The Importance Of Empire To Vichy France — страница 2

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severely disrupted. Colonial administrators were caught between feelings of loyalty to the empire and the appeal to join with Great Britain in a resistance against the Axis powers. Most administrators decided to recognise the Vichy regime, concerned about their proximity to the Axis armies and believing that Petain, as a war hero, would be able to act in the empire’s best interests. One region in Africa was different. The governors of French Equatorial Africa decided to join with the Belgians in the Congo (who had likewise decided to break with their mother country) and with the British. These administrators declared that they would support Charles de Gaulle and the concept of a Free French government. It appears that both the European elite and the native leaders were in

favour of this decision. For example, “Governor Felix Eboue of Chad, the first black man to govern a colony, solidly placed himself behind de Gaulle.” De Gaulle he knew how important it was to gain immediate support from Frances equatorial African colonies. After a meeting with Jan Smuts Prime Minster of the Union of South Africa. It was revealed, that if he had not supported de Gaulle. Smuts would have lost control of South Africa to pro-axis movements who would of then sought to collaborate with the axis powers, leading to an increased threat on the African continent from Nazi Germany. De Gaulle believed this showed, even, even in the beginning of the war the Free French were shaping the way it was heading. After the defeat at Dakar, it had appeared that the Vichy

government was winning the battle for colonial control. It appears that if the Free French had been victorious, it would have weakened colonial rule. “He feared that disobedience to establish authority would weaken colonial rule. ‘movements that do not respect hierarchy carry within themselves the ferment of dissolution´, he solemnly stated to his subordinates.” After Frances defeat de Gaulle believed the empire could and would be used to liberate France. The Vichy government believed that he empire was one of it´s remaining sources of strength. The Vichy government also had control over the French navy. The Germans saw this as very important especially where the Mediterranean was concerned. The Vichy government headed by Pierre Laval saw the Navy and the empire as his

two greatest assets for establishing and maintaining a fair deal for France in Hitler´s new Europe. As Jean Suret-Canale states in his book French Colonialism in Tropical Africa 1900-1945, Eboue was “resolutely opposed to assimilation,” a fate which would have ultimately been far more likely had the racist Nazis emerged from the war as victors. Assuming that this was common view among native African administrators, it seems likely that the policies of the Nazi regime played an important role in creating a willingness to join with the Allies. There are some bizarre records of pro-German (and anti-French) feelings throughout the French territories in Africa. One example of a manifestation of this sentiment was the 1947-48 revolt in Madagascar, in which the rebels used the Nazi

symbol and sometimes took the names of famous German generals. However, most native administrators appear to have considered the French to be the lesser of the two imperial evils. The relatively great distance between French Equatorial Africa and the Axis armies was also an encouraging factor for colonial officials of all races who considered the idea of establishing a Free French organisation. At any rate, the Vichy regime had inadvertently created a political rift in its former colonies as now many more African territories aligned themselves with the allies. The changes which had occurred can not, however, be characterised as a political disturbance alone. Of equal importance was the disruption of the long-standing colonial economic system. Germany was demanding a regular

supply of coal, wheat, beets, meat, butter and a variety of other products, particularly raw materials she needed to maintain the war. As for products from French Africa, Nazi agents supervised the unloading of imports in the south of France and redirected them to Germany and Italy. However, it was not practical for the Nazis to assert control over all the French territories in Africa. Consequently, the flow of products from French Equatorial Africa was no longer directed at France after the French surrender in 1940. Old rivalries were renewed between the British and the French mostly amongst the French naval personnel. When Churchill ordered the sinking of a French fleet based at Mers-Et-Kebir in Algeria. Churchill believed that there was a possibility that the French fleet