Roosevelt Papers

McCrea Notes

The President received General Henri Giraud at 12:00 noon this date. Present also were Mr. Harry Hopkins, Mr. Robert D. Murphy, Captain John L. McCrea, Lieutenant Colonel Elliott Roosevelt, and Captain A. Beaufre, Aide-de-camp, to General Giraud.

The President stated to General Giraud that he had been giving consideration to suggesting the formation of a “Committee for the Liberation of France,” to consist of General Giraud, General de Gaulle, and a civilian. The President stated that he recognized the choice of a civilian would no doubt be a matter of some concern to both Generals Giraud and de Gaulle. In this connection, he stated that there were no doubt many Frenchmen who would be unacceptable to Generals Giraud and de Gaulle, and that the important thing to do was to agree on someone of experience as a civil administrator, and unquestioned honesty. [Page 645] The President stated that he did not wish to appear as suggesting anyone, but that he had heard much favorable comment about M. Roger Cambon and M. Boisson. General Giraud stated that M. Petryon [Peyrouton] too had much in his favor. The President stated that under the circumstances, of course, General Giraud would be the senior member of such a committee and that General de Gaulle might be designated as Chief of Staff, or Inspector-General, or some such convenient title. The civilian member of the committee would be the Aide for Civil Administration, and that it was expected this latter member would relieve General Giraud of many of the duties which he now performs in connection with the civil administration. The impression that I gathered was that the formation of such a committee would meet with the approval of General Giraud. “No distractions,” said the General, “should be permitted to interfere with the conduct of the war.”

In response to a question by the President, General Giraud stated that practically all the political prisoners in North Africa had now been set free. It was stated that many of these prisoners had been confined since the start of the war. He stated that the political prisoners remaining in confinement were so held because of other crimes with which they were charged.

The President asked General Giraud that if the value of the franc were re-pegged in North Africa giving a higher value to the franc, would anyone stand to make a fortune out of such a revaluation. Both General Giraud and Mr. Murphy then explained to the President that there were no large money operators in North Africa. It was stated that no doubt a few people would stand to benefit by such a revaluation, but not in an alarming amount. The President then asked if anyone in France with a considerable amount of francs would stand to benefit by such a re-pegging. Both General Giraud and Mr. Murphy then explained to the President that the French Colonial monetary system is entirely divorced from the Bank of France, and that a revaluation such as proposed by the President would affect only the colonial franc and not the franc of the Bank of France.

The President stated that he had met with the Combined Chiefs of Staff on the evening of January 18 and that the subject of equipping the North African French Army had been given much consideration.1 The President stated that he was pleased to inform General Giraud that General Marshall was enthusiastic about the prospects of such an army and that he (General Marshall) had stated to the President that it was his intention to see that such an army was equipped with our latest and best material rather than from our surplus supplies of [Page 646] older material. General Giraud received this statement with much satisfaction and assured the President that a French army so equipped would give a good account of itself against the enemy.

General Giraud then raised the question of propaganda. He stated that propaganda was a well-recognized weapon, but that it had to be used with care. Specifically, he stated that propaganda intended for the French people must be directed by Frenchmen. He admitted that the United Nations had an interest in such propaganda and that it was only right that our interests be given consideration, but that in the final analysis, a Frenchman should pass on propaganda directed towards the French people. To this the President and Mr. Murphy agreed.

At 12:40 p.m., the President and General Giraud withdrew to the terrace where motion and still pictures were made. After a number of shots had thus been made, the President directed Mr. Hopkins, Captain McCrea, and Captain Beaufre to join the party, and additional pictures were made.2

At 12:50 p.m., General Giraud and his aide, Captain Beaufre, withdrew.

John L. McCrea

Captain, U. S. Navy
  1. For the record of the meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff with Roosevelt and Churchill on January 18, 1943, see ante, p. 627.
  2. Photographs follow p. 483.