124.51/176: Telegram

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

992. From Paris. Yesterday’s developments in the form of refusals to permit MacArthur88 to return for the time being to occupied France and to permit Frazier to continue his courier trips to Lisbon show straws in the wind pointing to progressive limitation of the field of action open to us for the protection of legitimate American interests. These are by no means the first indication that our field of action is being circumscribed. Recently there has been considerable increase in the occupation of American property by the military and a corresponding increase in the negative response to our efforts to have property returned to their owners. From the outset of the occupation the German Embassy here with respect to which our activity has become increasingly centered (Zeitschel, the former diplomatic liaison officer, stepped out of the picture several weeks ago) has revealed a constant inability or unwillingness to answer our written communications or to give us anything more in the way of a verbal reply than a promise to consider or investigate. The failure of the German Embassy thus far to respond to our urgent inquiry about Miss Lewis (see Department’s telegram 1363, September 27th89) is a good case in point. I am today informing the German Embassy that I have been instructed by the Department to report further on this matter at once and in the absence of a reply I shall merely state that our communications have thus far been ignored. I shall of course couch this statement in a pleasant form. Shortly after Zeitschel had been replaced by a secretary of the German Embassy it was suggested to me that the so-called principle enunciated by Zeitschel of freedom in general for American property from expropriation or occupation by the German military authorities must be reviewed by higher authorities. Since then the German Embassy has remained mute on this subject.

A further example of the straws in the wind to which I refer is the fact that for weeks we have been trying to get some action on the present question of fuel oil for the chancery and for the Embassy residence. Even with cold weather upon us we are still without a reply on this question although I know from our oil company that there is a considerable quantity of this oil in France under German sequestration. [Barnes.]

  1. Douglas MacArthur 2d, Third Secretary of Embassy in France.
  2. Not printed.