851.4016/108: Telegram

The Chargé in France (Tuck) to the Secretary of State

1475. Embassy’s 1346, September 11, 11 a.m. and 1414, September 23, 7 p.m.13 and Department’s 600, September 28, 8 p.m. I conveyed the purport of the Department’s reference telegram to Laval on the afternoon of September 30 and asked him whether he would be willing to cooperate in facilitating the departure of these children from France. He at once replied that he gave his agreement in principle (his words were “mon accord vous est acquit en principe”). He added that he would be only too glad to be rid of them. He asked me as a favor not to advise the Department until he was in a position to give me an official reply which he said might be slightly delayed owing to certain “administrative difficulties”.

This afternoon Jordin, Chief of Laval’s Special Cabinet, asked me to come and see him. I found him in a state of great embarrassment. He informed me in strictest confidence that less than 2 hours after my visit on September 30, the German Consul General Krug von Nidda had called on Laval and had stated that the German Government had learned of our intention to admit these children. The Germans wished to be consulted in this proposed move as it was feared that our Government might make use of these children upon their arrival in the United States as an effective medium of anti-German propaganda. I am forced to the conclusion that von Nidda learned of our Government’s intention to admit these children through the Department’s en clair message number 1851 of September 18 to Marseille.14

Jordin added that Laval found himself in an extremely awkward predicament and that while he was honestly anxious to carry out his promise to me he would first have to obtain German consent to our proposal.

I had difficulty in restraining my anger. I told Jordin that my Government had decided to take this step on humanitarian grounds alone and to imply that we intended to use these children for propaganda purposes was a base and contemptible suggestion. Coming from the Germans I said it did not surprise me. I was willing, however, to wait until I received Laval’s reply on October 5 and suggested that in the meantime he would do well to consider the [Page 715]effect which a rejection of my Government’s proposal would produce upon the civilized world.

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