740.0011 European War 1939/12126: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Steinhardt) to the Secretary of State

1155. The French Ambassador called yesterday and read to me the following extract from an article in the London Times of June 11 attributed to the Washington correspondent of that paper.

“It is known, moreover, that the French Ambassador in Moscow, Monsieur Gaston Bergery, born von Kauler, has now assumed the role of spokesman for Germany there. He and not the German Embassy has been assuring Americans that Russia is ready to place her immense resources completely at the disposal of Germany.”

Bergery intimated that this “misinformation” must have been based by the London Times correspondent in Washington upon reports from the Embassy to the Department or despatches from American newspaper men in Moscow. He said that it placed him in a false position with his Government and the French press in that it did not reflect his real sentiments and he feared that it might be taken up by the French press to his disadvantage. He asked me to telegraph the Department to the effect that the role attributed to him was incorrect and had the impertinence not only to request me show him my telegram “without of course disclosing the cipher” but to suggest that he expected a “correction” to be made. I replied that I had of course reported to the Department the views which he had from time to time expressed to me and that he could be quite certain that my telegrams accurately repeated his statements and that therefore he need have no concern that he had been misquoted by me. He was most insistent however that I send a further telegram to the Department on the subject. I assured him that I would fully report our conversation.

I gained the impression that Bergery intends to make a public [Page 174] denial of the role attributed to him by the Washington correspondent of the London Times and is desirous of employing my name in support of his denial.

In my opinion this incident clearly evidences Bergery’s desire to carry out the present Vichy policy of collaboration with Berlin while at the same time concealing his active participation in such collaboration from the general public. This attitude is presumably based upon the hope that his status in France may not be impaired beyond all chance of redemption in the event that the present Vichy policy should collapse, or should there at some future time be a revulsion of feeling in France against the individuals who played outstanding roles in the present policy of collaboration. This conclusion is entirely consistent with my appraisal of Bergery’s character.

As I am at a complete loss to understand from what source the Washington correspondent of the London Times may have obtained his information, I would appreciate the Department’s instructions.