members were put into uniform and underwent a specially designed civic education programme. The collaborationist press supported these moves. Pierre Vitrac, in Les Nouveaux Temps ( 25 April 1943) wrote: 'We demand [such] a national, energetic organisation'. 50 Georges Simond, in L'Effort ( 11 May 1943), dubbed all other youth movements a failure, a charge emphatically repudiated in La Croix ( 21 May 1943). As late as October 1943 the Semaine religieuse of Arras thought it necessary to inveigh against 'Messieurs les unificateurs présomptifs'--'these escapees from, and ghosts of marxism and Freemasonry, partisans of co-education, promiscuity, naturism and the permanent wearing of shorts',s 51 reminiscent of the Front Populaire.
In the end, the Church won. It was of course a struggle of much wider significance. A national youth movement would have been another move towards Fascism, and acquiescence in a Germandominated Europe, in which youth would have been indoctrinated with the Nazi creed. The ever-weakening forces of moderation at Vichy would have been overwhelmed. If the Church was intent on preserving its own narrow sectarian interests, it also stood, as leaders of its movements within it, and of many of those of the Compagnons de France outside it, well realised, for Christian ideals that would have been irrevocably compromised. The fate of Christian youth movements in Germany, a first step along the road to a 'Nazi Christianity' or paganism, was a salutary example of what could happen in France. As Pastor Boegner testified at Pétain's trial, 'We wished to have complete freedom to continue our task of education protected from the evil-sounding theories that purported to be covered by the term "Révolution Nationale", and our complete freedom to continue to see trained [...] a resisting youth that [...] showed what it was capable of on the eve of the Liberation'. 52
'Resisting youth' as an aim for the Church may well be a hyperbole.
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