851.00/2490a: Telegram

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

863. We are giving careful consideration to the points raised in your 1454, November 19, 6 p.m., and I have sent you by separate telegram the text of a statement given to the press today.20a Your reports of developments are most helpful in keeping us promptly informed and are exceedingly important in the formulation of our policy in this immediate period.

If the occasion presents itself and in your discretion I think it would be well to place the following considerations before Marshal Petain, whom you may wish to inform of the suspension of the plan of assistance to North Africa and the necessity for a review of our policy toward France. According to your reports there is no present plan to replace Weygand in the superior post of authority he held in the North African territories and the military control of those territories is to be exercised from Vichy. It is obvious that the adoption of a policy of assistance to German penetration and military activity in North Africa would be disastrous for the French nation. Our whole policy toward France has been based on the Marshal’s assurances that every effort would be made to preserve for the French people the integrity of their territories. It has been possible for the Marshal to maintain this position by his continued resistance to German demands which went beyond these requirements. I am certain that through your presentation of the policy and attitude of this Government in support of those nations resisting German aggression Marshal Petain must realize that acceding to German pressure for assistance to the military plans of Hitler will bring a sharp reaction on the part of public opinion in this country and will make it impossible for us to continue [Page 470]our helpful attitude either now or in the future. We must observe developments in Vichy and North Africa with closest attention. What do you think about remaining there for the present, keeping in close touch and seeing if something cannot be salvaged with respect to the North African situation now and in the period just ahead.

  1. See telegram No. 861, supra.