Adolf Hitler - appeal to the French people
November 11, 1942
Frenchmen! Officers and Soldiers of the French Armed Forces!
On September 3, 1939, the British government declared war on Germany without reason or cause.
Regrettably, the instigators responsible for this war succeeded in moving the French government to join this English declaration of war. For Germany, this meant an incomprehensible challenge.
The German government has demanded nothing of France and has asked nothing. I have not made any unreasonable demands on France that could have insulted it.
The German Volk, which with the blood of its men had to oppose this attack, had never harbored hatred for France. In spite of this, the war that was unleashed brought suffering and unhappiness to countless families in both countries.
Following the collapse of the French-English front, which led to a catastrophe and the flight of the English from Dunkirk, Germany received a request to grant an armistice.
The German Reich did not demand anything in this armistice treaty that could have offended the honor of the French army. However, care had to be taken that the fight would not sooner or later be begun anew by paid agents, in the interest of the British war inciters.
It was not the goal of Germany to humiliate or destroy France or the French Empire. Instead, the goal was the contrary: to bring about by a later, reasonable peace a general atmosphere of mutual understanding in Europe.
Since this time, England, and now also America, have attempted again to obtain a foothold on French territory in order to continue the war on foreign soil, as this has always been in their interest. Once these assaults had failed pitifully everywhere, the English-American attack on the colonies in west and North Africa took place. It was easier to fight there, because of the weakness of the French occupiers, than on the coasts in the west defended by Germany.
The German government has now known for twenty-four hours that, in expanding this operation, the next attack will be directed against Corsica, in order to occupy that island, and against the southern coast of France.
Under those circumstances, I was forced to decide to issue the German Wehrmacht orders for immediate passage through the previously unoccupied territory to positions earmarked for the English-American landings.
The German Wehrmacht does not come as the enemy of the French people or as the enemy of its soldiers. It does not intend to govern these territories. It has only one goal: together with its allies, to repulse any American-English attempt at a landing.
Marshal Petain and his government are at complete liberty to pursue their responsibilities as before. Nothing stands in the way any longer of a realization of its former desire to move to Versailles in order to govern France from there.
The German troops have received instruction to impose as little as possible on the French people by their attitude. However, the French people should consider that, through the attitude of its government in the year 1939, it plunged the German Volk into a difficult war, which has brought great suffering and woe to many hundreds of thousands of families.
It is the wish of the German government and its soldiers, insofar as possible, not only to assume the protection of the French borders jointly with members of the French armed forces, but also to help, above all, to guard the African possessions of the European people against armed attacks in the future.
Only in those instances where blind fanaticism or paid English agents put up resistance to the advance of our units will arms force a decision. I know that countless Frenchmen have the understandable desire to be relieved of the occupation.
But let them be assured that the soldier would also prefer to be in his homeland, with his wife and children, or his parents, and to be allowed to live and work in peace there. Therefore, the quicker the power is defeated that in the past three hundred years has incited state against state and which has looted France so often in the past and is at present again in the process of looting, the earlier will the wishes of the occupied French territory and the occupying German soldiers be fulfilled together. All outstanding questions will be ordered and resolved in agreement with the French authorities.