The Director of the Office of European Affairs (Dunn) to the Director of the Civil Affairs Division, War Department (Hilldring)

My Dear General Hilldring: I refer again to the letter of February 18, 1944 addressed to me jointly by you and Captain H. L. Pence [Page 1206] U.S.N., Officer in charge, Occupied Areas Section, Navy Department, requesting the recommendations and views of the State Department in connection with planning for civil affairs administration in the Far East and Pacific Areas.

My letter of February 28, 1944 conveyed to you the Department’s views with regard to the Netherlands East Indies. This letter will deal solely with the question of French Indo-China.

A complicating factor with respect to Indo-China is the fact that the United States does not at this time recognize the existence of a Government of France or a Government of the French Empire.

On February 17, the State Department addressed the following memorandum to the President with a view to obtaining his decision on two questions which fundamentally affect the civil affairs planning for that area.

“The Civil Affairs Division of the War Department has indicated its desire to proceed at once with civil affairs planning for Indo-China and before doing so has requested political guidance from the State Department.

“A number of important decisions depend upon whether French troops are to be used in the military operations to regain control of Indo-China, and whether French nationals are to be used in civil administration and planning. There is ample evidence that the French hope to be consulted and to play a part in driving the Japanese from that area.

“Subject to your approval, the State Department will proceed on the assumption that French armed forces will be employed to at least some extent in the military operations, and that in the administration of Indo-China it will be desirable to employ French nationals who have an intimate knowledge of the country and its problems. We would assume further that the use of French forces or civilians would be without prejudice to the question of the ultimate status of French Indo-China and would be related solely to problems directly connected with and flowing from possible military operations.”

In reply, the President orally expressed the view to Mr. Stettinius94 that no French troops whatever should be used in operations in Indo-China. He added that in his view the operation should be Anglo-American in character and should be followed by the establishment of an international trusteeship over the French colony.

With regard to the question of international trusteeship, this Government has as yet made no approach to other Governments for the purpose of ascertaining their views.

Sincerely yours,

James Clement Dunn
  1. Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., Under Secretary of State.