Thanks to the link posted by another user, I was able to download and read parts of the book in question--France: The Tragic Years, 1939 - 1947 by Sisly Huddleston, a prominent journalist, with scores of pieces in The Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, and The New Republic under his belt and a world exclusive interview with British Prime Minister Lloyd George at the Paris Peace Conference to his name. In addition to his journalistic success, he had published thirty books (!) on France and counted US Ambassador William Bullitt a close friend.
Writing just after the war, and as an eye-witness, Huddleston writes,
"It is estimated that 20,000 persons lost their lives under the Reign
of Terror; that 18,000 fell in the frightful butchery that followed
the war and insurrection of 1870-1871. The American services put the
figures of "summary executions" in France in the first months of the
Liberation at 80,000. A former French minister later placed the figure
The Minister was M. Adrien Tixier, a Socialist, who in March 1945,
when he was minister of the interior and, therefore, presumably
acquainted with the facts, told "Colonel Passy," one of the chief
agents of De Gaulle, that from August 1944 to March 1945 there had
been 105,000 executions. The statement has been frequently made: there
can be little doubt that it was repeated in good faith; and, of
course, the executions were regarded as deplorable both by the
minister and by the colonel. That there were many executions both
before and after these dates is a matter of public notoriety.
It may also be noted that, on October 15, 1943, the Central Committee
of the Resistance at Algiers addressed a circular to the metropolitan
groups, envisaging the insurrection between the departure of the
Germans and the arrival of the Anglo-Anerican forces, thus
"guaranteeing the revolutionary suppression, in a few hours, of the
traitors, in conformity with the legitimate aspirations of reprisals
of the Resistance," and "paralyzing the dispositions of the Vichy
administration." The elimination of all officials should be
accomplished "by authority." This order confined the revolution to "a
few hours" and the time in which reprisals were to be taken, Vichy
liquidated, and the functionaries eliminated was foreseen as of short
duration. It is obvious, however, that such an operation could hardly
be effected so quickly.
As the police records show, there were still sporadic killings at a
much later date...
The "Central Committee"specifically planned the mass executions for the time between the retreat of the Germans and the arrival of the Anglo-Americans. These killings explicitly were to be extra-judicial, which is to say, no specific charge was necessary. No proof of any inculpable act was necessary.
In the book he then goes on to describe what a brutal and hideous form the slaughter took.
The whole thing smacks of Bolshevism, which, indeed, Huddleston calls it in the dedicatory letter in the beginning of the book to former Ambassador Bullitt:
My Dear Bill:
More than thirty years have elapsed since you read to me in Paris your
letter of resignation from the American Peace Delegation, and since
then everything that has happened has justified your protest against a
Treaty which was a betrayal of our hopes, a repudiation of our
principles, and a frustration of the purpose for which we fought the
First World War. We both realized that the statesmen of Versailles had
doomed mankind to a future bloody trial of strength.
Our friendship, which has never faltered from those faroff days when
you took your stand for truth in diplomacy, is stronger than ever as
we enter the dark era in which the ineptitude and the pernicious
untruths of the past decade threaten to overwhelm humanity.
More appalling than follies and errors are lying legends. It would be
possible to correct mistakes, however damnable, did we possess the
courage to acknowledge them. We prefer comfortable falsehoods, fatal
expedients, purblind propaganda; and we are disturbed by testimony
which upsets the conventional views.
In our correspondence you remark that there are "few of us left who
have some understanding of the whole swing of events since 1914," when
Sir Edward Grey dolefully observed: "The lamps are going out all over
Europe; we shall not see them lighted again in our time." A bad peace
culminated in a Second World War, and a badly conducted Second World
War is leading us to a third world war, with the prospect of
Bolshevism triumphant on the ruins of our civilization.
You are good enough to call me "an old friend who has always been
right." I have, alas, often been wrong, but at least I have tried to
see clearly and to state the plain facts.
My birth in England, my twenty years of working association with
America, and nearly a lifetime of residence in France, have made me
neither altogether English, nor American, nor French, but something of
all three. From my coign of vantage, I have, aided by forty years of
training in diplomatic affairs, watched not only the heroic efforts
but also the blunders, unrealized in Washington or London, committed
in our fight against the evil forces that threaten to enslave us.
My position is unique; my post of observation enabled me to look on
with some detachment, though often I was in the heart of things; and
it is my duty to refute the strange fictions which falsify all our
conceptions. I witnessed in France the civil war and the revolution to
which we still refuse to give their rightful names, and the effects of
the astounding miscalculations of the statesmen, French, English, and
After hopelessly shattering Europe, we are now told that the urgent
task is to create Europe. But Europe existed before 1914, when I could
travel where I pleased without passport, without permission, without
formality. Even after 1918, Europe still lived, and I could enjoy the
spectacle of happy and prosperous countries. Today, where is the old
Europe? Much of it is behind an iron curtain, and is lost to us. The
rest lives in fear, subjected to innumerable restrictions, poor, and
dependent on charity.
Having smashed every barrier to Communism, having divided country
after country, having abolished tbe sense of justice and of pity, we
await, inadequately defended, the coming of the Police State, with the
promise of a new liberation when the Continent has become a cemetery.
I try to render one last service, and I am fortified in placing your
name in the forefront of a work which is inspired not by hate
(deadlier than the atomic bomb) but by the love of our fellows which
alone can save us.
SISLEY HuDDLEsToN Troinex, 1952
Just as had been going on in Russia already for nearly 30 years, where nothing more specific than a charge of "enemy of the people" was needed to be executed by the Bolshevik monsters, nothing more specific than an accusation of "traitor" was needed to find yourself the victim of the Bolsheviks in France.
Here is Huddleston's account of his arrest, which only serves to bolster my conclusion in the preceding paragraph.
I speak not from hearsay but at first hand. A full month after the landing, I too was arrested by as ruffianly-looking a band of fellows
with machine guns as you can imagine; and the next day my wife was
arrested, and my house and belongings sequestrated. Nobody signed any
warrant at any time, no accusation was brought, there was not even an
"administrative order." It was just like that-anybody could arrest
anybody on any pretext-or without pretext. I do not regret this
incident, which was ended by the intervention of the representatives
of General Eisenhower and of the British ambassador; and General de
Benouville, acting for General De Gaulle, also came to my rescue. I
was fortunate in having highly placed friends; without them I might
I know the private reasons which dictated this attempt-there were certainly no public reasons-and despicable indeed they were. My
activities, such as they were during the war, were directed to
informing the British authorities of the situation in France, and I
ran great risks. I do not propose to talk of them, but certainly they
should have commended themselves to the Resistants. To forestall any
malevolent misunderstanding, I would add that, not content with our
release, with suitable excuses, I considered it my duty to launch an
action for arbitrary and illegal detention before the highest tribunal
in France-the Conseil d'Etat, one of the few bodies that maintained a
judicial spirit in the tragic years. The government spokesman admitted
the mistake, and the court condemned in the most unequivocal terms,
the "gross blunder" committed by its "agents." The administration was
ordered to pay me and my wife substantial damages. It will be seen,
therefore, that I have little to complain of personally, nor do I
harbor the smallest resentment. On the contrary' I pay my tribute to
the impartiality and fairness of ordinary French justice. That I
should have come off so well, however, cannot blind me to the terrible
injustices of the "exceptional" procedure. I was fortunate, but many
thousands of victims could not hope for redress.