740.00119 European War 1939/344: Telegram

The Deputy Ambassador in France (Biddle) to the Secretary of State

12. My telegram No. 11, June 16, midnight.4 Baudouin5 sent for me at midnight to inform me that 1 hour before in the name of the Pétain6 government he had requested the Spanish Government to ask the German Government on what terms it would grant an armistice. The communication to the Spanish Ambassador which he later read to me urged that the request be transmitted at the earliest possible moment and that the bombing of French cities might cease immediately.

In his exposé of the reasons compelling his Government to take this grave step he said that the French Army “is completely smashed”; that slaughter of further thousands must be stopped; that the fight was hopeless. If the terms of surrender received however are “unworthy of the honor or dignity of France” they will be made public and their unacceptability made manifest to the French people. This would give them courage to continue the “moral struggle”; the military battle was over. As to the fleet he assured me formally that it would never be surrendered to Germany; as guarantee Admiral Darlan whose views he said are well known on this subject had been named Minister of Marine. (His appointment to the post is I feel largely for the purpose of reassuring the British and ourselves. The Admiral’s new Government associates hardly inspire complete [confidence?] that the French Fleet will remain a bulwark against Nazi aggression.)

He concluded with repeated assurances of the cardinal policy and ardent desire of the new Government to continue the closest collaboration with the British and ourselves. “Nothing,” he said in conclusion, “has changed”—a viewpoint with which many of the sons of [Page 456] France will take serious issue; they will agree with Reynaud’s remark to me: “The new Government will dare nothing”.

  1. Vol. i , section under Extension of the European War entitled “Invasion of France by Germany and collapse of French resistance.”
  2. Paul Baudouin, French Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  3. Henri Philippe Pétain, French President of the Council of Ministers.