740.0011 European War 1939/13461: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Leahy) to the Secretary of State

927. We had a long confidential talk last evening with Weygand’s personal representative at Vichy. The object of the conversation on his part was emphatically to urge the utmost discretion by our Government [Page 401] (and that we use our “influence” to the same end with the British) in all that concerns French Africa. He emphasized how delicate is the French position there and how suspicious the Germans are. When privileges are granted our “vice consuls” in their control duties in Africa, the Germans immediately demand similar privileges for their own people. Auer is closely watched and some of his native contacts in the past have actually been shot, he said, which had proved “extremely annoying to the Germans” although they are told that the same surveillance is exercised over Murphy. The Germans are insisting that the British and Americans are getting ready for an attack on either Casablanca or Dakar, that we are “buying” native chieftains and otherwise preparing for direst future action. He went on to say that he does not believe these German charges nor does Weygand, but they do call for the utmost discretion to prevent some German move.

He denied that there has been any recent increase of Germans in Morocco or elsewhere in North Africa and particularly the development reported in the Embassy’s telegram No. 926, July 24, 2 p.m.51a though he admitted the possibility of a “few Germans” getting into the territory clandestinely through Tangier.

He said that the prestige of Weygand, to whom he is personally devoted, grows each time he comes to Vichy and that he has been able to resist German pressure in general and specifically German [demands?] for bases in Africa. “You can rest easy while Weygand is there”, he said, “though he will resist any Anglo-American attack on Africa, just as he will resist a German move. So be careful,” he went on, “until you have 10,000 planes; then, I say personally, you can do what you want.”

He then said that Franco-German relations are “almost at the breaking point” and that this is due solely to French resistance to German penetration in Africa. The Germans interpreted “collaboration” to mean utilization of French African territory and are extremely annoyed at Weygand’s resistance to their infiltration into or control over that area.

They would give anything, he said, to get rid of Weygand, but realize that that is impossible. They will probably, however, he said, succeed in eliminating Monick (who has arrived back in Vichy but who has discreetly kept away from the Embassy). The Germans blame him partly for the success of our program of economy supply and for his general anti-German measures. What action the Germans are planning in “retaliation” for French refusal to collaborate in the matter of African bases, he does not know He confirmed though that [Page 402] there is much anxiety in this respect on the part of the Government here.

We asked whether there is anything specific which had brought forth his request for American “discretion” in Africa and he replied in the negative. He said that our economic plan is working “most satisfactorily” and that General Weygand has great confidence in Murphy. He had broached the subject he said merely in the hope that we would be careful and to let us know how pressing the Germans are becoming with respect to our activities in that area.

Repeated to Algiers and Casablanca.

  1. Not printed.