851.00/2171: Telegram

The Chargé in France (Murphy) to the Secretary of State

1133. Laval returned unexpectedly from Paris at 11:45, December 13. A Cabinet meeting was called at 5 p.m. and there was a Council of Ministers at 8 during which the discussion is said to have been violent. Minister of the Interior Peyrouton left in the midst of the discussion and the meeting adjourned at 8:55. In the interim a considerable group of Sûreté Nationale blocked the Parc Hotel. Laval is said to have been taken into custody by the Sûreté Nationale at 11:30 Friday for an unknown destination. He had evidently planned to return to Paris at midnight.

At about the time of Laval’s arrest Vichy was cut off from telephone and telegraphic communication with the outside world.

It is not possible at this late hour to communicate with any responsible member of the Government. A host of rumors are afloat: among them one to the effect that Germany demanded permission for the passage of its troops through French territory to Italy; that Laval’s arrest is a coup de police engineered by Peyrouton; that the Marshal finally decided that Laval had made unauthorized concessions to the Germans; et cetera. It is impossible to obtain official confirmation of any of these rumors.

Madame Laval and her daughter José de Chambrun came to the lodging of an American newspaper correspondent for advice stating that their home at Chateldon had been surrounded by the Garde Mobile which had cut the telephone connection and were searching the premises for Laval’s records.