740.0011 European War 1939/17273

The Counselor of Embassy in France (Murphy), Temporarily at Algiers, to the Secretary of State

No. 1000

Sir: I have the honor to enclose, in original and translation, a copy of a memorandum on the subject of French policy taken by General Weygand to Vichy. He planned to read this statement of his conception of what French general policy should be, with particular regard to French Africa, to the Council of Ministers at Vichy during the course of his present visit.

The Department will find the enclosure, I am sure, an interesting resume of the current views of General Weygand which are shared by some of his associates.

Respectfully yours,

Robert D. Murphy
[Enclosure—Translation]

Memorandum by General Weygand

When I undertook the functions of Delegate General of the Government in French Africa, the international situation was dominated by a fact, the importance of which would of necessity be capital in the conduct of French policy. I speak of the failure of the German air offensive against the British Isles which presaged a prolongation of the war and, without doubt, the incapacity of the German Reich to bring the Anglo-Saxon powers to their knees.

Under those circumstances, the position of vanquished France suddenly took on a new value by reason of the fact that the Armistice concluded on my request permitted to France the control of its Empire. With one stroke France again became master of an important factor in the outcome of the war, and the strategic positions in its control became a trump essential ill the general diplomatic situation. The importance thereof was emphasized by the general interest which was shown therein by foreign propaganda.

I fought this propaganda to the best of my ability.

[Page 462]

In my opinion, the role of the Empire should be the protection of metropolitan France against abuses which the Reich imposes upon all European peoples. This protection cannot be exercised if France does not retain its territories intact. France must guard its territories against dissident movements or foreign attack. That was my role and I do not fear to say that the loyalty of French Africa today is stronger than ever.

It was necessary also that France guard its territories against German infiltration. That was the duty of the Government. Control by the Reich of affairs in our Empire deprives France of the trump which the Armistice left it. Such control places France at the mercy of the conqueror just as in the case of Poland and Greece.

At the beginning of the present year, the United States offered us an economic accord which has not given all the economic results for which we could have hoped because of British opposition (seizure of the Schéhérazade, reduction of our requests for petroleum products), and that of Germany (opposition to the departure of our ships, refusal to accept propositions permitting an increase in the number of merchant ships engaged in this traffic, opposition to the control by American consular officers of the exportation of petroleum products, etc.).

But, from the political point of view, this accord offered an important advantage. France, thanks to its Empire, remained the only European power retaining its economic relations with the United States. As long as French control of its territories was not threatened, the Anglo-Saxons respected it.

Thus, in addition to the duty, as I understood it, of protecting the Empire against the conqueror, there was added a further possibility, that of maintaining cordial economic and political contact with a power which, in any event, will be one of the arbiters of the situation at the end of the war.

The evolution of the situation in 1941 only confirms the growing importance of French Africa. The battle of the Atlantic does not develop into a German success. American intervention is growing more defined, and today the amendment of the Neutrality Act is an accomplished fact. Germany, on the other hand, marks time in Russia. Everything indicates that the battle this winter will be that of the Mediterranean, as the possession of that waterway will be indispensable to Germany for the transport of raw products from East to West. The organization of Germanized Europe is impossible without control of this important maritime highway, the Mediterranean.

To open French Africa to Germany is to assure to the latter the possibility of organizing the continent of Europe. It would also mean that France would be deprived of a strategic position—the key [Page 463]for the final issue of the war. It would cause the Empire to run the risk of becoming a battlefield between the two opponents. By resisting Germany we might aggravate the conditions of a severe Armistice, but we would leave ourselves the possibilities of action which can only improve with time. Opening Africa to Germany means in the last analysis giving to Germany a unique opportunity to be able to continue the war during 10 years and to impose without the possibility of any reaction its will upon France.