I’m having a hard time finding actual information about the title Free France, other than sales listings and observations about the issues I’ve come into possession of myself.
The earliest issue I had was Volume 1, Number 2, dated April 15, 1942. The bulletin consisted of 20 pages plus covers measuring 8-1/2″ X 11″ issued with 3-holes punched near the left edge for placement in a binder. There was a gap in the issues I’d acquired jumping from New Year’s 1943 to Summer 1945. By comparison, Volume 8, Number 5 of Free France, dated September 1, 1945, while also just 20 pages plus covers, more closely resembles a traditional magazine with photos throughout and standard binding. The earlier issues almost looked as though someone had photocopied the pages and when photos did finally come about they were all found at the back of the issue (and on inside front cover).
Free France was “Published by the French Press and Information Service – An Agency of the the Provisional Government of the French Republic.” It’s offices were at 510 Madison Avenue in New York. Yes, Free France was an English language bulletin/magazine with most of the articles reprinted from other sources plus transcriptions of speeches and reprints of actual Underground Newspapers (in English). As noted by mention of the September ’45 issue above, Free France continued publication for a period after General de Gaulle reclaimed France from the Vichy regime in 1944.
To give a taste, we page through the November 1, 1942 issue (Volume 2, Number 9) and note the following items.
From London, October 20, 1942, “General de Gaulle Orders Resistance.”
A few hours after Laval’s appeal, General de Gaulle over the air waves urged the French nation to resist. Below we give the text of his broadcast.
“Treason — in other words, Vichy — is doubling its efforts in order to paralyze France in her struggle for life and greatness. Treason — in other words, Vichy — is hurrying, multiplying its activities in order to wrench labor, material, victims from France and to furnish them to the Reich…
Further into the issue and item of interest from the La Marseillaise, September 20, 1942:
The Cross of Lorraine Floats at Saint Helena
The French flag and teh Croix de Lorraine are now flying over Napoleon’s tomb at Saint Helena. It is the French National Committee which is now responsible for the maintenance of this piece of land which has been French territory since Queen Victoria presented it to France in 1858.
Georges Collin, guardian of this historic site, has believed since June 1940 that he could not at the same time remain faithful to the memory of Napoleon and loyal to the Vichy government. He wrote to General de Gaulle, and recently a ship of the Free French Navy dropped anchor at Saint Helena to hoise the colors of Fighting France over the Emperor’s tomb.
From French Underground paper, Liberation, September 15, 1942:
“Behind this newspaper …. action is hidden … go onward; the secret militia of Liberation will multiply your actions, will protect them, will cover you. There on the fateful day you will find leaders, arms. You will know again the savage joy or erasing a shameful deed. And you will see that there will be among us no man, however star-bedecked, however ready to fly towards victory in these last hours, who has smirched himself with the National Revolution of slaves. Such men may be useful! They are certainly utilized. Any method is good, if it leads to victory. But at our victory feast: no! Fighting France alone will sit there.”
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