Introduction Le Cercle JEAN BASTIEN-THIRY remercie vivement DANIELLE BORGONOVO et NIGEL JONES pour l'aide précieuse qu'ils ont apportée pour la traduction en anglais de la Déclaration de Jean Bastien-Thiry.
« Before History, before our fellow citizens and before our children, we proclaim our innocence, for we have only put into practice the great and eternal law of solidarity between men. »
With this sentence, Colonel Jean Bastien-Thiry ended the Statement he had wanted to deliver before his judges on February 2nd,1963, five days after the opening of the trial "Petit-Clamart" trial. In this long statement, he did not try to escape his sentence. His only purpose was to make his fellow citizens understand the motives for his action. Without any wish for leniency, and with a prophetic clear-sightedness, he explained the reasons why he considered that "it [was] not wise, it [was] not moral, it [was] not legal", that the person against whom he had carried out an action "should remain for too long a time the leader of France." From that moment the defendant was no longer Bastien-Thiry, it was de Gaulle.
Le Cercle JEAN BASTIEN-THIRY remercie vivement DANIELLE BORGONOVO et NIGEL JONES pour l'aide précieuse qu'ils ont apportée pour la traduction en anglais de la Déclaration de Jean Bastien-Thiry.
For this reason, he would not be forgiven. He was sentenced to death by the Military Court of Justice, and he was denied a presidential pardon.
Jean Bastien-Thiry freely acted according to the dictates of his conscience. He went peacefully to his death. As Mr. Le Coroller, who attended the execution, testified: "After he was killed, after the salvo had rent the lightening dawn, his face was that of a child, sweet and generous."
STATEMENT OF COLONEL BASTIEN-THIRY - 2nd FEBRUARY, 1963
The action for which we appear before you today is of an exceptional nature, and we want you to believe that we decided to undertake this action for equally exceptional reasons. We are neither fascists nor factious but Patriots, of French extraction or French at heart and we were led to this bar through the misfortunes of our homeland. I am the leader of the men sitting here. I accept, on this account, all my responsibilities and this is why I shall speak in my companions’ name and for a longer time than they did.
The grounds for our action are linked to the consequences of the horrifying human and national tragedy which, following events which have taken place in Algeria for nearly five years did, and still do, put at risk daily the very life and possessions of a great number of French people.
The grounds for our action are also linked, as a consequence, to the lethal danger in our opinion, that our country is exposed to because of the present régime. As a result of the conditions in which was obtained what one dared call “the settlement of the Algerian problem”, laws and principles which are at the foundation of our national life have been challenged. Nations can die and, both in recent and remote times, some nations ceased to exist as such. The danger our country is at the moment exposed to, does not come from a risk of physical or material destruction. It is deeper and more subtle, for it can lead to the destruction of human, moral, and spiritual values which make up our national heritage.
This heritage is altogether Greek, Latin, Occidental, and Christian and is founded on a precise conception of the freedom and dignity of men and communities, and on the application of fundamental principles which are universal. They are the quest and maintenance of justice, respect for truth and for the given word, and finally fraternal solidarity between men belonging to the same national community. We believe that these principles cannot be transgressed with complete cynicism and impunity without jeopardizing, in her spirit and soul, the whole nation ; without exposing the nation to various forms of modern materialism, communist totalitarianism being its most obvious form, for this system denies all human freedoms, prevents human beings and communities from freely flourishing, and reduces them to simple elements, within the framework and in the service of a perverse and false doctrine.
We do believe it necessary, at the beginning of this statement, to remind you briefly of the tragedy that has shaken Algeria for the past five years. This tragedy does not belong to the past. It is engraved today in the hearts and flesh of millions of human beings.
Let us remember that public opinion and the French Army had been shaken by months of unrest and doubts in the months preceding the May/June 1958 events. A change in the political system was made possible through the attitude of the Army, and was carried out in Paris. It was then that the man who personified the new political régime made formal promises, before the French nation, before the French Army, and before the different communities in Algeria. These oaths were solemnly taken in Oran, Mostaganem, Bône, and in other places on Algerian soil and they proclaimed that Algeria would remain French land, and that all its inhabitants would become fully-fledged French citizens. These promises, no one had to make them, these oaths, no one had to take them, but from the moment they were made by a newly invested Head of Government, they represented a political programme. Oaths taken by a superior officer in uniform in front of other officers and soldiers. It was a matter of honour, of intellectual decency, and of mere good faith to do everything humanly possible to honour these promises and to keep these oaths.
At that time, these promises involved a whole policy which was from that moment implemented by the French Army and the French government in Algeria. They meant the involvement by our side, in their lives or in their deaths, of thousands of French-Moslem citizens who, through the very words of the newly invested Head of State, were encouraged to believe in France and to commit themselves to her side.
At that time, what these promises meant to the French Army and to a great number of French people was a realistic political programme, which accorded with the moral and material interests of all Algerian inhabitants. It also accorded with our country’s higher and strategic interests. Algeria had been French land for over a hundred and thirty years. The life led together for so long on this land by diverse communities, the blood they shed together on battlefields, had created strong ties between them, which could have, very likely, become unshakeable.
Algerian nationalism existed only in very limited spheres, among a minority of terrorists and political agitators. The masses were not influenced by this nationalism. It would have been easy, in all probability, to rally these masses to France permanently, as long as France had proved herself to be strong, united and generous. This required firm and consistent policies from Paris, working in various ways to convince Moslems that their own moral and material interest was to remain French citizens, and leading them slowly to confirm freely their French choice. These Moslems had a lot more to expect from a real and individual emancipation than from a so-called collective and national liberation, the disastrous consequences of which we can all witness today.
This is why we genuinely supported French Algeria, because we considered that this was a realistic as well as a beneficial answer for all. But we did agree that different solutions existed regarding the future of Algeria, solutions which could have been honestly and sincerely examined. But, the absolute necessity, whatever solution was eventually accepted , and on pain of treason and infamy, was that once a solution had eventually been chosen, the political régime answered for the life, freedom, and possessions of millions of French citizens, including Moslems, living in Algeria.
It became obvious, from the end of 1958, through private talks, and at the beginning of 1959 in the course of a public statement, that the newly invested Head of State had decided to call into question and break the commitments and promises which had been solemnly made, invalidating both the human and political programme he had officially adopted in mid-1958. During this very short space of time, no major national or international event occurred, which could have been taken as an excuse to reconsider these commitments. On the contrary, at the time of the referendum in November 1958, a massive majority of French people and of the communities living in Algeria had come down in favour of the principle of Algeria as French land. The new Constitution, which has not been reviewed since, with respect to these particular points, confirmed the adherence of the French Departments in Algeria and the Sahara to the French nation. It held the President of the French Republic responsible for the sovereignty of France’s entire territory, and explicitly stated (Article 89) that no procedure detrimental to this sovereignty could be undertaken.
Furthermore, no Western nation or ally [of France] would have denied our fully justified rights and responsibilities in Algeria. Should one of them have done so, the actual experience and the example given by some smaller Western nations, made it obvious that it would still have been possible, even against the will of some allied nations, to maintain our rights and responsibilities in Africa.
Why then, after having made these commitments, did the régime call them into question again so casually and with such cynicism? Our friends’ conviction, strengthened by all the events that followed, is that these promises made in June 1958, the breaking of which has been responsible for so much blood and tears, which has involved such great tragedies and so many bereavements, [these promises] were merely political manipulation. They were not in the least a reflection of the real intentions of the Head of State, nor did they express his deep feelings. In June 1958, the current Head of State came back to power in a most unexpected way, after having vainly hoped for it for twelve years. This régime was still fragile and directly subordinated to those who, in Algiers, had taken the oath of “Algérie Française”. They had to be provided with proof of goodwill, to enable the new Head of State to keep and strengthen his power which he valued above all things, and believed he had been so unjustly denied for such a long period of time.
This, in our opinion, is a key point and it carries in its roots all the following events. In making, for tactical reasons, promises which he did not intend to honour, the current Head of State made it obvious that he was determined to exercise his power in spite and against everything in using the most cynical and morally the most reprehensible ways and means. I did find recently in a weekly magazine, amongst a few “Gaullist good words”, the following sentence: “As a politician never believes what he says, he is all the more surprised when his word is taken seriously”.
Gentlemen, all the Patriots who preceded us before you, or before other Courts of Justice, and especially General Salan, rightly labelled the breach of these promises of 1958. The outcome was a betrayal which constitutes one of the greatest and possibly the greatest imposture in the History of France. From 1959, this breaking of promises was to materialize through cleverly staged statements and initiatives. It constitutes a moral and political fraud which appears to be without precedent. Its consequences have been together huge and tragic, and these consequences are far from being exhausted today.
From the moment a policy was based on denial and betrayal, it became impossible to stop lying and betraying. In the first place, the conditions set forth in September 1959 for self-determination were not honoured in the least. Then, statements were made about finding the most “French” solution in Algeria, which the Head of State declared he was in favour of in January 1960. We were also told that never would Algeria be handed over to the FLN(1), which would lead to total chaos and throat-slitting. We were told that never would the FLN flag fly over Algiers. We were also told that never would the Government negotiate with the FLN only. Apparently, all these statements were given to mislead and disarm successive opponents and to weaken their opposition.
What was then, in the Head of State’s mind, the real purpose of this policy? A policy led in such a shameful way, and the bad results of which we can all take note of today. It seems that it was to lead Algeria to become an independent and friendly State taking advantage of historical transformations, which, so we were told, were inevitable as well as irreversible. And finally, the current Head of State wanted to initiate and implement these transformations, for he thought he was the only one capable of achieving -single-handedly- such a great historic task.
In our opinion, these views indicate together with an immoderate sense of self, a very strong Marxist and materialistic impregnation. For the “course of History”, the great “wind of History”, are Marxist and materialistic views. There is no “course of History”, there is no “wind of History”, for History, according to our Christian and Western beliefs, and this has been confirmed by every historical event, is made by the will of men, by their intelligence, and finally by their passions, either good or bad.
With regard to the relationship between colonialists and the colonized, they must undoubtedly evolve as these populations themselves evolve. But, it is not in the least obvious that this evolution has to take the form of a break with the past, or of an independence granted to numerous new nations which still cannot afford to make this independence a success.
To justify his policy, the Head of State used other arguments, none of which were defensible or serious. We were told that Algeria cost too much, that this war was absurd and outdated. On the contrary, no war was better justified for its aim was to defend the values of human civilization, as well as the moral, human, and material interests of whole French populations and the strategic interests of all French people.
As early as 1960, it became clear to the people living in Algeria that the policy of the Government could only lead to the takeover of the country by the FLN men and terrorists, which meant a bloody and cruel dictatorship, or anarchy, or a mixture of anarchy and tyranny.
This French population in Algeria became aware that the French government was giving away their most sacred rights and their most legitimate interests. So they tried to take their rights and interests into their own hands, which they did with the help of generals and the help of a great number of French Army officers. This action will remain to the credit of these officers and generals before History: this self-defence of the populations in Algeria was deeply justified indeed. Any jurist or moralist will admit that the revolt of a population whose very survival is threatened by a tyrannical power is completely justified. This régime, whose duty was to protect them, assumed, against all natural laws, the right to make them accept, by using brute force, a fate they were rejecting.
This self-defence of the populations in Algeria was conducted in various ways and involved some excesses which, for my part, I deeply deplored. But these excesses were almost unavoidable. As in every war, all the more so in insurrections, there are excesses, and the troops of Joan of Arc themselves committed massacres quite a number of times. Maybe French people in Algeria also made some mistakes in the methods they used which probably influenced the final outcome, which was that, in spite of their resistance, the present régime succeeded in imposing its will upon these populations.
To be able to achieve this, the régime had to break the national resistance in Algeria, and by all means. This was done in a most dreadful, unnatural way. The lies told by the Head of State led him, as was foreseeable, to crime. There were roundups, raids, searches. A great number of patriots, men and women, were tortured in the most horrible conditions, by using methods similar to those of the Nazi Gestapo. When confronted with the resistance in the big cities in Algeria, some special units agreed to use and spread the use of methods that even German troops seldom employed during the Occupation, and that our own troops never employed during the anti-FLN repression. Some unarmed civilians were systematically shot while they were demonstrating peacefully their national loyalty. Some were also shot though they were not demonstrating at all. Women were wounded or killed while doing their shopping or hanging out their washing. Women and children were wounded or killed inside their apartments. The release of the records relating to the events of March 26th , the fusillade that claimed hundreds of victims, and the conditions in which it took place, was forbidden. This fusillade, and a few other operations carried out against the population, claimed more lives than the massacre of Oradour-sur-Glane which was, at the end of the last War, mentioned as an illustration of the Nazis’ cruelty. This inhuman repression was used against French people by other French people, on men who were only fighting to remain on their native soil, the soil of their fathers. This repression will remain in History as the mark of the total inhumanity of the man who ordered it.
At the same time, in negotiating for years with the FLN representatives only, the régime was acknowledging that the FLN exclusively represented the Moslem populations and their right to manage independent Algeria, discouraging, in doing so, the pro-French feelings of a great number of Moslems. The régime was actually throwing the Moslems who had committed themselves by our side, into bloody trials. The attitude of the régime was encouraging the Moslems who were about to join us to adopt a wait-and-see policy. It was also discouraging (as in the Si Salah affair) those who would have possibly decided to lay down their arms. As for the large proportion of the Moslem population who had kept a cautious and understandable reserve, it was positively driving them into the arms of the FLN.
A tree is recognizable by its fruit. The policy which, for years, had been a policy of treason, resulted in the Evian agreements, signed with the FLN representatives only, who were in no way able to enforce them. These agreements were immediately violated in the most significant way without any serious attempt from the régime to prevent these violations.
There was in Algeria a large, dynamic, flourishing French community. This community was deeply attached to its land and cities. The lands and cities had all the characteristics of French cities and French lands. This community had its customs, its traditions, its cemeteries, and its dead. The representatives of this community had long ago foreseen and denounced the disastrous consequences of this policy carried out without them, and against them. This community was literally scattered and destroyed through the Evian agreements. Most of them were forced to go into exile under dreadful conditions. These conditions were even worse than those of the debacle of 1940, and yet the latter had occurred in the presence and under the pressure of enemy troops. The conditions of this exile and the arrival of the refugees in France are shameful and unworthy of a great Western nation. Never would countries such as Great Britain or the United States have allowed their citizens to be treated in such a way.
The refugees’ reception in France was very poorly organized by the government, although from the beginning individual initiatives did everything within their power to make this reception more human. This present winter, most of these refugees' situation is, in all respects, very precarious. A great number of them have lost, together with dearly loved ones, all or most of their belongings, and many of them also lost what was their reason for living. Have not many of them been pushed from despair into taking extreme actions?
"You will suffer" the Head of State had told the representatives of the Pied-Noir(2) community. Many of those now exiled in France have indeed already suffered a great deal through the doings of the leader of the nation. But those who decided not to leave Algeria are not to be envied, quite the opposite. They are reduced to the condition of "second class" citizens and, in the new independent State [of Algeria], their freedom, their possessions and their security are constantly at risk. These past few months, several thousands of abductions have been reported and, for the close relatives of these people this is sometimes worse than certain death for they can fear the worst. Some abducted French women are used for the entertainment of the new masters in Algeria, without, and this is the infamy, any attempt by the French government to set them free. There were hundreds of murders, rapes, lynchings. This régime, which still has substantial military forces at its disposal in Algeria, did nothing to minimize or prevent these sufferings and crimes. Therefore, it is a direct accomplice in those crimes and acts of violence which are in complete opposition to the signed agreements.
Nevertheless, even more infamous was the treason, and more unforgivable were the crimes towards the French Moslem populations. For these were men and women who, having trusted the word of the Head of State, a general in uniform, having trusted the French Army and the French government, had committed themselves freely and courageously in making the French choice, and a good number of them had even fought by our side. A small proportion of these French Moslem populations, thanks to some Army officers who acted sometimes on their own, and contrary to Mr. Joxe's instructions, were able to reach France, abandoning their homeland, and have now settled, often in miserable conditions, and sometimes exposed to the FLN agents' threats. But there are those, much more numerous, who were purely and simply abandoned to the hands of their torturers and their slaughterers. The press and above all the national radio have been strangely silent about the extent of the massacres and tortures inflicted to the francophile Moslems who are our own brothers. All these men now have to live under a purge law. In some regions of Algeria, all these men died in jail. This is truly a genocide, perpetrated against Moslems who had trusted France. This genocide claimed the lives of several tens or hundreds of thousands of victims, killed after having been horribly tortured. These slaughters are far worse in horror than the massacres that took place in Katyn, those in Budapest, those in Katanga, and the dictator revealed his monstrous nature in displaying only indifference towards these unspeakable sufferings which are [for him] so many derelictions of honour.
We do wonder who this Algerian policy of the régime profits, for this policy has ruined and dispersed the French community in Algeria, as well as the Jewish community, and permitted the killing and the jailing of the francophile Moslems. It only profits a very limited group of leaders and politicians, for in no way does it profit the majority of Moslems. The situation of these masses is extremely bad and has only worsened since Independence in spite of what has been said. Despite the hundreds of billions [of francs] that have been swallowed up by the French government in accordance with the most absurd attitude, misery is great there and unemployment widespread. A very large number of Moslems regret, more or less openly, the loss of French security and friendship. This fact has been noted by those French reporters who had been the fiercest propagandists for independence. Internal convulsions will most probably shake independent Algeria for a long time yet, not to mention dissensions and rivalries with neighbouring countries. If Algeria can emerge from these convulsions, it will only be to find herself under a totalitarian system, a system based on the dictatorship of a few men, and which, through a one-party system, keeps all the activities of the country under control, oppresses human beings, tramples human freedom, and reduces populations to slavery.
Such are the bloody and bitter fruits of a policy entirely based on lies, betrayal, trickery and violence. To qualify this policy, we refer to what an eminent jurist recently concluded in an analysis which is irrefutable from both a human and a legal perspective: "The Algerian policy of General de Gaulle is a crime against humanity, it is nothing but ignominy and dishonour." We certainly make these words ours. And we would add that such an infamous act as this desertion of our national heritage has never occurred before in French history, (and no event, or outside pressure provided the slightest pretext for it) since, at the beginning of the XVth century, a woman, Queen Isabeau de Bavière, alienated the French crown.
The Algerian disaster, with all its dead and all its ruins could have been avoided and it is only the will and determination of a very old man that is finally responsible for it. This disaster, considering the losses in human lives and material possessions, is worse than the disasters France suffered in 1870 and 1940, which were the result of French military defeats.
But, most of all, this disaster has dishonoured us; in covering with infamy the French flag which was brought about by the abandonment of those who had trusted in France. The reality of this disaster only proves that in this country which is tired, confused and deceived, it is indeed possible, for an unscrupulous man, a man who would stop at nothing, pursuing absurd political views and often confusing them with his own resentment and search for revenge, to let loose the forces of evil without encountering, for the time being, any obstacle strong enough to stop his destructive action.
In reaching now the second part of this statement, I would like to mention that, because of the present régime, and on the grounds of the conditions in which the Head of State dares congratulate himself for the settlement of the Algerian issue, what is actually called into question is purely and simply the existence of France as a Free Nation.
Renan used to say that a nation is a soul, a spiritual element. A nation is also an entity, a moral being, which has its own existence and is made up of human beings' communities, driven by human feelings, good or bad, which can be morally appraised. Nations can die, and through History a great number of nations died indeed because they no longer found within themselves human feelings good and strong enough to ensure the survival of the nation when confronted with outside dangers, and were unable to provide the leaders who, instead of taking them to repeated abandonments and desertions, could lead them, by force if necessary, on the path to retain their national, spiritual and material heritage.
Every member of the nation, every citizen, should have the following human feelings, more or less developed, according to position and responsibilities : first, the sense of civic responsibility ; second, the sense of national solidarity which is everyone's ability to support each other when they are subjected to hardships and sorrows, even if they are not themselves directly affected ; third, the sense of national pride and of preservation of the national heritage. This last feeling implies that the citizen, being aware of what this heritage - which was passed on by those who preceded him - means, is ready and willing to protect it by his work and ultimately, by his blood.
When these feelings disappear or are weakened, the national community ceases to exist as such, it becomes a juxtaposition of individuals who no longer represent a nation. This juxtaposition of denationalized individuals is then ready to be led, by unworthy or blind leaders, to all the modern world’s adventures and is essentially vulnerable to subversive ideological and materialistic ventures. It is basically no longer fit to "survive".
The first duty of a government and of the Head of State who is the steward of the national heritage is, precisely, to make sure that these feelings of national solidarity and this sense of preservation of the national heritage are kept alive amongst all citizens. The national community, as other human communities, rests on these natural and legitimate foundations. Therefore, to shake them is to shake the very foundations of the nation. It is an act against nature to divert these feelings from their real purpose. The worst crime a national leader can commit is precisely to violate these feelings among those for whom he is politically responsible, to weaken or to distort them. And this is exactly what has been done by the current political régime as it aimed to settle the Algerian issue according to its own views by using the ways and means that have been previously stated.
Let us not forget that in 1958, a great majority of public opinion was in favour of the upholding of French sovereignty in Algeria, or at least, was opposed to a policy of desertion.
Facing this situation and facing the attitude of the Army which was, in a way, the expression and synthesis of the general French point of view on this matter, the means used by the régime were subtle and gradual in order to achieve an absolute demobilization of public opinion, of the sense of natural solidarity, of national pride and of national preservation.
On the one hand, one organized an indoctrination, a conditioning of the public, in using false and deceptive slogans and arguments which could sway, if not the well-informed French minority, the majority of good people who were misinformed and could not detect the tricks and lies of official propaganda. These arguments and these slogans have been repeated over and over again on the State radio and television. They are :"the course of History", "the absurd and outdated war in Algeria", "the necessary and unavoidable decolonization", "the French Algeria myth" and so on. On the other hand, as soon as the French national resistance started to take shape in Algeria and began to express itself through violence, the only mode of expression they had left since all associations and organizations deemed to be "legal" had been disbanded by the government, the extreme actions of the Patriots were constantly condemned, omitting to mention that they were only the consequence of the crimes, so much more atrocious and numerous, of the FLN with which [the régime] was negotiating the future of Algeria. And nothing was ever said of the horrifying repression led against Patriots by the French government. Finally, the attention of the general public was systematically diverted from the Algerian issue, which was, by far, the most important human and national issue, and taken up by glamorous topics such as the spectacular trips of the Head of State to the provinces and abroad, the foreign leaders’ receptions, the emphasis placed on the important part France played in world affairs, the hyping up of the « strike force »(3), a matter I will come back to in a moment, as a technical expert.
Later on, when the Algerian policy ended in a fiasco and a disaster, everything possible was done in order to hide this fiasco and this disaster and conceal the crimes, tortures, abductions and all kinds of hardships.
Have we heard, from the Head of State, a single call for national solidarity in order to share the immense tragedy of these hundreds of thousands of refugees? This call would have merely been a gesture of humanity and there is no doubt that in similar circumstances, any other French leader, any other leader of a Free Nation would have made this call.
Generally speaking, it may be said that for five years, not once were the disinterested, generous, national feelings of the metropolitan French people called upon. On the contrary, the régime constantly banked on selfishness, on human and civic irresponsibility, sometimes on meanness, and always on our fellow citizens' natural and current tendency to settle for a materialistic type of existence.
That is how the Head of State succeeded, through rigged and illegal referendums, in getting the majority of the electorate to ratify the desertion of Algeria although public opinion could not, strictly speaking, be held responsible for the Evian agreements and for the genocide that followed these agreements. On the contrary, the last positive vote implied the implementation of the Evian agreements and the protection in Algeria for all those who had chosen the French side. So then, French people were led to ratify the liquidation of their heritage in Algeria. At what cost?
We have to weigh up the consequences for our national life of the conditions in which this abandonment was carried out. A public opinion, made anti-national to such a degree by the Head of State and which has, little by little, been deprived of its sense of honour, of its national pride, of its sense of solidarity and national preservation, will no longer be able, regarding any other peril, either internal or external, to regain this national sense, which is nothing but the transposition, on a personal level, of the self-preservation instinct. Having been involved in the suicide of the French heritage in Algeria, it is hard to see how French people, come the first hardship, could avoid heading towards national self-destruction.
If the French population admitted, induced to do so by the Head of State, that it was absurd and outdated to fight for Algiers or Oran which were French cities, how would they agree, some day, to fight for Berlin or to fight against the external or internal dangers of multiform communist penetration?
How will public opinion, now accustomed to decolonization slogans, be able to resist totalitarian slogans? There indeed lies the crime against the spirit, against the soul of the nation. On the one hand, French vanity was flattered through consistently dishonest methods. It is dishonest, for example, to claim that the issue of decolonization has been settled once and for all, when Algeria has ended up in disaster, and when things are looking rather bad in black Africa. It is dishonest to speak, as one did recently on the radio, of the "striking" results obtained by the Gaullist government, when decolonization was carried out in the way we know it was, and when the nation is split and confused, when the social and financial situation is in fact precarious, and when France has been, in a stupid and deliberate way, isolated in the world. On the other hand, French people have been constantly encouraged in making no effort, in taking no risk, in leading a selfish, materialistic type of existence which excludes any kind of ideal, any notion of honour, of solidarity and national conservation.
When the supreme ruler of a nation lets her go, and even deliberately directs her towards moral and spiritual decline, towards materialism in everyday life and in her way of thinking, when the only topic of conversation is the standard of living and economic events, this nation becomes an easy prey for materialistic and communist subversion. The situation inside and outside our borders is such that, logically, a materialistic and totalitarian dictatorship should follow the Gaullist régime, unless the awakening of authentic France occurs, and this is indeed what some people are endeavouring to achieve.
Outside our borders, what our government's policy helped to achieve is to establish in Algeria a totalitarian-type system whose programme of action, decided in Tripoli, is of the most authentic Marxist inspiration. A good number of Algerian leaders are notoriously communist followers, even though, in order to protect the one-party system dogma, the Algerian Communist Party has been disbanded. The Communist Bloc helped the Algerian rebellion, in both political and military ways. A great number of supplies and weapons are, at the moment, being sent by Eastern European countries. Many technicians are being dispatched there all the time and recently a Chinese military mission visited Algeria. This gradual process of communization of a country subjected to a totalitarian system is well-known. The same process was applied in Cuba and recently resulted in endangering American security. It seems obvious, that in the near future, Algeria could represent a danger of communist penetration of Western Europe, equal or greater than the danger that Cuba represents today for America. The bonds of friendship between the Cuban and Algerian dictators are well-known. What is less known is the Marxist-Islamic synthesis being carried out with the Algerian government's approval and which is expressed, for example, in a book "The Best Fight", written by a close friend of the Algerian Prime Minister.
One of the key principles of the international communist penetration strategy is to get round and invade Europe from the South and through Africa; which is indeed what is taking place: Algeria is no longer part of NATO. This is precisely why General de Gaulle's treason in Algeria is not only towards the French populations in that country, it is also treason towards the Free World as a whole, and I do know, for I have noticed it myself during my many official missions in the last few years, that our American and British friends, especially in the American and British armies, are also well aware of the treason towards the West and the Free World by the leader of our nation. Besides, totalitarian Algeria, theoretically neutral, but penetrated in fact by communism, represents a lethal danger for the rest of Africa, especially Morocco and Tunisia, and equally black Africa. Some people are actively working in some of the black African countries, especially French-speaking countries where the decolonization wanted by the government is a failure in social, economic and political terms.
Within our borders this situation of moral, spiritual and national decline into which the country has been deliberately thrown by the present régime in order to make its Algerian policy succeed in spite and against everything, this situation has resulted in putting our country in danger of totalitarian subversion. After what happened in Algeria, and as long as French people are subject to this régime, there can no longer be a sense of national pride, a sense of national preservation. The French Army, which is supposed to represent the pride of the nation, may rightly feel dishonoured by what happened in Algeria, as countless officers and many generals presently retired or in active duty, have publicly declared. From the moment that the French régime has, publicly and before all the nations of the world, abandoned to be slaughtered the populations who had trusted in its word, which Head of State, which partner of our country would, we ask you, trust in France's word again as long as the current Head of State pretends to represent the country? But it is indeed a fact that more and more nations in the world are becoming aware that de Gaulle does not represent France.
Furthermore, what should make up the natural, political and social structures of the nation has been, these last few years, more or less liquidated, weakened or discredited by the régime.
The Army is at the moment deeply uneasy, and a great number of officers are terminating or trying to terminate their military careers.
What applies to the Army also applies, to some degree, to all senior branches of the civil service. The régime is constantly trying to by-pass those who should be the real spokespersons and representatives of the population and who should enlighten and advise them about current issues. By eliminating all these mediators, who are absolutely essential in a conventionally structured society, by talking directly to the masses who inevitably are less well informed, have a less critical mind and less defensive reactions, the régime expects its views to be more easily approved and accepted.
But the result is also that French society no longer has a structure, that we are going through a complete atomization and a complete shattering of present-day French society. The French citizen today is isolated, confused and helpless and he no longer knows what he can rely on or trust in. He would easily be drawn to dangerous ventures. It is to be feared that the essentially materialistic concerns of a great number of our fellow citizens who have at the same time forgotten their dignity as free and responsible men, will drive them to alienate their rights to a Marxist and materialistic dictatorship after having surrendered to the present régime.
The views professed by the Head of State himself on the subject of historical evolution are very close to Marxism, as we have noticed through the justification he tried to provide concerning his Algerian policy. According to some of our friends, he has said in private that he thought the final victory of Communism was unavoidable, which means that he actually accepts it. He has, by his actions, considerably weakened NATO, which is the main bastion of the Free World. He is the instigator of our country's isolation policy, which is both vain and anachronistic.
As a pilot and a technician I must mention the serious disappointments to which the nation would be exposed if she relied on the strike force(3) to maintain this policy of isolation, disappointments which could be similar to those encountered in 1940, when we relied on the Maginot Line to ensure the safety of our country. Two years ago, I wrote on the subject of the strike force a report which was transmitted to the Department of Air Defence. This report is at your disposal. We easily come to the conclusion that this so-called "deterrence force" will be, in fact, useless in dissuading the enemy and will rather be likely, due to its very existence within our frontiers, to bring on our country some nuclear aggression to which we would indeed be unable to respond. Furthermore, I have never heard in the Air Force of any general who disagreed with me on this issue, except for one who was employed by the firm which builds the bombers. I would like to stress the fact that one of the reasons for my opposition to the Gaullist policy lies precisely in the aberrant nature of this national autonomy attitude based on an illusory military tool, to which the entire national security policy has been sacrificed. This is totally unrealistic.
Therefore, the conditions for the French population to end up with a communist or crypto-communist régime are met without it having even noticed the various stages which led to this situation. This will be the result of renouncing the spiritual, moral and national values which in the past made up the framework of our country and the preservation of which should remain the essential condition of our national survival. And this will be the outcome of the renouncing of an ideal of freedom and human dignity; an ideal which is written in the laws of the nation; an ideal which was in French traditions and was tragically violated when the present régime imposed its own law on the French population in Algeria.
This leads me to remind you of the circumstances in which the political régime violated, in the most cynical and obvious way, the supreme law of the nation in which are embedded the safeguards of the rights and freedoms of all French citizens. This law is the Constitution. The enforcement of the Constitution is incumbent upon all, and in the first place upon the Head of State who is, by definition, its guardian and protector. This Constitution is a safeguard and its goal is to prevent the republican régime from degenerating into dictatorship or tyranny. The Head of State who transgresses it places himself above the laws of the nation and is, therefore, guilty of felony and must be brought before the High Court.
Many people said before us that the current Head of State had transgressed and violated the Constitution. This Constitution, in our opinion, was violated not only in its essence, but also in its spirit and in its letter.
The Constitution was violated in its essence, because the essence of the Constitution is to express the twofold law of national survival and unity. National unity is the conservation and defence of the national heritage, that is to say the heritage of all French people wherever they might be. It is precisely this national unity that was shattered and it is the national heritage that was sacrificed in Algeria by the Head of State, out of his own free will and on his initiative, without the excuse of any external pressure. Furthermore, the conditions for the nation's survival are no longer guaranteed as a result of the skillful endeavour to weaken patriotic feelings in public opinion which has been pursued for four years. It is the nation's moral framework which has been destroyed.
The Constitution was violated in its spirit, because what makes up the spirit of the Constitution is a certain number of moral and human principles: these are in particular the principles of individual dignity and liberty which are the fundamental human rights. These principles indeed forbid to impose, through violence and against their will, their destiny on a part of the nation. For the French people in Algeria, these principles have been outrageously mocked. The principle of the separation of powers, judicial, executive and legislative, has also been constantly infringed. And finally, the principle according to which the Head of State must be an arbiter between different forces and not an autocrat making all decisions and conducting the policy of the nation according to his own will, has also been contravened.
The Constitution was violated in its letter, for many of its principles have been, for years, ignored and transgressed, in particular article 89, the infringement of which motivated a public accusation of felony against the Head of State.
The consequences of this violation of the Constitution in its essence, its spirit and its letter are that we are no longer under a republican system, but under a system of de facto dictatorship. The characteristics and nature of the Gaullist dictatorship are similar to those of a good number of dictatorships: first, serious attacks against basic rights and freedoms of individuals. Our Pied-Noir and Moslem brothers were entitled to live on the land of their forefathers. They were entitled to recognition of themselves as individuals, of their property and of their freedom. These rights were abominably mocked, in contradiction of every law and principle.
In France, the majority of citizens are, due to the dictatorship, deprived of an essential right of free men as members of a democracy: the right to free choice on the subject of civic and political options, which implies that each citizen is entitled to freedom of information, for this alone will provide him with objective facts, in order to enable him to exercise his free choice. But there is no doubt that the régime strictly controls most of the media. If the press is free, at least theoretically, the régime is well aware that it only reaches a small part of the electorate. The circulation figures of the press and the readership of newspapers are definitely higher in the United Kingdom for example, than in France. On the other hand, the government controls the State radio and television which are essential means of pressure on public opinion.
The numerous messages and speeches of the present Head of State are similar and have the same purpose as Hitler's harangues broadcast on the radio or the speeches of Fascist dictators addressing the crowds from their balconies. Delivered to a public which is credulous and deprived of information, they have the same effect. We are aware of the part played by State radio and television in the implementation of the Algerian policy, especially in referendums.
The second sign of the dictatorship is the methods used by the police force and the justice system. We have proof that several tens or hundreds of free men who resisted the régime in Algeria were atrociously tortured or pushed to suicide by totalitarian methods used by the police force, under the responsibility of men who at the time held top positions in the régime. We personally, in the "Petit-Clamart" affair, wish to speak of the conditions in which we and some members of our families were arrested, kept in police custody and detained. We also wish to get to the bottom of the tragic death of our friend Commandant Niaux. My presence in this dock bears witness to the efficiency of the police custody methods, and our presence before your special jurisdiction bears testimony to the infringement of legal principles.
Finally, another sign of this dictatorship, found in all dictatorships, is the extraordinary submissiveness displayed by so many people, especially so many politicians in the service of a policy which is obviously a very bad national policy. Only a dictatorship able to force and compel the conscience of weak, self-interested and irrational men can explain this submissiveness.
In consequence, the Gaullist dictatorship, just like the Hitlerian and Communist dictatorships, is based both on the control of opinion, therefore on lies and violence, and on coercive methods used against opponents. Like the Hitlerian and Communist dictatorships, it is based more on lies than on violence.
What can free men, free citizens do, who have become aware of the reality of this dictatorship and who have weighed up its harmful and lethal consequences on the whole nation or on part of it? They must remember that we are no longer under the régime of absolute monarchy nor under an autocratic régime. The wishes of the Prince are no longer relevant, since there is a Constitution, a republican law and if the Head of State breaks this law, the Constitution allows the citizens to fight the dictator. There is in the Constitution and in the basic and universal rights of men an inalienable right: it is the right to resist oppression, the right of insurrection for oppressed minorities. Mr. Michel Debré said, at one time, that it was also the most sacred of duties. It is in the name of this right and therefore in the name of the true republican law, contravened by the de facto régime, that the CNR(4) was formed. And it is in the name of this right, that is in the name of the true republican law, that we initiated this act of violence against the man who placed himself above the laws. For, if the Head of State breaks the laws he must be publicly blamed for felony, and that is indeed what was done by officials at the highest level. For, if the Head of State having placed himself above the law, kills or does nothing to prevent people in his care from being killed, or if he is responsible, and he alone, for a national disaster, he must be prevented by force from continuing to exercise his de facto power. And this is what we attempted to do in the name of the law.
What was noticed indeed by the members of the CNR was the reality of the Gaullist dictatorship, and especially the fact that, on the occasion of the last referendums, and with the control of the media, the people's approval was usurped through immoral and illegal means. Illegal because the referendums on Algeria were contrary to Article 89 of the Constitution, and because during the periods preceding these referendums, one-sided information was conveyed to the electorate by the official channels in general and the Head of State in particular, in accordance with methods which, in every totalitarian country, guarantee without fail a positive response. Immoral because the régime, in fact, obtained a positive response from many French citizens by lying to them about what would be the consequences of this response. A lot of French citizens believed, in good faith, that in giving a positive response, they would bring peace back to Algeria and ensure a peaceful coexistence between the different communities, whereas in fact their positive response was an invitation to massacres, chaos and a poverty far worse than that which previously existed. This is the reason why we cannot say that these illegal and immoral referendums really expressed the will of the French people. Furthermore, even if the French people approved the Evian agreements, they did not approve the fact that these agreements were not enforced, and so did not approve the destruction and the scattering of communities of French descent, and the genocide of French Moslems. In consequence, the Head of State himself is, together with a few ministers of his government, to be held responsible for these destructions and this genocide, which are contrary to the letter if not to the spirit of the Evian agreements.
Once we acknowledge the reality of the Gaullist dictatorship, what can we say about its performance? This country has undoubtedly, like others, already been subject to other dictatorships before, and also to other forms of autocratic power, but never before as is the case today have all the methods at the disposal of a dictatorship, namely violence, conditioning of the masses, and means of repression, been employed exclusively against part of the French population, to force upon them a fate they were rejecting, and to weaken our national heritage.
The autocratic régimes of Napoléon I, Napoleéon III, and Hitler's dictatorship committed themselves to unify French people or German people in order to implement a policy of territorial expansion of France and Germany which, questionable as it was, was not prejudicial to the honour of either France or Germany, nor to the interests of these countries.
On the contrary, the main outcome of de Gaulle's dictatorship and its main goal was to destroy the unity of French people and national cohesion, without any compensation whatsoever as far as France's general policy was concerned. This dictatorship is consequently contrary to the honour and interests of France.
On the basis of these facts, the CNR [members] believed that they had a right to resist the dictatorship, to fight for the oppressed minorities, and to exercise the right to insurrection, a right which is formally recognized by the Constitution, as well as by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as it has always been recognized by all Constitutions in all democratic régimes since the days of the ancient Greek and Roman republics. This right is in the heart of men, it merely expresses their will to live and survive. It is the right to self-defence, at the community level, just as there is a right to self-defence at the individual level against thieves and murderers. In accordance with this right, we can and we must stand up for our brothers, robbed and murdered because of the policy and the personal action of the dictator. For I wish to stress the fact that the non-observation of the Evian agreements is solely the result of the will of the de facto Head of State.
In all republican régimes, the men who overstepped their role as Head of a republican State to assume the powers of dictatorship have always known that free citizens could unite to fight, in accordance with republican laws. These free citizens are not answerable to the laws of the Republic, with which they comply, any more than an ordinary citizen who comes to the defence of his sister, threatened with rape or murder. We ourselves, being here, are not subject to republican laws, we have transgressed no criminal law, because we only came to the defence of our brothers and sisters threatened with rape and murder. Since we are, hypothetically, being tried in accordance with the law, as it is written in page 41 of the account of facts that you handed over to us, you must find us not guilty.
On this point, as on many others, criminal and constitutional laws on the one hand, moral laws on the other hand, are in full agreement. We will be careful not to turn this trial into a religious trial. But we are anxious to remind you that as Christians, we would only be criminals if we had seriously infringed one of God's Commandments.
We are aware of the existence of a Fifth Commandment which forbids the use of force, except in specific situations which have been studied and defined by the Church. As there are also a Second and an Eighth Commandment which forbid everyone, and especially Heads of State, from committing perjury and telling lies in order to mislead one's fellow citizens.
But we do know that the First Commandment, the greatest of all, commands us to be charitable and compassionate with our brothers who are facing adversity. This is why it has always been accepted in Christendom that, under certain conditions, an act of force could be an act of love. And this is why, in accordance with traditional teaching, acts of force directed against those who have lost their moral and human values, and who plunge into misfortune those [people] they are supposed to protect and stand for, are considered legitimate acts. If the action we took, in agreement with the elite of the nation, had been successful, one of the first expected outcomes would have been the cessation of the genocide in Algeria. The current Head of State could have stopped this genocide by giving one single order, which he did not give and, in our opinion, he will carry the responsibility for it forever.
We did not act through hatred towards de Gaulle, but through compassion towards his victims and to save innocent lives, sacrificed by a tyrannical régime. Saint Thomas Aquinas said: "It is the tyrant who is seditious and who fosters discord and revolt within the people. For the tyrannical régime is unjust and is not directed towards common good. Those who set people free from a tyrannical power are praiseworthy." According to St. Thomas, the first duty of the Head of State is to lead his people in accordance with the rules of Law and Justice, with the common good of the community in mind. If, losing track of the reason why he is exercising this power, he uses it for his own interest and to satisfy his own passions and designs, he only reigns over a herd of slaves. He himself is no longer a leader, but a tyrant.
Therefore, we believe that the eminent clergymen we consulted and who did not advise us against this action, have only been reminding us of the Commandments of God, of the principle and right to self-defence and of the traditional moral code taught by the Church through one of Her greatest philosophers. There is no room here for theological quibbles. The tyranny of General de Gaulle does not belong to this type of "soft" tyranny which some of the Fathers of the Church advise us to bear patiently in a spirit of Christian mortification. It is a violent, bloody tyranny which divides, which destroys and which is responsible for the death of countless victims.
In our opinion, moral and constitutional rules concur with regard to our action. On this point St. Thomas Aquinas only transposed and sublimated to the level of Christian morals the principles of the Greek City-State established by the Greek philosophers in general and by Aristotle in particular. The principles of the City-State can be found in Roman law, which our own constitutional principles have inherited.
I will not remind you of the conditions in which the "Conseil National de la Résistance"(4) was established. It was finally nothing more than a legitimate and natural reaction of a great number of officials and members of the elite of the nation against the Gaullist policy. The CNR(4) is a political organization, it is a political authority and its actions stand within the constitutional framework, in accordance with the laws of the nation.
The CNR is aware of the fact that the "profound legitimacy" no longer belongs to General de Gaulle, assuming it ever did, for the dictator can no longer represent the honour and the real interests of the nation. This profound legitimacy actually belongs to the elite, who are aware of all the wrongs caused to France by the Gaullist policy, and who want to serve the real interests of the nation, and restore her honour.
We are not anti-Gaullist maniacs, because we know that the Gaullist dictatorship is merely an accident in the national life, an accident which was made possible by the present conditions which, we hope, will soon be modified. Our resistance is a resistance to an ignominious and insane desertion of critical national positions and a resistance to the dictatorship which denied, and continues to deny, the basic rights and freedoms of part of the national community, which oppressed and continues to oppress, through atrocious means, part of the national community and which is the opposite of a true republic and a true democracy. This is why our national resistance can presently rely on some active help amongst the highest ranks of the State, in the Army, in the civil service, in all levels of society, especially in the humble and working classes. This is why the leaders of the national resistance will be led to come to an agreement with all men of good will who are patriots, republican and opposed to totalitarianism as well. This is why the national resistance is proposing to unite all French people of goodwill.
We do not have to explain here the political programme put forward by the CNR. This programme is set within the theoretically current Constitutional framework, and its nature is essentially human. It aims for a human French society instead of a materialistic and economically-based society which is what the current de facto régime wishes for. It aims to make French citizens human and responsible individuals, as opposed to irresponsible and uncivic economic units, which is what the current de facto régime has aimed for, in order to secure its dictatorship.
We do not belong to this right-wing which is not only the most stupid but also the most cowardly in the world and has failed. We are deeply aware of the national injustice which currently exists these days in France, as a consequence of the narrow-mindedness of some wealthy owners and because of certain immoral forms of capitalism. We are aware of the important reforms that have to be implemented in order to achieve greater social justice.
We are in favour of Europe, because we believe that France can become integrated into Europe without giving up what made up her past glories, and makes up her moral and spiritual heritage. We are in favour of NATO because we believe that faced with the constant and overwhelming threat of communist subversion, the Free World must not be divided and must strongly support America.
Concerning Algeria, it is our duty to assert publicly that it is impossible to consider that the Algerian issue has been settled in any respect through the shameful agreements signed in Evian, which have not been honoured. Our country has rights and responsibilities in Algeria. They are everlasting and inalienable rights and responsibilities. The future of Algeria, of this land which was French for over 130 years, can only be achieved in union with France. The French community in Algeria must become flourishing and numerous again. What is left of the French Moslem communities must be protected and it is the duty of France to serve the interests of all Moslem Algerians who were by her side for such a long time and not to abandon them to totalitarianism.
The CNR movement had to make decisions regarding the current de facto Head of State. They based their decisions on the fact, verified by certain representatives of the officials and the elite of the nation, that the Head of State had placed himself above the republican law, and had established a dictatorial régime which did not comply with the Constitution. The CNR noticed that a national minority has been, these last few years, constantly oppressed by this dictatorial régime. This minority group was the French Moslem community and the community of French descent in Algeria; and it still is the French and French Moslems from Algeria. But it is also the minority group made up of thousands and thousands of metropolitan French people who, putting into practice the great principle of human solidarity, stood up for their fellow citizens. Today, several thousands of these metropolitan French fill up the prisons of the régime. Apart from the serious violation of the Constitution which is the attack on the basic rights and freedoms of this French minority, the CNR also had to note other serious violations of the Constitution by the de facto Head of State. From these observations, the CNR acknowledged that the de facto Head of State was guilty of felony.
The CNR also noted that the vital and sacred interests of the French minorities in Algeria had been betrayed and trampled on by the de facto Head of State, in accordance with a policy which was imposed on this minority and which is a treason, not only towards these minorities but also towards France and the Free World. The CNR noted that this betrayal of the minorities in Algeria by the de facto Head of State had not been approved by the French nation, because it had been carried out in breach of the Evian agreements. These agreements were approved by the metropolitan French and not by the minorities in Algeria, but the violation of these agreements has been approved neither by the metropolitan French, nor by the minorities in Algeria. Therefore, the de facto Head of State alone is responsible for the violation of these agreements. The outcome of the violation of these agreements is what is commonly known as a genocide. There is a genocide when some human communities, which, as communities, had a separate life and existence and which therefore had an identity, are destroyed and scattered. There is also a genocide when tens of thousands of French Moslems are abandoned by the de facto régime to their murderers.
The CNR noted, in short, what any man and any honest Frenchman can also note, that the de facto Head of State was guilty of serious violation of the Constitution, which means that he was guilty of felony. The CNR also noted that he was guilty of high treason towards the minorities in Algeria, towards France and the Free World and guilty of, or an accomplice in, the crime of genocide, for he had only to give one order to stop this genocide. This order would have been to enforce the Evian agreements. I should add that besides, the de facto Head of State is guilty of a crime which, contrary to the previous crimes, is not punishable by law. It is the crime of infamy, for there is no greater infamy than abandoning to their murderers men who had trusted in France and rallied to her flag. Had there only been in Algeria one other Captain Moureau, the de facto Head of State would still have been guilty of infamy. But there are thousands and thousands of them. There were thousands of martyrs handed over to their torturers, as there are thousands of Frenchmen and French women left into the hands of the FLN men, to dispose of as they wish.
It is from the knowledge that General de Gaulle is guilty of crimes of felony, high treason and of being an accomplice in a genocide, that we acted in accordance with the options we had within the legal framework. We believe that this action was just, because the motives for it are those imposed by the moral code, by legal principles and by human reasoning. The moral code, legal principles and human reasoning agree that the policy of General de Gaulle is immoral, illegal, aberrant, and infamous.
The decisions made by the CNR are only related to the actions of General de Gaulle over the past four years. Regarding his previous actions, I will however make a personal comment. The men of my generation, who did not have to take sides in internal political struggles, or join factions which divided the country during the last war, realize that regarding some events which occurred in the course of that war, some myths were built up by those who participated in these events and who profited from them. With some hindsight, historians will be able to say from where, at that time, the wind which divided the French people was blowing. Historians will also tell that after the Liberation, French people of goodwill could have been united through reconciliation, but that this unity was not achieved. That, on the contrary, one of the bloodiest purges in our History occurred, even bloodier than the French Revolution. That instead of a national reconciliation we witnessed a return in strength of the Communists, inside and at the head of the State. Therefore, I believe History will refute certain myths.
What has been expounded concerning the grounds for our action, explains what was expected from the success of this action. We did not expect to trigger off a civil war, for it would be absurd to say that the conditions required for a civil war would have then existed. The outcome we expected was essentially the restoration of a truly republican and national rule of law, the condition necessary to realize the union of all national and republican French citizens opposed to totalitarianism. This restoration of the republican rule of law would have allowed, in the first place, the enforcement of the agreements ratified by France, which would have meant putting an end to a genocide, and saving thousands of human lives, and putting an end to or at least alleviating cruel and countless sufferings: We were certain that France would then have started to fulfill its duty once again, which is to protect all her children. Secondly, we believed that this action would have set the conditions for a national regeneration, which could have been carried out on the basis of the principles we have outlined, in a nation at peace with herself.
We tried to find some historical precedents to the application of the right to resist oppression in the way we did, and we found many indeed. There are precedents in the Sacred History, there are precedents in Ancient Greek and Roman history and in the history of modern states one of which examples occurred nineteen years ago in a neighbouring country.
In July 1944, some officers who represented the elite of the German Army carried out against dictator Adolf Hitler an action which, though very different in practice from ours, displayed, we believe, certain similar motives. In both cases it was about dictators driven by the same immoderate and insane arrogance, and the same desire for power over their fellow men. These characteristics affect the judgment, lead the dictators to wrongly identify themselves with the nation they claim to personify, lead them to build up a mistaken idea of what they call their historic role, drive them to hate and destroy their opponents and lead them to equally despise men and human dignity. In 1936, what dictator Hitler exalted was contempt for the weak and a taste for violence and power, while the feelings dictator de Gaulle appealed to in the French people in 1960 are, as we have already noted, a strong inclination towards materialism, individual and collective selfishness, loss of the sense of civic duty, and political irresponsibility.
In both cases, it is a matter of cynical exploitation of certain natural human tendencies, for the dictators exploit to their advantage what is low and evil in the human soul, which enables them to realize easily enough the mental enslavement of the nation.
What determined Field-Marshal Rommel, Lieutenant-Colonel Von Stauffenberg and their companions to take action was undoubtfully the fear that their country would be materially destroyed and given over, completely or partly, to Communism as a result of the insane policy of the dictator. I need not say that our motives are the same, provided the risk of the material destruction of Germany in 1944 is replaced with the present risk of the moral and spiritual destruction of France. These officers must also have been as greatly stricken by Hitler's Jewish genocide as we ourselves are shocked by de Gaulle's genocide of the French Moslems. They must have been as deeply shocked by the horror of detention camps as we have been shocked by the horror of detention camps which are still in existence in Algeria with the complicity of the de facto régime. However, for a majority of men in the German Army, Hitler still represented, at that time, some kind of military glory and had not compromised the honour of his Army, whereas, for a majority of men in the French army today, General de Gaulle dishonoured the national flag in Algeria by associating it with betrayal and infamy. This is why the moral dilemma for these German officers in a Germany at war may have been more difficult than ours.
These officers, after having been sentenced by a Special Court, are today honoured in Germany by their fellow citizens and by political and moral authorities. This thought has been an encouragement in our action.
At the end of this long statement, I would like to stress that we were keen to explain the reasons and circumstances which drove us to take action. We have explained why we took action, and we are ready to explain the details of our action. But the explanations we have given are not a justification for, as General Salan said before us, we do not have to justify ourselves before this Court of Law for having fulfilled one of the most sacred duties of men, the duty to defend populations which were the victims of an insane and barbaric policy. We only owe an explanation to these populations, to the French people and to our children. In favour of these populations we exercised the right which is at the heart of mankind, the right which expresses the desire to live and to survive and which is the right to self-defence.
We have broken neither moral nor constitutional laws by acting against a man who placed himself above all laws: above moral laws, above constitutional laws and above human laws. That is why, if you conform to the laws of the Republic, you must find us not guilty. For, before having us sentenced, the régime should alter, through Parliament, one of the most essential points of the Constitution which acknowledges the right of men to resist oppression as a fundamental and inalienable right. The de facto régime should, before having us sentenced, request that Parliament vote a lese-majesty or a lese-dictator law. Through this law alone could those who acted against the dictator be sentenced, considering that he is a dictator. Even then, this law could not be applied to us in accordance with the non-retroactivity of laws.
As for us, we acted against Charles de Gaulle the citizen, answerable as all French citizens are to the laws of the nation. As a citizen, he is responsible for a great number of deaths and tremendous sufferings. As a citizen, he is responsible every day for more murders and more sufferings, and we acted on the grounds that it was our right, and we considered that it was our duty to legitimately protect the victims of these murders and sufferings.
We have no blood on our hands, but we stand by those who were driven to shed blood in the course of a civil war which was forced upon them by the perjuries and the treason of the de facto régime. We stand by Lieutenant Degueldre who kept his oath of an officer to fight so that Algeria would not be given over to the FLN, and who died.
We stand by the generals of Tulle, we stand by those whom circumstances led to shed blood as well as by those whom that circumstances did not lead to shed blood and that the régime recently tried to separate, following an attempt to divide in accordance with its line of conduct which has achieved nothing but division and destruction.
We stand by all those who, in jails, underground, in France or in foreign countries, in public positions, or at various levels within the population, make up the French resistance to desertion and to dictatorship. The French national resistance is one and it will not be divided. It will stand up as long as dictatorship and desertion last.
We believe that we have told the truth, after so many men told it before us in many speeches and numerous writings. We think that, sooner or later, French people will become aware of this truth and that it will prevail over the deception and lies of the officials, over the appeasing statements of many and over the collusive blackout of the State radio and television and of some of the newspapers. Maybe our words will be twisted by the State radio and television and by these newspapers as they were twisted when we were arrested. But nothing will prevent them from being the expression of the truth.
In spite of the extraordinary dishonesty of the men in power, in spite of their extraordinary cynicism, it is the truth that there were, that there still is in France and in Algeria thousands of dead and martyrs, that there are thousands of missing persons and hundreds of thousands of exiles, that there are detention and torture camps, that there were many rapes and many murders, that there are many French women forced into prostitution in the FLN camps. It is the truth that the régime could have spared or minimized all these horrors, had it wanted to. But it is also the truth that it did not want to. It is also the truth that this régime has played in the hands of Communism by dividing the Free World.
It is the truth that the man against whom we took action is at all times answerable to the High Court and it would only take a minimum amount of clear-sightedness and courage from the members of Parliament to bring him before this High Court. There is a record of his felonies, of his crimes and of his betrayals, and thousands of men are prepared to testify to the reality of these felonies, of these crimes and of these betrayals.
We only made use of our right to self-defence against one man on behalf of his victims, on behalf of our fellow citizens and on behalf of our children. This man is covered with French blood and he is a disgrace to France. It is not wise, it is not moral, it is not legal for this man to remain for too long a time the leader of France. Ethics, Law and human reason concur in condemning him. The truth we have spoken and that so many others spoke before us, will remain attached to the name of this man, wherever he goes and whatever he does. Some day this man will have to answer for his crimes, before God if not before men.
The régime can have us sentenced but it is not entitled to do so. The millions of men and women who have suffered in their flesh, in their heart and in their property from this abominable and supremely unjust policy, are with us in this courtroom to say that we have only done our duty as French citizens. Before History, before our fellow citizens and before our children, we proclaim our innocence, for we have only put into practice the great and eternal law of solidarity between men.
(1) FLN (Front de Libération Nationale). Pro-independence Algerian terrorist organization, with which the French Government negotiated the Evian Agreements. The FLN became the ruling party after Algeria became independent.
(2) Pied-Noir. Literally "Black Feet". Originally this nickname was given to the French political convicts deported to Algeria during the 19th Century, and who wore black army boots. By extension, this nickname was applied to all European settlers in Algeria.
(3) Strike force. In French "Force de Frappe". This generic name applies to the French nuclear weapons programme implemented by General de Gaulle. The ostensible purpose of the nuclear weapons was to act as a deterrent against a military attack on France.
(4) CNR. Conseil National de la Résistance. Political movement organized to oppose the destructive policy of General de Gaulle.
(5) Harkis. Algerian soldiers who were loyal to France and assisted the French Army in Algeria.