751R.62114/7–1144: Telegram

The Secretary in Charge of the Mission at Algiers (Lawton) to the Secretary of State

2355. Your telegram No. 2161, July 10, 8 p.m. Owing to engagements Massigli, I saw his principal assistant Chauvel this afternoon [Page 1239] and made representations as instructed leaving aide-mémoire with him. Chauvel referred to Duff Cooper’s note described in my telegram No. 2287, July 6, 8 p.m., and said answer which Massigli had made thereto set forth position of FCNL and could therefore be considered reply to our representations. That reply was received last night by Duff Cooper who has furnished me copy. Following is summary thereof:

Nothing could be further from intention of French military or civil authorities than violation of agreement placing FFI under SHAEF strategic command which is considered most useful safeguard against arbitrary action of German Command; French Command gave no orders in case in question; then follows recital extremely brutal measures taken by German Command against activity of FFI in executing hostages of both sexes and all ages as well as burning villages; following these executions initiative was taken by local FFI commander to shoot 6 German prisoners which resulted in French authorities finding themselves in anomalous position of either getting [giving] their approval to these acts or of repudiating Frenchmen engaged in merciless struggle against the enemy. Note continues that contrary to fears expressed reprisals taken and publicity given to it has not provoked an extension of German atrocities; then there is quoted three instances where Germans have subsequently moderated their threatened harsh treatment of French hostages. In conclusion note states French Committee fully aware of dangers which might result from such action on part of FFI and expresses earnest desire to find general formula which could furnish appropriate guarantee. In this spirit, French Committee attaches great importance to Anglo-American conversations which have in view publication of common declaration sustaining French position and contributing to protection of the lives of FFI. Annex attached to note contains list of brutalities committed against French civilian population by Germans between May 21 and July 9.

In discussing above communication, Chauvel emphasized great importance of an agreement between Washington, London and Algiers for united policy and issuance of public statement thereon. He expressed hope that State Department would take immediate steps to further that end.

Duff Cooper tells me that Massigli assured him in conversation that Committee were unanimously opposed to policy of reprisals; that everything possible would be done to discourage any repetition of the incident in question; that he felt confident it was not likely to happen again.

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Local Canadian representative under instructions from Ottawa has also made representations to French authorities supporting British note.