File No. 763.72119/9104

The Special Representative ( House) to the Secretary of State


74. For the President and the Secretary of State: I have just received the following communication from the French Foreign Office:

The President of the Council, Minister of War, to Colonel House:

In case the Germans should refuse the armistice, nothing will be published. But I regard it as almost certain that they will accept it. If they were to communicate the clauses of the armistice to the foreign newspapers we would allow the newspapers to reproduce them, reserving to the Chamber of Deputies the news of the signing when that shall take place. I have just seen Foch who has communicated to me the minutes of the proceedings which I shall address to you as soon as they shall be typewritten.

They have made no remark either as to the bridgeheads or as to the fleet. Their theme is to say that they will succumb to Bolshevikism if we do not help them to resist [it] and that after them we ourselves will be invaded by the same scourge. They have asked that they be permitted to retire more slowly from the left bank of Rhine saying that they required the means of forming an army to combat Bolshevikism and reestablish order. Foch replied to them that they could form this army on the right bank. They likewise objected that we were taking from them too many machine guns and that they would have none left to fire upon their fellow citizens. Foch replied to them that they would have their rifles left. They also asked what we wanted to do on the left bank of the Rhine. Foch replied to them that he did not know and that it was none of his business] Finally they asked to be reprovisioned by us, saying that they were going to die of hunger. Foch replied to them that it would suffice them to put their merchant marine into our programs and that in this way they could be reprovisioned. They replied that they preferred to be given permits for their vessels. They complained that we were taking much too many locomotives, in view of the fact that theirs were scattered everywhere. Foch replied to them that we were asking only what they had taken from us. They are very much depressed. From time to time a sob escaped the throat of Winterfeldt.

Under these conditions, the signing does not appear to me a matter of doubt, but the present situation in Germany brings us face to face with the unknown. It is [in] the interest of the armies that we should have a few days for our military action. This eventually must be taken into account because the signature of a government which might not [last] could only increase the confusion. It seems, moreover, that we are already at that point, because it is the impossibility of finding military authorities who can get obedience in the German lines which has indefinitely delayed the messenger who [Page 490] carried the clauses of the armistice to the German Great Headquarters.

As long as he does not find in front of him an authority capable of definitely regulating the matter, Foch will continue his march forward. Clemenceau.

Edward House