740.0011 European War 1939/12088: Telegram

The Chargé at Tangier (Childs) to the Secretary of State

215. The following is an analysis of certain factors of the situation in Morocco or as that situation is affected by developments in France, based upon large numbers of conversations had by Bentley11 and me with French officials and officers in Rabat and Casablanca this week. Monick12 is authority for most of the facts some of which found corroboration in other sources. The conclusions are based on the sum total of the conversations:

The Germans are making more and more use of the weapon of terror in their relations with the French. At his recent meeting with Hitler,13 Darlan14 was threatened and railed at in the manner which has characterized so many of Hitler’s meetings with European political leaders in the past from the time of Schuschnigg.15 Hitler is stated to have threatened Darlan with ruthless crushing and dismemberment of metropolitan France.
Collaboration with Germany is finding support outside of Darlan, Laval16 and a small clique of industrialists only under pressure [Page 378] exerted by ruthless Nazi threats and methods. The decisions of the French Government are based on fear and the absence of hope. Every German victory increases the pressure upon Vichy and lessens ability of French leaders in North Africa to resist that pressure.
The force of the German pressure is expected to increase and also the ingenuity of its diabolical methods. At the intimate dinner attended by Noguès,17 Weygand,18 Meyrier19 and Monick in Rabat on June 11 (see my 21420) instances of the German terror, as now exercised, vis-à-vis France were recounted including the persecution of French prisoners of war in Germany who are related to influential French. Mention was made of the son of Puax, of the French Diplomatic Service, who is awaiting sentence on June 20 while his father besieges Government offices in Vichy.
Weygand has been greatly encouraged by the message from the Secretary.21 … American backing is of great psychological support to him.
Weygand did not appreciate the role of the United States until recently but he now does. At the Council of Ministers’ meeting in Vichy June 4, Weygand kept insisting that the French Government must take account of the attitude of the United States in all its important decisions.
There is and will be incredible suffering in Europe, becoming worse with winter. Pressure on Vichy and Weygand will increase. We must be prepared for this.
The great body of French Protectorate officials or private citizens in Morocco are desperately anxious for American moral support; their one hope is in America.
The fear of Fifth Columnists in Morocco is growing. Bentley was cautioned that he must be guarded even in speaking with French officers until satisfied of genuineness of their (pro-Ally) feelings.
Germans are now noticeable in Morocco and there is greater evidence of German espionage. We saw three officers in uniform in Rabat and a number of Armistice Commission members not in uniform. The first night of our arrival and the following morning I was followed by three Germans, later identified as belonging to German Consulates in Tangier and Tetuán. During absence from my room an effort was made to open a locked bag. The door of Major [Page 379] Bentley’s room was forced during his absence. We had, of course, left no papers in rooms. Energetic measures which I have every reason to believe in good faith were taken by French authorities upon my verbal representations.
Our friends in Protectorate Administration stressed the great and urgent need of resumption of our economic aid, if no more than a token at this time. They made three principal points: 1, the great need of this aid; 2, the concrete link that it affords directly between French North Africa and United States, with its indirect influence upon our relations with Vichy; and 3, the moral support given those in favor of American rather than German collaboration vis-à-vis “doubting Thomases” who are already taxing the American group with having been deceived by false hopes.
All American officers in Morocco are unreservedly and unqualifiedly in favor of continuance of American economic aid, believing that such aid at least safeguards continuance of our influence and acts as a deterrent upon that of Germany. We believe that it should go forward short only of German occupation of French North Africa.

Inform M.I.D. and O.N.I.22

Repeated to Vichy, Algiers and Casablanca.

  1. Maj. William C. Bentley, Military Attaché at Tangier.
  2. Emmanuel Monick, Secretary General of the French Zone of Morocco.
  3. Adolf Hitler, Fuhrer and Chancellor of the German Reich.
  4. Adm. Jean François Darlan, Vice President of the French Council of Ministers, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Navy, and Interior.
  5. Kurt von Schuschnigg, Austrian Chancellor, July 1934–March 11, 1938.
  6. Pierre Laval, leading French collaborationist, former Vice President of the Council of Ministers and Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  7. Gen. Albert Noguès, Resident General in the French Zone of Morocco.
  8. Gen. Maxime Weygand, Delegate General of the French Government in North Africa.
  9. Jacques Meyrier, Delegate of the Residency General, and principal assistant to General Noguès.
  10. Not printed.
  11. Presumably message from the Under Secretary of State contained in telegram No. 133, June 10, 8 p.m., to the Consul General at Algiers, p. 376.
  12. Military Intelligence Division, War Department, and Office of Naval Intelligence.