Marshal Petain & The Orleans
Regime, Part Six by Raymond Speer
says: what if Marshall Petain continued the fight from Orleans? muses
Raymond Speer. Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not
necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
|Passage to Scotland
||The Year 1941
On March 6th,Charles
de Gaule read the intelligence report that Petain through Laval had
organized a separate peace with Germany.
"I had known of the Marshal's proclivities through ordinary conversation,"
de Gaulle statted later. "As soon as August of 1940, Petain had spoken of
calling a truce with the Germans and allowing them to evacuate peacefully
from France. His fellow generals all thought that
such an offer would encourage a German speculation that we were close to
surrender and he went silent, not referring to the matter again."
Another ominous indication was the Marshal's preference for Pierre Laval.
Laval had been notorious for offering a "Czechoslovakia" to Mussolini.
When he had been foreign minister, Laval and a like minded British minister
had planned to arrange Ethiopia's surrender to Italy when Italy invaded it.
At that time, majorities in both the legislatures of Paris and London
rejected that solution and the ministers who had fashioned it.
Pierre Laval remained in the National Assembly but was not appointed to any
office and seemed to have no expectation of such a recall to responsibility.
Laval gave speeches for anti-Semetic organizations which were surprised that
an ex-Premier such as Laval had nothing better to do than to respond to
their lecture invitations.
Since de Gaulle had made Petain the foremost representative of French
resistance, the old man had insisted on a diplomatic passport for Laval.
"Let him try to get our Prisoners of War out of German detention,"
insisted Petain. "If Laval thinks he might do that, let him try."
Laval had reported nothing in the reports which de Gaulle had seen, but the
man had been busy contacting the enemy throughout Europe. Now that
Churchill had appraised de Gaulle of Petain's full bargain, the Frenchman
knew it was true instinctively.
On March 14th,Marshal
Henri Phillippe Petain departed from Marsailles after a four day visit to
Provence to raise local morale.
Fortunate for his pilots, Petain was in his groggy
condition (as he usually was after meeting lots of strangers in unfamiliar
locations) and failed to notice that his valet and barber were not the
servants waiting for him aboard his airplane. Had he inquired (which he
never did), Petain would have found that one of the men in the front cabin
was an Englishman.
On March 15, Pierre Laval woke in his comfortable hotel suite, planning for
an 11 AM appointment with the Premier. Instead an Army captain leading six
other soldiers opened his door at 9 AM and ordered him to dress. When Laval
reached for the phone, he found that had aleady been unhooked.
"Where is the Premier?" asked Laval.
The young officer told him: "Marshal Petain is on vacation."
At that time, a very grumpy Marshal of the French Army was angrily throwing
dishes and cups at the servants trying to serve him breakfast.
"Traitors, traitors, traitors," Petain shouted at the
domestic staff of a Scots duke, who had been given a most unhappy guest.
The problem was that Henri Phillippe Petain had not been removed from his
office as the Premier of the Third Republic. So there would have to be a
hearing on that issue.
says this is my sixth installment in my Marshal Petain & The Orleans
Other Contemporary Stories
Raymond Speer, Guest Historian of
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