751R.62114/7–1244: Telegram

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

2393. British representative has replied to Massigli’s note summarized in my telegram 2355, July 11, 5 p.m., stating British Government is consulting with United States Government most effective means safeguarding French interior forces against improper treatment when taken prisoners by Germans. Note expresses hope French authorities will agree to refrain from taking or threatening reprisals only defeat their own end by provoking counter reprisals against Allied prisoners.

Duff Cooper informs me Embassy in Washington has been instructed to approach State Department suggesting most effective procedure would be for American and British Governments to ask French Committee alone to issue formal statement which would be given maximum publicity to the effect that French authorities will take steps to punish any Germans responsible for treating members of French interior forces in manner inconsistent with accepted rules and considerations of war. The American and British Governments would then issue a parallel statement to the effect that French interior forces are considered entitled to treatment as regular soldiers since they form integral part of General Eisenhower’s forces and bear arms openly against enemy; that British and American commanders would give French every assistance in bringing to justice German soldiers who fail so to treat them; that any offenders falling into American or British hands would be delivered to French for trial and punishment. Both of these statements would be carefully worded to avoid claiming actual rights for French interior forces under international law.