Oldest Allies, Guarded Friends: The United States and France since 1940

By Charles G. Cogan | Go to book overview
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soldier in charge of a military operation having nothing to do with their political destiny. But subsequently, in quite another tone, he addressed himself to the French nation. He urged that nation to "carry out his orders." He declared that "in the administration, everyone will continue to fulfill his functions unless contrary instructions are received"; that once France was liberated, "the French themselves would choose their representatives and their government." In short, he appeared to be taking charge of our country even though he was merely an Allied general entitled to command troops but not in the least qualified to intervene in the country's government. . . . In this factum, not a word of the French authority which for years had aroused and directed the war effort of our people and which had done Eisenhower the honor of placing under his command a great part of the French Army. 121

The end of the war in 1945 saw France less damaged materially than, for example, Poland, but more damaged on the psychological plane. As French Deputy Edouard Frédéric Dupont stated: "Among countries like Poland and Belgium, France suffered the least from the German occupation. And it was Marshal PV00E9tain who gained us that."122

For not having succeeded in surmounting its moral dilemma in 1940, France was, to borrow the phrase of François Furet, "yearning for expiation" (en mal d' expiation). Though Weygand refused to "dishonor" the French Army and instead put the blame on the politicians of the Third Republic, it was not surprising that the army--which was at the heart of this defeat and of this division of French society, which made impossible a "solution in unity" in 1940-- became the instrument of expiation in the postwar period.

Charles de Gaulle, Discours et Messages ( Geneva: Editions Edito-Service, 1970), 2: 92 (address at the Hôtel de Ville, Paris, August 25, 1944).
Letter from President Franklin Roosevelt to Joseph Clark Baldwin of the House of Representatives, July 19, 1944, shortly after the visit of Charles de Gaulle to Washington. Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library (FDRL), Official File (OF), Box 2, France 1944-45. De Gaulle learned of this letter afterward, when an anonymous person sent him a photocopy. Charles de Gaulle, The Complete War Memoirs of Charles de Gaulle, vol. 2, Unity, 1942- 1944, trans. Richard Howard ( New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964), 576.
Excerpt of an editorial sent to President Roosevelt by New York lawyer James N. Gerard on June 15, 1944, with the note: "Enclosed is an excellent editorial from the Shreveport "Times" of June 12, '44 about that cussed de Gaulle." FDRL, President's Secretary's File (PSF), Box 31, France: de Gaulle, 1944-45.
The New York Times Book Review, November 11, 1990, 58.
De Gaulle, War Memoirs, 2: 545.
Allied Military Government in the Occupied Territories.
Stanley Hoffmann, "The Man Who Would Be France," The New Republic, December 17, 1990, 33.


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