Adolf Hitler – letter to Marshal Petain
November 26, 1942
On November 11, 1942, with the consent of Germany’s allies and with the aim of ensuring the security of the Reich, I made the decision to occupy the southern coast of France in the war imposed on us by France and England. I hope that this will help clear up the situation in your country, in the interests of Germany and Italy as well as of France.
Looking back on the past, I ought to point out once again that it was not Germany that declared war on France and England in September of 1939; on the contrary, ever since I came to power, I have never missed any opportunity, despite the burden of the Versailles Treaty, to promote the development of genuinely friendly relations with France.
Germany has put forth only one requirement-do not reject the hand of friendship offered by us. Unfortunately, unscrupulous Anglo-American, and especially Jewish, bosses have succeeded behind the scenes in interpreting the New Reich’s every gesture at reconciliation as Germany’s weakness, and every appeal for peace as a sign of Germany’s forthcoming collapse.
While neither the government nor the press of the German Reich ventured to set forth any demands which would be insulting to the honor of France, high-ranking trouble-makers in Paris stood up for splitting up the German Reich, enslaving the German people, abolishing the fundamentals of our social legislation, and, above all, restoring the unrestricted right of the Jewish race to plunder us, a right which had been duly restricted by law.
Herr Marshal! I know you didn’t take part in this instigation of war.
However, you may know that after the campaign in Poland I repeated my previous declarations, and the German Reich, without making any claims for itself, offered the kind of peace that could contribute to cooperation in Europe.
In the first days of September 1939, after the campaign in Poland was over, the forces that stood for Europe’s self-destruction and thus for their own war profits, out-shouted that call for peace and demanded that the war should continue at any price. In this way, the struggle foisted by your government upon the German Reich and upon Italy, allied with the German Reich, had to be settled by arms, rather than by reason.
Despite the victory, unique in world history, I did nothing that might have insulted the honor of France; the armistice agreement sought only to prevent under all circumstances the resumption of conflict. Nor was any subsequent requirement imposed contrary to this principle.
It is known to you, Herr Marshal, that all claims to the effect that Germany intends to take possession of the French fleet or has made explicit demands along those lines are pure inventions, or rather explicit lies spread abroad by English and American parties who are the ones chiefly interested in pushing for this war.
While the German Reich still must bear heavy sacrifices due to the war forced upon it partly by France, the French people have been able to live in conditions of peace, except when they are forced to shed blood by sea and air attacks launched against them by their own allies.
Meanwhile, out of 1.960.000 prisoners of war, the German Reich has gradually released 700.000, an action which, to my mind, is an unprecedented event in the history of warfare. The blame for hindering this process must be laid on the radical elements in your country, which have always managed to sabotage genuine cooperation.
It was your own wish, Herr Marshal, to consult once with me to determine and to fix in writing the conditions of such cooperation. I acceded to your wish, and negotiations were conducted in Montoire, which, as I strongly believed, can provide the basis for a general detente.
Unfortunately, only a few weeks later, those in France herself who favor the war succeeded in putting an end to this cooperation, on grounds that appeared infinitely painful to me personally. And I am obliged to mention the public declaration that I allegedly intended to bring [the body of] Napoleon’s son to Paris with the sole purpose of inviting you there so that you should fall captive into the hands of the Germans.
I must point out that you, Herr Marshal, have more than once asked me for permission to move to Versailles, and every time I declined that request of yours proceeding form the consideration that the whole world might have misconstrued this, even though erroneously, and imagine that the French government was a puppet of the Germans.
Although this one fact [sic] was absolutely contrary to my stand on the peace agreement, I did not draw a corresponding conclusion from it, as I always understood and still understand that in France there are millions of diligent workers, farmers, and other citizens who have nothing in common with those schemes and who are aspiring to peace.
I would like to emphasize, Herr Marshal, that I more than once made attempts to invite a member of the French government to meet with me; besides, all our discussions that did take place were fully based on the wishes of the French government. Both talks with Admiral Darlan were also carried out as a result of his insistent request and on your behalf, Herr Marshal.
The landing of American and British troops on the French northwest and north coast of Africa undertaken, as it turned out later, as a consequence of agreements with numerous traitors-generals and officers- annulled the terms of the whole agreement as presented in the preamble of the cease-fire, and so Germany was forced, together with her allies, to take the necessary urgent measures to strengthen security.
Nevertheless, by November 11, I was still unaware of all those preliminaries, which led up to the Anglo-American action. Today I know just as you, Herr Marshal, do, that the invasion [of French Africa] was performed in accordance with insistent demands from those French elements who had once brought about the war and who have not yet disappeared from the social and, above all, the military sphere of France. Another regretful fact is that the French generals and admirals more than once broke their word of honor given to the German authorities.
Herr Marshal, you have to admit, too, that such generals and admirals broke their oath of loyalty to you. Consequently, I have to conclude that any agreement with such elements is absolutely senseless.
I am presenting to you only the proofs of the fact that after the invasion of November 11, 1942, new solemn oaths were sworn, even though only in the form of a word of honor, and they were broken on the same day, a fact which is confirmed in the recently discovered orders.
It is absolutely certain that the Admiral’s assurance that the French Navy in Toulon would oppose any attack of the enemy also ended in disappointment for Germany and Italy. The point is that the above declaration was also made on November 11, but an order was issued on November 12 forbidding firing on the British and American troops under any circumstances, even in case of their possible landing. Many other instances of violations of the cease-fire agreement were revealed. Herr Marshal, I can bring to your attention the following:
1. I am sure that you personally, Herr Marshal, did not participate in all that treachery and that you are actually the most victimized party.
2. I have to represent the interests of the people upon whom the war was imposed and who, in their own interests, must fight against those who unleashed that war, and against those who are continuing it now with the aim of exterminating the whole of Europe in the interests of the European and partly non-European Jewish-Anglo-American clique.
3. I am forced to bring this war to an end in the name of those millions of people, not only in my country, who have freed themselves from the grip of ruthless capitalist exploitation and have no wish to remain victims to international exploitation and to the complete extermination of their nations.
4. The German people, on whose behalf I am appealing to you, Herr Marshal, have no hatred toward the French people. But being their Fuhrer and representative, I shall not, under any circumstances, tolerate the manipulations of those elements who have brought about this war, thus exposing Germany and the whole of Europe to chaos.
I am therefore against those tendencies and, above all against those persons who wish to hinder any cooperation between the German and the French people, in the future as well, and who have on their conscience the murderous blame for kindling the war, and who apparently believe that the hour has come to create a bridgehead in the south of Europe in order to enable the invasion of forces from outside the continent of Europe.
5. Therefore, having learned about new violations of their word of honor by French officers, generals and admirals who are intending, as has now been proved, to open France and North Africa to the Anglo-Jewish military criminals, I gave orders to seize Toulon immediately, to prevent the ships from sailing to sea or [failing that] to exterminate them, and also to crush all resistance if there is any.
It is not a war against honest French soldiers and officers; it is a struggle against those military criminals who even now keep thinking that there isn’t enough bloodshed, and who are seeking for new possibilities to continue and prolong the catastrophe. That is why I have given orders to demobilize all those units of the French army which were instigated by their officers to resist Germany, in defiance of the orders of the French government.
6. As I have already pointed out, these measures, which I was forced to take due to the treacherous behavior of your admirals and generals, are not directed either against France or against French soldiers.
I earnestly hope, in common with our allies, that there is a possibility to return to the French state those French forces whose officers will, at least, obey the head of their own state, to guarantee the conclusion of any further interstate treaties and agreements.
The more painful it may be for you at the present stage, Herr Marshal, the more hopeful and reassuring ought to be the awareness that it is impossible for a state to exist long without a disciplined and obedient army. So, the building of a new navy, army and air force that would blindly obey you, Herr Marshal, will be a great happiness for France and in no way an unhappiness.
I would not like to end this letter without assuring you once more tha this step forced upon me does not, in the least, diminish my will to cooperate with France, and, probably, creates prerequisites for the practical realization of this cooperation. I firmly intend to help France, by every means available in the Reich, to regain her colonial territories which were taken away from her by the Anglo-Americans, regardless of some debatable statements to the contrary.
Neither Germany nor Italy ever intended to destroy or annihilate the French colonial empire.
Now it is in the hands of the French state to accept the measures forced upon the Germans, so that further bloodshed should not arise and so that at last the prerequisites are created for a really successful cooperation by both parties.
Field Marshal von Rundstedt is authorized to give the required orders and conclude agreements in the course of this German action, and he will always be at your disposal, Herr Marshal.
I’m bringing this letter to an end with a hope that it will give a start to cooperation in the course of which we expect from France nothing but loyalty and understanding of the essence of Europe’s general destiny.
Herr Marshal, please accept my assertion of my personal respect for you.
Yours: Adolf Hitler