851.01/3645a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman)

835. You will recall that towards the close of the Moscow Conference there was presented a paper59 dated October 6, 1943 embodying the joint views of the United States and British Governments on the subject of the administration of civil affairs in France at the time of liberation. You will likewise recall that owing to lack of time this paper was not discussed in detail at Moscow but was referred for consideration to the European Advisory Commission to be established at London. Up to the present the Commission has not found it possible to take up the question.

Subsequent to the meeting at Moscow the British Government expressed itself as dissatisfied with the October 6 document. This unfortunately reopened a question which we had hoped had been satisfactorily disposed of between the British and ourselves prior to the Moscow Conference. After further study here the President on March 15 approved a new draft directive to General Eisenhower, which was duly referred to the British Government. The latter has not yet expressed its views. The text of the draft60 follows in my next telegram the paragraphs of which will be transposed for security reasons.

In view of our desire to keep the Soviet Government fully and currently informed please make available to Molotov61 a copy of the draft, at the same time emphasizing to him its secret character.

In discussing the matter with Molotov you should inform him that under normal circumstances it would be our intention to refer the draft to the European Advisory Commission but that the urgency of reaching [Page 674] agreement on the subject of civil affairs for France and the present pre-occupation of the Committee with other pressing matters has induced us to inform the Soviet Government directly. As an indication of our feelings regarding the manner in which the draft may be expected to work out in practice you should speak to Molotov along the following lines, but it is not desired that you leave with him any written record of your remarks.

As stated in the President’s public announcement of August 26, 1943,62 this Government noted with sympathy the desire of the French Committee of National Liberation to be regarded as the body qualified to ensure the administration and defence of French interests. Although the President found it necessary to reserve for consideration in each case as it arose the extent to which it might be possible to give effect to this desire, it has been the practice of this Government to comply with the wishes of the Committee to the fullest extent consistent with its oft-repeated policy of avoiding any action which might have the effect of impairing the opportunity of the French people, after their liberation, to exercise their free will in the choice of their leaders.

As the President has made known, he has reached certain conclusions with respect to the directive to be addressed to the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces, with regard to the establishment of civil administration in France at the time of liberation. These conclusions have been conveyed to the British Government whose views are awaited.

The primary objectives of this Government remain unchanged. They are a determination to employ as the standard for all its decisions the effect which any action may have on our prosecution of the war against Germany and, as stated before, a determination to see the French people regain full freedom in the exercise of their political rights. In the light of the main military objective, which is shared by the French and all the Allies, it is obviously essential that there be reserved to the Supreme Allied Commander the right to deal as he thinks best with any contingencies which may arise, no matter how remote or unlikely they may appear at this time. The reservation of this right does not mean that this Government has in mind any individuals or groups in France with whom it would like to deal, to the exclusion of the French Committee of National Liberation, or is seeking such individuals or groups. Moreover, the assurances given to the Committee in January 1944 and the State Department’s press release of March 21, 1944,63 which denied categorically any intention [Page 675] to deal with the Vichy regime or with individuals directly or indirectly supporting the policy of collaboration with Germany, should once and for all put at rest any such thoughts which may have been harbored in any quarter.

In his speech of March 18 before the Provisional Consultative Assembly, General de Gaulle stated that formulas could wait and indicated that practical considerations were of paramount importance. We are in full agreement with this view and it is our hope that the Committee’s cooperation with the Supreme Allied Commander will be close, cordial and effective. As long as this proves to be the case there is no reason to suppose that the latter will have any other desire than to reciprocate and to rely fully on the Committee in seeking a solution to the many complex problems which are bound to arise.

  1. See Annex 5 to the Secret Protocol of the Moscow Conference, Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, p. 760.
  2. See infra.
  3. Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.
  4. For text of announcement, see Department of State Bulletin, August 28, 1943, p. 125.
  5. For text of release, see ibid., March 25, 1944, p. 278.