740.0011 European War 1939/12608: Telegram

The Consul General at Algiers (Cole) to the Secretary of State

276. From Murphy. Your 134, June 11, 8 p.m.32 We have made some progress in ascertaining the facts of German infiltration in this [Page 384] area. To arrive at the facts it is necessary, of course, to sift numerous stories, many of which are inaccurate. We are reasonably certain that as matters now stand the actual numbers of Germans in Algeria are as follows: Official German Armistice Commission personnel: 38 (2 are the regular liaison officers; 20 compose a “temporary” commission recently arrived to investigate the status of all persons in North Africa claiming German nationality and a further “temporary” commission to remove military equipment heretofore requisitioned under the Armistice Convention which is now being removed to Syria); approximately 60 “businessmen, traveling salesmen, Red Cross representatives, representatives of civilian administrations such as the Propaganda Ministry.” These figures are separate and distinct from those for French Morocco. I am informed that in Tunisia there are only 2 German Armistice Commission officers who act as liaison with the Italians but that the commission of 16 for the delivery of matériel to Libya operate both in Algeria and Tunisia. Weygand’s staff confirm that the personnel of the German Armistice Commission now in Morocco numbers 204.

An important local official tells me that Algerian officials do their best in a general way to restrict German activity but that it is impossible to refuse entry to Germans equipped with proper travel documents duly visaed by the competent authorities at Vichy. A wellinformed source said that every German arriving has a duly visaed passport and he believes that all the German “businessmen etc.” are reserve officers. They dispose, he said, of funds of which they make distribution wherever disbursement may result in increased German prestige, especially among the Arabs.

The Germans now here, it is generally admitted, conduct themselves with prudence and discretion realizing that they are under close surveillance. Some French officials are on the alert to penalize both French and natives who are contacted by Germans. In some instances French minor officials, who indicate susceptibility to German inducements, are transferred to other posts.

A military intelligence contact of Cose [Cole?] and Taft33 tells us that the German Red Cross representative in Algiers [apparent omission] stopped was heard to say that he found it difficult to foster contacts among the Arabs because every time he thought he was getting along nicely with one the individual disappeared.

There is no important political effervescence among the Arabs in Algeria. For example the Archbishop of Algeria just returned from an extensive tour tells me that he found the natives tranquil and observed no signs of German activity in any of the many parts he [Page 385] visited. Algeria is blessed this year with bumper crops which guarantee the food situation for some months. The French are confident that the natives will resist foreign propaganda if they are reasonably well fed.

The rumors that there are “hundreds” of Germans in this area are not corroborated by the evidence we have been able to adduce thus far. “We believe that these rumors are of a piece with the story said to be given credence by the Germans to the effect that there are “80” American consular officials in North Africa. The majority of Germans arrive in Algeria by plane. Some of these are in transit to Morocco and, of course, there is certain return north-bound traffic by plane from Morocco via Algeria. According to a hotel proprietor as many as 20 Germans pass through Algiers daily. This is denied by responsible officials in whom we have confidence. They state that the average is only 5 or 6 daily.

It appears at present that the German plan of infiltration in Algeria is of the longer term variety. A few German civilians are pressing the French authorities for permission to import their families. The Germans seem to be engaged in forming a nucleus on which to build for the future. There is nothing visible here which would indicate an imminent coup de force.

Code texts airmailed to Vichy, Tunis, Tangier and Casablanca. [Murphy.]

  1. Ante, p. 315.
  2. Orray Taft, Jr., Vice Consul at Algiers.