851.01/3788: Telegram

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

1568. The Foreign Office has officially delivered to me yesterday for transmission to the President a communication dated May 10 signed by 18 Socialist members of the Consultative Assembly headed by Vincent Auriol the last Secretary General of the Socialist group in the Chamber of Deputies, It is explained that the 4 Socialists, Bloch, le Troquer, Philip and Tixier, were not requested to sign because of their official positions.

The message starts with a tribute to the President on the eve of the invasion, especially for sympathy which he has expressed for the President of the Socialist Party, Léon Blum. It proceeds with a recent history of the Socialist Party, its protests against the Bordeaux capitulation, its purge of unworthy members and its response to de Gaulle’s appeal of June 18, 1940. It quotes Leon Blum’s opinions expressed December 1942 on the program of the Socialist Party when he predicted a provisional government with de Gaulle as head, advocated restoration of the national sovereignty but no immediate convocation of the Constituent Assembly and unwillingness to accept even a “good tyrant”.

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It appeals for the President’s faith in their statements, arguing that the signers only a few months ago were in France, in the midst of their constituents and are therefore more capable of judging the state of mind of the French than those men who left the country in 1940 and who have fallen into error because of personal bitterness and antagonism.

With this introduction the signers state that they feel obliged to set forth their apprehensions. The people in France fear that the hesitation on the part of the British and American Chiefs of State to place confidence in the Government and Consultative Assembly in Algiers may give hope and strength to the Vichy usurpers and their associates. Only one authority can maintain national unity and public order because it alone possesses the confidence of French democracy and that is the Government and Assembly now at Algiers. The confident collaboration clearly and officially affirmed by the United Nations with that authority would reinforce democratic action, evoke the enthusiasm of an oppressed people and weaken the enemy and their accomplices. This is true particularly since the Algiers Government has made arrangements for the installation of local authorities and for taking on measures to aid the liberating armies. Any collaboration other groups or individuals could only end in trouble and disorder prejudicial to the United Nations.

While the French people will receive the Allied armies with enthusiasm, if liberation should take the form of occupation, faith would suffer and friendship be wounded. The French people understand so long as military operations are in course the authority of the army commanders must be total but expect after the tide of war rolls on to find protection under their own flag and civil authorities. Certain rumors are alarming. It is said that even when operations are finished, Allied occupation will remain and that United States Government will place into circulation special currency alongside of French money, the rate being raised to 300 francs to the pound. An appeal is made to the President to recognize that the issuance of currency is a sovereign privilege and that any foreign money could only bring recollections of occupation currency. It therefore states that it is indispensable to have an agreement between the United States Government and the Provisional French Government with regard to French currency. This subject is stressed as the men of the Allied armies can through unlimited spending raise prices beyond the purchasing power of the French masses.

It suggests that the United States might follow the British example of holding back from the troops all pay beyond that needed for immediate necessities and expresses the hope that the present rate of exchange confirmed by the recent Franco-British agreement can be maintained. It argues that a further arbitrary devaluation would [Page 685] moreover gravely wound the faith and friendship of the French people. It concludes with the hope that the President will see in this frank approach only a desire to be worthy of the loyal, faithful and ardent people whom the signers represent and a passionate will to aid in the re-establishment throughout the world of a fraternal democracy and a durable peace.

Text translation follows by first air mail pouch.80

  1. Despatch 280, May 16, from Algiers, not printed.