Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Vichy Francois

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Vichy Francois

Article excerpt

Writing in the American Spectator (Feb. 1995), Roger Kaplan, editor of Freedom Review, suggests that in soon-to-retire president Francois Mitterand, "this immensely complex, shrewd man, this man of perverse loyalties as well as the most breathtaking selfishness," the French may well have seen "a true reflection of themselves."

Francois Mitterrand was a fascist in his youth. Evolving philosophically (or at least politically), the man who represents the French Left remained on friendly terms with some of the worst numbers in the Vichy regime of Marshal Petain. Moreover, as president of the Republic, he had aided and abetted the National Front of Jean-Marie Le Pen, actively helping these Jew-and America-hating Saddamophiles go from one to 15 (20 in some regions) percent in the polls--not the opinion polls, mind you, the votes of French citizens. . . .

The scandal that hit Paris last August was provoked by Pierre Pean's Une Jeunesse Francaise, a meticulously researched book on Mitterand's career in the 1930s and '40s. The shock was not so much in the broad fact of pation in the Vichy regime that ran France under the German shadow from the summer of 1940 until the summer 1944. That was already known. Rather, it was in the details: the sincerity with which he had engaged himself, the enduring loyalties that he formed while there. What was intolerable to those who for years had bought Mitterrand's own rationale-Vichy was a cover for Resistance work-was the feeling of having been had. …

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