like yourself,
was it particularly irritating
to see a girl on a German soldier's arm?
-You must have seen some.
-Of course.
It was considered annoying everywhere,
not just in Clermont.
-Of course.
-It was generally frowned upon
to see a woman
accompanied by a German.
Some women dated Germans
but they paid for that later,
after Liberation.
Some paid a very high price indeed
for having dated Germans.
That's for sure.
There weren't many Germans in Clermont,
as it wasn't occupied.
Weren't the Germans here as of 1942?
No, we only saw the Germans
through the Resistance.
Clermont was never occupied.
"No, we didn't see any !"
R. Gminiani 1969
We've been told there were
very few Germans in Clermont.
I saw too many of them.
I saw them everywhere.
I saw them in my waking hours,
and I saw them in my sleep.
Around their neck, they all wore ribbons
with some medal attached.
I saw them everywhere.
All I could see was helmets and Germans.
How come others didn't see them?
They must have been shortsighted
because Lord knows they were
everywhere. You couldn't miss them.
I had participated in the Russian campaign.
In January 1942, I was hurt. My feet froze.
I was declared unfit for service in the East
which is why I returned to France
that same year.
Service in France was humiliating
for an active serviceman like me.
For us, the East was the winning ticket.
Yes, but you didn't win.
No, we didn't,
but we couldn't have known that.
The major of my regime
understood my feelings.
He said to me,
"My dear Tausend,
all you have to do is play stupid
"and you'll be back in no time."
But it didn't work, so I stayed
in Clermont-Ferrand till the end.
-Why? Couldn't you play stupid?
-No, I wasn't very good at that.
In late 1942,
everything was quiet in Clermont.
We were busy training new recruits
especially for anti-partisan operations.
The people in Clermont liked us.
We got along.
French or German,
it made no difference to them.
My friends and I lived in a hotel in Royat.
I think I still have some photos.
Royat is north of Clermont-Ferrand.
I had to put up with them.
But I must say that as far as
hotel guests go, I can't complain.
You say that you had to put up with them.
-Were they hard to put up with?
-No, it wasn't that.
No, it's just that they
kept me from working.
I would have preferred real guests.
After all, I wasn't paid.
As German soldiers,
we were able to get whatever we wanted.
Cheese, ham, salami: Everything was
available on the black market.
Did you ever get the feeling
that the people you patronized,
for example,
shopkeepers, hoteliers and the like
were compromising themselves
in the eyes of other Frenchmen?
Not at all. At least, not in 1942.
The situation somewhat deteriorated later,
when the so-called
"war of partisans" began.
I think I have a photo of that period,
in early 1943
when we had to put up barbed wire.
For example, in broad daylight,
they threw grenades at our soldiers
who were marching
to one of our movie theaters.
I don't know if they were thrown
from rooftops or what.
But there were
eight dead and 40 wounded.
An hour before the 6:00 show,
they came along
accompanied by armed sentries.
The soldiers were unarmed,
but the sentries were armed.
Then the terrorists threw the bombs
from high up on the city walls.
You can see them there.
The wounded fell, the ambulances came
and the show went on.
A terrible repression followed.
They burned down upper Clermont
in search of terrorists.
Many young men were taken.
Now obviously, we had to do something
about the situation.
The partisans had, of course, disappeared.
Did you know that many people
were arrested on Jaude Square,
many young people who were deported?
No, I didn't realize that.
All I know is that there was
a Gestapo unit in Clermont
which terrified the French.
Or so they always told us.
But they were there to protect us.
The Germans around here
would always tell us the same old story.
German-French cooperation
is the solution, they'd say.
They were convinced of it. I don't know.
-Maybe they were sincere.
-It's possible. I don't know.
They were almost too nice, yes, too nice
because they knew we didn't like them,
so they tried hard.
They'd almost always give their seat
in a tram to an elderly passenger.
And what about girls?
One night, Mrs. Mioche,
who was always very strict on the subject
saw a soldier come in after midnight
with two young ladies.
Mrs. Mioche wouldn't let the girls in.
As they continued insisting,
she went and got their captain.
The captain came down
and said Mrs. Mioche was right.
-They must not have been very happy.
But what could they say?
He was their captain. They had to obey.
And Mrs. Mioche was happy
with the outcome of the situation.
-So she was happy...
-Yes, but she was still afraid
that they would come in anyhow.
-She told them, "This isn't a..."
-A brothel.
And the next day, they requisitioned
a house across the street
hence solving their problem.
As is always the case in a war,
when soldiers are far from home
brothels were set up.
There were many in Clermont-Ferrand.
The Clermont girls wouldn't give us
the time of day on the streets.
And when you weren't on the streets?
It's true that they were
much friendlier at night.
The situation deteriorated
when the Michelin factory was bombed.
You know, the famous French tire factory,
which worked for us.
The Americans had bad aim
and sent bombs everywhere.
And naturally, people blamed us.
I think by late 1942, early 1943
the Resistance was busy everywhere.
English pilots would bomb France.
Didn't that bother you?
No, they didn't bomb people,
they bombed German-occupied factories
and that's all.
We were at war.
We were allies against the Germans.
It was the point of the Resistance.
I even had to sign a contract in London.
I was registered in London.
I still remember
my registration number: 61,055.
I was registered in London.
The last time I actually flew in one of these
was in May 1944 when we were
shot down over occupied France.
-Is it harder to get in one today?
-I have put on a couple of stone.
You don't look very French.
Did you have a moustache back then?
No, this is the point.
I did have a moustache
but I was asked to shave it off
as there didn't seem to be
many Frenchmen with moustaches about.
They supplied me with an old jacket,
not exactly a Savile Row style,
but it served its purpose...
And a beret. We cut the tops off
our boots to make shoes.
Did you find the people of France helpful?
People would risk their lives for you.
They knew if the Germans got them,
they would be shot without a trial.
I remember Mr. Sauay,
who put me up for quite some time.
I didn't know
cigarettes were so rare in France.
In England, there were lots.
But he gave me
20 cigarettes a day: Gauloises.
Sometimes, I'd even ask for more.
I only realized he was a smoker, too
when I saw him one night
cleaning up the ashtrays
and smoking my cigarette stubs.
-We'd go to the woods.
-Over there.
Over there, in the woods.
-And where did you keep the weapons?
-In my father's house, over there.
That's where we'd clean
the weapons we received.
-How about hiding places?
-There were some in the woods.
There were some in the vineyards,
in the woods
-and over there.
-I bet there are still some around.
This isn't a very big area,
so how did you manage?
People must have found out.
What was the reaction of villagers
who weren't in the Resistance?
-Well, they...
-They shut their mouths.
They kept very quiet.
First, I was taken by the police
then I was taken to Clermont
and then I was put in prison.
First, I was put in the Clermont prison
and then I was taken
to the prison in Le Mlisse.
-But I only stayed one day, then l...
-You should've stayed in Clermont.
Next, I was taken to two bis.
I was sent twice in one day,
and again the next day, and the next.
-I went five times.
-Were you tortured?
-Were you beaten?
-It was no party, let me tell you.
These gentlemen had found 12 parachutes
in our house and they wanted to know
how this came to be.
-But you didn't say?
I was liberated,
we were liberated, in full flight.
They'd been making us walk for three days
when the Germans abandoned us
in a little region.
I'll never forget it. It was called
ltsdorf, in Saxony, by the Elbe.
-Do you have any old photos?
-No, I was too ugly.
No one wanted to take my picture.
-Why? How much did you weigh?
-92 pounds.
-Why didn't you take any pictures?
-I didn't want to.
I didn't think
anyone should see me like that.
-You were waiting to be...
-More handsome.
Yes, I saw a lot of suffering.
I saw a convoy arrive.
I think it came from Hungary.
Out of 50,000 people, not one...
I remember I was designated
to bring them some soup.
They were close to the movie theater.
There was a movie theater, a brothel,
and everything in Buchenwald.
It's the truth.
I brought them this soup,
and they fell upon it.
All 50,000 of them
literally fell upon this soup
spilling it everywhere.
They were down on their knees in the mud.
There must have been at least
eight inches of mud on the ground.
Well, they ate out of the mud.
And four days later,
they were all gunned down.
That was Buchenwald.
between the various levels
of French society?
Most definitely. I can honestly say
that the people who helped me most
were the railroad men
and though it's hard to admit now,
the Communists.
French workers were wonderful people.
They would do anything.
They'd give you the shirt off their backs.
I stayed with these people,
I stayed in one room.
There was only one room and a kitchen,
and I slept in the kitchen
in a town called Juvisy, near Paris.
It was extremely
dangerous territory back then.
They would lend me some overalls
because every day, I'd walk along
and copy down
the various electric train lines
because we wanted to bomb them.
This wasn't really my job.
My job was the radio.
But I helped the others
when things were going slowly.
And so they lent me their overalls.
You've mentioned the workers,
but what about the French bourgeoisie
-from what you've seen of them?
-The bourgeoisie,
I must say, were very neutral.
They didn't help me much.
No, not the bourgeoisie.
I was impressed by the people,
the waiters in the restaurants,
the cashiers in the grocery stores.
There were always
go-betweens in these stores,
but they weren't sure
what they were doing.
And we never explained
what the danger was.
But the workers were always able
to provide me with what I needed
whereas the bourgeoisie was scared.
They had more to lose.
And I think that in life,
no matter where you go
people often consider
what they have to lose.
I had nothing to lose. That's why I did it.
I had no parents, I wasn't married,
so what did it matter?
Denis Rake was a boy.
Actually, he's older than I am.
He was a guy who had faith.
He was very patriotic,
with a very deep sense of duty.
He was amazingly brave.
He was incredibly shy,
and he hated firearms,
but we needed people like him
as they were brave enough
to overcome their fear.
It's true that deep down inside,
I wanted to prove that I was just as brave
as my friends
who had become pilots and so forth.
And as a homosexual,
at that moment in my life
it was one of my fears that I'd
lack the courage to do such things.
In that sense,
you shared the prejudice of others.
You felt that being homosexual would
make you less brave than the others?
Yes, I was afraid of that.
Do you think the fact that you were
a theater man made you more inclined
-to go underground?
-Very much so.
I was a transvestite singer in Paris
in "Le Grand Ecart" for three months,
and in "La Cave Caucasienne"
for a long time.
We supplied the group we had formed
with parachutes from London
with the aim of preventing
the passage of German troops.
And we sent Denis Rake
as a radio operator.
"The Mont-Mouchet,"
Iike most of the Maquis groups
consisted of members
from the forced labor group
which was based in Auvergne.
What we didn't know was that
on the night Denis Rake arrived in France,
the Germans made an all out attack
and Denis Rake landed
smack in the middle of the battle.
He spent the night in a tree,
which he climbed down the next day
in order to send us a message
saying he'd arrived rather unexpectedly
and that all was well.
Gaspard was in charge of the Maquis.
I must say that I'm very proud
of my pseudonym "Gaspard"
because friends, as you saw earlier
wouldn't have called me Mr. Coulaudon.
Coulaudon is a well-known name,
but in my job, it doesn't matter.
It's an everyday name 30 years later.
Our mission was to find a Maquis
led by a man named Gaspard.
-In Mont-Mouchet?
-That's right.
He was an incredible man,
and he put up an impressive fight.
But he was greedy:
greedy for glory, greedy for everything.
We had the feeling
that Gaspard had won the approval,
the love and affection of the people
the patriots that followed him,
an unquestionably great leader.
This is where the Resistance
began in Auvergne.
This is where we formed our first group.
Back then, we had a dog
we had named de Gaulle.
De Gaulle latched on to us
and stuck with us during both winters.
What is that monument?
It was built
in memory of our first troop to die.
When the Germans surrounded the village,
we couldn't get in because of the snow.
We were all on expedition,
except four young men
who stayed behind
because they weren't healed.
And these four young men
were taken by the Germans.
Early that morning,
they followed the less snowy train tracks
checked out the lay of the land
and headed to our cottage,
thinking they'd get us all.
There were four young men, one of whom
came out barefoot in the snow,
a 19-year-old boy from Volvic,
a village we'll see later.
We called him Milamon.
A relative of his, Jean Lain
tried to machine-gun down the Germans,
who then killed him.
We found his body
strewn across the snow.
He died immediately.
A second boy was killed in his bed.
He didn't even have time to get up
before being taken.
There were two young men left.
One hid in a trunk, he was so small.
He was 19 years old.
-What was the boy's name again?
No, it was 15 grams.
15 grams or four pounds.
15 grams: That was all the boy weighed.
He was also taken here.
One thing I find appalling is when
people who were Ptain supporters
come up and tell me
what they did for the Resistance.
Sometimes, it's unreal. "Oh Mr. Gaspard,
"if only you knew what we did,
what I did for the Resistance...."
Go ahead, pal, tell me all about it.
I try to stay calm. I'm a salesman
and I want to sell my product.
The company doesn't pay me
to do politics and pick fights.
So sometimes I find myself obliged
to listen to a song and dance
of some guy who shows me a drawer
and gets his wife to confirm
that there was indeed a revolver
in that drawer during the war
a revolver which he was supposedly
ready to use on the Germans.
Only he never actually used it.
History doesn't lie.
As you know,
I was an N.C.O. in the French army.
I can see your question coming.
Didn't I skip a few ranks?
But what could I have done?
In fact, one man, a friend of mine
was saying in the car earlier,
"Didn't you go to school?" No, I laughed.
The best I did, in the words
of the former mayor of Combronde
was the school of crime,
which is nothing more
than our mandatory answer
to those who were killing our friends.
-There's one thing you're forgetting.
When de Gaulle, from London,
invited every French officer,
every last lazy good-for-nothing
to join the Maquis,
if they had answered his call...
If they had, the Resistance
could have avoided certain mistakes.
They were hiding in the woods
like children from the Germans.
They didn't want to work for them.
These admirable patriots
could definitely have used
the help and leadership
of the French officers
who were busy
warming their feet by the fire...
Don't try to deny it.
I know many people who are guilty.
That's the truth.
Many people I knew just stayed at home.
I asked them, at the time,
why they didn't follow their friends' lead.
They claimed they didn't know
how to get in touch with the Resistance.
Somehow, an old fool like me
knew how and they didn't.
If we could do it again,
would you still make me a colonel,
or would you bring me down
to staff sergeant or adjutant?
If I've understood correctly,
Colonel Gaspard wants to know if
25 years down the road,
you'd still be willing to trust him.
I believe that it's because of men like him
that we accomplished something.
No thanks to those who stayed home.
-Mark my words.
-This isn't a referendum here.
He mixes everything up.
I'm trying to talk politics.
But it's what I wanted to hear.
Today, a new type of neo-Nazism
is slowly rearing its ugly head
which is why I feel it's important
we participate in these interviews.
We said "nyet" because we thought
and continue to think
that we must not mix things up,
as the veterans of Verdun have done.
Those men were heroes,
but they've been caught in a trap.
I believe there's a risk
that either Nazism will re-emerge,
or some form of Nazism
under a different name.
A rose by any other name is still a rose.
Hang on a minute.
There's one thing we often tend to forget.
The Germans were Nazis. Fine.
But were the French
any better than the Nazis?
-Stop it.
-I had a woman shot,
a 60-year-old woman
who had sold me to the Gestapo.
She sold me for money.
So did my son, for thirty pieces of silver.
The people in Auvergne,
in a country where we failed
Iike in Brittany, Vercors, or anywhere else
who wanted to find the Resistance
had no problem finding it,
if that person really wanted to fight,
or even to fight in the underground
without necessarily going all out.
Our goal, first and foremost,
was to attempt
to create a climate
of psychological fear for the Germans
to keep them in a state of fear
to cut off communications lines,
and hopefully blow everything up.
That was it.
The goal wasn't to kill the Germans.
Why bother killing
10, 20, 50, or even 100 Germans?
Come on. Please. Not at all.
Our goal was basically to prevent them...
If you don't mind,
I'd like to add something.
Our goal was never to be
an army facing another army.
And yet, what eventually happened
due to ever-increasing enthusiasm
was that we ended up
with 10,000 armed men.
Allow me to give an example.
A detachment of our troops near Clermont
passes in front of 20-odd peasants
digging up potatoes.
Suddenly, they all drop their tools,
dash towards their guns
and proceed to shoot 14 of our men dead.
-Do you consider that a partisan war?
For me, partisans are people
who wear armbands, helmets and the like.
What happened in that potato field
was assassination.
You must admit
that we were obliged to react.
I'd even say that it was our duty,
as officers
to demand security measures
for our troops.
After Liberation, I was given the task
of guarding German prisoners.
I supervised a whole commando,
but I never hurt them
and I never yelled at them.
If I'd treated them
the way they'd treated me
I wouldn't have been any better than them.
And I didn't want that.
These old guys were all veterans
from World War l, from the Shupo.
What could we possibly do
with men like that?
They hadn't hurt us.
The people who had hurt us
had taken off at high speed.
They were long gone.
But these old guys had done us no harm.
I remember one of these men
had broken his gun.
This man gave me an apple
as we were marching.
We'd been marching for three days,
and as we walked along,
the old guy slipped me an apple.
See what I mean?
That was the day we'd had
one loaf of bread for 22 men.
In the afternoon, of that same day,
at 3:00, we were liberated.
To be a member of the Resistance,
did you need political training?
-What was your family background?
My family background
was always rather left wing.
I was never an extremist,
but I was always left wing.
-So what were you then?
-I was a Socialist.
I'm still a Socialist today.
And I'm proud of it.
Although the Party has a few people
which really should be...
They're people like me,
who are getting old.
Why get 80-year-old people
to govern our country?
We should put them out to pasture.
People say that some peasants
got rich during the war.
There are some.
There are some, that's for sure.
Maybe it would have been better
to get rich on the black market.
Then I'd be rich
and everyone would like me.
But I was in the Resistance,
so they think I'm dumb.
And rightly so!
Do you think
that having been in the Resistance
gives you a good or bad reputation
in the minds of others?
I think it has always given us
a bad reputation.
Because when we were active,
they called us terrorists
-or bandits.
-Yes, bandits.
-Many people still believe this.
-Some even called us profiteers.
Yes, because we did parachuting.
There were some people
who claimed to be in the Resistance
and took advantage of this
to steal and loot.
-That's why many people think--
-They were thieves.
Weren't there two types of Resistance?
There was the anti-German side,
and then the anti-Nazi side.
For us, German or Nazi,
they were both the same.
They were one and the same.
I used to feel that we should distinguish
between the German people and the Nazis.
But after I was taken prisoner,
thrashed, and fed by catapult...
I'm sorry, but I reacted
like any hungry man
and considered them one and the same.
There were some Germans
who weren't Nazis in their heart.
But those Germans
were in the concentration camps.
Don't forget that concentration camps
opened in Germany in 1933.
All Germans were Nazis.
Any Communists in Germany
were sent to the camps.
And when you met a German in a camp,
it wasn't like hurting a Communist.
-Did any Communists join the Nazis?
-Theoretically not.
But I wasn't about to ask them.
I don't speak German.
The Germans we fought in Auvergne
were all Nazis.
-Or members of the S.S.
-Nazis or members of the S.S.
-That was it.
-Did you kill any Krauts?
Probably, but we didn't see it.
When you are in a hole
standing behind your machine gun,
you don't know what you've hit.
And bad Frenchmen?
I knew many bad Frenchmen,
but I never killed any of them.
-And the rest of you?
-Me neither.
I was already a black sheep,
the odd man out.
I had married an American divorce,
a Grossfeld to boot.
I had done many things:
I had smoked opium,
I had written many extraordinary articles,
and I was considered a black sheep,
one who would never succeed.
It's always a shock for society
to see a black sheep succeed.
Despite my weakness for Communists,
the day I became a minister,
my family accepted me.
But what did I find in the Resistance?
The most important thing for me,
other than dignity
was that it was truly a classless society.
The problems of everyday life
ceased to exist.
We were very free.
What I'm going to say may sound mean,
but I think that to be a Resistant,
you had to be maladjusted.
We were free in the sense that,
as outcasts of society,
the organization of society
no longer concerned us in the least.
You can't imagine a real Resistant
being a full-fledged minister,
or a colonel or a businessman.
Such people have succeeded.
They would succeed
with Germans, Englishmen or Russians.
But we were failures
and I was one of those failures.
We had quixotic feelings
that are so typical of failures.
Some people are Resistants by nature.
In other words,
some people are naturally headstrong.
Others, on the contrary,
try to adapt to the circumstances,
and get what they can out of it.
If you are a Resistant over everything
and nothing, you're exaggerating.
But if you accept everything, you're lying.
There were six of us:
a gas-company worker, a pimp,
a public transport worker,
a butcher from Quipavas
and others like that.
On the quay of Port-Vendres,
I found men who were simply men
who had fled like others had fled,
Iike I had fled,
who asked me what they could do.
I said, "Why not join the Resistance?"
I went down along the coast
until I reached,
in St-Jean-de-Luz, an English ship
with orders to take no Frenchmen,
only a Polish division on its way to London.
So I said, "Let's go to headquarters,
"the 5th Marine Bureau,
where we can do something."
And so I went to Collioure.
The office had been set up in a brothel,
because there was
nothing else available in the area.
They said, "Why resist? You're mad."
And they demobilized me.
I went to Marseilles,
where, with a few men,
I realized we had to fight in France,
not abroad.
We were all aware of the fact that
we were appealing to the patriots,
who saw that we were people
who actually fought,
whereas many other people
were just full of talk about resisting.
We weren't talkers, we were fighters.
The patriots had seen the amazing gesture
of a militant Communist,
who was perhaps unaware
of the effect this gesture would have.
Just before being shot
by the Nazis in Chateaubriand,
the metallurgist
Jean-Pierre Timbaud cried out,
"Long live the German Communist Party!"
And that, you see...
Why are you anti-Communist, Colonel?
The main reason is that I'm a Catholic.
I know they helped the Resistance,
and I'm also aware of the fact that
they participated, for the most part,
in their own interests,
in order to defend Russia,
Communist Russia,
which is their motherland.
Russia is their motherland?
Although they claim to be international,
Russia is, after all,
the country that defends their ideals.
Our main disagreement was the following:
Should we aim to be a reserve army,
or an army that grows strong
through battle?
Both sides had different opinions.
How did you manage to reconcile
these differences in the Resistance?
I wasn't very good at it.
Indeed, as regional leader in Limoges,
I never once made contact
with the Communists.
-Although you were supposed to?
-Although I was ordered to.
-And the order came from London?
The army ranks generally viewed us
as dangerous people,
who were prepared to shed blood
for reasons they felt inadequate.
We were surprised by London's insistence
that we join together
in fighting for the Resistance.
We felt that it would be dangerous
to arm these Communists.
After all, some of these Communists
were not very commendable people.
We feared this would
lead to problems after Liberation.
From what I've understood,
you were in charge of the assault groups.
Did you participate in any assaults?
I did some sabotage,
but I never assaulted anyone.
What I mean is
that I never deliberately shot down
a German in the street.
-But you would have?
-Yes, had it been my job,
but that was not my responsibility.
You say the Communists
were not very commendable people.
For example, some of the Communists
they had recruited
were condemned people, for example.
It was due to these conditions
that we praised the action
taken by Pierre George, Colonel Fabien,
who killed a German in the metro.
People had to get used to fighting.
There were two ways of seeing things.
All over Paris, there were lists
of those who had been killed.
Either you could give in to despair,
and resign yourself to do nothing,
or you could fight.
The army would give orders to attack,
whereas the Communists were in favor
of immediate guerrilla warfare,
in the form of assassinations or sabotage.
They were disobeying the orders
we'd been sent from London.
We thought to ourselves
that orders of that nature
shouldn't be obeyed,
and we, of all people,
used one of de Gaulle's sayings,
which we twisted around, and said,
"National insurrection
goes hand in hand with liberation."
The Resistance was
a permanent guerrilla war.
It was three guys who intercepted
a German convoy on the road,
threw three grenades, shot two rounds,
and took off in the wilderness.
And this proved to be the only way
of training and keeping fighters.
Do you have the impression
that France today
has been somewhat determined
by the way it was during WWll,
or at least from '39 to '44?
I'm convinced of it.
The proof of this is that
de Gaulle began his life,
his political life,
by a breach of trust.
This breach of trust was rather odd.
I think that if in 1940
we had had the same referendum
we had a few days ago, on April 27,
some 90%%% of the French population
would have voted for Ptain
and a quiet German occupation.
So he was at complete odds with history.
The Free French do not accept this defeat.
The Free French do not consent
to the idea that,
on the pretext of European unification,
their country should be used by the enemy
as a departure point
for attacking other peoples,
who are fighting for the same ideals.
Until the day we met the main player...
Until the day I said,
"I want to see de Gaulle,"
it didn't go so well.
I found myself facing a man
who astounded me,
because he was already
quite simply the king of France.
-But his subjects didn't know him.
-He was a king without subjects.
There are two things
we still haven't fully understood today
concerning the position
of de Gaulle and the Free French.
In England at that time,
there were several foreign governments,
but they were all governments,
whereas de Gaulle
and the Free French were not.
All the other powers here in London
had come with their governments:
The Dutch, the Belgians, the Norwegians.
Their governments in London
were the same as the ones at home.
But this wasn't the case in France,
as Ptain was still in power.
Is that not the worst accusation of Ptain
and the Vichy administration
that one could possibly make?
After all,
France is the only country guilty of this.
Yes, that's true.
At the heart of the debate,
it is true that de Gaulle,
because his means were so limited,
because his army was so small,
and the territories behind him
so secondary,
that he really had no other choice
than to be extremely rigid,
to be a stickler
for the rights he represented.
-His pride became a weapon.
-It's true that his pride, tenacity
and rather inflexible nature
did not make things any easier.
But I do think that politically thinking,
he was right.
Understand that politically, he was right.
Pierre Mends-France, flying officer in '39,
was accused of desertion
by the Vichy regime,
and sentenced
by Clermont military tribunal.
The former prime minister
managed to escape
and arrived in London via Switzerland.
I must admit that what happened in France
had traumatized me greatly.
I had a difficult time getting over the insult
of having been accused of desertion
in face of the enemy.
I felt a need to fight,
to prove that I was a fighter.
When I arrived in London,
my choice was clear.
-Because of the accusation of desertion?
That night, I found myself facing de Gaulle
for the first time.
He questioned me thoroughly
on the state of France,
as he was obviously on the lookout
for information,
and wanted to know
what people were thinking,
how the French felt
towards the Resistance.
I must admit that meeting de Gaulle was
for me an overwhelming thing.
It was a deeply moving event.
And I must say
that our first meeting went very well.
Wasn't he cold? They say
that when people came from France...
-That's true.
-He was happy, but...
No, it's true.
He was a shy man,
and it was this shy nature of his
that was at the root of his cold manner
of welcoming certain people.
He wasn't cold to me, maybe because
we had a long conversation.
What was the general spirit
of the Free French Fighters?
It was... There's no denying
that it was a very unusual army.
It was very limited in number,
because of the situation.
They all arrived feeling, and let's not
mince words, rather humiliated,
because the ruling
French government, Vichy,
had signed the armistice
and abandoned England.
They didn't know how welcomed
they would be in England.
But they were welcomed with open arms.
Every one of them
felt a deep sense of gratitude
for the simple fact
that the English welcomed them.
And then there was a sense of admiration
for the English people,
who were the only ones
to stand up to the storm.
What was unique about the French pilots
was the ever-present debate
on whether or not
we had the right to bomb France.
The Lorraine squadron was a unit
whose planes didn't have
a very large field of action.
So there was, unfortunately,
no way we could bomb Berlin.
But the targets we were given
were often Belgium, Holland or France.
And that was really a cruel dilemma.
It was this preoccupation,
this haunting worry,
which led us to progressively specialize
in a type of bombing
which had the least hitches,
to use the term they employed then.
It was a type of hedgehopping.
We would bomb at very low altitudes,
which was much riskier,
but allowed us greater accuracy.
England victorious?
Half of its regular navy has sunk,
as has a third of its wartime navy.
England has lost Europe.
It is losing the very little influence
it had on the Soviets,
and it is losing its influence on lndia.
England has been defeated.
England's only way out
is to call in the Bolsheviks.
But as a Frenchman,
I'd be afraid they'd stab us in the back.
My father-in-law's philosophy,
the one often shared with the family,
was that the only realistic solution
was for our country to gain time
while Germany got increasingly
involved in their war
against the Russians,
a war which, in his opinion,
would last for years,
and in so doing, we would allow France
to maintain its position in the world,
as well as its empire.
On April 21, 1942,
in an appeal to France, the head of
government stated to his listeners:
I have meditated on
what I am now saying in my village,
in the land of Auvergne
to which I remain very attached.
But the time spent in the privacy
of his own family was limited,
and as the clock struck 8:00,
he had to return to work.
He spent a few more moments
with the locals of the area
who come every morning to chat with him.
I truly believe that the majority
of Frenchmen today
realize that Pierre Laval
did all he could to defend them.
You've seen for yourself,
as you visited the village today,
and interviewed people
who saw Pierre Laval at work,
that not one single person
is willing to accuse Laval
of any outrageous crime.
-You knew my father-in-law well?
We knew each other quite well
during the period of 1936 to 1944.
The last time I saw him was on the eve
of his permanent move to Paris.
I never saw him again.
But in Vichy, I used to see him every day.
We would discuss our problems,
from mineral water to sawmills.
-Did you ever discuss politics?
No, we never discussed politics.
Why did the whole of France
condemn him at that moment?
The whole of France didn't condemn him.
Certainly not.
Sometimes I'd visit him in the castle,
and appeal to him
on behalf of my prisoners.
Would you come here?
-Hello, sir.
These gentlemen are in Chteldon
making a film on the Occupation.
-How old were you when war began?
-Twenty five years old.
-What regiment were you in?
-The 28th Artillery Regiment.
-And what happened?
-We were taken prisoner on June 20.
And then, after some hard times,
as a favor from the President, Mr. Laval,
I had the privilege
of being repatriated to Chteldon.
And I thank both him and the Countess.
In what year did you return?
I returned on October 17, 1941.
It was certainly a big favor
as some had to stay until '45 or longer.
So it was lucky to be taken prisoner
if you were from Chteldon?
We were the privileged few.
Today, Ren Bousquet,
from the Ministry of the lnterior,
picked up the head of the government
in order to make full use
of the 20 minutes from Chteldon to Vichy.
The secretary general made his report,
and the man in charge knows
the decisions he must soon take.
I say that if the Germans
had only had their own Gestapo,
they couldn't have caused
half the harm they did.
Yes, they killed people in the street,
but it was the French police who helped.
If the French police had not helped
seek out the Communists,
not to mention all the other patriots,
the Germans would have made
a stab in the dark,
but they could never have hit as hard
as they hit the French Resistance.
Is that you?
Bring me the latest police reports.
It's now time for the daily meeting
of the head of state
and the head of government.
Every one of France's problems
is thoroughly and openly examined
by the two men.
Marshal Ptain didn't have
a thing in common with the President.
Ptain was a stickler for order.
Laval liked to improvise.
They were complete opposites
of one another.
They had nothing in common.
What inspired him to take Laval
a first time and then a second?
The first time, he didn't have much choice,
as it was basically Laval
who made Ptain head of state.
The second time, he was in what
you could call a rather tragic situation,
where the occupiers
basically forced him to choose Laval.
Marshal Ptain was surrounded by a legion
of right wing and far right wing influences,
whereas my father-in-law, I repeat,
was a man
who could be considered a centrist today.
Laval's policies were pro-German
because he believed in them.
Let me just quickly tell you
something Laval told me.
You, of course,
remember that horrible radio show
during which he declared,
"I hope Germany wins."
I was in Paris. The next day,
I met with my family in Auvergne.
I first stopped in Vichy
because I couldn't understand
how a Frenchman could say such a thing.
I saw Laval the next morning:
"Sir, I am appalled
by what you said yesterday."
"What did I say?"
"That you wanted Germany to win."
He added, "And after?
What did I add afterwards?"
"I was so aghast that I can't remember."
He said, "Win the war against Bolshevism."
I recently read an old issue
of Le Moniteur du Puy-de-Dme,
on which most of the front page
was dedicated to the words of Laval:
"I hope Germany wins."
There were several interpretations
of this statement,
and some people have said
that we must remember that he added,
"I hope they win as I'm involved
in the fight against Communism."
Yet not everyone in France
was Communist,
each one of us has their own ideas,
which is why we fought.
We can't be anti-Communist,
because we're not anti-anything.
It's the same thing as saying,
"And those freemasons,
"they must be sent to the camps."
Or, "So you're a Jew? All the Jews
must be burned in the gas chambers."
During the relatively long time
you spent in Clermont-Ferrand,
did you ever see or hear
of the persecutions that occurred?
No, I didn't see or hear
anything about them.
Are you denying that the Jews,
the Juden, were persecuted?
Do you mean the Jungen, the young,
or the Juden, the Jews?
The Juden.
I had no idea how many Jews
had infiltrated partisan ranks.
In any case, it wasn't the army's job
to take care of the Jews.
An extremely disturbing census was taken
of the Jews
who were either deported or arrested
in the various countries
occupied by Germany,
and, with the exception of France,
the statistics are terrifying.
Of all these Jews, in 1946,
only 5.8%%% survived.
Whereas, if you look at the statistics,
which nobody is denying,
concerning French Jews,
only 5%%% did not survive.
Just take, for example, the army.
Sir, excuse me for interrupting you,
but the statistic you quote,
and which I know well
refers only to
non-denaturalized French Jews.
However, there is another statistic
which is fatefully similar to yours,
which says
that of the non-naturalized Jews,
the foreign Jews
and the denaturalized Jews,
only 5%%% survived,
the same average as in other countries.
So I am asking you
if a statesman has the right,
even if he is a Frenchman
and a great patriot,
to make such decisions
concerning other human beings?
It was a tragic and dramatic situation,
in which one had to make the choice
which would save
the most human lives possible.
I was brought up in a middle-class family.
I went to Pasteur High School,
but for me, being Jewish wasn't an issue,
as we weren't religious.
And when I found out through others
that I was Jewish,
at first, I felt extremely sad
to be rejected by my community
and this country I loved,
not because I was born here,
but because I loved the history.
Then I took an interest in Jews.
I think that discussing statistics
in such a situation is impossible.
The fact that the French government
agreed to turn in French nationals,
and even people to whom France
had traditionally granted asylum,
proves that the government
wasn't worthy of its country,
and of all that we loved
and respected about France.
France is the only country in all Europe
whose government collaborated.
Others signed an armistice or surrendered,
but France was the only country
to have collaborated and voted laws
which were even more racist
than the Nuremberg Laws,
as the French racist criteria
were even more demanding
than the German racist criteria.
It's not something to be proud of.
I understand that history books
only present the positive side,
but historically speaking, that's wrong.
I was arrested for belonging to F.T.P.
I was arrested during an armed campaign.
-When you were 16 years old?
-I was 16, going on 17.
I was arrested by the French police,
and though I wasn't tortured,
I was interrogated for 18 days
in a rather physical manner.
I spent one year in a French prison.
In prison, I saw seven
of my fellow group members gunned down,
by squads of French policemen.
And I was given over to the S.S.,
with the other prison inmates,
on July 2, 1944,
by the French penitentiary administration,
the only one in Europe that stooped so low
as to give the Germans every inmate,
bound hand and foot.
I was deported on the "train of death,"
thus named because it sat for two months
being shot at by the English
who didn't know who was in it.
I escaped on August 25, 1944.
The train arrived in Dachau on the 27th.
That's when I found out
that my parents were there.
I hadn't seen my parents in four years,
and I was told they'd been deported.
France was full of concentration camps:
Lurs, Argles, Rivesaltes,
Fortbarreau, Drancy,
and many others.
Along with the Jews,
there were Spanish Republicans,
Freemasons and Gypsies.
And all these people were delivered
to the Germans upon their request.
The people who had participated in
these persecutions were large in number,
not to mention
those who participated indirectly,
for their own personal reasons,
to be rid of their competitors, etc.
Out of 130 letters of denunciation
at the Jewish Questions Committee,
at least half were written by doctors
who were informing the Gestapo
or the Jewish Questions Committee
against such and so
who was in direct competition with them.
One fine summer day, the Paris police,
under the supervision of the S.S.
and the Gestapo in occupied lands,
organized a day of Jewish arrests
in the capital.
This day was henceforth known
as the Rafle du Vel d'Hiv.
At that time,
the Germans had only planned on arresting
people over 16 years of age.
They weren't going to arrest children.
Yet the Paris police,
which organized July 16
with such enthusiasm that they earned
the praise of the Germans,
began arresting children.
So there were these 4,051 children
sitting in the Vlodrome d'Hiver,
crying and wetting their pants.
They caused the social workers,
mostly Quakers or Protestant women,
very serious problems.
As the Germans hadn't planned
on deporting these children,
they first deported the parents
to camps in France,
hence separating the children
from their parents,
while waiting for a decision.
Eventually, Eichmann...
No, it was Rthke,
Eichmann's representative,
who sent a telegram to Berlin
to ask what should be done
with these children.
While they were waiting,
Laval is reported to have said,
"The children must be deported, too."
This appears in a telegram from Danneker,
who was based in France.
This telegram can be
consulted in the C.D.J.C. archives.
In my opinion, there are two things
that prove it's authentic:
firstly, Pastor Beugner's attempt
to convince Laval to protect the children.
According to Beugner,
when he suggested evacuating
the children, possibly to America,
Laval replied, "It doesn't matter.
I'm preventing the disease."
I'm sorry for interrupting
when it's not my turn, sir.
But if these children had seen what I saw,
if they'd seen these poor people,
men and women,
young and old, people of every age,
piled up in these trucks,
shoved in like human cattle,
one on top of the other.
And I knew where they were going.
I knew. There was only one thing to do.
Had they seen this,
they'd have done what I did.
They'd have taken their handkerchiefs,
said to their employees,
"Excuse me. I'll be back in a minute."
And they'd have gone and cried.
Does anti-Semitism still exist in Auvergne?
-Yes. Still alive and well.
-What makes you say that?
For example, it's common
to refer to someone as a "Yid" or a "Jew."
-In student circles in Clermont?
Do you think the reason behind this
may be the fact
that the Occupation
isn't discussed enough?
In a big family like mine,
I have seven and a half children,
since the advent of modern times,
a father only has one main concern:
earning money.
There's no family conversation,
no family life,
because it takes time and we need money.
How many of these children survived?
-What was the percentage?
-None of the children made it.
I wasn't the first
to lead an inquiry on the subject
of what happened
to the children in the camps.
And I discovered that they were
immediately gassed to death.
My father-in-law was against repression.
Everyone knows that.
Even after his last meeting,
Pierre Laval's day isn't over.
As the Hytel Matignon falls silent,
the president knows
that tomorrow is a new day to start again
and has clearly defined his objectives:
In my opinion, this work is necessary,
and I will not quit
until France's salvation is assured.
So I ask you to understand
and try to support my work.
A visit to Sigmaringen Castle
accompanied by a former volunteer
in the Waffen SS Charlemagne Division.
May 1969
Till 1944,
the royal family lived in this castle.
Under orders from Hitler's regime,
the royal family was given 24 hours
to leave the castle.
The new Vichy administration
was given these quarters.
This is where Marshal Ptain
and Prime Minister Pierre Laval
remained until the surrender of Germany.
I came with two friends. We'd just
returned from Yanovitz, near Prague,
where we'd been taking
advanced anti-tank lessons,
and we had a very precise question
we wanted to ask Marshal Ptain,
as we knew he was here,
about whether or not
the final point we had reached
was logical,
and if we should make the jump
and leave for the Eastern front.
What was this final point?
The final point was wearing
a German uniform,
something neither our education
nor, at a certain point,
the taste for something new
we'd experienced in our youth,
had prepared us for.
We arrived here at the castle
and asked to see Marshal Ptain.
There were guards around,
French policemen.
Our request was quickly turned down.
Marshal Ptain refused to see us.
-How about Laval?
-He wouldn't see us either.
How did you feel about that?
It must have been a big letdown
as you thought
that there would be some complicity
between the people
who preached the policies
and you who put them into practice.
It was a complete
and devastating letdown.
It made us want to leave there
as quickly as possible,
and join our friends in Wilflecken,
head for the Eastern Front,
and get it over with.
We no longer had any illusions.
It is hard for me to speak
on behalf of 7,000 young men,
for there were 7,000 young men
from different walks of life
who fought on the Eastern front
in the Charlemagne Division.
They say that only 300 survived.
I believe it. It's very important.
As I told you, the majority of them
weren't prepared in the least
to wear that uniform,
and specially not
the most extreme uniform.
-The Waffen S.S. uniform?
-Yes, that's right.
So the Frenchmen at Vichy,
upon seeing you in these uniforms,
treated you like you were...
Like we were an embarrassment,
an embarrassment which was
going to require explanation in the future.
But as you know,
in the years that followed,
the Vichy people tried to explain
that it was simply part of a policy,
and that it wasn't really serious.
That astounds me.
You know, when 7,000 young men,
many of whom might have become
the leaders of our nation,
are massacred in another country's
uniform. For me, that's serious.
Here you see a portrait
of Princess Stephanie,
the queen of Portugal.
She was the wife of the Portuguese king
Don Pedro the 5th,
and died at a very young age.
In order to understand
many people's involvement in the war,
you have to think back
to 1934 at the earliest.
There was not
a single high school in France
which was not in a state of agitation.
From 1934 onwards,
there were extremely violent
political fights in high schools.
There were editorials in Gringoire,
Candide, Action Franaise,
in Populaire, and Humanit.
People were constantly encouraged
to fight one another.
Furthermore, soldiers felt they were
the guardians of the right wing.
In February 1934,
which was an important date
in the history
of pre-war political fighting in France,
-how old were you?
-I was almost 13 years old.
Politics already concerned you?
They spoke of revolution.
For people like us,
there really wasn't any choice.
We wouldn't choose the Communists,
so we had to choose
the other revolutionary party,
which was fascism.
There is a lot of discussion
on anti-Semitism.
Don't forget that my entire youth
took place in an atmosphere
which was ripe in violent anti-Semitism.
And we were also
touched by the fact that in February 1934,
people were killed.
It was the beginning of a revolution.
France was divided into two.
Did the fear of Communism play
a major role in your political awakening?
There was one event
which happened abroad,
but was of extreme importance.
While one generation grew up
with the Algerian war
and was interested in it,
we were most interested
in the war in Spain.
How could a boy of my age,
raised in the environment
in which I was raised,
be anything other than
a devoted anti-Communist,
when all the papers that I read at the time
were constantly running photos
of nuns who had been gunned down,
of Carmelites who'd been unearthed,
of desecrated tombstones and so forth?
This was...
-This was your background.
-Yes, exactly. Exactly.
As far as fascism was concerned,
how did it strike you,
intellectually speaking?
Did you know what it was all about?
I must admit that I had a vague idea.
For us, it was a way
of rebelling against our families.
The first images we saw of Nuremberg
were like a new religion.
We were astounded. I can honestly say
that it was like a mass to us.
There is a religious element
to every political ideology.
And if you aren't impressed
by the decorum,
especially the youth...
The chairs, covered in leather,
carry the Hohenzollern emblem,
with the motto of the Hohenzollern:
"Nihil sine Deo,"
in English, "Nothing without God."
This room was used by the royal family
as a dining room till 1944.
We are now reaching the corridor.
Here you can see
several magnificent miniatures,
representing the members
of the royal family.
At one point, I was contacted
by some real Resistance fighters.
At that time, they were looking
for people who wanted to fight.
It's true, I have no excuse.
I had several opportunities
to join the active Resistance.
My idea at the time, the idea of my youth,
was that only two ideologies existed
which could change the world.
One which had already changed
the world, Marxism,
and the other,
which was National Socialism.
Does it bother you
if we say that, roughly speaking,
in 1941 you were a young Fascist?
No, it's true.
You were on the side
that wasn't at risk of any persecution.
Were you particularly proud
of being on that side,
seeing how France was at the time?
It's good that you bring up
the problem of persecution.
It was unavoidable, and it is something
I consider very important.
I won't pretend that I didn't know. I knew.
I knew they were arresting Jews.
That's true.
But I can assure you
that I never imagined that it ended in...
-In Auschwitz?
You thought it simply meant
they were outcast from society?
I knew that they were sent to camps.
But at that time,
there were many prisoners.
There were 2,000,000
French prisoners of war in Germany.
Between a political prisoner
and a prisoner of war,
for me, I didn't think
there was any difference.
Let's come out and say it.
If France wants to remain
a major European and world player,
if France wants to remain
worthy of Europe,
we must join the fight against Bolshevism.
It's our only solution.
Both occupied and non-occupied zones
plan to fight Bolshevism.
Defeating Bolshevism will unite Europe.
There were recruitment offices
across France.
We must not try to deny
that decrees were signed.
I know that today
people are disgusted by us.
The policy of the Vichy people,
who incidentally have all joined
majority groups since the Liberation,
is to explain the situation by saying that
extreme Gaullism and
extreme Communism were dangerous,
and so were we,
we, the fans of collaboration,
the bloodthirsty.
When did you realize
the reality of the German military?
For me, the reality lay
in the officer schools of the Waffen S.S.
It was brand new, very unique,
there was a mythology to it.
It made us smile,
and at the same time we admired them.
With our Latin background,
we discovered German mythology,
oaths taken between chains,
definitions like
"My honor is called fidelity,"
and other things which fascinated us.
Once a Frenchman, always a Frenchman,
even when faced with such convictions.
When the Germans realized this,
they wouldn't take us seriously.
Did you get along with the Germans?
What did you call them?
I don't know one single Frenchman
from the Charlemagne Division
who didn't...
Relations were hostile?
Yes. Most of us called Hitler "Big Julius."
That was typical of the French.
They called him "Big Julius."
Was the foreign Waffen S.S.
a European army?
We played a part,
if you allow me to use the word,
in the defeat.
And that makes you realize
that a European army only really existed
in people's imaginations.
All I know about the defeat
is that the Germans had reserved us
a choice spot
when the Eastern front crumbled,
when Rokossovski and Joukov divided up
the German border
into several different pieces.
When this all occurred,
the Germans rushed, I do mean rushed,
the foreign Waffen S.S. troops
into these areas.
I strongly suspect
that they were already trying
to get rid of something
that made them look bad,
that might hinder future negotiations.
Did you have any contact
with the German people?
Yes, of course, and that is
one of my strongest memories of the time.
As we were going to face the Russians,
we met the exodus of refugees.
It was worse than in 1940.
All of Eastern Prussia
and part of Pomerania
were trying to take refuge
in central Germany.
What would they say to you?
What would they say to us?
They offered us their daughters.
They preferred to give them to us
than see them raped by the Russians.
We saw the Germans withdrawing,
and we were there
to protect their withdrawal.
It was something new in history,
and it was quite funny.
It was one of the things
that made us laugh,
although the threat of the Russians
made it somewhat less funny.
They were still giving out medals.
Were you awarded anything?
What? An iron cross?
Yes, first and second class.
Bearing in mind
what you learned in the last war,
the results of National Socialism,
which, as you explained,
had a certain appeal or charm about it
at one point in your life,
bearing this in mind,
would you change
the choices made at that time?
Yes, of course.
I think only an idiot would refuse
to change their opinion.
But I can only speak for myself.
I have changed, but that's me.
Young people have asked me
what I think about their commitment.
It's always interesting, fascinating,
because commitment
always brings on change,
but sometimes this change
has dramatic consequences.
So I advise people to be cautious.
Are you a liberal?
Are you afraid of ideologies?
A bit.
Actually, very much.
Personally, I was not physically affected
by the occupation.
They didn't kill my wife or my children.
My friend Menut obviously feels
very differently.
Not only did they take Menut's wife,
they also tortured her,
and tore off her nipples.
They even burned her with a branding iron.
So Menut's state of mind is
completely different.
Her back was raw with whip marks.
-How did you find out?
-I was told by Mrs. Michelin
who was in the same cell as my wife.
I believe her name was Mrs. Jean Michelin.
There was also Mrs. Martineau
from Volvic.
One of them helped me
identify the body, saying,
"I'm sure those are her slippers,
"I made them for her
before they shot her to death."
-You didn't recognize her at first?
They had buried her without...
Without a coffin.
She was still alive when they buried her.
She was in a coma from being whipped
when they took her,
and nobody had the decency
to finish her off.
They kicked her and punched her.
It was one of the executioners himself
who told me
that he shoved a broomstick up her vagina.
Some people blamed us, others didn't.
It depended on whether or not their
father or son had died during the war,
or been taken prisoner in Germany.
Those people were obviously angry at us.
They thought we mistreated
the prisoners in Germany.
But that wasn't true.
But that's what they said.
I was taken prisoner by the Maquis
and in October 1944,
I was taken to Clermont-Ferrand
to be interned
in a camp near the station.
I got off the train at 10:00 a.m.,
and as I was injured,
I'd been tied to my stretcher.
I stayed like that all day on the platform.
This is the station.
This is the main building.
This is the platform,
and the camp was across from it.
That evening, some nurses fetched me
with a wheelbarrow.
During the day, many civilians came
and stared at me lying there.
Some of them spit on me.
Then there were others
who seemed to take pity on my state.
What were you thinking?
How did you feel lying there
on the platform in Clermont station?
I felt it wasn't very decent
of the people there.
It was disgusting, actually.
They should have realized
that we could have done the same
to their father or son. Then what?
So you were tied up?
Yes, and I was unable to move.
It was a shame, as I knew Clermont
like the back of my hand,
and I could have hidden.
I had a girlfriend in Saint-Csaire.
And that's where you would have hidden?
In any case, she was a very nice girl,
who wasn't against the Germans
and was pretty to boot.
The beauty who slept
with the king of Prussia,
With the king of Prussia,
Had her hairshaved clean off,
Her hairshaved clean off.
Her weakness for "Ich liebe dich,"
For "Ich liebe dich,"
Has cost her the price of a wig,
The price of a wig.
The sans-culottes
and the Phrygian caps,
The Phrygian caps,
Handed their hair
over to a dog barber,
To a dog barber.
I ought to have tried
to save her mane,
To save her mane.
I should have spoken out
for herponytail,
For herponytail.
It was in August 1944.
I had taken holidays in August
and was visiting my mother,
when a car full of civilians pulled up.
They'd come to get me.
There were flags everywhere
and they all carried machine guns.
I hadn't realized what was up,
as Chteaugu is a quiet village,
but when I arrived in Clermont,
I saw that everyone was abuzz.
People were being arrested
left, right, and center.
I was locked up in a cell
underneath The Poterne,
a public square in Clermont-Ferrand.
There were women
wearing their nightgowns,
or their pyjamas,
as they'd been taken in the night.
I didn't know why they'd taken me.
I had really no idea.
We had to stand trial.
Some women came back
from such trials with their heads shaved.
Those were the girls
who dated the Germans.
But, for me, it was...
-You didn't date the Germans?
What were you accused of?
I spent an entire month
in the Clermont-Ferrand prison,
before being told why I was there.
On several occasions,
I asked different officers
if they knew
why I had been placed in prison.
When I told them my name,
none understood why I was there.
They told me it might be a mistake,
that I should be patient.
No doubt, they'll let you go.
Now many of them belonged
to the French Resistance army.
Eventually, I found out I'd been jailed
for denouncing a captain,
a friend of mine.
Actually, it was his wife
who was my friend.
They were also locals, about my age.
The Chamalire Gestapo had intercepted
a denunciation letter,
and that denunciation was the reason
I had been arrested.
So you weren't actually guilty?
No, I wasn't.
Naturally, I denied it.
They came to get me at the prison,
they took me to a building on Lille Square,
and a certain individual
removed all my clothes,
and put me in a bathtub
that was filled with water.
I tried to hold on,
but I was handcuffed from behind.
I turned my head around,
but he punched me on the chin,
So I sank to the bottom of the bathtub.
As I was underwater, I was forced to drink.
They realized
that I was starting to lose strength,
so he grabbed me by the hair,
pulled me out of the water,
stuck two fingers down my throat,
made me throw up,
and asked me if I confessed.
But I wasn't guilty.
And I regretted I hadn't done anything.
It was so horrible.
But who were these people?
You talk about "they" and "he."
Do you think they were policemen
who had worked for another regime?
I don't know.
-Don't you live in Clermont?
-I never saw these people again.
I think they were people
who got involved in the whole thing
with the sole purpose
of killing other people.
During the occupation,
were you for or against Marshal Ptain?
I supported him.
I wasn't a politician or anything,
I was just in favor of Ptain.
So how did this happen to you?
A friend was denounced to the Gestapo.
The letter was intercepted
by the Chamalire Police.
Do you know
who might have imitated your writing?
It was his wife.
-His wife did?
-She was the one who denounced you?
-Excuse me.
-Go ahead.
Now we'll have some privacy.
Do you remember where we stopped off?
I do. So then I asked the captain...
I asked him...
I don't know.
I had to stand trial.
Captain Mury was the first witness.
The judge even said to him,
"I hear your wife enjoys
copying her friends' writing."
He replied, "Sometimes,
but that means nothing.
"And furthermore,
"the accused woman is using this
to try to make my wife look guilty."
And when Mrs. Mury took the stand,
he asked her the same question.
She replied, "Never."
The judge said, "But it's been confirmed."
She turned to me,
thinking I was the one who'd confirmed it,
and said, "What a memory she has."
The judge slammed his fist down
and said, "It wasn't her.
"It was your husband who said it."
And then she began to falter,
saying she only copied
very pretty handwriting.
A murmur passed through the entire court.
There were people there on both sides,
both for and against me,
but they all felt sure
the judge would ask for further inquiry
into how well
she could imitate handwriting.
But he didn't.
And I was sentenced to 15 years.
When you say you had both friends
and enemies in the courtroom,
were these friends and enemies
by a certain attitude
under the occupation or not?
No, no...
Were your enemies people who claimed
to be Resistance fighters?
Exactly. They weren't
personal enemies or anything.
I supported Marshal Ptain,
and they didn't. Or so I think.
When you were brought
to the room with the bathtub,
did you ever think that before,
at the time when
you generally agreed with the regime,
the same thing happened to the others?
I don't know. I have no idea.
-You say that you were for Ptain.
Was this because you were influenced
by Catholic beliefs?
-Why was it then?
-Maybe it was...
-Please try to remember.
-Maybe it was because of his ideas.
-Which ideas?
His ideas on the future of France.
I thought he was a great man.
-Do you still think so?
You defended many people
accused by those in power at the time,
and at the Liberation, you defended
those accused by the new order.
It might seem odd to the uninformed.
As lawyers,
our job is to defend the accused,
but when politics change,
the accused change too,
depending on which side of the fence
you're on. It was a brutal period.
In the three or four days
after the liberation of Clermont,
out of the 1,200 people arrested,
only 600 were put in prison.
You can imagine
what happened to the other 600.
And those who had trials
then received a very summary justice,
which might as well have been
dispensed with,
considering the atrocious things
being punished.
I attended the trial of three militiamen
who admitted to having arrested
three Resistants,
ripped out their eyes, put bugs
in the holes and sewn up their pupils.
In these cases,
you wonder if a trial is necessary.
It may have been better to shoot them
immediately. Many were shot.
But then, later,
many legal errors were also made, in that,
in a wave of Liberation euphoria,
many innocent people were executed.
However, after a month and a half or so,
they set up official courts,
with a professional judge presiding,
accompanied by a jury,
like the Crown Court.
And I don't think
any further legal errors were made,
if you accept the death penalty
for someone
who denounced a Frenchman
who was taken away and never returned.
Mr. d'Astier,
National Liberation Movement.
May the traitors' heads roll,
because that is justice.
May the property of collaborators,
banks and corporations
who betrayed us be seized,
because that is justice.
Mr. Guyot, Communist Party.
In order for France to be liberated,
every inch of our motherland
must be cleansed
of every Boche and every traitor.
Anthony Eden,
in this interview, generally speaking,
your attitude towards Marshal Ptain
has been rather charitable.
Do you think the sentence
he was given at the Liberation was unfair?
It is not my place to judge whether or not
people's anger was justified.
We haven't been through it,
so we cannot say.
Personally, I was not shocked
when General de Gaulle said,
"We must pay tribute
to the Marshal of Verdun."
After all, it's a part of France's history,
whether we like it or not.
Sectarianism can't go on forever.
It's not because a man is killed
that the problem will be solved.
They must not be allowed to run free
or to be involved in politics,
but we must not turn them into
possible future heroes.
That's my opinion, but not many Resistants
would agree with it.
How did you arrive at this stage
in which you reject sectarianism?
How do you explain the change of heart?
I know it seems like a sudden change,
but it was because I was scared.
I was scared the whole time.
After the self-sacrificing heroes,
like General Massu,
or the man who... I could never
have committed suicide. I love life.
Born February 6, 1900
Died June 12, 1969
French Resistance Fighter
Military Cross 1939-45
Were you denounced?
Yes, someone denounced me.
I think I know who it was, but...
If he hadn't been denounced,
no one would've found him.
You make me laugh with your questions!
The Krauts didn't denounce -
bad French people did.
Were you ever tempted to seek revenge?
What good would it do?
It is natural that it would be tempting.
When I first came back,
I may have been tempted.
But then I felt it wasn't worth it.
I remember one day at Clermont Police HQ,
a guy said to me, "Do you want
to get revenge? I know who it was.
"If you want revenge,
the boys and I will get him for you,
"but we'll never tell you his name."
I said, "I already know who did it."
I told him the name.
He asked, "Who told you?"
"Nobody," I replied. "I just figured it out.
"So don't bother taking revenge."
What is it like nowadays,
for someone like you, to have neighbors
in the village or surrounding areas,
who were informers?
How can you live with that?
Do you forget it?
It's something you can't forget.
-So what can you do?
This is the lron Cross.
This is the Cross of Merit, with a sword.
This is another one,
the Cross of Merit second class.
It was for hand-to-hand combat.
This was for serving in the East.
We call it "the frozen meat medal,"
and this medal was for being loyal
during four years of war.
I see, a medal for loyalty.
Yes, four years of war.
I'm sure that you're aware that as far as
World War Il medals are concerned,
there are many people in Germany
who refuse to wear them,
because they were awarded
by the Nazi state.
Yet you don't hesitate
in wearing them in dress costume.
Yes, some people feel uncomfortable.
But if you look at these people,
you see they're generally
men who never fought,
men who weren't soldiers,
who didn't deserve any medals.
You think that they don't wear them
simply because they have none?
That's right.
Nowadays, they're redistributing medals.
What's the difference
between a medal then and a medal now?
"The worm was in the fruit,"
as we say here in Bavaria.
We're not stupider than anyone else,
and yet we lost the war.
Nowadays we have to wonder
if we're not better off like this.
After all, if we had won,
Hitler may have continued,
and where would that leave us today?
Perhaps we'd be occupying
some country in Africa or America.
As I said, I was on a motorcycle mission.
In my pocket, I had a Beretta pistol
my friend Bessoux had given me.
I don't think it was a gift,
he just wanted to get rid of it.
He was afraid.
So there I am with a gun in my pocket,
when, where the road bends
toward Ravin Blanc,
all of a sudden, what do I see?
The Germans had passed me,
and there is this old Boche,
a doddering pale old man,
shaking like a leaf, in need of a haircut,
in a tattered uniform,
whose motorcycle had broken down.
So he tells me to pull over
by making signs like these.
There he is, only seven feet away,
and there I am, a gun in my pocket.
I wanted to shoot one myself
before it ended.
So I look at him closely. What do I see?
There he is,
dolman buttoned up to the neck,
Iooking so fat
that he might actually explode.
I felt that killing a pig
wasn't very challenging.
So I let the whole thing drop.
He started chatting,
but I don't understand a word of German.
I said goodbye and took off.
I don't know what became of him.
That's what I wanted to tell you.
Had you killed him,
would you feel remorse?
I would feel remorse,
and you must not forget that,
even if I didn't kill him,
I did think about killing him.