740.00119 Potsdam/8–745: Telegram

No. 1404
The Ambassador in France (Caffery) to the Acting Secretary of State


4743. While it is still too early accurately to gauge final reaction of the French public to the Potsdam conference the first general reaction—despite some injured feelings at having been excluded—is not unfavorable. In official and other circles there is appreciation of the efforts made to convey to them some of the decisions of the conference before they were published and the invitations to the French Govt to participate in the conferences of the Foreign Ministers at London and to become a member of the Reparations Commission at Moscow are warmly welcomed as evidence that “France’s rightful place of equality among the great nations has at last been recognized”.

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While the general reaction appears to have been favorable it would be idle to deny that the French have nonetheless some reservations about the results of the Potsdam conference. For example they are not sure exactly how the reparations question is to be handled and there is an underlying fear that France will not receive what she considers her rightful share of reparations exacted from Germany. There is also a belief current in some quarters that although a Council of the Foreign Ministers of the big five has been established the Big Three may continue to make all the important decisions and that the task of the Council of Foreign Ministers will be largely to implement Big Three decisions. Insofar as the provisional settlement of the Polish German boundary is concerned the French are not displeased but a number of observers have remarked that “Germany’s western boundary should have also been rectified to afford France the same security that Poland has been given by the revision of Germany’s eastern frontier” (by this they mean of course the Saar and the Rhineland etc). There is also some speculation as to possible “unpublished” decisions relating to the Far East about which the French are sensitive and there are a few criticisms over the failure of France to have an equal role in the preparation of the peace treaties with the ex-enemy Balkan satellites. The fact that the Potsdam communiqué contained nothing about the Far East Dardanelles implementation of the Yalta agreements in the Balkans (where the French generally believe that the Russians are acting unilaterally without considering Anglo-American wishes) and certain other important questions is interpreted by many observers to indicate that there are still important and potentially dangerous differences of opinion between the Big Three which were not resolved at Potsdam.

Despite the foregoing reservations which in part certainly stem from French sensitivity and the well-known inferiority complex I repeat that the general reaction thus far has been favorable.