Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State (Dunn)

Participants: Mr. Henri Bonnet, French Ambassador
The Secretary
Mr. Dunn

The French Ambassador, Mr. Henri Bonnet, came in this morning and left with the Secretary the attached memorandum16 of matters which he stated are of great interest to the French Government at the present time and on which they would be glad to have the views of this Government. I told the Ambassador that all these questions would receive prompt study and that we would communicate with him just as soon as we could on each subject.

He then brought up the question of the French representation on the German Reparations Commission, set up in Moscow as a result of the Crimea Conference. He said that the French Government and people considered that France had suffered severe devastation during the war and they would not be able to understand why France was not included in the discussion of the reparations to be obtained from Germany. He made a very strong plea in this regard. The Secretary said that it could not be considered that France had suffered [Page 1179] anywhere nearly as much as Russia had suffered, and that he himself had seen, in flying over Russia and in visiting certain portions of it on his recent trip, startling evidences of the extent of damage and devastation caused by the Germans in that country. The Ambassador admitted that the French damage had not been as great as the Russian, but he insisted there had been such losses in France that it would be a very difficult thing to explain to the public if France were not to be a member of the Commission in Moscow to assess the German reparations. The Secretary stated that there was no thought on the part of this Government or any other government, as far as he knew, to do other than favor French participation in whatever reparations could be obtained from Germany; that the matter of reparations [representation] on the Commission was one which would have to be taken up with the governments represented at the Crimea meeting.17

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  1. This document is printed in full in vol. iv, p. 677. The portions here omitted deal with the questions of Indochina and United Nations trusteeships.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Subsequently, in telegram 1229, March 29, 5 p.m., Ambassador Caffery was informed that French Ambassador Bonnet had been told that the American Government was “favorable to French membership (on the Reparation Commission in Moscow) and that he could so inform his Government.” (740.00119–EW/3–2945)