740.00112 European War 1939/4084

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

The French Ambassador9 called to see me today at his request.

When the Ambassador came in he inquired immediately whether I had any word from the Embassy in Vichy in confirmation of the press reports regarding the rumored recall of General Weygand.

I told the Ambassador that unfortunately I had received a message from the American Ambassador in Vichy, stating that this report was correct and further that he was due to have this afternoon a personal interview with Marshal Petain, a report of which I was now awaiting.

I said to the Ambassador that pending a full report from Admiral Leahy there was nothing further I could state beyond saying officially to the Ambassador that the step in question decided upon by his Government made necessary a complete change in the policy which this Government had hitherto carried out vis-à-vis France. I said that the American Government had made every effort to strengthen the resistance of the French Government to increased pressure from Germany in the hope that the French Government would agree to no terms or provisions on the part of Germany which exceeded, in the slightest degree, the terms of the armistice agreement in 1940. I said that this new step agreed upon by France implied that Germany would now rapidly increase its practical and effective control throughout North Africa and that a situation of this kind was regarded by the United States as a direct threat to the security and national defense requirements of the United States.

The Ambassador said very little beyond stating that it was a desperate shock to him, that he had time and again made clear to his [Page 464] Government what the attitude of the United States would be should France make any concessions whatever to Germany with regard to North Africa, and that he personally believed it was a decision which every patriotic Frenchman must abhor. The Ambassador came in to discuss various matters, particularly the seizure of French ships by the British, but in view of the statements I made to him he did not bring up for discussion any of these problems. He left with me two notes attached herewith10 dealing with routine questions.

  1. Gaston Henry-Haye.
  2. Not printed.