COMMENT: As the global economy reels from the Eurozone debt crisis, it may be useful to ponder a little known aspect of the background of former French president Francois Mitterand, the man who [officially] insisted on the formation of the common European currency.
As discussed in Miscellaneous Archive Show M61, Mitterand had a history of participation in, and collaboration with, the French fascists who destabilized French democracy in the years before World War II and actively subverted the French military resistance to the German invasion of 1940. (The information about Mitterand is on side 1c.)
Mitterand was associated with the Cagoule and Croix de Feu, French fascist organizations that attempted to overthrow the French government in 1938, much as U.S. fascists attempted to eliminate Roosevelt in 1934. Undermining the French defenses, these same elements realized their goal when the invading Germans created the collaborationist Vichy government.
Mitterand’s association with French fascist Rene Bousquet extended decades into the postwar period. Bousquet helped finance Mitterand’s postwar political career. Details of Bousquet’s political career and Mitterand’s association with him are covered in detail below.
A number of considerations suggest themselves in this regard:
- Was Mitterand actually a double for the Axis during the war?
- Was Mitterand’s “escape” from a POW camp during the war a cover for his subsequent infiltration of the French Resistance on behalf of the Germans and Vichy?
- Was Mitterand a deep-cover operative for the Underground Reich in the postwar period?
- Was he a willing, conscious fascist throughout, or [perhaps] subject to political blackmail, manipulated by the threat of revealing his prewar and wartime activities?
- Was Mitterand’s insistence on a common European currency because of his fear of a re-unified Germany or because he was actually aiding in the realization of the stratagem of Friedrich List, as envisaged by the Third Reich? (For more detailed discussion of this, see–among other programs–FTR #746.)
- In light of the continued postwar German domination of the French economy, we might see Mitterand’s behavior as fulfillment of policy embraced by the French power elite–junior partners with their business associates in the Federal Republic. (This is discussed at some length in sections 28 through 31 in FTR #305. There is an excellent presentation of the interlocking of French and German corporate interests in the steel industry and the position they mutually occupied in the International Steel Cartel on pages 34–37 of James Stewart Martin’s All Honorable Men.)
In addition to reflecting on Mitterand’s past, we will also highlight the endeavors of Robert Zoellick in the context of German reunification. Zoellick recently confirmed that Mitterand insisted on the establishment of a common currency as pre-condition for German reunification. Zoellick was a principal architect of that reunification, as well as a probable operative on behalf of the Underground Reich.
We should not lose sight of the fact that it is largely the advent of the euro itself that has brought about the financial crisis in Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
EXCERPT: To fully appreciate the subtle ironies of the euro crisis it takes a sense for history. Europe’s common currency has practically achieved the very opposite of what its creators originally intended. Instead of framing the Germans in Europe, the crisis has elevated Germany to the continent’s new, albeit reluctant, hegemon. Former French President François Mitterrand must be spinning in his grave.
Last Sunday, the Asia Society hosted a dinner for World Bank President Robert Zoellick in Sydney. His warnings about a further escalation of the debt crisis were widely reported, and the high-calibre audience certainly appreciated his views on the state of emerging markets. However, Zoellick also gave a fascinating insight into the early history of European monetary union.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, Zoellick was the lead US official in the ‘two-plus-four’ negotiations that prepared Germany’s re-unification in October 1990 (so named after the two German states and the four allied forces – Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the US). He was thus intimately involved in the diplomatic balancing act of unifying Germany while reassuring the British and the French that they had nothing to fear from this new and bigger country in the heart of Europe. For his achievements, Zoellick was even made a Knight Commander of the German order of merit, a very high award for a foreign national. [Italics are mine–D.E.]
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was horrified about the prospect of a united Germany. “We beat the Germans twice, and now they’re back,” she allegedly told a meeting of European leaders at the time. Thatcher even invited historians to a seminar at Chequers to discuss the question of how dangerous the Germans really were. Her trade minister, Nicholas Ridley, was forced to resign after he had compared German chancellor Helmut Kohl to Adolf Hitler in an interview with The Spectator. . . .
. . . There had always been rumours that in the two-plus-four negotiations the French had demanded Germany to give up its beloved Deutschmark in return for a French ‘oui’ on unification. More than once the dominance of the über-solid Deutschmark had caused the French and other European nations pain. Forcing the Germans to abandon their currency would surely be an appropriate way to weaken them so they could not become a threat to other nations, the French probably thought.
The only problem with this account of history is that there is no solid evidence for it. When Der Spiegel news magazine reported these rumours once again last year, representatives of the old Kohl government were quick to dispute that there had been any secret deals at the time. “There never was an agreement,” German treasurer Wolfgang Schäuble (who was home secretary at the time) boldly claimed. His predecessor Theo Waigel flatly denied any link between unification and the euro.
Such previous denials made Robert Zoellick’s remarks at the Sydney dinner all the more remarkable. Almost in passing, and as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, he explained his understanding of how Europe got its common currency. And his account confirmed the rumours that it had a lot to do with German unification.
As Zoellick told his audience (that was probably unaware of how controversial these issues still are in Europe) it was very clear that European monetary union resulted from French-German tensions before unification and was meant to calm Mitterrand’s fears of an all-too-powerful Germany. According to Zoellick, the euro currency is a by-product of German unification. As one of the key insiders in the two-plus-four negotiations, trusted and highly decorated by the Germans, nobody would be better qualified to know the real story behind European Monetary Union. Despite all official denials coming from the German government until the present day, there are no good reasons not to believe Zoellick’s account of the events.
The great historical irony of this story is, of course, that if the French had really planned to weaken the powers of newly reunited Germany through monetary union, this attempt has now completely backfired. Sure, the Germans will pay massively for the sake of keeping the euro project alive (if they don’t pull out of monetary union once they realise this). But in strategic terms, Germany’s influence has never been greater. As the continent wants to bank on Germany’s AAA rating, Berlin can now effectively dictate fiscal policy to Athens, Lisbon and Rome – perhaps in the future to Paris, too. . .
. . . As it turns out, the euro is not only an unworkable currency. It actually started as a French insurance policy against German power. But even as an insurance policy it has failed. Against their will, it has turned the Germans into the new rulers of Europe. And it has consigned France to be the weaker partner in the Franco-German relationship.
If Mitterrand had known all this in advance, he would have insisted on Germany keeping the Deutschmark as the price for German unification. . . .
COMMENT: In addition to information presented in Miscellaneous Archive Show M61, Mitterand’s relationship with Rene Bousquet is of great importance in appreciating “the real Mitterand.”
EXCERPT: . . . The most damming of all charges against Mitterrand and his right wing connections is probably his long lasting friendship with René Bousquet, ex secrétaire général of the Vichy police. Charles de Gaulle said of Mitterrand and Bousquet “they are ghosts who come from the deepest depths of the collaboration.“ Georges-Marc Benamou quotes Mitterrand as saying of Bousquet “his career shattered at the age of 35, it was dreadful... Bousquet suffered badly. Imagine the break, the career shot to pieces“ which shows Mitterrand felt that Bousquet was undeservedly badly treated. In 1974, René Bousquet gave financial help to François Mitterrand for his presidential campaign against Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. In an interview with Pierre Favier et Michel Martin-Roland Mitterrand claimed that he was not the only left wing politician to benefit from Bousquet’s money, as René Bousquet helped finance all the principal left wing politicians from the 1950s to the beginning of the 1970s, including Pierre Mendès France. Worse still after Mitterrand’s 1981 win René Bousquet was received at the Élysée palace “to talk politics”. In an interview with Pascale Froment (René Bousquet’s biographer) Mitterrand declared “I listened to him as a political commentator. He saw me as a continuation of his halted career.“ Only in 1986, when media criticism of Bousquet began to gain in volume, did Mitterrand stop seeing him and he did not comment on the matter until the 1994 interview with Jean-Pierre Elkabach. Lionel Jospin commented that he was little impressed by the President’s explanation saying “One would have liked a simpler and more transparent rise to power for the leader of the French left during the 70s and 80s. What I can’t understand is the continuing relationship into the 80’s with the likes of Bousquet who organized the mass arrests of Jews“ and Charles Fiterman also felt let down: “these revelations leave the uncomfortable impression of having been deceived by the man. 50 years later we see no trace of regret nor critical analysis, but a continuation of a compromising relationship which casts new light on events such as putting flowers on Pétain’s tomb. This seems to show a continuity in the choices of a leader calling in favors from a network of friends.“ Pierre Moscovici, commenting on Pierre Péan’s book said ” What shocked me is his rubbing shoulders with someone who was instrumental in state antisemitism and the ‘final solution’. We can’t tolerate such tolerance of evil, and for me René Bousquet was absolute evil“ and the historian Pierre Miquel commenting on the TV interview said “the comments... of the President of the Republic are part of a discourse from the right... on the subject of the occupation“ . . .
COMMENT: In light of Mitterand’s long-standing, profound relationship with Bousquet, more detail about Bousquet’s wartime activities is instructive.
EXCERPT: . . . . On 2 July 1942, Bousquet and Carl Oberg prepared the arrests known as the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup (Rafle du Vel’ d’Hiv). Bousquet personally canceled orders protecting some categories of people from arrests, notably children under 18 and parents with children under 5. After the arrests, some bishops and cardinals protested; Bousquet threatened to cancel tax privileges for Catholic schools.
Under the pretext of not separating families, Pierre Laval ordered that Jewish children under 16 be included in deportation convoys, thus surpassing the requirements of the Nazis. Bousquet obliged, personally settling that children under 2 years also be included. Children were actually deported separately from their parents.
In January 1943, he organised with Carl Oberg a massive raid in Marseille, known as the Battle of Marseille. During this repressive operation, the French police assisted the German police, in particular in the expulsion of 30,000 people from the Old Port, and the subsequent destruction of this neighborhood, considered as too dangerous and as a “terrorist nest” by the German police, because of its winding, small streets. Bousquet eagerly offered his services during this operation. The French police controlled the identity of 40,000 people, and the operation succeeded in sending 2,000 Marseillese to the extermination camps. The operation also encompassed the expulsion of an entire neighborhood (30,000 persons) before its destruction. For this occasion, SS Carl Oberg, in charge of the German Police in France, made the trip from Paris, and transmitted to Bousquet orders directly received from Himmler. It is a notable case of the French police’s willing collaboration with the Nazis.
In April 1943, Bousquet met with Heinrich Himmler. Himmler declared himself “impressed by Bousquet’s personality”, mentioning him as a “precious collaborator in the framework of police collaboration”. . . .