760C.62/1010: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State

1593. For the President and the Secretary. Daladier lunched alone with me today and discussed every aspect of the present situation.

He said that he was profoundly grateful for the message of the President to the King of Italy and also for the President’s messages to Moscicki and Hitler. He felt that the President had done more than any other man had done or could have done to avert war.

If Germany should attack Poland there was no question whatsoever about the result. Both France and England would march at once to the assistance of Poland. He had now mobilized 1,900,000 men. He did not wish to introduce general mobilization yet because this measure would stop the normal economic life of the country and would put the country virtually under the rule of the Army.

He was certain, however, that the German Government now realized that France was in earnest. The German Military Attaché had called at the French Ministry of War today to say that if the French should continue to mobilize men on the German frontier the German Government would have to order general mobilization. The reply had been that the French would continue to mobilize.

Daladier said that he was fully aware that there were elements in Germany and Italy strongly opposed to war and that he would order all French radio stations to keep pounding the President’s message to Hitler into German ears. He had no indication whatsoever that there was any weakening in Hitler’s determination to attack Poland.

Two most satisfactory pieces of news had reached him today. The Spanish Military Attaché in Paris had called on General Gamelin53 to state that General Franco54 would like to conclude at once with France a treaty of commerce and amity. He had dictated, himself, a reply which he had ordered sent at once to Spain accepting at once this proposal.

All his information from Marshal Pétain55 indicated that the Spaniards were deeply relieved that the conclusion of the German pact with the Soviet Union had relieved Spain of any obligations to take a hostile attitude toward France.

The second piece of good news was that the Turkish Government had informed the French Ambassador officially that it would stand by [Page 366] its alliance with France and England56 and would fight by their side if necessary. He had ordered General Weygand today to leave at once for Syria with an additional division of French troops which would act with Rumanian in case of war.

With regard to internal politics Daladier said that if he should be obliged to decree general mobilization he would reform his Cabinet immediately. He would reduce the size of the Cabinet from 16 to 12 and would certainly eliminate Mansy57 and take Léon Blum and Louis Marin into the Cabinet.

He had not yet decided whether or not to include Flandin58 or Piétri59 but was inclined to exclude both of them.

Daladier said that he had 150 officers in important points observing the mobilization. Their reports almost brought tears to his eyes. He stated that the stoicism and quiet courage of the men called from their homes was beyond praise.

I desire to add my own observations to this statement. Never has any nation confronted a war of the most terrible sort with greater calm or courage.

Daladier said that he was so incensed by the attitude of the Communist papers in Paris which, subsidized from Moscow, are now saying that France should not fight in support of Poland that he intended to seize the Soviet subsidized Humanité tonight. He said that he would rather have his struggle with the Communists now than later. It was obvious the French Communists with certain rare exceptions owed their allegiance to the Soviet Union and not to France and it was better to have enemies in the open than hidden in corners.

  1. Gen. Maurice Gustave Gamelin, Vice President of the French Supreme War Council.
  2. Generalissimo Francisco Franco Bahamonde, Head of the Spanish Government.
  3. French Ambassador in Spain.
  4. The British Prime Minister announced in the House of Commons on May 12, 1939, a declaration of Anglo-Turkish mutual assistance to ensure the establishment of security in the Balkans and to cooperate in the event of aggression leading to war in the Mediterranean area; Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 1938–39, 5th series, vol. 347, p. 952. The 15-year mutual assistance pact concluded between Great Britain, France, and Turkey, was signed at Ankara on October 19, 1939; for text, see League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. cc, p. 167.
  5. Presumably Anatole de Monzie, French Minister for Public Works.
  6. Pierre-Etienne Flandin, former President of the French Council of Ministers
  7. François Piétri, former French Minister for Marine.