6 NOVEMBER 1942, Page 12


Sta,—May I make two brief notes in the margin of Mr. Harold Nicolson's most interesting "Marginal Comment" on the booklet Petain-Laval? Mr. .Nicolson implies that the really serious charges brought against Petain by the author of the booklet (the charges of having maintained contact with the German Ambassador in Madrid after war had begun; of having been informed of the German plan to attack France yet not advising his Government of the fact ; of having, in short, contributed to the defeat of the Third Republic in order to achieve a personal supremacy which he may genuinely have believed to have been moral salvation for France) depend on the evidence of Monzie. This surely is not the case. They are primarily based on the evidence of M. Dejean (at the time a high official at the Quai d'Orsay) and on the testimony of the French Consul-General at Barcelona. It is true that Monzie's comments on the words and bearing of the Marshal when in Paris are quoted ; but they are quoted almost derisively, with a definite indication that Monzie had some characteristic motive in writing as he did—a motive, which will only be known when the compost heap of Vichy is finally opened up.

It may be added, in further justice to the author of the booklet, that he only accuses Petain of conspiracy in the early stages of the catastrophe ; and brings out, almost with sympathy, the pathos of his present position as nominal Chief of a nominal State, whereas he is in fact the prisoner