740.0011 European War 1939/13332: Telegram

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

338. Personal for the Acting Secretary from Murphy. Our [Department’s] 184, July 17, 10 p.m. I saw Weygand alone a few minutes ago and informed him of your message, reading to him a translation of the message and stating that I was authorized to deliver it only [Page 397] orally. This was the first opportunity to talk with him since my return from Morocco Saturday eve.48 Weygand listened with the greatest interest. His first comment was an expression of his evident pleasure and satisfaction over the President’s complimentary references to him personally. He said with a smile that he would be sure to make no allusions to them in any report he might make to Vichy as strangely enough jealousy was known to exist in that neighborhood. The General made careful mental note and when I had finished repeated what he had told us before, namely, that he would not enter into a commitment regarding the general policy of his Government without authorization, neither had he any intention of taking independent military action.

Weygand said that he was quite willing to state the fact that [to] the best of his knowledge there had been no recent action changing the status of French African ports nor conceding their use to the Germans nor to any power affiliated with the Germans. He said that he could assure the President that there is no French African port at present occupied by or under the control of the Germans or any power affiliated with them aside from the verification of military equipment and control of shipping exercised by the Armistice Commissions of which activity the President is informed. He said that his attitude remains unchanged and that he will oppose to the best of his ability any act of aggression against French Africa or affiliated power. In reply to my question he said that neither German nor Italian nor affiliated naval craft of any description are or have been using French African ports for refueling or as bases generally; neither are they or have they been using French African bases for the purpose of military operations.

The General then made an oral résumé of the message to insure that he retained its essential feature clearly in mind.

He inquired whether in my opinion the United States would enter the war as a belligerent. I replied that the President had by his recent public utterances stated American policy with a clarity that left no doubt about the American position and that naturally I could not amplify my Government’s declarations. I mentioned that there is of course an element of public opinion in the United States which apparently believes that the entrance of the United States as a belligerent may be inevitable. Weygand remarked that he had always hoped that the United States might remain aloof exercising its enormous power as an arbiter in whose impartiality the world could have confidence. He felt however that things are developing in a different direction. That fact did not appear to distress him.

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The General expressed his satisfaction over the operation of the economic plan and his repeated thanks to the Department and the President for their support the value of which he recognizes.

His principal interest however related to that portion of the message regarding military supplies. I feel that possibly he may be slightly disappointed that the message did not go further to the extent of a preliminary outline of what volume of supplies might be forthcoming and what the possible time lag might be in the event of an emergency. I therefore took the liberty to inquire whether if my Government saw fit to provide data in that respect he would be interested in receiving it. Pie quickly replied that of course he would, adding as an afterthought that this should not be interpreted as a commitment on his part. I am confident that he is only mildly interested in the volume of our national defense expenditures but reasonably interested in actual production figures. He has, I am sure, an active interest in learning the volume of what material we could deliver within a given period of time and whether we have such a program under study.

The General was visibly pleased over the President’s reference to the necessity for the complete defeat of Hitlerite Germany and the provision of the eventual Treaty of Peace which would restore France to the position she previously occupied.

The General referred to the Russo-German campaign with satisfaction. Notwithstanding his ardent dislike of the Soviet regime he said the Russians were putting up a gallant fight. He said that naturally everyone deplored bloodshed but that the contemplation of the mutual liquidation of Nazis and Communism is far from displeasing to him. The General referred to his hope to achieve French unity in Africa as the only satisfactory means of opposing aggression. He said that the activity of Communists and De Gaullists48a in French [territories?] mitigates against national unity which is necessary if France is to emerge from her present prostration.

He again referred to Syria, pointing to General Dentz’49 humiliation which he said would have been less bitter if the occupation had been restricted to British troops to the exclusion of De Gaullists.

Weygand concluded the interview, throughout which he evinced the greatest cordiality and understanding, with an expression of satisfaction over the recent consolidation of his authority (he is now Governor of Algeria by the elimination of Admiral Abrial which authority is in addition to his powers as Delegate General for French Africa). [Murphy.]

  1. July 19.
  2. Followers of Gen. Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French.
  3. Gen. Henri-Fernand Dentz, French High Commissioner in Syria.