851.00/2177: Telegram

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

1145. Baudouin, who is in a high humor over Laval’s downfall, told me today in the strictest confidence that the immediate reason for Pétain’s dismissal of Laval is the evidence adduced by Peyrouton, Minister of the Interior and others in the Cabinet that Laval planned, after Marshal Pétain’s arrival in Versailles, to effect his de facto sequestration and obtain from the Marshal his signature to documents which would constitute Laval head of the French State. When the evidence of this conspiracy on the part of Laval was brought to the Marshal’s attention he decided it was time for Laval to leave.

Baudouin hopes that the Marshal’s plan for the constitution of a consultative legislative body to be called the “Conseil National” will find general approval in the United States. He said that the decree constituting this body would be issued this week.

The Conseil will consist of 150 members selected by the Marshal from Senators, Deputies, representatives of syndicates and in fact all shades of public opinion. It will not initiate legislation but will act in an advisory capacity.

Baudouin expressed the hope that this proof that France has not surrendered its democratic ideals but will go as far along the return to democratic principles as present circumstances permit will be well received in the United States.

Baudouin also said that German Ambassador in Paris Abetz will arrive in Vichy this afternoon to make contact with the French Government and undoubtedly discuss the situation created by the removal of Laval. He said, wink, that full military and other honors will be accorded Abetz who is flattered by these manifestations of French good will.

Laval and his personal staff remain under house arrest.