703.5451/9–3044: Telegram

The Acting American Representative to the French Committee of National Liberation at Paris ( Chapin ) to the Secretary of State 65

121. The questions raised in Department’s 37, September 25, 9 p.m. are answered to a large extent by my 96, September 27, 4 p.m.,66 which crossed the Department’s telegram.

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As the Department is aware we are already acting on all whereabouts, welfare and property inquiries referred to the Mission by the Department in addition to a limited number of inquiries originating here. We are not prepared, however, to handle any financial matters for American citizens or others until our disbursing section is fully installed.

The Swiss continue to handle all financial matters and ordinary welfare and protection cases as in the past and it will not be feasible to take over any of these functions until as pointed out in my telegram referred to we are adequately staffed. For the time being our activities must be limited to the Paris area due to existing difficulties of transportation and telegraphic and postal communication. As Consulates are opened in other parts of the country they can presumably assume such functions although in cases of extreme urgency it might be possible even before that time for this Mission to send a representative beyond the Paris area or to elicit the cooperation of the military authorities although neither course is recommended.

The Department may wish to announce publicly at this time67 that the Mission is prepared to receive welfare and whereabouts inquiries emphasizing in the announcement that a delay may be anticipated due to shortage of personnel presently available to the Mission.

  1. A Mission at Paris was reestablished on September 8, and Jefferson Caffery was assigned as U. S. representative to the de facto French Authority on September 21, 1944.
  2. Neither printed; in telegram 37 to London, for Selden Chapin (who was assigned as Counselor of Mission at Paris on September 1), request was made for information regarding the Mission’s assumption of functions with respect to United States nationals and their property (whereabouts, welfare, financial assistance, messages and funds) (703.5451/9–2544). In telegram 96, September 27, from Paris, Mr. Chapin reported that, because of his hopelessly inadequate staff, it was impossible to consider taking over from the Swiss the representation of American interests for the time being (124.51/9–2744).
  3. See Department of State Bulletin, October 8, 1944, p. 391.