740.0011 EW/1–2845: Telegram

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

399. I took Harry Hopkins16 to call on Bidault17 late yesterday afternoon. Hopkins told him that he had just been in London for three days and had had conversations with Churchill, Eden18 and other British officials in regard to the present war situation and had come to Paris with a desire of talking things over also with General de Gaulle and Bidault. He said that he felt that relations between the USA and France were not all they should be at this juncture for a variety of well known reasons and that it was his ardent desire to contribute something towards correcting that situation. He remarked that he was to talk to General de Gaulle at seven and he asked Bidault for suggestions.

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Bidault was very cordial and expressed himself as being delighted with the presence here of Mr. Hopkins. He said that he too was well aware of a certain strain in our relations and would like on his part also to contribute something towards eliminating that strain.

He remarked that this was an era of “great men and great statesmen;” that there were tremendous advantages for the world and that there were also certain disadvantages. “In other words” he said “I know that you are a devoted loyal friend and assistant to President Roosevelt”. He on his part (he said) is equally loyal and devoted to General de Gaulle and he could say frankly that at times De Gaulle was difficult to handle. “General de Gaulle” he said “believes that Frenchmen always try to please the man to whom they are talking. He thinks they overdo it and he adopts a different attitude. He makes no effort to please.”

Bidault then asked Hopkins if he could not stay another day (Hopkins was all set to leave here for Rome this morning); he would very much like some of the other Cabinet members to talk to him. Could not Hopkins and I lunch with them today, Sunday? Hopkins said that if Bidault really felt that it would be useful he would change his plans and remain here all day Sunday. Bidault insisted and Hopkins agreed.

It was five minutes to seven by then and we left for General de Gaulle’s. General de Gaulle was in the icy mood I have heard about but have never experienced. Hopkins repeated what he had said to Bidault but General de Gaulle was not very responsive. There was then a frank discussion between them of the history of the relations between the United States of America and France from 1940 to date; and de Gaulle was not conciliatory. On the other hand, Hopkins was very conciliatory. De Gaulle’s attitude may be summed up as follows: if you really mean that you believe that relations between the United States of America and France are not all they should be why don’t you do something about it? (Having in mind especially that no reply had been received to Bidault’s suggestion that de Gaulle be invited to the Big Three conference19). He said “the United States of America has done an enormous number of very helpful things for us. You have armed and equipped our troops that are at the front; you have helped us in a number of material ways; but you always seem to do it under pressure and grudgingly. Perhaps your policy has been the right one and mine has been wrong. Perhaps you have been justified in anything you have done. Perhaps you are right to do things for us only at the last minute and grudgingly; and you are right if France is herself incapable of rising again, of standing [Page 667]on her own feet eventually, of resuming her place in the great nations; but you are wrong if she does rise again; does stand on her own feet again and does eventually resume her place in the great nations”.

Hopkins reiterated that it was his full intention to endeavor to do something about eliminating the existing strain and more than that to restore the traditional cordial sympathetic relations which have always existed between the two countries.

I was dining alone with the Russian Ambassador20 and his wife and I took Hopkins there for a few minutes to greet Bogomolov (he had not seen the Russians at London as the Ambassador was absent at Moscow). Bogomolov was highly pleased with the visit and very cordial and to my surprise talked quite a little English to Hopkins.

Repeated Rome No. 8 for Hopkins. Sent Department.

  1. Mr. Hopkins, Special Assistant to President Roosevelt, stopped at Paris on his way to the American-British conference at Malta, January 30–February 2 and the American-British-Soviet Heads of Government Conference at Yalta, February 4–11, 1945. For documentation on these conferences, see Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945.
  2. Georges Bidault, French Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  3. Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  4. Regarding the French request for participation in the forthcoming Conference at Yalta, delivered to Caffery by Bidault on January 15, see Conferences at Malta and Yalta, pp. 295297.
  5. Alexander Efremovich Bogomolov.