851.00/2467: Telegram

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

1453. At half past 4 this afternoon we received an urgent call from the member of Darlan’s Cabinet we saw yesterday (Embassy’s telegram 1450, November 17, 8 p.m.7) stating that Weygand’s position had greatly deteriorated. Benoist-Mechin8 he said had arrived from Paris about noon today with a German ultimatum that Weygand must go. This information was subsequently confirmed to us in confidence by a subordinate member of the Marshal’s entourage who stated that the Marshal would receive me tomorrow, probably in the morning. Both our informants expressed the opinion that while the decision might not as yet have been taken, they were fearful that Weygand would be ousted.

At 6:30 p.m. Du Moulin de la Barthète8a and Rochat called at the Embassy with the following note verbale from the Marshal which they said the Marshal transmitted to the American Ambassador first and immediately following the decision:

“The French Government has the honor to bring to the knowledge of the Ambassador of the United States the following facts:

As a result of German pressure which has been exerted for several months and which this morning took an imperative form, the Marshal has taken the decision to suppress the Délégation Générale in Africa which involves the recall of General Weygand.

If the Marshal had not made this decision there is every indication to believe that German troop penetration into Africa would have been inevitable and would undoubtedly have occurred very soon.”

I have just been informed that the Marshal will receive me at 4 o’clock tomorrow afternoon and I will tell him at that time that in my [Page 461]personal opinion yielding to this German demand will probably interrupt the economic assistance now being given to Africa and it may bring about a complete change in the present sympathetic and understanding attitude of America toward the Government of France.

Repeated to Algiers.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Jacques Benoist-Mechin, French Secretary of State in charge of Franco-German relations.
  3. Henri du Moulin de Labarthète, Marshal Pétain’s Chef de Cabinet.