Roosevelt Papers

The Secretary of State to the President 1

Memorandum for the President

The British Embassy has handed us a copy of Mr. Churchill’s messages to you, nos. 3992 and 4003 of August 3, concerning a possible formula to govern our future relations with the French Committee of National Liberation.

[Page 665]

We have endeavored to harmonize the formula which you sent to Mr. Churchill on July 224 with the latest Foreign Office formula, preserving the essential parts of each. A copy of our suggested draft is attached.

We have assumed that this Government has undertaken to equip a French army of approximately 300,000 men to serve, in the first instance, under the direct orders of General Giraud and, in the final analysis, under the orders of the Allied Commander-in-Chief. We likewise assume that this undertaking on our part was predicated on the understanding that General Giraud would have the final word with respect to the French forces which we are arming and that in military matters General Giraud would be the sole responsible French authority with whom the two Governments would deal with respect to the French armed forces.

You are of course aware that on July 31 the French Committee of National Liberation issued a new decree providing in part for the creation of a Committee of National Defense under the chairmanship of General de Gaulle and subject to the “directive” of the main Committee. The question of whether or not the present personnel of the Committee of National Defense is satisfactory appears to be irrelevant since its members are apparently subject to change at any time by the French Committee of National Liberation (which is of course dominated by de Gaulle). A copy of the communiqué from Algiers concerning the new set-up, as reported in the New York Times of August 1, is attached herewith.5

Although General Giraud has informed Mr. Murphy that he is fully satisfied with the new set-up, we have no knowledge as yet of General Eisenhower’s opinion. It is our view that General Giraud has lost further ground and in view of the well-known attitude of General de Gaulle and his followers toward this country we feel it essential in our dealings with the Committee to make a clear-cut distinction between military and other questions. This distinction was not at all clear in the latest British formula which appears to us as being the same for all practical purposes as their formula of July 8.6

You will also have noted that in spite of your telling the Prime Minister that you objected to the use of the word “recognition” in any form, the British have come right back with the same phrase.

In our draft we have omitted the British reference to the Committee’s position in the Levant and they may wish to handle this separately with the French. We likewise consider it wise to omit reference to past agreements, since we do not know what agreements the British may [Page 666] have made with the Fighting French. This question can be taken up with the French under the general terms of our proposed declaration.

You may be interested in the attached note7 left with us jointly by General Béthouart of the French Military Mission and Mr. Baudet of the Fighting French Delegation concerning the Committee’s interest in being consulted in connection with Italian developments.

I am furnishing a copy of our latest revision of the formula to the War Department for its comment with respect to the safeguarding of the position of our military command.

If the formula is approved by the British we would wish, if possible, to postpone publication for a few days in order to notify the Soviet, Canadian, and certain other interested Governments of our intentions.

C[ordell] H[ull]

Draft Statement

Draft Formula

The Government of the United States and His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom desire again to make clear their purpose of cooperating with all patriotic Frenchmen looking to the liberation of the French people and French territories from the oppressions of the enemy.

The two Governments accordingly welcome the establishment of the French Committee of National Liberation. It is their understanding that the Committee has been conceived and will function on the principle of collective responsibility of all its members for the prosecution of the war. It is also, they are assured, common ground between themselves and the Committee that it will be for the French people themselves to settle their own constitution and to establish their own Government after they have had an opportunity to express themselves freely.

In view of the paramount importance of the common war effort, the relationship of the two Governments with the French Committee of National Liberation must continue to be subject to the military requirements of the Allied Commanders.

On these understandings the Government of the United States and His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom will deal with the French Committee of National Liberation as administrating those French overseas territories which acknowledge its authority. The two Governments take note with sympathy of the desire of the Committee [Page 667] to be regarded as the body qualified to ensure the administration and defense of all French interests. The question of the extent to which it may be possible to give effect to this desire in respect of the different categories of such interests must however be reserved for consideration in each case as it arises.

The Government of the United States and His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom welcome the Committee’s expressed determination to continue the common struggle in close cooperation with all the Allies until the French and Allied territories are completely liberated and until victory is complete over all the enemy powers. It is understood that the Committee will afford whatever military and economic facilities and securities in the territories under its administration are required by the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom for the prosecution of the war.

  1. Delivered by courier to the President, who was then at Birch Island, Ontario.
  2. Ante, p. 661.
  3. Ante, p. 662.
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. ii, p. 177.
  5. Not printed.
  6. See Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. ii, pp. 171172.
  7. Ante, p. 532