Pegler: French Communists (8-29-44)

Reading Eagle (August 29, 1944)


Pegler: French Communists

By Westbrook Pegler

New York –
Reporters in France tell of the execution of French women and men who were deemed to have collaborated with the Nazis and of women shorn as a mark of disgrace. The trials must have been informal and emotional, and there runs through the dispatches a strong suggestion that the Communists of France now are sitting as judges of patriotism to a country which they themselves betrayed in the days of the Phony War and on down to the fall.

In the Herald Tribune, John Chabot Smith, writing from Marseille, says the French Forces of the Interior, after seizing a town, install a local government consisting of the council of liberation or men named by the council. The council, he says, includes a representative from each of the six principal political groups, including the Communist.

That the Communists in France, as here, fight desperately for communism no man will deny. Like the Nazis, they are political fanatics and as cruel, wanton, devious and treacherous. They have so much in common that not long ago before the war some American writers who had studied history in process in Germany were calling the Nazis brown Bolsheviks.

But it is a fact, nevertheless, that they were traitors to France and would have opened the gates from the inside to let the Nazis in without a fight, just as the Communists in the United States did all they could to keep this country unarmed and helpless until June 1941. President Roosevelt himself flatly accused the American Communists of this when he sent a regiment of the Regular Army to Inglewood, California, to drive their terrorists from the gates of one of our most important airplane factories so that the Americans could get to their jobs. Elmer Davis, of the OWI, said that in the absence of more exact information he would regard as a Communist anyone who opposed our rearming program prior to Hitler’s attack on Russia, but changed overnight when the Berlin-Moscow alliance broke.

To refresh our memory of the conduct of the American Communists during that time, we may refer to the files of some of the House organs of the CIO unions which were then (and remain today Communist fronts), controlled by clever and indefatigable Communist minorities. The Daily Worker is another reliable reference.

The Communists in France were worse than useless in the French Army facing the Germans. They not only wouldn’t fight the Nazis, but they made more ghastly the desperate position of those Frenchmen who did fight and many of whom died. They were saboteurs in the factories and ports and collaborationists in far more deadly and tragic ways while there was still a chance of survival than those who, during the long dark night since the fall, lost hope of rescue and simply submitted.

French politics has been so horribly corrupt and confused that even before the war few Americans had the confidence in their judgment to boast that they understood. But undoubtedly there were Royalists and Fascists of varying degrees who saw the situation as a choice between fascism and communism and, after the collapse, went fascist or collaborationist.

But there was one certainty during all that time down to the collapse. The communists were active, aggressive traitors who stabbed their own country in the back just as surely as Mussolini did, and only after the foul deed was done and the Nazis were in, suddenly turned patriots because Russia, their spiritual homeland, was in danger. Their purpose was not to rescue France but to help Russia by harassing the Nazis in France.

That such people should now be able to hound and condemn and execute others, even though some of the accused actually were traitors, is a hideous irony and an injustice to the American and British fighters who drove the Germans out. For these American and British soldiers, too, were betrayed by the Communists and now find French Communists exploiting their victory.

It will not be so, apparently, but surely these traitors, too, should be called to trial. Instead, we find them participating in the control of the nation they helped the Nazis to humiliate and torture beyond respect of recovery within that term which President Roosevelt calls the foreseeable future.