Laval was waiting for us on the steps with
a pedigreed dog on either side of him. He had got himself up like a
gentleman-farmer, in heavy shoes and athletic socks. He shook Abetz's and
Achenbach's hands cordially, and was introduced to Sonnenhol and Gontard, the
two Germans on the staff. I discreetly withdrew, but I heard the beginning of
their conversation: "You are true friends to have come all this way to see a
friend in trouble. I shall never forget it. It was really first rate of you to
pay me this visit." He shook hands with them again. That very
evening Laval's "true friends" took him back to Paris with them.
Laval's friends, Julien Clerrnont, also shows Achenbach in an extraordinary
situation in a meeting with Laval:
It was on June 21, 1942. Laval was to speak
on the following day, and was putting the finishing touches on his address. The
contents had been weighed, he said, on a pharmacist's scale. Through Abetz, Achenbach, and Theo Zeitschel, the
embassy was behind the earliest measures for racial discrimination. It put
continuous pressure on Vichy for Laval or Darlan to enact legislation more and
more in accordance with the Nuremberg laws. It was distinctly in favor of total
liquidation through deportation to the East, was wholly behind the S.D. [the
S.S. Security Service] in the conception and execution of anti-Jewish measures
in France, was particularly influential in raising diplomatic obstacles in
Berlin to prevent the Gestapo's Bureau for Jewish Affairs from interning or
deporting various categories of Jews of
this was going on Cornet, the attendant, announced the arrival of Achenbach,
the head counselor of the German embassy in Paris.
"Have him come in,"
Then, as was his custom, he asked his visitor to take a
seat with him and his associates.
"I'm just finishing dictating my
speech for tomorrow," he said quite casually. "Wait a minute and I'll be
He turned to his secretaries and proceeded to dictate a few
insignificant remarks. Then, as if he had suddenly had a glorious inspiration,
he exclaimed loudly: "After all, I want everyone to know how I feel, and this
shall be my concluding thought: I want Germany to be victorious because
otherwise Bolshevism will overrun Europe. Okay?" he finished easily,
turning toward Achenbach.
Achenbach's pale cheeks flushed with