DE GAULLE OFFICIAL EXPOUNDS FRENCH AIMS TO C.H.
The exclusively military character of the Free French movement was once again emphasised to The Catholic Herald in an interview, on this occasion by a very high member of General de Gaulle's administrative staff.
The Catholic Herald has always endeavoured to show that the roles of Marshal Petain and of General de Gaulle are complementary rather than antagonistic. Petain—much to the fury of the Germans—maintains French independence on French soil by diplomatic and delaying methods; General de Gaulle fights on at the head of Frenchmen whom the Germans cannot blackmail.
The member of the General's administrative staff, interviewed by The Catholic Herald, once again emphasised the fact that the movement had no official connection with the newspaper France, some of whose views he described as " objectionable," and that French propaganda in this country was not wholly in the hands of the Free French.
Our informant also pointed out the great interest being taken by the Free French Administration in the religious question. especially in the colonies, while at a meeting of the University Federation last Sunday, Captain Neurohr, a leading French Catholic Actionist now with the Free French Forces, spoke forcibly of the religious failures of the past and the hopes of the future.
Thomas Kernan, in Report on France, sympathetically analyses the religious aims of Vichy and their importance for reviving French morale, while explaining how the Germans, who fear such a revival, have attempted to sabotage it.
Free French—Their Aims are Military
From a C.H. Reporter I called on a very high member of General de Gaulle's administrative staff last week to discuss and clarify the policy of the Free French Movement.
My text was the statement of General Odic, which appeared in La France Libre of February 16:
" The ri)le of the Free French Forces." wrote General Odic, " will be the better fulfilled If they become more military. and if on the strictly political plane they show themselves to all in France only as the accidental and provisional representatives of the nation."
My informant was surprised at first. " I thought it would be hardly necessary to speak on this point," he said. " De Gaulle hes affirmed it time and again."
" Yes," I answered, " but there is a wide misunderstanding of the de Gaullist movement in this country. Many people think it is political, not military. Then, as you know, such matters cannot be repeated too often," FREEING OF FRANCE: ONE GOAL " Well," he said, " de Gaulle must be thought of first and last as a man in the service of France. So must all those who form the movement. There is no tirne for
differences, political or otherwise. These arc sunk; and we aim at one goal only : the freeing of France. This is the case most clearly in the colonies. Administration goes on smoothly for the same immediate end."
" Many people," I pointed out, " associate the French daily paper France with the movement and take their cue from it." Ile nodded regretfully and added that the paper had nothing whatevel to do with de Gaulleofficially. He even complained that its views were sometimes even " objectionable " ; and its news could be had in any English paper.
" Another difficulty," I went on, " is your propaganda service. It leaves much to be desired. Vichy is mocked and attacked not from the right reasons bat from the wrong reasons; because it is authoritarian and ',' Fascist," whereas everyone knows that Vichy has done excellent work under the circumstances to clean up France and bring in order, decency and better social legislation."
My informant pointed out that the propaganda question was not entirely in Fret French hands. " It is hoped that this may be remedied," he said.
QUARREL WITH VICHY
" What is your real quarrel with Vichy?" I asked. " It is this,' tie replied. " A Government cannot compel its people not to want to fight its enemies, especially when those enemies are occupying their country."
He strongly reproved Vichy for its policy of outlawing and punishing de Gaullist sympathisers, and threw St. Thomas and Mirabeau at my head in defence of the right to resist such a policy. He failed completely to understand how a man of the mental calibre of Fr. Scrtillanges could back it so wholeheartedly.
I suggested that M all this Vichy was playing a difficult diplomatic game, and the last thing it really wanted was the heads of the spirited de Gaullists. The Germans accused Vichy of being in secret sympathy with de Gaulle.
Talking of collaboration, he admitted that collaboration seemed the safest course for many Frenchmen now in France. They followed their leaders, " I disagree, however, with' the denial of the right of young men to fight against their homeland's enslavement by Germany ; for Germany (1 speak as an ordinary Catholic Frenchman) is the negation of all we believe and hope."
Speaking of Catholic affairs, my informant said: " I can say on excellent authority that the position in North Africa from the Catholic viewpoint is happy. Catholics were too wise to push their demands. And the idealism of Frenchmen of several shades of 'political and religious belief was reflected in the way in which the missions and education were handled.
Before the coming of de Gaulle both bad been naturally neglected in the apathy that followed the Armistice. Since this, large funds had been put at the disposal of the missions; and education is being conducted on definite Christian lines."