25 OCTOBER 1940, Page 1


THE meeting between Herren Hitler and von Ribbentrop and M. Laval in Paris is evidently an event of some importance, even if the slippery French politician simply received instructions from his masters. Little is gained by speculation regarding the subject of either of these conversations, or of those between the Germans and General Franco. The Main Government is known to be anxious to be 'allowed to move to Paris. On the other hand, the Germans may well decide to occupy the whole country. Discussion may have included these topics, or even, as a Nazi spokesman suggests, the proposal that the German, French and Italian fleets should unite —if they can—to smash the British Mediterranean Fleet. (Under the armistice terms Germany undertook not to use French ships against Great Britain.) On allY these hypotheses events will throw some light. But on one material point—the com- petence of M. Laval to speak even for unoccupied France— considerable doubt prevails. There is increasing evidence of the growth of a pro-British, pro-de Gaulle, anti-Nazi and to some extent anti-Petain feeling in France. The temptation to exaggerate its importance must be resisted, and at best it cannot radically affect the situation for the wesent. But it is a trend worth noting.