125.226/5: Telegram

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

547. The following is a translation of the Havas OFI97 communiqué which was published in Tiding’s press concerning the note which was delivered to the French Ambassador in Washington with regard to the opening of a Consulate at Brazzaville:

“After having taken cognizance of the American note handed on April 13th to the French Ambassador at Washington by the Department of State concerning the opening of an American Consulate at Brazzaville the French Government at once instructed Monsieur Henry-Haye to inform the Secretary of State98 that the French Government does not accept the note of the American Government couched in injurious terms which tend to discredit in the eyes of the world the conduct of French citizens who do not need to receive lessons of patriotism from abroad.

Furthermore the French Government is obliged to note that the immediate disclosure under unusual conditions of this strange document shows that it was drawn up for propaganda purposes and in order to endeavor to confuse public opinion, furthermore it does not answer the question which was asked.”

[Page 564]

We are told by a responsible Foreign Office official, who is in Darlan’s Cabinet, that Darlan was enraged at certain parts of our note particularly the paragraph relating to certain Frenchmen, who in the guise of collaboration, abjectly attempt to prostitute their country to the German regime, and that Darlan personally drafted the above communiqué which Darlan instructed should be published in the French press and given to foreign journalists. This communiqué was given to the foreign press shortly after 7 o’clock last evening and was immediately cabled by foreign correspondents. We are informed by a member of Rochat’s99 staff, that at quarter past eight, Von Nidda1 sent a message to Rochat that the publication of such a communiqué was obviously calculated to embarrass Laval2 upon his entry into office and to create difficulties for him with the United States, and that it should be suppressed. Accordingly the Ministry of Information requested the foreign correspondents to cancel the story.

Shortly before midnight the Ministry of Information communicated again with the foreign correspondents and stated that the ban on the story had been lifted and that they were free to use it.

A responsible official tells us that the German delegation in Vichy, after requesting the Foreign Office to suppress the communiqué, communicated later in the evening with Laval in Paris and that he stated that in so far as he was concerned the communiqué could be issued. Accordingly the Germans notified the Ministry of Information that they withdrew their objection to its publication.

  1. Office Français d’lnformation.
  2. See memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State, April 16, p. 172.
  3. Charles Antoine Rochat, Secretary General of the French Foreign Office.
  4. Hans Roland Krug von Nidda, German representative at Vichy.
  5. Pierre Laval, appointed French Chief of Government on April 18, 1942.