Hearings of the trial of Pierre Laval in 1945 conducted by the Inquiry Commission of the High Court of Justice.
|Before registering with the bar I worked as a clerk for the inquiry at the High Court of Justice in charge of trying the leaders of the Vichy government.
|This gave me the opportunity to come into contact with the main politicians of the 3rd Republic.
Apart from four hearing sessions of Pierre Laval, I also participated as clerk in the plenary herring session of Philippe Petain at the Montrouge Fort when Paul Reynaud, Edouard Daladier, Leon Blum, General Gamelin, Yvon Delbos and others were heard as witnesses.
I much appreciated listening to Jacques Benoist-Mechin, Xavier Vallat, General Dentz and … Otto Abetz, among many others and for various reasons.
Being nearly 90 years old I most likely am the last living person who came into contact with these famous people, most of who met a tragic fate.
Many books have been published on Pierre Laval, his life, his career in government, his role during the German Occupation, his trial and his execution (which went beyond the limits of atrocity). However, the transcripts of his interrogations by the Inquiry Commission of the High Court, which took place before the public trial, and allowed the investigating judges, with the help of a clerk of the court, to determine the degree of guilt of the accused, were locked in the National Archives until 2008 due to the prohibition on publishing certain items under the law.
I was given permission to copy these documents that have not been published so far.
It is in these documents indeed that one can appreciate the weakness of the inquiry conducted by the judges in this trial.
|I saw Pierre Laval as a hounded animal taking notes to complete what he did not have time to explain during the very limited herrings. He felt he was already condemned without being given the opportunity to present his case.
Nearly 60 years after these events it is felt that some elements in his favor should have at least avoided his receiving the death penalty.
But what becomes of justice in time of war?
|It is my duty to publish these interrogations on the internet so that anyone interested will be able to form an opinion on these historical documents unpublished so far.
Originals held at the National Archives in Paris.
Pictures from the Photography Department of the National Archives.
Document reference number: 3W.215