711.62114A/4–1845: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Caffery) to the Secretary of State

1930. The substance of Department’s 1501 April 16 was conveyed to the Foreign Ministry and it was stressed that the deletion of the words “against Germany” did not change the position of our Government in regard to this matter.

The pertinent Foreign Ministry official has just told us informally that while the French Government has not taken a final decision it appears practically certain that the War Ministry will not agree to the German proposal insofar as French POWs are concerned. He said that in contrast with the comparatively small number of American [Page 714] POWs, France has hundreds of thousands in Germany. The French are trying to rebuild a strong national army and will need every available man of experience who is physically capable of serving in the armed forces. Furthermore, it appears the war in the Far East may go on for a considerable time and France hopes to make an important contribution to the Allied war effort in the Pacific theater. Therefore the Ministry of War does not find it possible to accept the German proposal which would effectively prevent French POWs from serving on active duty in the armed forces until war in the Far East is over. He observed that had the German proposal been made several months ago it might have been interesting but that now it has not the same value since the Allied advance will liberate the great majority of Allied prisoners and those that remain in German hands in the so-called “redoubt” in central Germany will not profit from any such agreement.