851.86/118

The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of the Navy (Knox)

My Dear Mr. Secretary: I have received and considered your letter of March 3, 1943 (Serial No. 019913 (SC) P14–4/EF)54 concerning recruiting in the United States by representatives of General de Gaulle and General Giraud.

I agree that this problem is a serious one for which a solution must be found. Obviously it serves the interests of the enemy for rival French factions to recruit members of the armed forces of other French factions. It is my earnest hope that an agreement may be reached between General de Gaulle and General Giraud under which all of the energies of the French will be directed toward the objective upon which all Frenchmen who love liberty can agree; that is the defeat of Germany. Pending such an agreement on a broad scale, it seems to me that the recruiting problem can, as suggested in your letter, best be met by an agreement between General de Gaulle and General Giraud to the effect that personnel having affiliations with other armed forces will not be accepted until the representative of the other Service concerned has been consulted and has given permission for such recruiting.

The Department of State will be glad to assist in every way at its disposal in urging the immediate conclusion of a recruiting agreement along the above-mentioned lines. I have been informally advised by the British Embassy that the British Government has made representations to General de Gaulle and General Giraud urging the conclusion of a recruiting agreement at once.

Your letter of March 3, 1943, proposes that pending the conclusion of a recruiting agreement between General de Gaulle and General Giraud, the American Government stop the recruiting of all French personnel in the United States. Title 18, Section 22, of the United [Page 211]States Code makes it unlawful for any person within the jurisdiction of the United States to hire or retain another person to enlist or enter himself in the service of any foreign prince, state, colony, district or people as “a soldier or as a marine or seaman on board of any vessel of war, letter of marque, or privateer”. The penalty may be a fine of not more than $1,000.00 and imprisonment of not more than three years. There is a proviso to the section stating that it shall not apply to citizens or subjects of any country engaged in war with a country with which the United States is at war, unless such citizen or subject of such foreign country shall hire or solicit a citizen of the United States to enlist or go beyond the jurisdiction of the United States with intent to enlist or enter the service of a foreign country. Enlistments under the proviso “shall be under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of War”.

Sincerely yours,

Sumner Welles
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