851.00/2699: Telegram

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

451. For the Acting Secretary. The official mentioned in our 690, June 14, 10 a.m., 194136 in conversation with a member of this Embassy yesterday stated that since a previous conversation (see our 417, March 19, 5 p.m.36) German pressure on Vichy has become much more intense.

This pressure while not yet in ultimatum form is being applied through Benoist-Méchin,37 Abetz38 and de Brinon39 and is directed toward the establishment of a definitely collaborationist government prior to the spring offensive in Russia.

He said that Germany is pressing for the return of Laval40 which is extremely displeasing to the Marshal41 who is, however, very friendly with René de Chambrun.42

Our informant fears that a definitely pro-collaborationist government will in the near future be forced upon the Marshal. He said also [Page 155]that Xavier Vallat, Commissioner for Jewish Affairs, and Xucheu [Pucheu?]43 have now been refused permission to travel between the occupied and unoccupied zones and that a decree putting an early end to the Riom trial will shortly be issued following German pressure.

The individual mentioned in our 1490, December 3, 2 p.m., 194144 told us today that Germany will no longer negotiate with the present Government, that a change will be made at a time chosen by Germany and that Laval will be returned to the Cabinet, the matter having already been discussed with the Marshal by René de Chambrun.

We are told by a reliable informant who obtained his information from Laval that the Marshal and Laval had a secret meeting this morning in the country near Vichy in which the question of Laval’s return to the Cabinet was discussed.

Arrangements have been made for Darlan to confer with Laval Saturday at Châteldon.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Jacques Benoist-Méchin, French Secretary of State to the President of the Council of Ministers.
  4. Otto Abetz, German Ambassador on special mission in Paris.
  5. Fernand de Brinon, General Delegate of French Government for Occupied Territories.
  6. Pierre Laval, named Chief of French Government April 18, 1942.
  7. Marshal Pétain, French Chief of State.
  8. Son-in-law of Pierre Laval.
  9. Pierre Pucheu, French Minister of Interior.
  10. Not printed; the individual is identified only as a career diplomat and member of Marshal Pétain’s “entourage” (851.00/2529).