740.0011 European War 1939/6247½: Telegram

The Ambassador in Spain (Weddell) to the Secretary of State

591. Following is second transmission of Embassy’s telegram No. 590, October 26, noon, in one section: In connection with Priority, strictly confidential for the [Secretary?] and Under Secretary.

The British Ambassador has just called on me and handed me a memorandum reading as follows:

A most critical position has arisen in which Hitler has demanded of Pétain the complete dismemberment of the French Empire including the cession of Dakar to Germany and the use of the French Fleet against Great Britain. Pétain has refused the demand, but half his Ministers are in favor of acceptance. It is most essential that every possible pressure should be put on him to stand firm. The King of England has, therefore, sent him a personal message appealing to his honor as a great soldier and the ties that in peace and war have in the past united France and Great Britain and other governments that Great Britain will not end the war until the greatness of France is reestablished. Could the President at once send a similar message direct to the Chargé d’Affaires at Vichy. The message should recall the visit of the Marshal to the United States and the friendly personal feelings between him and the President. The more personal the message the better. It is a question of hours as the French Council of Ministers will be discussing the position immediately.

He said that he of course left the treatment of the matter entirely to my Government but that he had jotted down his ideas so that I might have them fully before me.

The Ambassador has maintained a close and cordial contact with his French colleague here and it was through this channel that the Kings message was sent to Pétain. The British representative seems to be aware of Marshal Pétain’s great admiration for the President and said that because of this he felt that a message to the Marshal might have great weight, that now if ever his arms must be held up.