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357

J'Accuse[*]

Pierre Descaves

Translated by Yvonne Templin

Sacha Guitry, who has been summoned to appear before the "Chambre Civique," and to whom the Minister of the Interior has refused an exit permit for Hollywood, has had his "defense" proclaimed and published in an evening paper. Captain Pierre Descaves, son of the famous writer Lucien Descaves, Guitry's colleague at the Académie Goncourt before its recent purge, answers him as follows:


Sacha guitry has charged in a publication that the discredit from which he is suffering is based on spite. He claims that this discredit is due to the machinations of his "antagonists" and to the malignity of his enemies. At his instigation and by way of provocation, the newspaper heads the list of these "enemies" with my name. I, the enemy of Guitry? It is an honor which I would not reject had I not, painfully, earned the right to be his judge. For the present, I shall limit my role to that of prosecutor.

Until 1939, after well-deserved successes, the worth and inspiration of which were continuously diminishing, Guitry enjoyed an honorable place in the theater. In 1939, by forcing himself into a literary society heretofore limited to professional writers, he could lay claim to an intellectual grasp and to moral responsibilities inherent in his title of member of the Académie Goncourt.

Because, during the dark years of occupation, Guitry did not show himself worthy of these responsibilities, committed errors, was guilty of breach of faith, and failed as a Frenchman,

I accuse Sacha Guitry of having been from 1940 to 1944, at a time when his wealth and expectations gave him ample breathing space, an accommodating spectator of the traitorous collaborationist policy by very quickly reopening his theater and by staging his productions;


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I accuse Sacha Guitry of having acquiesced, by his attitude of the worldly man of the theater and by his solicitude that everything should go on "as before," in the abdication of those who no longer believed in France;

I accuse Sacha Guitry of having deadened public opinion by his ostentation and by giving the conqueror, at the expense of bleeding France, the proof that among us there were men interested in encouraging laughter in the midst of charnel houses;

I accuse Sacha Guitry of having, like a make-up artist, disguised the misery that was crushing us and of having attempted to transform it into a make-believe happiness;

I accuse Sacha Guitry of having been one of the inspirers of all the cozy surrenders, of all the soft compliances, and of having contributed to the perversion of a confused public opinion; of having encouraged the idea that nothing more could happen, that everything had been gained, that it was easy to breathe on one's knees, even on one's stomach, and that the light of freedom came not from the resistance of the maquis, but from a prompter's box;

I accuse Sacha Guitry of having made witticisms when we were preparing passwords and watchwords and to have seen, as freedom's flame, in our dark night, only his floodlights;

I accuse Sacha Guitry, who during happier days had placed himself at the service of the nation to amuse friendly visiting sovereigns, of having without hesitation made, from his stage, friendly overtures to booted ruffians and of having sought their applause, repeating his bows even in the wings;

I accuse Sacha Guitry of having taken advantage of his position as director of a theater and of his privilege as member of the Académie Goncourt to seek and to accumulate innumerable material advantages; of having insulted the misery of the people by his well-fed, satisfied, and selfish way of life;

I accuse Sacha Guitry of having advised the Académie Goncourt to follow a defeatist policy by demanding that the prizes continue to be awarded, that vacancies be filled, that all privileges be maintained;

I accuse Sacha Guitry of having been false to his promises in not resigning from the Académie Goncourt;


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I accuse Sacha Guitry of having been the confidant, the guest, the friend of the unspeakable Alain Laubreaux;

I accuse Sacha Guitry not only because he never attempted to pronounce the word "refusal," but because he did not, even once, formulate a word of hope;

I accuse Sacha Guitry of having been one of the earliest collaborators (see the testimony of General De la Laurencie);

I accuse Sacha Guitry of having collaborated in the publication of Aujourd'hui, Petit Parisien, and Paris Soir (Paris edition);

I accuse Sacha Guitry of having given an enthusiastic interview to the paper of Dr. Ley, "Strength through Joy";

I accuse Sacha Guitry, who before the liberation knew of the fate meted out in Germany to thousands of great Frenchmen, of never having expressed a regret or attempted a protest;

I accuse Sacha Guitry of having played cynically with justice;

I accuse Sacha Guitry of having in him so little of the Frenchman;

I accuse Sacha Guitry of being too cowardly to understand the indignity of his behavior and too flabby to comprehend the indignation of those who have resisted, suffered, and fought.


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