Vichy's attempt to mobilise Christian youth in the service of the State had proved a failure. The Church missed a golden opportunity for 're- Christianisation' among the estimated million young people 85 in its youth movements and the further three-quarters of a million that through the Compagnons de France, the Chantiers de la Jeunesse, Uriage and similar institutions came indirectly under Christian influence. Christian youth leaders who had been fired with enthusiasm in 1940 were now dispersed: they had been dismissed, had resigned, had been deported, had defected to de Gaulle or Giraud, or joined the Maquis. Young people, Christian or no, had rejected the regime, and chosen to disobey the Church if they thought fit. So long as the Germans occupied France, the course of events was ineluctable. In their battle for the hearts and minds of the young Vichy, the Church and the Germans had suffered a defeat.
On the question of forced labour in Germany, to which we now turn, the Hierarchy did not show itself so resolute.
Unless otherwise stated the place of publication is Paris.
|★ Including 20,000 'sympathisants' (associate members).|