Algiers Consulate Files: 800.1 Giraud: Telegram

The President’s Personal Representative (Murphy) to the Secretary of State 1


No. 5385. Naf 102. General Smith, Macmillan and I called on General Giraud last evening and during the conversation informed him for his personal and secret information of Symbol indicating that we had been unable to advise him sooner due to his recent absence in French West Africa. He was delighted. Smith then brought out very clearly the Allied desire to cooperate with and assist Giraud in every way in his avowed purpose of prosecuting the war against the Axis describing the efforts made by the Allies to overcome the many obstacles in the way of supplying matériel to the French Forces which is the subject closest to Giraud’s heart. Smith emphasized the important part which public opinion plays in such matters both in Great Britain and in the United States and explained that it is primarily for that reason that we take occasion from time to time to discuss in a spirit of frankness certain political factors which unavoidably enter into the military situation. One of these he said is the arrest of a number of persons on December 30th which has aroused considerable interest in the Press abroad and that he had been conscious of a number of criticisms levelled against the local administration because of the mystery and secrecy which surrounded the proceedings.2 Smith urged that the present occasion be seized to demonstrate the liberal tendency and the evident desire of Giraud’s administration to revert to the time honored French traditions of Freedom of the Press etc. Giraud insisted that no one would expect him to countenance assassination nor could they justly criticize the honest attempt which is being made to ascertain the guilt of persons involved in the assassination. We made it quite clear that there was no argument on the moral issue involved but that the point on which we insisted was simply a question of procedure and the avoidance of [Page 519] unnecessary political complications. We felt that the French administration here would be well advised to release immediately all persons whose guilt is not established. Giraud said he agreed with this point of view and that he hoped action would be taken to release some of the persons involved. He could not say how many within two or three days. He also agreed that the trial of these persons would be postponed until after Symbol and agreed as did General Bergeret in a preceding conversation that the name of Henri D’Astier De La Vigerie will not be published.

We also referred to the question of certain administrative changes including that of the Governor General of Algeria who we understand is to be replaced by Marcel Peyrouton. Giraud habitually shies when a foreigner discusses French internal politics and he refused to commit himself on this point saying that he would see. Notwithstanding the fact that Bergeret informed Murphy definitely on the preceding day that Peyrouton would be appointed Governor General immediately on his arrival here.

We also referred to the presence of the Comte De Paris in Algiers. Giraud said that he was sending word to the Comte De Paris last evening suggesting that his presence in Algiers is undesirable. We learned this morning that the Comte De Paris is exceedingly embarrassed over the way in which the situation has developed and that he plans to depart from Algiers at once and has announced his intention of joining the French armed forces. Probably the French Foreign Legion, as he did in 1939.

Macmillan brought up the matter of a civilian representative proceeding to London in behalf of the Giraud administration. Giraud was pleased that this would be acceptable and said that he nominated there and then Monsieur Pose, his Director of Finance and Economic Affairs. Macmillan promised to make the necessary arrangements with his Government and also proposed that Monsieur Pose contact some of the entourage of General de Gaulle.

Giraud went on to say that he felt fully confident of amicable and fruitful negotiations with de Gaulle who he said “after all served as a Colonel under my orders”. Giraud, however, took great exception to some of de Gaulle’s associates with whom he felt it would be impossible to get along. Macmillan interjected that this feeling was possibly reciprocated but that part of the discussion ended on the note that every effort be made to arrive at a reconciliation.

As in almost any recent discussion with Giraud, the question of the dollar-pound-franc rate of exchange came up. Giraud reproached Murphy with the statement that he always received from Murphy encouraging words but rarely obtained practical satisfaction stating that the injustice of the discriminatory rate of exchange applied to [Page 520] this area as compared to the other French territories is so glaring as to be unbearable.

There were a number of references during the conversation to the question of military equipment for the French Forces. Smith repeatedly described the situation demonstrating the extraordinary effort which is being made by the Allies to render maximum assistance to the French. Giraud referred especially to the troops in French West Africa and the French merchant shipping which is being turned over to the Allied Shipping Pool insisting that some of that shipping be employed in the transport of equipment to North Africa for the French Forces. Smith assured him that everything possible was being done in that connection emphasizing the limitation of port facilities, railroad equipment and generally the unfavorable logistics which Giraud is prone to brush aside.

  1. This message was transmitted via military channels with the following introductory information: “To AGWar for Hull for action and for information to Combined Chiefs of Staff, and USFor for British Chiefs of Staff. Signed Eisenhower from Murphy.”
  2. Regarding the arrests of persons for alleged complicity in the assassination of Darlan, see telegram 1, January 1, 1943, from London, Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. ii, p. 24.