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Laval Says Was Necessary

To Compromise

N.Z. Press Association—Copyright Rec. noon. PARIS, Aug. 5. The Petain trial, which seems likely to continue another week, has already cost over £14,000. Laval resumed giving evidence yesterday. Questioned on the compulsory drafting of French labour to Germany, he said it was necessary to negotiate and compromise with the Germans. "We had 60,000 liberated prisoners of war in France who were only on parole," he stated, "and could be taken back to Germany. "Collaboration was forced on us. France was being suffocated by the Germans; they had a stranglehold by two means—the pressure of the threat to take back the prisoners and to starve us of all coal, steel and oil. There were 1,000,000 unemployed in France and the 52 departments occupied by the Germans represented 80 per cent of France's economic resources. France without Germany's help could not have lived more than two months. "I got 100,000 prisoners of war back in exchange for 300,000 French workers," he continued. "Belgium, who had no Government, sent 80 per cent of her workers to Germany, while France, who had a Government, sent 16 per cent. i served my country by reducing to a minimum the burden imposed on her." • The judge, interrupting, said: "It is a matter of opinion." North African Landings Laval, replying to the judge's questions on the North African landings, said Darlan gave orders to repel aggression by either side. Some military leaders resisted for ten days in accordance with orders. "As a result of the long work put in by the Americans before the landings," Laval continued, "the state of mind among the French generals underwent a change." There was laughter when Laval explained that the French generals decided to co-operate with the Americans when they saw how large were the forces of the "forerunners of the liberation of France." Laval.said: "I undertook not tu surrender the fleet to the Germans. The fleet was not surrendered, but was at the Mers El Kebir (scene of the Oran engagement) action."

The Judge: We had no right to ' join the other camp. » Laval: Those are the words of a ■ man speaking five years later. . The Presiding Judge: With great . generosity Britain agreed to France Lj giving up the fight; I am sure she never agreed that France should , cross over to the enemy, t Laval said Petain was not free in . his actions. The Germans compelled . him to send messages. The order to resist the Allies in North Africa was extorted. The Judge: We are here to find out whether you committed crimes or acted merely as a politician. You delivered Jews to the Germans. Laval: I prevented French Jews from losing their nationality by establishing the Court of Magis- . trates. The magistrates did wnat they could; I congratulate them. Statements to Americans Laval denied that the United States made a move to break off relations after his broadcast in which he said he wished for a German victory. Laval said he told Admiral Leahy, then United States Ambassador to Vichy, and other American officials of his policy a few days after the broadcast. "This trial is illogical," Laval said, "and the prosecutions and argument untenable, because what we did was indispensable to enable France-to keep alive." Laval asserted .that he knew nothing of the scuttling of the French Fleet in Toulon until the German Minister, von Nidda, visited him in the small hours of the morning and told him the German Army was in Toulon. Laval said he protested and called his Ministers together. When he telephoned Toulon he learned that ship after ship was exploding. "If our relations with the Germans had been as intimate as is alleged the Germans would have warned us," he said, "but they knew! our answer would have been a curt 1 refusal. They, as usual, tried to capture our warships by force and violence." Saved Reynaud and Blum Laval claimed that he saved two former Prime Ministers, Reynaud and Blum, from being shot. After the Allied landings in Algiers, he stated, a court-martial sentenced to death a French colonel and the Germans wanted to shoot Blum, Reynaud and Mandel, but he prevented this. Laval said Mandel's assassination grieved him, and added: "I do not approve of assassination as a method of government. "Darnand," he continued, "was forced on the Government as police chief. Darnand belonged to the Cagoulards (a French reactionary group). I protested vigorously and vainly and I asked myself whether I should stay in office. In not going I .did myself harm, but rendered service to the country." While he was in office, Laval said, the number of Frenchmen interned was reduced from 25,000 to 5000. "Petain knew of my efforts," he added, "and approved of them." The prosecutor, M. Mornet, read pencil drafts made by Petain for broadcasts in which General de Gaulle was denounced as a traitor. Mornet agreed that the broadcasts ' were never delivered, but added: "I consider such writings are as good ] as deeds." Petain exclaimed: "That's too much." (

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Bibliographic details

PETAIN TRIALHAS COST OVER £14,000, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 184, 6 August 1945

Word Count

PETAIN TRIALHAS COST OVER £14,000 Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 184, 6 August 1945

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