SIR,—Although this letter contains a severe criticism of your policy we should be grateful if you would publish It, as it may clear up difficulties which your very misleading attitude towards
France has created in the minds of numbers of your readers. Our fundamental criticism is that you con
sistently identify Vichy with France. The result is that in your latest leading article you talk about Britain fighting our " former ally "—as though France, in the persons of her free sons, led by General de Gaulle, were not still our ally I
To those of us who were in France at the time of the capitulation, as well as to those countless French men and women who have risked their lives to join the Free French Forces, as well as to those thousands whose letters reach us over here, it has always been clear that the French nation—Prancewas opposed to the policy of the men who handed France over to Hitler. Vichy is not France because the French nation was not consulted with regard to the capitulation or its terms; Vichy is not France because twothirds of Fraoce was outside its control.
For Catholics it is particularly important to understand these things because the word " Catholic " has been all too often used in connection with Vichy. We should like to point out that neither the fact that some of the members of the Vichy Government go to Mass on Sundays, nor even the fact that they have spoken of moral regeneration or Christian social order, can render " Catholic " a system which is founded on a two-fold violation of the natural law:— I. The injustice and perjury constituted by breaking the alliance with England ; 2. The injustice and treachery against the French people and the honour of France constituted by:—
(a). Surrendering two-thirds of France in order to keep a (nominally) unoccupied third, thus deliberately seeking to divide the allegiance of Frenchmen in France and in the ,French Empire; (b). Accepting an ever-increasing—and obviously inevitable " collaboration with our common enemy;
(c). Handing over to Ilitler's "mercy" all those refugees who had fled from Nazi tyranny to free and hospitable France;
(d). Compromising the Church by seeking to cover their weakness with a facade of " Catholic " reform—when the whole foundation for the whole structure is the quick-sands of Hitler's good pleasure.
(The only reform that really interests France a the present time is the reformation of French territory—getting rid of the Germans and ensuring France's integrity and independence.) In this connection we quote a recent mimber of the courageous Dominican Revue des Jeunes:—" Very dangerous are those articles, written in haste by professional
thunderers, which cry ' Victory at each natural reform without seeking to understand its meaning or to indicate its inevitable limitations."
News from Vichy and from Berlin synchronise at the present time to make out that there is fierce fighting in Syria—the object being to rouse people in France against Britain and our French allies. Your leading article also suggests that the campaign in Syria should be conducted " effectively, even ruthlessly.' Why?
The aim of the British and the Free French Forces is exactly the opposite. Our triumph in Syria will be measured not by the efficacy of what you call a " surgical operation," but by the amount of fighting we avoid. Our triumph will consist in the voluntary rallying to us of those French in Syria who have been misled by unscrupulous propaganda and treacherous leaders into fighting against their brothers and friends, for Hitler. At the time of writing, for example, OUT forces could have already been in Damascus, had they wanted to proceed, as you suggest, " quickly and effectively, even ruthlessly." On the contrary, as to-day's Tittles has it, they " are doing all in their power to sustain the essentially pacific purpose of their mission and to rely wherever possible on persuasion rather than on assault."
Is it not clear that by falsely identifying France with Vichy you now inevitably consider France our enemy? And is it not clear that this is precisely Hitler's aim? He has publicly made known that his aim is the '' annihilation " of France—prior to that of Britain—and it would suit him admirably if our two countries could be worked up to consider each other as enemies (thus leaving Germany in the background) and there
after destroy each other. It would save him much ammunition and much " precious German blood," and it would give him the satisfaction of knowing that two Christian Allies had become enemies because they had refused to fulfil the first Christian duty of trying, in truth and charity, to understand
the situation. Fortunately, our country's policy is at present directed by men who seem to be trying really hard to understand.
For fuller details with regard to France and Syria we strongly recommend that you urge your readers to consult the current issue of the Tablet.
[This letter is commented on in an editorial article on page 4. Here .we would only say that we cannot accept the arguments adduced to suggest that Vichy Ls not the legal government of France (though the precise legality of the government of a country in a state of collapse is always a matter of
minor moment). The United States, the Pope and even this country accept Vichy as the government of France, and Genera; de Gaulle has expressly disclaimed any responsibility other than that of leading Free Frenchmen against Germany.
Because of This it Ls normal language to identify Vichy with France, though in fact we constantly use the term " Vichy" or " Vichy France " to allow for the obvious fact that in a time of divided loyalties Vichy is not representative of all true (Continued at foot of next column)