Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Welles)
The French Ambassador called to see me this morning at my request. I told the Ambassador that I had asked him to come in in order to deliver to him a message from the President, but that in order that the Ambassador could understand fully the question regarding which I wanted to speak to him, I wished to give him a brief résumé of the incidents involved in the project of Mr. Wertheimer and Senator de la Grange. I then informed the Ambassador that I had heard Wertheimer named some six weeks ago at the time of the visit to the United States of the French aviation mission and that I had at that time inquired of the Ambassador whether he had any connection with that mission. I reminded the Ambassador that he had told me there was no connection whatever. The Ambassador replied that he remembered the incident perfectly and confirmed what he had then told me. I then informed the Ambassador of Mr. Bullitt’s recent telegrams on the subject and of the nature of the Department’s replies to those telegrams.
I told the Ambassador that the specific reason for my seeing him, since I understood that Senator de la Grange was coming to Washington immediately after his arrival in New York with a letter addressed to the Ambassador explaining the purpose of his mission, was to ask the Ambassador to tell him that the President, although Senator de la Grange had been a personal friend of the President’s for more than twenty-five years, did not feel able to receive him so long as he was in the United States on this particular errand. The President, I said, would always be glad to receive him as a personal friend but not [Page 507] when he came to the United States in furtherance of this particular project. I emphasized to the Ambassador the various points contained in the Department’s telegraphic instruction No. 150 of March 10, 6 p.m. to Ambassador Bullitt46a and the Ambassador said that he understood the situation fully and concurred emphatically in the position taken by this Government. The Ambassador said that it happened that Senator de la Grange had for long been a personal friend of himself and of his family and that it would be very easy for him to explain to him personally the situation and the reasons for the President’s request. I expressed to the Ambassador my appreciation of his interest in the matter and of his willingness to transmit this message.
The Ambassador spoke at some length on the European situation and on the Far Eastern situation but gave me no information which we had not received with the exception of one item of interest. The Ambassador told me that he had just had a report from his Foreign Office transmitting a communication from the French Consul General in Munich,47 whom the Ambassador considered to be one of the ablest French representatives in Germany, and in this communication the Consul General had stated that at a recent private meeting which Hitler had had with some high German officials and with some army generals Hitler had stated that in view of the conditions in Germany and the general European situation, Germany would unquestionably have to resort to war and he pled for the devotion and loyal support of those present. The Ambassador remarked that this kind of information was very different from the optimistic impressions being given to his Government by the British Ambassador48 in Berlin and that it also seemed to be entirely counter to the desires and policies of Marshal Goering.49