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Voices of Europe today Milton Mayer American author and lecturer broadcaster and professor in the Institute of Social Research from Frankfurt university interviews two Frenchmen here recorded in Paris is Leone El Dorado. Mr. Don has been a Frenchman for 20 years although he was born in 1920 in Haiti during the Second World War he was a member of the intelligence group of the French underground in Paris and then became New York correspondent and then foreign editor of The Paris newspaper. The party press in 1051 he became editor of the international magazine published in French and English Aaron Novell the new era. Here is Milton Mayer. Miss you do wrong. How decadent is France. What I'd like you to qualify that a little more with two men or what do you mean by decadent. Well let's start out by asking how decadent France is in terms of the American tourist a view of France as a place. Where you're going to have the time of your life and anything
golders is France morally decadent. Well I wouldn't agree with that view because for one thing I think there is a life which American tourists who live in Paris which unfortunately or fortunately we haven't been able to find ourselves here in Paris. I mean by that I have never seen anybody selling filthy pictures to me or to any other friendship and I know I have never been to the fully beers or myself except when I was a young student. And so it was a thrill to go there and found it very an interesting and rather doe. If you mean also that American tourists find that drumming is not good or up to what it does in America I do think it's a very big thing to even argue about because everybody knows that American civilization is much younger and based on more material progress than it is in friends and certainly we attach less importance here to
climbing as you do in America. That is the civilization being younger the plumbing is accordingly younger. And since America grew up in the age of plumbing it puts in the French view undue emphasis emphasis on plumbing and I agree. Now miss your door are. How decadent is France from another point of view and that is from the point of view of our old friend Hitler or the Nazis who took the position that France with its its modern art its separatism it self indulgence. Represented everything that was basically an area and non-heroic Well I can see the view and I do think it's not only held by Hitler and the like but it is still held by many other people in many other countries. I
think you find people who see that France has not developed after the war the kind of national direction or trend that would make it one of the big powers of the post-war period. And I do think that if France hasn't done that it's because France is very very eager to remain what it has been for so many centuries. That is a sort of crossroads for ideas and for trends and not necessarily trying to develop only one idea dictated to the world. Well I'm thinking of the Hitler the Nazi view of the Maginot Line for example that France would put up some coarse sort of front by way of defense but actually there was no French strength and there was no French heart and there was no French Resistance and the Nazi armies in fact overran France. Yes that is true they did overrun France because they were stronger basically than France in
terms of armaments and let. I don't think that you could see that in France today in terms of decadence because France has suffered so much from the war. But you cannot compare material strength for such defenses that France could put out put up now with anything that she is able to do actually. But you would argue I can't get that. None of the current history of France really reveals a basic decadence that is the fact that the economy is way up in the air that the government falls every 5 minutes and whatnot. None of this represents the collapse of France or a French civilization. No I don't agree. I don't think it does. You see you have here. I think that you have quite a point when you see that governments do fall every 5 minutes in France. This is quite a point. It is true that governments are not very stable in
France. The reason for that is not that the French are unstable but because they have accepted the idea that you cannot have in only one political party all the tendencies and only principle that a man can wish to have expressed in one political party that's why they have so many parties and that is why you have a difficult task when you try to have a parliament representing so many parties to uphold only one government. They do for all these governments but I find out the policy of France on broad lines on foreign policy for instance has been the same for years in the foreign affairs. Field for instance you've had only two ministers since the liberation of France and they've been going to the same party and they have applied the same program. But the multiplicity of political parties and the splintering of political parties which is generally thought to have laid the groundwork for Naziism in Germany does not appear to you to be a sign of the instability of
France as a democracy. No upsurge certainly not because I think that on some basic principles you'll find many Frenchmen of many different political parties agree completely. How then Mr. Durand would you contrast the French character or temperament with the German which did fall victim to this disintegrative process. Well I think it's more than just a weakness of political parties in Germany which brought there about I think a lot had to do with the economic conditions in Germany the fact that there was heavy unemployment and that Hitler could easily make promises that he could easily keep in the beginning. As far as the great mass of disillusioned Germans were concerned. And yet you have in France today the same. Rice of communism. That we had in Germany. In the first year or two of the 30s I wouldn't say there is
any rise of communism as much as a matter of fact I think there is a definite decline of communism in France at the moment. There was a rise of communism after the war. Do you want to economic conditions too to the fact that the Communists did put up a rather good and effective fight against the German during the resistance days. And they were the only organized party which was inside France and organized inside France when the liberation armies came. And that is why they had a terrific rise after liberation. Yes now I think they're on the decline rather abruptly. The. German the rise of communism in Germany and certainly the French workers are very very heavily communist. If I am correctly informed the right of communism in Germany gave rice in turn.
To the counter movement of Naziism Isn't that possible also in France. I don't see it. I don't see it at all because France would have only to call for a dictator. At least for a totalitarian man who exists in France and so far as I can see the French have not been voting very heavily for this particular man or his particular group. Are you still voting for the Democratic Party's Richard around. Before we leave Hitlerism Naziism and the contrast of the French with the Germans I am reminded of the. What appears to be a total absence of any racial discrimination in France which certainly sets France poles apart from the development of Nazi ism in Germany. Now it is this very absence of total absence as it appears at least of racism in France. That
provided the real basis I suppose of at least the not see charge that the French were a decadent people. Yes but I think the neds is said that as part of a general policy of attacking racial tolerance everywhere. I think he would have attacked any country which did not foster racial intolerance. What I would like to see that when you see that there is no discrimination racial discrimination in France. I think you are slightly wrong in as much as there is a certain degree of prejudice in France towards certain minorities and negroes and Jews sometimes and Italians and poles. But I think prejudice in France is not based on the color of people or their religion. It's based rather on the condition they are in intellectually or socially speaking in other words I think in France if a good man happens to be a Negro doesn't make it slides bit of difference.
Why is that. I think it's it's it has been a long tradition of liberalism true liberalism in France for centuries. Miss you do rock. As the New York correspondent of the Perry press. After the Second World War and as an American born that is a Haiti and I assume that you were tempted to become an American every American assumes that everybody is tempted to become an American where you ended you resist the temptation and why are you a Frenchman. Well I was not tempted I must see to become an American. Not that I don't think it's a great country with vast possibilities and vast report unities for people but it just happens that I had lived in France most of my younger life and I intended truly to become a French one again as soon as France would be free.
And that's why I never thought of becoming an American when we're talking about France and this allegation of decadence. I'm reminded of course that it was here here in France and in Paris. That our own fathers our own American founding fathers such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were so wildly inspired. With the idea of liberty. He gives it quite correct. It is the is the French idea of liberty in your view as a last question Miss you do wrong as stable one. Yes I think it's quite stable and even so in every day life I think it's one of the very few countries where a man is free first to find himself and determine his own life and destiny and that I think is basic freedom. He does not have to pretend to adhere to any system
or any manner of speech or religion or anything like that you know to to become part of the PRI group or so-called free group. He can be a free man if he's free himself if he has found which we wants to go and why. It is mankind in your view capable competent to cope with this much freedom but I think that it can be not. There cannot be too much freedom anywhere. I think as freedom develops I think men will develop to adjust themselves to that freedom and soon they will adjust themselves so much that freedom will have to adjust itself to men. As a French woman Mr. DeMaio what would be your first suggestion if you were to make one to the Americans as to the conduct of their political their public and their private lives.
That's a rather. Tough question I must say I don't think I would advise Americans anything very specific except I would ask them to understand before the judge. Thank you very much Mr Truong. After the liberation of France in 1945 the municipality of Paris decided that it could no longer afford to illuminated night France's greatest monument. Notre Dame Cathedral and so a good Frenchman and a good Parisian Clode are I offered to pay the cost of lighting noter dam on weekends and special occasions. In this mister to arrive it was showing himself a good businessman to his restaurant La Tour d'Argent all the oldest public eating house in Paris and one of the most famous and elegant stands on the Quai des Tournelles with a magnificent view of the seyne of Notre Dame and of Paris. The restaurant as far as is known was founded in 15 82 and may very well be the birthplace of the fork.
Here is Milton Mayer Michiru chair II. How do we Americans you've seen a lot of us as tourists as visitors liberators. How do we Americans kid ourselves and how do you French kid yourselves. Well I would try to say that from the time that the Americans have decided to come to France and to Paris specially where I am all the time. They have heard so much. They have read so much about it that they build themself a stricture. If I may say I was a city which they want to be reet duplicate when they arrive here. But if I may say something to that is that they make
not a mistake because I suppose that every one of us. Making such a long trip would do the same and would feel the same. To travel with a group of Americans and from their own I'm afraid that they want too much of France and Paris to be like in America. I think when I was in America myself. When you take a plane or you travel from one way to the country to the other you come out of the plane. It's about the same habits the same language and system the language which makes it very important as far as a great country is concerned. But when you are in Paris and when you travel through France within a hundred miles. The habits the language the traditions and all that goes with a city which has been born which was born a long time a long time before change.
And you have to take in consideration all these little feelings of these nations these cities which are entirely different from one to the other. And those people knowing. That the set of complex about their city knowing that they've been there a long time long time before. Get Ellaby jealous of their little group. And I would say I will not give themself away so easily. The American would do between Americans. That might explain sometimes so little a difference of comprehend CH comprehensions between some Americans and some Frenchman. But the American being on vacation. So it will not. Work harder to find out why and what is behind.
And the French being selfish. Well not give them themselves more time. To find out the same reasons vice versa. Now does this. American is so lation as to to use an American term in a much broader sense than the political sense. This clinging together of Americans and their failure to understand the differences among other peoples and among older peoples. Does this tradition which you have known of course among the Americans as tourists. Does it hold also among the Americans. As far as World responsibility is concerned when they come to Europe as liberators and occupiers and as leaders I suppose I should mention the fact Misha Terrorizer that
you spent seven fairly rugged years during the war fighting for the liberation of your country. As an aviator and you knew the Americans and you know them quite well and that way too. News does the deal we Americans make mistakes not just as tourists but also in terms of our responsibilities toward Europe. Well I would say that the Americans basically are really willing to help people and they proved that by ols the last sentences which I agree with entirely. And that for the French are very thankful to them. But in the other hand the French have a great pride about
themselves and they will accept certain things but will not be. Will not feel to be ruled just assing by the countries even if those countries have them lately. You mean do you that there is some resentment yet in robbery among Frenchmen against even American assistance. No as there is not a resentment against American assessment as long as the French will not lose all the customs which they have been used to as long as they have to cooperate for the peace of the we're all fighting any Michell enemy. But they will keep to their construction. Which goes through their educations. Which
I don't mean to say is always right but which will be a very hard thing to get of A with as far as they are concerned and when the Americans come and have certain ideas about the politics we always feel that before you bring your own politics you have to understand the politics of the country you want to rule not to rule but to do to complete as far the ideal and the common ideal is concerned. And how much she had to ride as the American political idea the basic American view of politics differ from that of France. Well I would say first as I said at a before the language is different. So habits are the expressions of the language.
If you take an American expression it will not be exactly normally translated. What it should mean or should be said to a Frenchman. Then this would be the first if there would be a certain discussion between them that would be the first point to be solved. The way to talk and hard talk which means heart of say it. Then come the way I am there maybe I'm being a little personal. The way our food if an American greets a Frenchman it will give him all the comfort. Which the Frenchman hasn't got in his own country. If a Frenchman greets an American he will give him all the food which the American is not accustomed to. That's what I would call so little difference of education of the way to be brought up. Either into
conformity we all is in the work week. Some American have discussed our way of working by saying we are too slow and sometimes they say that we are lazy. Maybe we are lazy but we come to the same point. After a while by going slow area. Because we don't have to work so fast the competition being not as big as it is in America about France miss you to or I. What is how do you see the condition and the outlook of France let me say first that that at the Tour Darshan I want your restaurant and it so many of the magnificent restaurants of Paris. I'm surprised to find so many Frenchmen paying prices that I at least could not afford. I get the impression on the one hand that the French economy
has gone to pieces and on the other hand there seems to me to be substantial signs of great prosperity. What is the French situation as you see it. Well I think that the French people after the third war are hella more careful. And whenever they feel it kind of meekly I'll politically be set increases. They will never go hundred percent on whoever is routings a nation. They will never entirely give themselves away. And it has been proved in the last century that they were not so wrong after having five years of German a completion of German brains working out any
condition anyway to take anything that good out of France. I can say that even if we are criticised that France has recovered very fast which means that they had to have lots of reserves. I will and I think which it which was the second which was a further idea about it I. Well what is what. Miss you Terry I. Is the economic condition of the country today. Is it stable or right is it. It is stable it is stable for so many reasons. First of all there is a real attraction on Paris and went mostly American just France like Paris. And I will say the same thing. So you understand better I may be said I don't judge America only on New York. But people all come to Paris but Paris means the people
who work in Paris and some of the people coming from all over the word will make Paris a big city of luxury of beautiful monuments. So if you stay in Paris you get a wrong idea about the economy goes east. But if you start just out of Paris within 20 Marne you already find it. Entire change of this of the country. And from there on you find a word that economy is working very hard either in the fields which the ground as you know is one of our very great assets as sets of our economy either in the fabrics either in the wine countries like Burgundy Bordeaux. Either large enormity far the fruits fall the field that we have.
Which I mean if you stop in Paris too long you get a beautiful romantic Id rather a lazy idea about France. But as a second and you come out of Paris and you travel all over France you see some people who haven't even been to Paris once in their life. And France is not that very big. We are a net connection just a last question machine to terrify this with the amount with the strength of communism that there is in Paris. Is there any possibility that you can see that this other France the whole of France could ever become communist. I would say right away it is impossible. I will say I do not believe in companies as I have seen companies. I will see to you that companies has become with that Russian francs he meet. How would you
see meat. It kind of a goal with a kind of obsession and I bought a sheeple. That before the war. I coming back from the battle cons where I was studying. I took over my restaurant that my father asked me to and I found the red flag on the roof of the same restaurant that you have seen when I was asking a thing to a servant. It would just answer very rudely to me. This was in late 76 where the companies where much more empowered because it got the abscess in so many citizens. Today the word is more known but the company is degraded you see recreates decline declining. And it's known if you figure out the figures from the oil comparing of the figures before the war and you have seen lately yourself in the papers if
thing which has never been done by any government by putting on an arrest the head of the companies body and nothing what so ever happened thank you very much Mr Terai. In this recorded program Milton Mayer has been interviewing two Frenchmen materially in El Dorado and Mr. Claude to die. These programmes are made possible under a grant from the fund for adult education an independent organization established by the Ford Foundation. They are prepared and distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This program was introduced by Norman McKee and this is the end taped network.
Voices of Europe
Lionel Durand and Claude Terrail
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
Interviews with Lionel Durand and Claude Terrail. The interviews focus on issues in France and, particularly, Paris.
Series Description
Interviews with noted Europeans on a variety of subjects, conducted by Milton Mayer, American author and broadcaster, lecturer and professor in the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University.
Broadcast Date
Global Affairs
Media type
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Interviewee: Durand, Lionel
Interviewee: Terrail, Claude
Interviewer: Mayer, Milton, 1908-1986
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 52-37-56 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:30
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Chicago: “Voices of Europe; Lionel Durand and Claude Terrail,” 1953-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 10, 2023,
MLA: “Voices of Europe; Lionel Durand and Claude Terrail.” 1953-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 10, 2023. <>.
APA: Voices of Europe; Lionel Durand and Claude Terrail. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from