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Preface to the Italian Edition

The Letters to a German Friend were published in France after the Liberation in a limited edition and have never been reprinted. I have always been opposed to their circulation abroad for the reasons that I shall give. This is the first time they have appeared outside of France and I should not have made up my mind to this had it not been for my long-standing desire to contribute, insofar as I can, to removing the stupid frontiers separating our two territories. But I cannot let these pages be reprinted without saying what they are. They were written and published clandestinely during the Occupation. They had a purpose, which was to throw some light on the blind battle we were then waging and thereby to make our battle more effective. They are topical writings and hence they may appear unjust. Indeed, if one were to write about defeated Germany, a rather different tone would be called for. But I should simply like to forestall a misunderstanding. When the author of these letters says "you," he means not "you Germans," but "you Nazis." When he says "we," this signifies not always, “We Frenchmen" but sometimes "we free Europeans." I am contrasting two attitudes, not two nations, even if, at a certain moment in history, these two nations personified two enemy attitudes. To repeat a remark that is not mine, I love my country too much to be a nationalist. And I know that neither France nor Italy would lose anything-quite the contrary-if they both had broader horizons. But we are still wide of the mark, and Europe is still tom. This is why I should be ashamed today if I implied that a French writer could be the enemy of a single nation. I loathe none but executioners. Any reader who reads the Letters to a German Friend in this perspective—in other words, as a document emerging from the struggle against violence—will see how I can say that I don't disown a single word I have written here.



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