Algiers Consulate Files: Telegram

The Commander in Chief, Allied Expeditionary Force in North Africa ( Eisenhower ) to the President’s Personal Representative ( Murphy )


No. 5936. Paraphrase of AGWar telegram 1049 14th January 1943 follows: On 13th January Mr. Lemaigre Dubreuil concluded his discussions in Washington and left for North Africa.1 In agreement with him, it was decided that the following summary of his observations to the Secretary and Under-Secretary of State would be sent to you as this would be the basis of the recommendation which he will make to General Giraud. It was pointed out by Dubreuil that it was not possible to meet the situations, to reply to propaganda criticisms that Africa was under “Occupation” by the U.S., to give concentration to the military situation until the fulfilment of certain conditions having to do with material and morale. In a large measure the solution of this depended on the U.S. In his opinion it was necessary in this connection to remember that the intervention of American Troops had been requested, prepared and assisted by the French who received assurance at that time in letters exchanged between General Giraud and Mr. Murphy that the required material would be supplied and that treatment of the French would be as an Ally in complete possession of sovereignty. Dubreuil said that there is a growing impression in North Africa that territory is being given the treatment not of allied but of occupied territory. He feels in order to meet this situation certain changes would be necessary in the Clark-Darlan Agreement especially the recognition as an Ally of French North Africa. He stated that the present rate of exchange which has been imposed was markedly increasing the cost of living and prices within [Page 813] the country and that this should be taken into account and the rate modified. He went on to say that U.S. had representation in North Africa in Civil as well as military affairs but that North African Authorities did not enjoy reciprocal treatment in this country. That at the present time there exists in the U.S. a Military Mission. He feels in this regard that unless General Giraud were granted some such form of representation, a claim could be put forward by de Gaulle that the latter was in a position of primacy with respect to political and civil matters in that he could discuss such matter with the British and U.S. Governments direct and, further, that he, de Gaulle, should be regarded as the political leader of French resistance. The primary concern of General Giraud is one of military necessity of bringing back Frenchmen into active participation in the war. If supported in this position and supplies and recognitions could be given to General Giraud, the war could then be pursued with a maximum of effectiveness. French preoccupation would be reassured and General Giraud could establish himself as a leader of French military resistance. In this way General de Gaulle’s political aspirations would be relegated to a secondary place and the entire political situation would be clarified.

Lemaigre Dubreuil proposed that in order that General Giraud’s position be made perfectly clear that the latter might issue a declaration which would have as its purpose clarifying his position and showing that its character was non-political. Such declaration would be so framed as to indicate clearly to General de Gaulle that the military problem is the real one and the only one to be solved and that political matters do not become paramount until such time as the French people in France are liberated and in a position to determine their own destiny. The declaration by Giraud would point out that as no government exists now in France he was acting in the defense of French interests as trustee until termination of hostilities, as the result of this he would be free to carry on military operations without complications of a political character.

A further suggestion was made that there should follow Giraud’s declaration, a statement by the President who would confirm that it was the opinion of the Government of the U.S. that no French Government was in existence and that General Giraud is to be considered as trustee for the defense of French interests and as an ally.

It was agreed that the text of such a declaration should be discussed with you and with General Giraud. No further comment will be undertaken on the proposal by the State Department until a report is received from you.

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Certain commitments have been obtained by the Bethouart Mission with respect to supplying matériel. These commitments will be communicated to you in another message.2

  1. For documentation regarding Lemaigre Dubreuil’s discussions in Washington, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. ii, pp. 492495 and ibid., 1943, vol. ii, pp. 3639. Lemaigre Dubreuil arrived at Casablanca on January 21.
  2. For an account of the activities of the Béthouart Mission in Washington in December 1942 and January 1943, see Marcel Vigneras, Rearming the French (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1957), pp. 26–32.