740.0011 European War 1939/16523: Telegram

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

1428. Embassy’s 1425, November 11, 10 a.m.3 The Marshal told Matthews4 who lunched with him today before leaving that he has asked General Weygand to come to Vichy sometime within the next week “to discuss this situation”. When Matthews told him of the importance from the point of view of Franco-American relations that the General should thereafter return to Africa, he replied “I shall only work in agreement with Weygand. He will return to Africa. As I have all along done with the Germans, I am trying to gain time.”

He was in an optimistic mood and went on to say that he felt things might “soon take a turn for the better”; that the war may not last so long. “Perhaps I can be useful in some way as an intermediary, if peace seems possible. You should delay entry into the war as long as possible and you may not have to come in at all.”

Darlan this morning, when Matthews went to say goodbye, in the course of a long tirade against the United States, against England, against Murphy’s presence in Africa, against our insistence on the departure of the Lorraine and against the attitude of our press towards the Marshal and himself, voiced similar views as to the possibility of a negotiated peace. He said “You should not trouble us so in Africa. You just arouse German suspicions whereas if you would reduce your activities there they would never go into Africa. If they distrust our intentions too much they will go there however and they will beat you to it, which is neither to your advantage nor to ours. Why do you want the war to go on? You can never beat the [Page 458]Germans militarily and to think that they may threaten your security is laughable. The war could go on for 10 years, to the destruction and starvation of Europe but I think you could find me useful as an intermediary between yourselves and the Germans and I think there will be a chance for peace negotiations in a short time.”

  1. Not printed; it told of reported coming changes of French officials in North Africa and of plans to remove General Weygand (851.00/2444).
  2. H. Freeman Matthews, appointed Counselor of Embassy in the United Kingdom on October 27, 1941; previously First Secretary of Embassy in France.