The initial career of DarlanLeft the Naval college in 1901, it shows initially a sensitivity of center-left per family heritage and its passages in the cabinets of Georges Leygues and Albert Sarraut. He knows a fast advance: Rear-admiral in 1929, Vice-admiral in 1932. The shortly after the advent of the Popular front, its fasteners with the medium of the center-left designate it as candidate with the functions of Head of State general major. June 6th, 1939 it is made Admiral of the fleet , a title created for him.
Agnostic, Darlan is attached to the values of Laïcité, small property, Patriotisme and Morale.
In the International Conferences of " between-two-guerres" , Darlan vigorously defends the right for France to have a powerful Flotte vis-a-vis the claims of the British.
During its career, Darlan makes create new naval units and benefits from it to weave a network of relations, composed naval officers of which it supports advance.
The armistice and the mode of Vichy
In June 1940, after one moment of hesitation, Darlan supports the request for armistice. He becomes Minister for the Navy commercial and military first Gouvernement Philippe Pétain, then Vichy government. February 10th, 1941, it succeeds Pierre-Etienne Flandin as chief of the government. He becomes the designated successor of the Maréchal by the constitutional act 4 quater of the same day. Darlan directs government until April 1942, day when there must resign under the pressure of Adolf Hitler, which wishes to see Pierre Laval taking again his place, but remains designated successor of the Head of the State and becomes Commander-in-chief of the French forces.
The new French navy will be at the base of the policy of collaboration carried out mainly on the initiative of Darlan, following its nomination as vice-president of the Council. This policy constitutes the military application of the policy of Collaboration fixed publicly by Pétain, on October 30th, 1940, the shortly after Montoire. Darlan, in exchange of economic and military collaboration with Germany, hopes to obtain a recasting of the armistice. For him, the war would have with long the being exhausting for the United Kingdom, and this one should finally give up continental Europe with the Germans. France could then play the role of mediator. France, according to him, would have to still live a long time under the German domination. Also should not it stick to the clauses of the armistice which would make it lose on all the tables. Collaboration with Germany is, for him, the least bad solution. He hopes moreover to play a big role with the head of the European Navy, in Europe of the new Ordre , where France would become the second great power after Germany. He underestimates however the mistrust of Hitler with respect to France.
At the time of the coup d'etat anti-British of Rachid Ali in Iraq, on April 3rd, 1941, whereas England seems weakened, Darlan discounts capacity to obtain the reduction of the constraints resulting from the armistice, in exchange of the delivery in Germany of an air base in Syria-Lebanon and of weapons to its Iraqi allies anti-British. For this purpose, it returns visit in Hitler to Berchtesgaden at the beginning of May 1941. After which, on May 14th, he pleads before the Council of Ministers for a widened collaboration.
The Protocols of Paris are signed on May 28th by Darlan and Abetz. By anticipation on these agreements, and with the active approval of Pétain, which in address directly the order with the general Dentz, a base was delivered to the Luftwaffe in Syria (with Alep), while vehicles, artillery and ammunition are yielded to the Germans, in North Africa, like with the Iraqis in fight against the United Kingdom, in Syria. In exchange of these agreements, Darlan obtains the transfer in French Africa of 10000 men, as well as the release of 961 officers of which the general June expressly indicated. The other protocols signed in Paris envisage also the delivery of naval bases to the Germans, with Bizerte and Dakar, but their application will be blocked by the Alliée intervention in North Africa.
Although marked by the loss of Raising and the failure of the protocols of Paris, Darlan seizes again itself, convinced of the accuracy of its policy. There is necessary for him to remain allied in Germany not to lose Africa, nor its wallets in the Vichy government. Darlan reinforces its capacity and becomes Minister for National defense. It can thus determine the use of the armed forces and their general organization, as well as the conditions of their employment. The relations between navy and army are not very cordial, the soldiers badly supporting to be ordered by a sailor. Darlan enters in open conflict with Weygand and Huntziger. The chance serves Darlan with death by accident of the Huntziger general. As for Weygand, the operations of the admiral near the Germans end in his recall, following a German ultimatum. June, released pursuant to the Protocols of Paris, is named at once with the higher command in North Africa.
February 1st 1941, the difficulties of Rommel in Africa start again the negotiations: a meeting takes place with Saint-Florentin between Darlan, Pétain and Goering. Pétain then gives to the marshal of Reich a memorandum in seven points taking again the old dispute to obtain a sincere political collaboration on the basis of recognition of French sovereignty on the whole of the territory, of the end of Ostland, the disappearance of the line of demarcation, economic easings and the release of the prisoners. This memorandum is refused by Goering.
Negative on the plan of the political concessions, the dialog leads to military conversations concerning the defense of the Empire. Not excluding more the fold of Rommel in Tunisia, of the negotiations are carried out with the general June, on December 20th in Berlin, for a possible French participation in the war in Africa. If Rommel would be rejected in Tunisia, the French troops should have intervened to fight at the sides of the Germans against the British troops. It is what took place on November 8th, 1942, where the generals of Vichy receive with blows of gun the allies in Morocco, while they deliver, without resistance, Tunisia with German-Italian ( to see the article Opération Torch ).
It acts there, for France, as at the time of the protocols of Paris, of an agreement of Co-belligerency with the Germans, whereas the political concessions requested from Germany n the other hand are rejected. Darlan then negotiates compensations of an only military nature, but which, while largely exceeding the framework of the second protocol of Paris, make inevitable a war with the United States and the United Kingdom.
The mistrust of Hitler with regard to France excludes any possibility of France allied from Germany and the proposals of Darlan, once more, will remain dead letter.
At this beginning of 1942, Hitler does not believe any more to need the French, because of weakening of English.
At the end of February 1942, the policy of Darlan is a complete failure. The Germans broke the contact, they will not take again it more. The situation of the navy does not cease being degraded. The buildings of Toulon have only two full of fuel oil whereas stocks of Morocco are already exhausted in February 1942. The French fleet, in the event of resumption of the hostilities, would be in the same situation as the Italian fleet: in total dependence with regard to Germany for the fuel and the aerial cover.
In addition Darlan, by its requests for concessions, irritates the Germans who require the return of Laval to the capacity. Darlan therefore is not better seen British who reproach him the agreements of Paris and the delivery of material to the Iraqis then with the German-Italian ones. It is in hillock with the hostility of part of the army and entourage of the Marshal. He suffers in addition from a certain unpopularity, because of deterioration of the living conditions of French. The Pétain April 18th, 1942 returns Darlan.
Change of courseDarlan negotiated its departure, and kept the role of commander-in-chief of the military forces. Not only it is in charge with the organization and the use of the armed forces, but of more of promotions. Darlan endeavors to fight against the bureaucracy and to renovate the executives of the army by lowering the age limits. It limits the processions and the catches of weapons and wants to reduce the number of the staffs. It makes a point of creating a spirit interarmées. It attaches a great importance to the preparation of combined operations. But there does not remain about it less the subordinate of Laval.
The temptation of a reversalDarlan is devoted to speculations on the future in a time when France is likely to find itself plunged in the conflict. Thus, as of the end of 1941 Darlan it would have multiplied, to believe of it its entourage, the unpleasant remarks with regard to Germany. In 1942, it leaves his son Alain and the admiral Fenard to contact the Murphy American semi-officially. One and the other would have endeavoured to convince Roosevelt, via its consul with Algiers, that Darlan believed in the allied victory. Alain Darlan supports occasion consequently, that Vichy would have made only minor concessions. But this work of intermediaries encounters a certain skepticism.
November 4th, 1942, in the evening, Darlan receives a telephone call of Fénard since Algiers: Alain Darlan, reached poliomyelitis is hospitalized since October 15th in Algiers; its state is desperate. November 5th, Darlan leaves with Vichy haste for Algiers. Escorted by its assistant marine and his principal private secretary, it carries his codes of communication with Auphan (while leaving those of the other admirals such as Laborde), like it makes it in all its displacements, even personal, since he became minister, then commander-in-chief.
The unloading combined in North AfricaIn the night of the 7 to the 8, whereas is held in Algiers the putsch intended to help the Allies in their unloading, and that the XIXe Army corps, neutralized during 15 hours by the resistant civilians, does not manage to control the insurrection, Darlan is stopped with June by pupils of Terminale ordered by the young candidate of Pauphilet reserve. Badly informed by its services, he does not believe that the Americans could have the sufficient maritime means to intervene on the side of Europe before at least a year. He arranges himself then to address to the admiralty of Algiers, not controlled by the resistant ones, two messages, of which one, written its hand (and preserved) gives the order to resist the allies. Lastly, after releasebeing released in the morning with June, he addresses as of 8 a.m. in Vichy a telegram asking the German intervention of Luftwaffe, against the allied convoys.
Because of the refusal of the General Giraud to leave Gibraltar, Darlan, after having capitulated and to be themselves returned with the Allies, will find itself propelled on the front of the scene. For the Americans, Murphy, Clark or Ryder, he become the only interlocutor, in the days following the unloading, to put an end to the combat and a delicate situation for the allies with Oran and at Morocco. However, if the Admiral of the Fleet, taken with the trap, accepted as of the 8 one cease fire for the area of Algiers, he refuses during the two following days, in spite of the pressures and the threats of Clark, to order the suspension of fighting in Morocco and the whole of Algeria. He will decide only under the threat, November 10th and 11th, to put an end to the combat.
Giraud arrived at Algiers after the battle having announced its fidelity to him, Darlan proclaims on November 13rd Haut-Commissaire in Africa, in the name of the marshal prevented , and finally makes return North Africa in the fight against the Axis.
The rallying of Darlan relieves the military chiefs Vichyist, conscious of going to the defeat in the event of prolonged resistance. For the Allies, if the rallying of Darlan rather badly is seen by their public opinions, and is considered with suspicion by their generals, it makes it possible to save time and to save lives. Consequently remain the problem of the fleet of Toulon. The Allies hope for its rallying, before very obtaining its neutralization. Also the Allies has a presentiment of Darlan to order to him to install, whereas Darlan wants to make it leave only in the event of invasion the southern Zone, affirming it on several occasions on November 10th. It knows that it must already manage to make be worth its legitimacy on the military authorities in Africa and try to obtain the rallying of the admiral de Laborde, with whom it is in conflict and who will listen to only the Pétain Marshal, which is dedicated to the failure. It is thus on November 11th only that Darlan decides, under the pressure of the allies, to address a message to the admiral de Laborde. Calling upon the rupture of the armistice and the absence of freedom of the Marshal, it invites the commander-in-chief to direct the ships towards Africa Occidentale French and not towards North Africa. The following day, Darlan renews its call in the same terms. He sees himself returned with the answer of Dumont d' Urville, alternative maritime of the word of Cambronne.
Obeying the instructions of scuttling of 1940 envisaging the case where a foreign power would try to seize our buildings, the Fleet attacked by the Germans scuttles on November 27th, 1942 in Toulon.
Darlan does not worry however to repeal the laws and the hardest measurements of the mode of Vichy, the political prisoners being maintained in the concentration camps of the Interior.
The change of camp of Darlan in November 1942 less did not facilitate of it the re-entry in war of the French forces of North Africa at the sides of the Allies. Roosevelt, worried by the ambitions of Charles de Gaulle, appreciates the official continuity represented by Darlan. The personality of Darlan and its political role in Vichy make however impossible any union of the army of Africa with the free French Forces.
The assassination of Darlan
The December 24th 1942, Darlan is cut down by the young royalist Fernand Bonnier of the Vault. Fernand Bonnier of the Vault is judged and carried out in an expeditious way and the interrogations remain as for the silent partner of the assassination. One of the assumptions is that of an emanating order of elimination of the count de Paris for whom the maintenance of Darlan would involve French Resistance in the Soviet orbit. Another more probable assumption makes of the young man the member of a group of resistant more or less abstract but of obedience gaullist which had decided the elimination of a character who could only obstruct and delay the arrival of the only legitimate power in their eyes. Darlan was buried with the military cemetery of Seas-el-Kébir, close to Oran in Algeria. In 2006, its tomb, many tombs of French sailors and the ossuary of the military cemetery were profaned by the unknown ones.
Sources and bibliography
- Rene Pierre Gosset, Expédients provisional , Fasquelle, Paris, 1945.
AnecdotesThe marshal Pétain and Darlan were made acclaim by crowd in the streets of Vichy. Everywhere this n´était that cries “Lives the Marshal!” “Pétain Lives! ” when suddenly a small voice shouts “Vive Darlan! ”. Then Pétain with l´amiral “Eh well Darlan! I did not know that you were ventriloque! ”
Basic historical works
- Henri Michel, Vichy, year 1940 , Robert Laffont, Paris, 1967.
- Henri Michel, Pétain, Laval, Darlan, three policies? , 1972.
- Henri Michel, Darlan , Paris, Hatchet, 1993.
- Professor Yves Maxime Danan, political life in Algiers of 1940 to 1944 , Paris, L.G.D.J., 1963.
- Christine Levisse-Touzet, North Africa in the war, 1939-1945 , Paris, Albin Michel, 1998.
- Professor Jose Aboulker and Christine Levisse-Touzet, November 8th, 1942: The armies American and English take Algiers in fifteen hours , Paris, “Hope”, n° 133, Paris, 2002.
- Herve Coutau-Bégarie, and Claude Huan, Darlan , Paris, 1989.
- Masson, Philippe, the French navy and the war 1939-1945 , Paris, 547 pages, Tallandier editions, 2000.
- Delpont, Hubert: " Darlan, the ambition perdue" , editions of the AVN, Nérac, 318 pages, 1998.
Official reports of time of the actors of the putsch of November 8th, 1942, in Algiers
- Books French, share of Resistance French in events of North Africa (Reports/ratios of the chiefs of the groups of volunteers which seized Algiers on November 8th, 1942), Commissariat with the Information of the French National committee, London, August 1943.
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