Jean-Francois Darlan

Jean-Francois Darlan

Jean-Francois Darlan was born in France on 7th August, 1881. After graduating from the French naval academy in 1902 he joined the French Navy. During the First World War he commanded a battery of naval guns.

Darlan remained in the navy and by 1929 had reached the rank of rear Admiral. Soon afterwards he was given the task of rebuilding the French Navy.

In 1936 Leon Blum appointed Darlan as admiral chief of staff and the following year admiral of the fleet commanding all French maritime forces.

Darlan held strong anti-British feelings and by 1940 believed that Germany would win the Second World War. He therefore thought it was in the best long-term interests of France to come to an arrangement with Adolf Hitler rather than Winston Churchill.

When Paul Reynaud resigned on 16th June, 1940, Darlan agreed to support his replacement, Henri-Philippe Petain, and he was then named as minister of the navy. After Petain signed the armistice with Nazi Germany, Darlan ordered the French fleet to colonial bases in North Africa and instructing members of the navy to remain loyal to the Vichy government.

Darlan remained minister of the navy until February 1941 when he replaced Pierre Laval as vice premier and was designated as Petain's successor. Darlan also became minister for foreign affairs, defence and the interior. In January 1942 he was appointed Commander in Chief of French armed forces and the High Commissioner in North Africa.

Under pressure from Adolf Hitler, Darlan surrendered all cabinet posts to Pierre Laval on 17th April, 1942. However, he remained as Petain's deputy premier.

In November, 1942, the Allies invaded French North-West Africa. Vichy troops initially resisted but Darlan was eventually forced to surrender on 11th November.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who led the Allied troops during Operation Torch, controversially appointed Darlan as civil and military chief of French North Africa. The decision infuriated General Charles De Gaulle and the French Resistance who claimed that Darlan was a fascist and a Nazi collaborator. However, the decision was endorsed by Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt who both agreed with Eisenhower that the deal with Darlan would assist military operations in the area.

Jean-Francois Darlan was assassinated in Algiers by, Ferdinand Bonnier de la Chapelle, an anti-Nazi royalist, on 24th December, 1942. Although he had been trained by the SOE and had been a member of the resistance group led by Emmanuel d'Astier, it is believed he was acting as an individual rather than under the orders of any particular group.

General Clark reported that apparently Darlan was the only Frenchman who could achieve cooperation for us in North Africa. I realized that the matter was one that had to be handled expeditiously and locally. To have referred it back to Washington and London would have meant inevitable delays in prolonged discussions. So much time would have been consumed as to have cost much blood and bitterness and left no chance of an amicable arrangement for absorbing the French forces into our own expedition.

Already we had our written orders from our governments to cooperate with any French government we should find existing at the moment of our entry into Africa. Moreover, the matter at the moment was completely military. If resulting political repercussions became so serious as to call for a sacrifice, logic and tradition demanded that the man in the field should take complete responsibility for the matter, with his later relief from command becoming the symbol of correction. I might be fired, but only by making a quick decision could the essential unity of effort throughout both nations be preserved and the immediate military requirements met.

We discussed these possibilities very soberly and earnestly, always remembering that our basic orders required us to go into Africa in the attempt to win an ally - not to kill Frenchmen.

I well knew that any dealing with a Vichyite would create great revulsion among those in England and America who did not know the harsh realities of war; therefore I determined to confine my judgment in the matter to the local military aspects. Taking Admiral Cunningham with me, I flew to Algiers on November 13, and upon reaching there went into conference with General Clark and Mr. Murphy, the American consul general in the area. This was the first time I had seen Murphy since his visit to London some weeks before.

They first gave me a full account of events to date. On November 10, Darlan had sent orders to all French commanders to cease fighting. Petain, in Vichy, immediately disavowed the act and declared Darlan dismissed. Darlan then tried to rescind the order, but this dark would not allow. Next the news was received in Algiers that the Germans were invading southern France, and now Darlan said that because the Germans had violated the 1940 armistice he was ready to cooperate freely with the Americans. In the meantime General Giraud, at first shocked to discover that the local French would not follow him, had become convinced that Darlan was the only French official in the region who could lead North Africa to the side of the Allies. When the Germans entered southern France Giraud went to Darlan to offer cooperation. The fighting at Casablanca had ceased because of Darlan's order; at other places the fighting was over before the order was received.

Under German pressure the Marshal has just abandoned exercise of power to the Head of Government only reserving for himself the signing of constitutional laws. This means that the Marshal does not wish decisions that the French Government may be impelled to make in the sole interest of Germany to bear his signature. The Marshal declared yesterday (November 19) that he was the living embodiment of France. This is so and that is why we have pledged ourselves to him.

We have not pledged ourselves to the Head of Government. Our patriotic duty remains unchanged. Liberate the homeland and the Empire and, I should add, liberate the Marshal, the living embodiment of imperial France. In 1940 by signing the armistice at a time when France was invaded and practically disarmed the Marshal prevented France from disappearing as a nation and saved Africa from destruction and occupation. Ever since and until lately France remained alone.

If this policy had not been followed the Germans and Italians would have been in Africa a long time ago not as friends respectful of French sovereignty but as oppressors. Their actions in occupied France serve to prove it. And if this had happened it is probable that allied forces would not be on our side today to help us recover our freedom.

Ever since June 16, 1940, I have been a loyal collaborator of the Marshal who often confided his feelings to me. I know his feelings of affection for the great nation of the U.S. I know that, at the bottom of his heart, what matters most to him is the friendship of the American people. By feeling thus the Marshal is loyal to true French tradition.

Is it after all possible for us to imagine that the victor of Verdun walks hand in hand with the dictators who would deprive France of Alsace Lorraine, Flanders, Savoy, Nice, Corsica, and part of North Africa-with the dictators who keep 1,000,000 of our prisoners in Germany and who starve the country? When he was free to act the Marshal always expressed his confidence to me. He did it again on November 9 before the invasion of the free zone.

It is, therefore, with certainty of being a loyal interpreter of his real feeling that I confirm to you my previous orders to fight at the side of American and allied forces for defense and liberation of our territories and integral restoration of French Sovereignty. I add-in agreement with American authorities-that the African Army will never be placed in the position of fighting against Frenchmen.

The deal with Darlan has produced violent reactions on all our subterranean organizations in enemy occupied countries, particularly in France where it has had a blasting and withering effect.

In view of all sorts of rumours about the attitude of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics towards the use made of Darlan or other men like him, it may not be unnecessary for me to tell you that, in my opinion, as well as that of my colleagues, Eisenhower's policy with regard to Darlan, Boisson, Giraud and others is perfectly correct. I think it is a great achievement that you succeeded in bringing Darlan and others into the orbit of the Allies fighting Hitler.

I said in earlier commentaries that before long there would be some official pronouncement defining the position of Admiral Darlan, High Commissioner for French North and West Africa. Well, it so happens that his position has been defined in another way. He is dead. He was assassinated two days ago. The assassin was captured and tried by a French court martial. He was due to be executed this morning. That is all we know at present, except that General Giraud has taken over Darlan's position as commander of the French forces in North and West Africa for the time being. The administration is proceeding as before.

(Censored: I said in recent news commentaries that before long the British and United States Governments were likely to issue some official statement defining the position of Admiral Darlan, the High Commissioner for French North and West Africa. He is dead, having been assassinated in Algiers the day before yesterday. The assassin was captured, but we don't yet know who he is or what his motives were. No doubt the world will be enlightened on those points within the next few days. Meanwhile I should like to emphasise that Darlan's death makes no difference to the general situation. The stability of the regime in French Africa did not depend upon him, and there is no reason to think that the loyalty to the United Nations of the French troops in Africa will be in any way affected.)


WORST MILITARY COMMANDERS

The fortunes of war can tarnish the finest brass, just as misfortunes, extenuating circumstances, and politics can negate diligent and able service. RAF air chief Marshal Hugh Dowding saved Fighter Command, and possibly England, by using his pilots sparingly in the BATTLE OF BRITAIN, but his shrewd methods won few fans, and he was removed from his post. Lt. Gen. Walter Short and Adm. Husband Kimmel, both competent and professional soldiers assigned to command in Hawaii, were made to take the blame for the damage leveled on PEARL HARBOR.

But there were chieftains who had no excuse, who repeatedly wasted, endangered, and failed their countrymen despite being given liberal amounts of public support, military hardware, skilled subordinates, ample INTELLIGENCE, time, and virtual autonomy of command. Following are ten prime examples of habitual underachievers among the high-ranking, selected for the degree to which they squandered chances, created problems, and generally contributed to their nation&rsquos demise.

1. ADOLF HITLER (GERMANY, 1889&ndash1945)

In a decade he took a minuscule army in a bankrupt country and developed it into the strongest and most feared military power in the world. Had he only stopped after the defeat of France, he might have been heralded as the brightest military mind of the twentieth century. But the halcyon days after the armistice of Compiègne soon faded into darkness as Hitler began to exercise an unnatural degree of control over a system fraught with limitations, and few components of Hitler&rsquos war machine were more limited than himself.

Though a gifted orator, Hitler was a phenomenally poor communicator. He preferred to lecture rather than listen. He gave vague orders, refused to delegate tasks, and invalidated opinions divergent of his own.

On military concerns, he was almost completely ignorant of air and naval operations. Logistics confused him. He assumed any shortage of fuel or ammunition was a matter of supply rather than transportation. Strategically he had a strange habit of halting offensives just before they reached their objectives, demonstrated outside of Dunkirk in 1940 and within miles of Leningrad in 1941.

If Hitler did not know when to move forward, he also refused the option of pulling back. He first issued a &ldquono retreat&rdquo order in November 1941 to tank commanders in the Caucasus. He would repeat the directive for the rest of the war, dismissing or executing any general who moved anywhere but forward. 54

When men failed him, Hitler placed an increasing faith in machines. By 1943 he assumed the next V-weapon or supertank was all that was required to reverse his losses. As with logistics and people, he did not understand the limitations of technology. He once demanded the construction of a missile with a ten-ton warhead. A rocket engine capable of such thrust would not exist for another twenty years. 55

Examples abound of his miscalculations, baseless reprisals, and ever-widening separation from reality. Arguably his weakest characteristic as a military commander was his vacillation, notably pertaining to war aims, indicating that this leader of the &ldquomaster race&rdquo had no master plan. 56

For his tombstone, Hitler stated he wanted the epitaph: &ldquoHe was a victim of his generals.&rdquo

2. HERMANN GÖRING (GERMANY, 1893&ndash1946)

On top of his corpulent ego, his unceasing repression of political opponents and Jews, and his art pilfering, narcotics bingeing, palace squatting, jewelry hoarding, and other related acts of Nero-esque debauchery, Hermann Göring was also a bungling air force officer.

A World War I flying ace and last commander of the Richthofen Squadron, the starved-for-action Göring joined the fledgling Nazi Party in 1922 and quickly climbed its ranks. In 1935 Hitler named him Luftwaffe commander in chief. Heading the most technical branch of the German armed forces, Göring had little understanding of engineering and production. He once said half-jokingly that he did not know how to operate his radio. 57

Göring summarily appointed yes-men and incompetents, failed to develop an operational long-range bomber, and led his Führer and country to believe the Luftwaffe could achieve anything. Initially it could. The Luftwaffe was exceptionally effective in bombing the undefended city of Warsaw in 1939. After the action, Göring received the fabricated übertitle of Reichsmarshal. 58

The high-flying dirigible garnished his Polish success with baseless proclamations&mdashhis Luftwaffe could crush the evacuation of Dunkirk, destroy Britain&rsquos air defenses, supply besieged Stalingrad completely by air, etc. In only one prediction was he technically correct. Before the war he proclaimed, &ldquoThe Ruhr will not be subjected to a single bomb.&rdquo The Allies eventually dropped far more than a single bomb on the industrial mecca. 59

As if the air force wasn&rsquot enough, Göring also meddled in army affairs. By 1941 his Luftwaffe ran half of Germany&rsquos antiaircraft batteries, competing with army batteries for ammunition, guns, and spare parts. After 1942 the largest and best-equipped tank unit belonged to the Reichsmarshal, the &ldquoPanzerdivision Hermann Göring.&rdquo All of Germany&rsquos eight paratroop divisions were under the jurisdiction of the Luftwaffe. Of Germany&rsquos 150 infantry divisions on the eastern front, twenty-two of them wore Luftwaffe uniforms. 60

By 1943, Göring&rsquos bloated sun had finally set, his Luftwaffe all but shot out of the sky or beaten into the ground. As Allied bombers flew deeper and deeper into German territory, he accused his fighter pilots of cowardice, a strange recrimination. The top U.S. fighter scored forty kills in the war, while fourteen German pilots notched more than two hundred confirmed kills each. 61

Göring lived to be indicted in the Nuremberg trials, a slimmed-down, detoxed rebirth of his young pre-Nazi self. Defiant and bombastic throughout the proceedings, he was convicted on all counts. He swallowed poison just hours before he was to be hanged.

Only three Germans ever received the Grand Cross, the eighth and highest grade of the Iron Cross: Gebhard von Blücher for routing Napoleon at Waterloo, Paul von Hindenburg for defeating Russia in the First World War, and Hermann Göring.

3. KLIMENT VOROSHILOV (USSR, 1881&ndash1969)

A Bolshevik long before the 1917 revolution, Kliment Voroshilov was a Red Army commander in the RUSSIAN CIVIL WAR when he met and befriended Stalin. Though lacking in intellect and military aptitude, Voroshilov impressed the Georgian with his dogmatic zeal. As years progressed, he displayed an ever-growing loyalty to Stalin, for which he eventually had a military academy, a tank (the heavy KV-1), and a city named after him (Voroshilovgrad, currently Lugansk). He also served as defense commissar from 1934 to 1940, during which the vapid sycophant developed a gift for inflicting terrible damage.

Through Stalin&rsquos bloody purges, Voroshilov assisted in liquidating 80 percent of the Soviet Union&rsquos senior officers, later bragging, &ldquoDuring the course of the cleansing of the Red Army in 1937&ndash1938, we purged more than 40,000 men.&rdquo He further destroyed military readiness by improperly supplying and training Russia&rsquos western armies. Few war games transpired while he was in office. Deployment plans were almost never issued. Many divisional headquarters lacked basic maps. Between extolling the leverage of heroism and dismissing the importance of tanks, he predicted that the next war would only take place in enemy territory and any battles therein would be brief and relatively bloodless. 62

When war broke out, Voroshilov &ldquocoordinated&rdquo the invasion of largely defeated Poland in 1939 and an attack against Finland in the &ldquoWINTER WAR&rdquo of 1939&ndash40, netting marginal victories and horrendous losses. During the latter affair the Soviets had six times as many soldiers as the Finns. But poorly motivated and without winter clothing, the Red Army suffered eight times the casualties. Nikita Khrushchev, then a political commissar, dubbed Voroshilov, &ldquothe biggest bag of [expletive] in the army.&rdquo 63

In 1941, Stalin incredibly placed Voroshilov in charge of defending besieged Leningrad. Though the inhabitants courageously held out month after month, Voroshilov became convinced that defeat was near, so he wandered up to the front in the hopes of getting killed. He failed in that venture as well, and Gen. GEORGI ZHUKOV arrived the following day to secure the city&rsquos defenses. Voroshilov was summarily removed and promoted to the Soviet Defense Committee. 64

The inept Kliment Voroshilov was to have one more distinguished post before retirement. From 1953 to 1960, he was president of the Soviet Union.

4. CHIANG KAI-SHEK (CHINA, 1887&ndash1975)

It says something about a man if Germans, the Soviet Union, the United States, Britain, and Mao Zedong fight on his side and he still can&rsquot win.

By 1936, a narcissistic, petty, oppressive but charismatic Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek had established a military academy with the help of German advisers. He also purchased German weapons and began to modernize a massive army of at least two million. At the same time, the Chinese Communists negotiated a &ldquounited front&rdquo with Chiang to oppose the looming power of Japan. When the Japanese invaded China proper in 1937, first to assist were the Soviets, who provided weapons, ammunition, even pilots and fighters. By 1942 the Allies designated Chiang supreme commander of the China theater and sent billions of dollars in LEND-LEASE.

With all this, Chiang was able to amass an army of three million and more, but he failed to score a single major victory in eight years. Only twice did Chiang direct serious opposition, both times in 1937. In July he initiated a fight over SHANGHAI, primarily to gain international attention by placing the multinational port&mdashand China&rsquos richest city&mdashin harm&rsquos way. The event sparked a three-month battle, during which his forces were eventually routed. He immediately followed the devastating loss by jamming two hundred thousand troops in his indefensible capital of Nanking to the west. Both the cream of his army and his capital were demolished in weeks. 65

For the rest of the war, he regressed into China&rsquos primitive back-country, establishing a new capital in Chungking (Chongqing), six hundred miles from the Pacific coast. He forced millions of peasants into an undisciplined rabble of an army and presided over a ring of corrupt officials and regional warlords while hoarding money, weapons, and ammunition for an anti-Communist campaign he was aching to resume.

The popular stance in the pro-Chiang camp is that he traded space for time, letting Japan overextend itself into China and subsequently wither on the vine. Such a view overlooks a few basics. The space Chiang surrendered contained 80 percent of his industrial base, including nearly every major city and port in the country. The time he gained he did not use, even when his enemy was locked in a Pacific struggle against the United States.

As for the Communists, their armies never numbered more than a tenth of his force. However, they maintained a much greater level of discipline, conducted far more guerrilla operations, and were more willing to implement tax, rent, and land reforms than the rigid and remorseless Chiang. When two able and progressive Nationalist generals, Pai Chunghsi and Li Tsung-jen, begged the generalissimo to adopt similar methods, Chiang rejected them outright.

In the end, Chiang sacrificed more than a million Chinese soldiers and well over ten million Chinese civilians in his bid to stay in power. In 1949, the West was somehow surprised when the warlord also lost China as well.

Repulsed by Chiang&rsquos limited intellect, his Allied chief of staff, Gen. Joseph Stilwell, referred to the generalissimo as &ldquoPeanut.&rdquo

5. RODOLFO GRAZIANI (ITALY, 1882&ndash1955)

He was the youngest Italian colonel in the First World War and showed great promise, but Rodolfo Graziani&rsquos long tenure in Mussolini&rsquos fascist regime provided little beyond pointless cruelty and military failure. A general by the early 1930s, stationed in the Italian colony of Libya, he attempted to crush an independence movement by closing religious shrines, executing thousands, destroying villages, and throwing almost the entire population of east Libya into concentration camps. In the 1935&ndash36 war with ABYSSINIA, he granted military contracts to personal friends, endorsed ruthless behavior among his troops, and used poison gas on essentially defenseless Ethiopians. 66

Graziani&rsquos Second World War career varied little from his preceding record. Just as Germany was about to secure an armistice with defeated France, Mussolini wanted to rush into the Alps and claim up to a quarter of France for himself. Several advisers rejected the scheme. Army chief of staff Graziani cheered the idea and assured Mussolini his troops were ready. They were not. Invading the mountains without adequate ammunition, air support, or winter clothing, the Italians managed to advance just a few miles. They soon lost more men to frostbite than to bullets. 67

Graziani&rsquos crowning achievement transpired in autumn 1941. At the head of Mussolini&rsquos forces in Libya, he reluctantly led 150,000 soldiers into Egypt against 30,000 British subjects, mostly Indians. Gains were modest until the Commonwealth counterattacked, which sent the Italians reeling. Heading the retreat was Graziani himself, at times more than 300 miles behind the front lines. He lost all but 20,000 of his troops. Upon hearing the news, British foreign secretary Anthony Eden said, &ldquoNever had so much been surrendered by so many to so few.&rdquo 68

Yet Graziani&rsquos pitiful career was not yet complete. When Nazi Germany rescued the deposed Mussolini in 1943, il Duce set up the Italian Social Republic in the northern half of the country and selected the ever-loyal Graziani as chief of staff and minister of defense.

In 1940, Graziani &ldquoearned&rdquo the position of overall commander in North Africa when his predecessor, Air Marshal Italo Balbo, was accidentally shot out of the sky and killed by Italian antiaircraft guns.

6. TOYODA SOEMU (JAPAN, 1885&ndash1957)

In the Samurai code of bushido, a warrior must be willing to sacrifice his life if needed. When Toyoda Soemu inherited the Imperial Combined Fleet in May 1944, he believed the time had come to demand such a sacrifice. In the year that followed he pressed the Japanese navy into a number of poorly planned engagements in search of a &ldquofinal and decisive battle.&rdquo None of the battles were final or decisive, but all reduced a once-daunting force into a ghost of its former self.

A desk officer until appointed naval headmaster, the intelligent but insular Toyoda directed the Imperial Fleet into an all-or-nothing interception of the American attack on SAIPAN. Before his pilots left their carriers, he radioed: &ldquoThe rise and fall of Imperial Japan depends on this one battle. Every man shall do his utmost.&rdquo Outgunned, undertrained, and outnumbered two to one, his air arm flew into what Americans later called &ldquothe Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.&rdquo Eighty percent of Toyoda&rsquos planes were shot down, more than three hundred aircraft. The U.S. lost fewer than thirty planes. The admiral also lost seventeen of twenty-five submarines and three of nine carriers. 69

In October 1944, he pushed again for a &ldquofinal battle&rdquo at LEYTE GULF in the Philippines. Plucked of his planes and submarines, Toyoda soon forfeited the bulk of his surface ships. His strike forces totaled an astounding six carriers, nine battleships, twenty cruisers, and thirty-five destroyers. A few days later only six battleships and a handful of cruisers remained above water. Afterward Toyoda fully endorsed the use of kamikaze in a desperate attempt to hold on to the Philippines. To ensure the best results, he ordered the use of Japan&rsquos best pilots. 70

And still there was one more try in him. To the battle of OKINAWA Toyoda sent the Yamato, the largest battleship ever constructed. Legend states that the warship and its small complement of support vessels were given enough fuel for a one-way trip. Regardless, they had no air cover. Dismembered by direct hits from twenty torpedoes and bombs, the Yamato sank to the bottom of the ocean. 71

Removed from his post, Toyoda was promoted to navy chief of staff. Serving in Tokyo up to the end, he passionately argued for a continuation of the war, even after the second atom bomb fell on Nagasaki. 72

Brought to trial for war crimes, Toyoda Soemu was one of the few senior officers of the Japanese Empire to be acquitted on all counts.

7. IRWIN ROMMEL (GERMANY, 1891&ndash1944)

Yes, the Irwin Rommel. Chivalrous, charming, aggressive, and perceptive, Rommel was a phenomenon in the First World War. A mere low-grade officer, he personally led raids in France, Romania, and Italy, capturing thousands with a fraction of the troops. As a high-ranking leader in the Second World War, his maverick, reckless exploits were lethally out of place. He routinely disobeyed orders, displayed a contempt if not ignorance of logistics, and all but refused to cooperate with fellow officers.

Assigned to Libya in February 1941 to head the newly formed Afrika Korps, Rommel was ordered to stay on the defensive. Instead he launched an attack on the British protectorate of Egypt. Though he won ground and frightened the Commonwealth, he captured no major ports or key cities. He managed, however, to waste fuel and equipment earmarked for the impending invasion of Russia. Upon hearing of Rommel&rsquos escapade, chief of staff Franz Halder fumed that Rommel had gone &ldquostark mad.&rdquo 73

Eventually beaten back to Libya, Rommel at least captured its vital port of Tobruk (after four bloody attempts), which strengthened his supply line from Italy and Germany. Instructed to remain there, he headed eastward again. In the summer and fall of 1942, he lost three successive battles, including SECOND EL ALAMEIN, which began while he was on sick leave. His withdrawal of one thousand miles west to Tunisia, though often described as &ldquobrilliant,&rdquo saved only a fraction of his command. It was also the longest continuous retreat in German military history up to that time.

Later scoring a modest victory against inexperienced U.S. and French troops at Kasserine Pass along the Algeria-Tunisia border, he failed to coordinate with fellow commander Gen. Hans Jürgen von Arnim and lost the initiative. He returned to Germany, but his troops could not follow. Rommel&rsquos desert adventures compromised Axis strength in the Mediterranean, leaving no viable route for evacuation. The Axis subsequently surrendered more men in Tunisia (two hundred thousand) than at STALINGRAD (ninety-one thousand). 74

Later in 1943, while his cohorts fought for their lives on the eastern front, Rommel transferred to quiet northern France, where he wasted time and resources on the tactically futile ATLANTIC WALL. In 1944, when INTELLIGENCE and climactic conditions indicated a May&ndashJune window for an Allied invasion, he left for Germany to visit his wife on her birthday&mdashJune 6, 1944.

Overall, German historians think little of Rommel. His reputation stands high in the West partially because he was stationed in the West. Except for a brief staff job in the invasion of Poland, he served in France and Africa, where he initially faced green troops and commanders who vaunted his &ldquobrilliance&rdquo rather than admit to their own shortcomings. Rommel vaingloriously augmented his inflated status by courting journalists and photographers throughout his tenure. 75

Time and again Rommel&rsquos reputation remained intact because, in truly critical moments, he was usually absent. He also took leave of another important event. Conspirators asked him many times to support the July 1944 bomb plot against Hitler. But contrary to legend, Rommel strongly opposed murdering his Führer. 76

Constantly paired with U.S. Gen. George S. Patton Jr., the two never met in battle. Rommel left Tunisia, Italy, and France before his armies engaged Patton&rsquos.

8. JEAN FRANCOIS DARLAN (FRANCE, 1881&ndash1942)

An American officer described J. Francois Darlan as &ldquoa short, bald-headed, pink-faced, needle-nosed, sharp-chinned little weasel.&rdquo Still, the French admiral could be reduced to a single word: indecisive. 77

Chief of the navy at the time of France&rsquos surrender, Darlan initially hinted that he would enjoin his fleet, the fourth largest in the world, to the Allies. He instead sent his European-based vessels to French colonial North Africa. Britain retaliated by bombarding the warships on the Algerian coast, sinking the battleship Dunkerque and killing more than a thousand sailors.

Infuriated, Darlan forged closer French relations with the Third Reich. For a time he favored German victory, which he believed would enable France to control the oceans and overtake the British Empire. For his work, Darlan was promoted to commander in chief of Vichy&rsquos armed forces.

Darlan was in Algiers in November 1942 when the Allies invaded, and he ordered French troops to fight back. When American envoys arrested him two days later, Darlan denied having any military authority. After further negotiations, he relented and ordered his men to cease fire. But when he heard that the Vichy government was angered by his capitulation, Darlan announced a resumption of the fighting. Twenty-four hours later, when Germany invaded southern France, Darlan hinted he would help the Allies. 78

Weathering these bizarre U-turns from his headquarters in Gibraltar, the normally patient DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER finally cracked. &ldquoWhat I need around here,&rdquo seethed Ike, &ldquois a damned good assassin.&rdquo Eisenhower&rsquos offhanded wish came true. For unknown reasons, an obscure young Frenchman visited Darlan at his palatial Algiers office on Christmas Eve, 1942, and shot him dead. 79

Darlan&rsquos family had a legacy of contesting Britain. His great-grandfather was killed by the British in the battle of Trafalgar.

9. WILHELM KEITEL (GERMANY, 1882&ndash1946)

A competent staff officer with no particularly outstanding qualities or achievements, Wilhelm Keitel was as surprised as anyone when he was promoted in 1938 to chief of staff of the high command of Germany&rsquos armed forces, in charge of all military strategy. In an instant, he had become the second-highest-ranking member of the German general staff, right below der Führer.

Whatever latent talents Keitel possessed remained in hibernation, as he quickly became Hitler&rsquos most blindly loyal servant. So repugnant were his kowtowing antics, other officers began to call him &ldquoLaikeitel&rdquo&mdasha German play on the word &ldquolackey.&rdquo

But this lackey simultaneously protected Hitler from voices of dissension and crushed morale and communication among Germany&rsquos high command. Between stroking his leader&rsquos confidence, he occasionally informed Hitler of &ldquodefeatist&rdquo voices among general officers.

On one instance he demurred. When Hitler expressed a desire to invade the Soviet Union in 1940, the normally spineless Keitel criticized the idea. Troops were too entrenched in France. Necessary tanks, planes, and winter gear were not available. The attack would have to happen early in the spring to avoid the Russian winter. Yet when the same conditions applied the following summer, Keitel succumbed to Hitler&rsquos bidding and enthusiastically supported the invasion. 80

Though the field marshal often neglected to stand up for his military, he found time to initiate atrocities in the name of his boss. He endorsed the shooting of captured Soviet political commissars, authorized SS extermination programs, and ordered civilians to murder downed Allied airmen. &ldquoAny act of mercy,&rdquo he insisted, &ldquois a crime against the German people.&rdquo 81

Found guilty in Nuremberg of crimes against peace, war crimes, crimes of international conspiracy, and crimes against humanity, Keitel was executed in 1946.

At Nuremberg, Wilhelm Keitel requested to be shot, as it was the proper method of execution for officers. They hanged him.

10. MUTAGUCHI RENYA (JAPAN, 1888&ndash1966)

&ldquoI started off the Marco Polo Incident, which broadened out into the China Incident, and then expanded until it turned into the Great East Asian War.&rdquo Humility was not a strongpoint of Japan&rsquos Lt. Gen. Mutaguchi Renya. Neither were patience, foresight, troops, morale, matters of supply, etc. And it is entirely possible his regiment did initiate the CHINA INCIDENT in 1937. Mutaguchi was one of the more rabid officers of Japan&rsquos rogue Kwantung Army in Manchuria. 82

Later, at the head of a division, he performed admirably in the February 1942 conquest of SINGAPORE. But at the time he was under the guidance of the cunning and reliable general Yamashita Tomoyuki.

When he was later promoted to lead the Fifteenth Army in Burma, Mutaguchi did not fare so well. Tokyo directed him to hold the country, the only viable land avenue between India and China as well as a producer of rice and petroleum. At first he complied, but then he began to harbor dreams of great conquest. Eying India, he believed a thrust into the subcontinent would inspire a domestic uprising against British rule. If India fell, perhaps Britain itself would be shaken to its core and sue for peace.

Given approval to mount a modest advance across the border, Mutaguchi aimed for the British base at Imphal, a heavily defended city reachable only through fast rivers, dense jungle, and rugged mountains. With 155,000 troops and 20,000 draft animals, he headed west with a minimal amount of food, medicine, and ammunition. The whole operation, thought Mutaguchi, would take about two weeks. 83

Four months later, his troops wandered back, defeated by privation and dissension as much as by the Indians and British. All of the pack animals were lost or eaten, and a third of his force was dead. Then the monsoons came. Beaten men, too exhausted to march on, fell in the mud and drowned. Maggots swarmed in the wounds of the living and the dead. Some men ate grass to stay alive others begged for grenades to end their torment. In all, 65,000 died.

In losing his troops in India, the routed Mutaguchi also lost his ability to hold onto Burma, which in turn lost his empire&rsquos hold on southern Asia. For the ignominious failure, the general placed all the blame on his subordinates. 84

His India adventure was arguably the worst defeat in the history of the Japanese army. Yet instead of being tried or demoted for his actions, Mutaguchi Renya was transferred to Tokyo and promoted to the army general staff.


Darlan, Jean François

Jean François Darlan (zhäN fräNswä´ därläN´) , 1881�, French admiral. A career naval officer, he became commander of the French navy in 1939 and joined the Vichy government (see under Vichy) in 1940 as minister of the navy. After the fall of Pierre Laval, Darlan was made (Feb., 1941) vice premier, foreign minister, and successor-designate to Marshal Pétain he was the actual head of government. Laval returned to power in Apr., 1942 Darlan lost his cabinet posts but was given command of the French armed forces. In Algiers during the Allied landing (Nov. 7, 1942) in North Africa, Darlan ordered the cessation of French resistance to the Allies. Although publicly repudiated by Pétain, he assumed control over French N and W Africa in the marshal's name and brought them to the side of the Allies. He was assassinated in December. He was succeeded as high commissioner by Gen. H. H. Giraud.

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Harry M Merryman - 4/28/2006

Fleming's description of the etiology of Roosevelt's unconditional surrender policy is far too narrow. The context that is missing -- and far more important than what Fleming supplies -- is the course of the war on the eastern front and relations between the allies. Although the Soviets were in the process of inflicting a crushing defeat on the Germans at Stalingrad, there was cause to worry that the Germans would try to negotiate a separate peace with Moscow that Stalin might accept. Indeed, Roosevelt knew (because we had broken their codes) that the Japanese were encouraging the Germans to reach an armistice with the Soviets. (This would become an even greater worry for the western allies, a couple of months later, when a stunningly successful German counter-attack shook Soviet resolve and morale.) The result of such an armistice would have enabled Hitler to concentrate his forces in the west, making an invasion of the continent much more costly and even, perhaps, providing the Germans with the strength to invade England. Add to this background the fact that right up until the start of Soviet-German hostilities, the Soviet Union had been negotiating with the Germans to become a signatory to the Tripartite Pact, again at the urging of both Italy and Japan. Roosevelt knew that Stalin was deeply suspicious of the western allies' intentions and resolve, dramatically and worryingly signified by his absence from the conference. If the need to demonstrate commitment and resolve to a wavering ally is not good enough reason for Roosevelt's statement, consider the moral context. Given the atrocities the Germans were known to be commiting, any conclusion to the war short of unconditional surrender would imply negotiating peace with mass murderers. There is other context, as well, including the (mistaken) belief that a policy of unconditional surrender might encourage those who opposed Hitler to take action against him. That Fleming's focus with regard to this episode in the War is so narrowly drawn to those surrounding events which tend to portray Roosevelt's motives in the worst possible light says more about the author's biases and undermines his credibility as reliable analyst of events. Unfortunately, this is a shortcoming of the book from which this passage is drawn.


World War II Database


ww2dbase Jean-François Darlan was born in Nérac in Lot-et-Garonne. He graduated from the École Navale in 1902, and commanded a naval artillery battery during WW1. He became a rear admiral in 1929 and became chief of staff in 1936. In 1939 he was promoted to the rank of admiral of the fleet and given command of the entire French navy.

ww2dbase When Paris fell in Jun 1940, Darlan expressed his support for Premier Philippe Pétain's armistice with Germany. He served in Pétain's Vichy government as the Minister of the Navy. In 1941 he briefly held several political posts. Despite his loyalty for Pétain, the head of state that in actuality answered to Berlin in many respects, Darlan refused to turn the French navy under German control. On 7 Nov 1942 he visited his sick son in Algiers, and met with Allied representatives the next day. Forces under Darlan's command fought the Allied attempts to secure a footing in North Africa until 10 Nov when Darlan officially ordered for a cease fire. He had second thoughts about his order, especially after facing a dismissal by Pétain, but a meeting with American General Dwight Eisenhower and receiving the news of German troops marching into Vichy France (violating the French-German treaty of 1940) fully made up his mind. Eisenhower maintained Darlan as the High Commissioner of French North Africa. He ordered for the scuttle of the French fleet at Toulon to prevent them from being used to aid the Germans.

ww2dbase On 24 Dec 1942, Darlan was assassinated by the 20-year-old Ferdinand Bonnier de La Chapelle. He died from the gunshot wounds several hours later. The assassin was executed two days later. He was succeeded by General Henri Giraud.

ww2dbase Sources: Crusade in Europe, Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Aug 2005

François Darlan Timeline

7 Aug 1881 François Darlan was born.
1 Jan 1937 François Darlan was made the chief of staff of the French Navy.
12 Jun 1940 French Admiral François Darlan, Commander-in-Chief of the French Navy, assured British Prime Minister Winston Churchill that there would be no question of surrendering the French naval ships. He further asserted that orders would be given to scuttle the ships if such a danger were to exist.
16 Jun 1940 François Darlan was named the Vichy French Minister of the Navy.
9 Feb 1941 Admiral Darlan became the new Vice Premier of Vichy France.
15 May 1941 Admiral Darlan returned from meeting with Hitler and Ribbentrop Vichy-French cabinet approved German concessions as well as French counter-concessions.
12 Aug 1941 French Marshal Philippe Pétain appointed Admiral François Darlan as Minister for War, the Navy, the Air and the Colonies. General Maxime Weygand was thus placed under Darlan's orders.
18 Apr 1942 François Darlan stepped down as the Vichy French Vice Premier as well as the Minister of the Navy.
24 Dec 1942 French Admiral François Darlan was assassinated in Algiers, French Algeria by monarchist Fernand Bonnier de La Chapelle.

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Admiral Darlan

Admiral Jean-Francois Darlan achieved fame in both the French Navy and in French politics during World War Two. Darlan was seen by many to be pro-Nazi Germany and he has been portrayed as a collaborator.

Darlan was born on August 7th, 1881. In 1902, he graduated from the French Naval Academy and during World War One he commanded a battery of naval guns. Once the war ended, Darlan remained in the French Navy and by 1929, he had attained the rank of Rear Admiral. Shortly after this promotion, Darlan was tasked with rebuilding the French Navy.

In 1936, he was appointed as Admiral Chief of Staff and in 1937 he became Admiral of the Fleet and commanded all of France’s maritime forces.

Darlan was anti-British and the success of the German attack on Western Europe in the spring of 1940 convinced Darlan that Nazi Germany would win World War Two. He held the personal belief that it would be better for France to come to terms with Hitler rather than court any development with Churchill.

Darlan supported the appointment of Pétain in June 1940 as head of the Vichy government. In return, Darlan was made Minister of the Navy. During the surrender negotiations with Germany, the French fleet had gathered in various naval bases in French Africa. The British sort to destroy these warships in ‘Operation Catapult’. The deaths of nearly 1000 French sailors during the attacks of ‘Catapult’ did nothing to improve relations between Britain and France and reinforced Darlan’s deep dislike of Britain. Ironically, Darlan had sent instructions to Admiral Gensoul, commander of the French fleet based in Toulon after sailing from its base near Oran, that all warships should be scuttled if the Germans attempted to seize them. The evidence does seem to suggest that Darlan had no intention of allowing French warships to be taken by the Germans – had Britain known this, ‘Operation Catapult’ would not have been necessary.

In February 1941, Darlan replaced Pierre Laval as vice president and was formally designated Pétain’s successor. Darlan also became Minister of Foreign Affairs, Defence and of the Interior. In January 1942, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of French armed forces and High Commissioner in North Africa. On April 17th, 1942, Darlan, under pressure from Hitler, gave up all his cabinet positions but he did remain as Pétain’s deputy.

On November 8th, 1942, the Allies landed in North Africa – ‘Operation Torch’. The French forces only put up token resistance and Darlan was forced to surrender on November 11th. However, to bring on board all loyalty amongst French troops in North Africa, Eisenhower, who commanded ‘Operation Torch’, appointed Darlan as civil and military chief of French North Africa. Both Charles de Gaulle and leaders within the French Resistance were angered by this decision as they saw Darlan as little more than a collaborator. However, the decision was supported by both Churchill and Roosevelt who agreed with Eisenhower’s logic – that it would bring on board most if not all of the French military still in North Africa – especially as they faced an awesome enemy in the Afrika Korps.

Darlan was assassinated in Algiers by Ferdinand Bonnier de la Chapelle on December 24th, 1942. The assassin had been trained by the Special Operations Executive and was a member of the French Resistance but the evidence does seem to point to the fact that in this instance he was working on his own and had not received any orders from any particular group.


Admiral Darlan was assassinated for his collaboration with the Germans

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This edited article about World War Two first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 468 published on 2 January 1971.

On Christmas Eve, 1942, Admiral Jean Francois Darlan, Commander-in-Chief of the French Army and Navy, set out to make a radio broadcast from a station in Algiers. It was to be the last act of his long and brilliant life.

His previous broadcasts had stirred up a great deal of controversy among the British, American, and Free French forces in Europe, for Darlan had at one time believed that Germany was bound to win the Second World War and that the wisest thing France could do was to make peace with Hitler.

After the capitulation of France in 1940, Darlan became Foreign Minister in the pro-German Government which was formed under the leadership of Marshal Henri Petain.

Petain had asked Hitler for an armistice. On its being granted, he had abolished the French republican constitution, and proclaimed himself “Chief of the French State.”

The Marshal, however, did not keep his self-elected office for long. He lost his place as Prime Minister, and Darlan – as chief of the armed forces – became the most powerful man in France.

His friendship with the German leaders was notorious and, when British Marines took over the island of Madagascar in May 1942 to forestall a possible Japanese landing there, Darlan called upon the garrison to resist to the last man.

Despite this, Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, believed that Darlan was the one person who could help the Allied landings in Morocco and Algiers six months later. At the time, Darlan had assumed the position of High Commissioner for French North Africa, and Churchill later wrote:

“Admiral Darlan had but to sail in any one of his ships to any port outside France to become master of all . . . interests . . . He would have carried with him . . . the fourth navy in the world, whose officers and men were personally devoted to him.”

Thus encouraged, Darlan agreed to support the British and Americans in their operation. His status as Commissioner, however, provoked strong criticism in the New York and London newspapers and he became detested by the supporters of General de Gaulle, the leader of the Free French forces, whose headquarters was in London.

This, then, was the background when Darlan went to make his ill-fated speech over the American broadcasting network on the evening before Christmas Day.

In a previous broadcast, Darlan had started his talk with the phrase “Honour and Country”. This particularly incensed de Gaulle’s followers, as it was the same phrase which the General used to commence his radio talks broadcast from Britain.

It came as no surprise in some quarters when, as Darlan was about to enter the radio station, he was shot to the ground by an assassin’s bullet. The man who fired the fatal shot was a young officer called Bonnier de la Chapelle, who was known to be a fervent admirer of de Gaulle.

Admiral Darlan died almost immediately, and his death caused a sensation in international political circles. Although de Gaulle himself had nothing to do with the assassination, the responsibility for the deed was laid on his shoulders.

President Roosevelt of America was convinced that the French general had played a part in ordering the killing, and immediately cancelled an arrangement for de Gaulle to visit him in the White House.

Other people – including Winston Churchill – absolved the General from any blame. The Allied landings went ahead according to plan, and the greatest tragedy was the death of the 61-year-old admiral, whose naval career had been one of the most brilliant in all Europe.

Darlan, who was born in the small town of Nerac in South-West France, entered the French Naval School in 1899. As a cadet he spent some years on the China station, where apart from gaining naval and military experience he also received a firm grounding in diplomacy.

In 1912 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and later served as an instructor on the training cruiser, Joan of Arc. It seemed that he would remain a naval officer for the rest of his career, but at the start of the First World War, he made an abrupt change of direction.

His skill and versatility were such that he transferred to the army, became a first-class gunner, and fought with distinction in some of the most decisive battles of the war – including the Battle of Verdun, in 1916, when the German casualties were estimated at more than 300,000.

After the end of hostilities, his rise was rapid and dramatic. His influence in naval matters was without equal and, in 1934, he became Commander-in-Chief of the French Atlantic fleet. Five years later he was promoted to Admiral and, at the start of the Second World War, he was poised to throw his talents in either direction – to go along with Hitler, or to oppose him.

Unfortunately for Darlan he made the wrong choice – even though he came to side with the Allies in the end. The one misjudged move of his career resulted in his violent death and the besmirching of his reputation in the eyes of those most dedicated in their support of France.

This entry was posted on Friday, November 29th, 2013 at 7:57 am and is filed under Famous crimes, Historical articles, History, Politics, World War 2. You can follow any comments on this article through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


Darlan: Admiral and Statesman of France, 1881-1942

Admiral Jean François Darlan&aposs Western legacy is that of an opportunist, a fascist collaborator, or, at worst, a traitor during France&aposs struggle for survival in the early years of World War II. This study, however, based upon new research from French, English, and German archival sources, paints a different picture. With a career beginning during the height of France&aposs im Admiral Jean François Darlan's Western legacy is that of an opportunist, a fascist collaborator, or, at worst, a traitor during France's struggle for survival in the early years of World War II. This study, however, based upon new research from French, English, and German archival sources, paints a different picture. With a career beginning during the height of France's imperial power and lasting until the nation's rapid wartime decline, Darlan was a pragmatic statesman, a guardian of naval preparedness, a stout opponent of fascism, an earnest patron of the Anglo-French Alliance, and an advocate of combined naval power in the Mediterranean. He defended French naval and colonial interests against all foreign powers before and during the war, and his success in this area eventually resulted in his assassination.

Darlan's career was characterized by his loyal service to his government and nation. One of the first to recognize the German threat, he openly favored naval rearmament in the early 1930s. He was also instrumental in the success of the 1937 Nyon Conference on Mediterranean security, which was the only prewar military effort against fascist aggression. During the occupation, Darlan pursued diplomacy to ease the burdens of the French people. Yet, these very negotiations with the Germans, along with his bitter reaction to Britain's surprise attack against the French fleet at Mers el-K?ebir, would result in his reputation as an opportunist and a collaborator with the fascists. This examination of the man whose murder would ease the way for Charles de Gaulle will captivate anyone interested in the political intrigues of World War II. . more


Jean-Francois Darlan - History

Jean-Francois Darlan was born in France on 7th August, 1881. After graduating from the French naval academy in 1902 he joined the French Navy. During the First World War he commanded a battery of naval guns.

Darlan remained in the navy and by 1929 had reached the rank of rear Admiral. Soon afterwards he was given the task of rebuilding the French Navy.

In 1936 Leon Blum appointed Darlan as admiral chief of staff and the following year admiral of the fleet commanding all French maritime forces.

Darlan held strong anti-British feelings and by 1940 believed that Germany would win the Second World War. He therefore thought it was in the best long-term interests of France to come to an arrangement with Adolf Hitler rather than Winston Churchill.

When Paul Reynaud resigned on 16th June, 1940, Darlan agreed to support his replacement, Henri-Philippe Petain, and he was then named as minister of the navy. After Petain signed the armistice with Nazi Germany, Darlan ordered the French fleet to colonial bases in North Africa and instructing members of the navy to remain loyal to the Vichy government.

Darlan remained minister of the navy until February 1941 when he replaced Pierre Laval as vice premier and was designated as Petain's successor. Darlan also became minister for foreign affairs, defence and the interior. In January 1942 he was appointed Commander in Chief of French armed forces and the High Commissioner in North Africa.

Under pressure from Adolf Hitler, Darlan surrendered all cabinet posts to Pierre Laval on 17th April, 1942. However, he remained as Petain's deputy premier.

In November, 1942, the Allies invaded French North-West Africa. Vichy troops initially resisted but Darlan was eventually forced to surrender on 11th November.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who led the Allied troops during Operation Torch, controversially appointed Darlan as civil and military chief of French North Africa. The decision infuriated General Charles De Gaulle and the French Resistance who claimed that Darlan was a fascist and a Nazi collaborator. However, the decision was endorsed by Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt who both agreed with Eisenhower that the deal with Darlan would assist military operations in the area.

Jean-Francois Darlan was assassinated in Algiers by, Ferdinand Bonnier de la Chapelle, an anti-Nazi royalist, on 24th December, 1942. Although he had been trained by the SOE and had been a member of the resistance group led by Emmanuel d'Astier, it is believed he was acting as an individual rather than under the orders of any particular group.


FRANÇOIS DARLAN, (1881-1942), French admiral.

Jean-François Darlan, Admiral of the Fleet, a title he had ordered put back into use for himself and which has never been used since, remains a very controversial figure. Different historians have attributed contradictory and dubious intentions to him, so one must turn to the facts instead. As a member of a navy family that had dabbled in politics (his father had been a deputy for Lot-et-Garonne and minister of justice from 1896 to 1897), he joined the navy as well but saw little action, at least at sea. During World War I he almost always fought on land, and in the years that followed was often a state minister. He had a reputation for leaning toward the Left, which was rare in the navy, and it was Léon Blum who appointed him Admiral Chief of Staff in 1937. He is a bit excessively glorified as the creator of the large fleet France possessed at the outbreak of World War II in 1939. The ill winds of the day worked against anything more than its limited use in combat, however. A portion of the fleet was destroyed in the raid on Mers El-Kebir in July 1940 by the British, who were afraid it would fall into the hands of the Germans. The majority of the fleet, however, was scuttled in the port of Toulon in November 1942, when the Germans invaded the “Free Zone.”

Admiral Darlan was a high-profile figure under the collaborationist Vichy government. He had been tapped as minister of the navy by Marshal Philippe Pétain on 16 June 1940, during the last government of the Third Republic. But it was only after the 1940 defeat that he acceded to the highest ranks. An Anglophobe, as French sailors traditionally were, especially after the events at Mers El- Kebir, he quickly became convinced of the need to collaborate with Germany, whose victory appeared certain. His position was in fact very close to that of Pierre Laval, and when a plot was hatched in December 1940 to supplant Pétain’s second-in-command, who held the real reins of power, Darlan replaced him as deputy prime minister and designated successor. Although some said Darlan privately had reservations about the National Revolution, in practice he was a fervent supporter, and it was during his government that a whole series of its measures were taken, including the creation of the General Committee on the Jewish Question, the passage of the second set of anti-Semitic laws, the special tribunals for judging members of the Resistance, and the Work Charter. Above all, it was during Darlan’s tenure that a marked increase in collaboration with the Germans occurred. In the hope of forging a political accord, to which the Germans had no intention of agreeing, Darlan offered military cooperation, which included giving the Germans access to airfields in Syria and the ports of Bizerte and Dakar. As events unfolded after the Soviet Union and the United States entered the war, however, these attempts failed to gain concessions from the Germans, who feared Admiral Darlan would change sides and whom they felt was not the man they needed. They reinstated Laval to his position of power in April 1942, though Darlan remained commander of the army.

His fate was determined somewhat by chance, since he happened to find himself in Algiers during the Anglo-American landing in North Africa in November 1942. It was an opportunity for him to switch sides-he intended to maintain a Vichy-style regime while at the same time rallying the leaders of the colonial territories, as well as other exiled French forces to the Allied cause, even though he had recently ordered those forces to fire on the Allies. He was engaged in a highly complex and ambiguous game, virulently opposed by the Gaullists, when he was assassinated by Bonnier de la Chapelle, a young member of the Resistance with monarchist tendencies. Was this an isolated act or the result of a conspiracy? The truth will never be known, given the local authorities’ evident haste to execute the admiral’s murderer by firing squad. In continental France, the public was not fooled-Darlan, too visible to be able to switch sides at the necessary moment as others managed to do, was a Vichyist and a collaborator who had been executed for his acts.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Couteau-Be’garie, Herve’, et C. Huan. Darlan. Paris, 1989. Paxton, Robert. “Un amiral entre deux blocs.” Vingtie`me sie`cle, revue d’Histoire (October-December 1992): 3-19. Sirinelli, Jean-Franc, ois, ed. Dictionnaire historique de la vie politique franc, aise au XXe sie`cle. Paris, 1995.


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