The Ambassador in France (Caffery) to the Secretary of State
[Received 7:15 p.m.]
1126. As the Department is aware de Gaulle’s activities in the international field until recently tended to enhance his prestige in France; and his government took advantage of that prestige to arrange a great many things in the domestic field to their own liking. The French people in general had come to regard de Gaulle as a valiant defender of the “honor” of France and generally felt that he was doing a good job of it.
However, his failure to meet President Roosevelt (and, of course, they are not aware that he first said he would meet him and then changed his mind) has caused many French people to criticize him, a consequent lowering of his prestige in France and especially in Paris.[Page 676]
Another instance has occurred in which he is being criticized also (and with more lowering of prestige) and that is the failure of his tactics in regard to San Francisco.33 This has been accentuated by the wording of the Tass communiqué which appeared in this morning’s press (my 1128, March 1034).
The result of all this as far as we are concerned is not to worsen our relations with the French Provisional Government or the French people.
On the contrary, at this juncture they are frightened and even a little contrite, especially in view of the non-success of their efforts to pin some of the blame on us (although I do not say this of de Gaulle himself; I am not sure what his sentiments are at this juncture).
Without question the British mean to be helpful (London’s telegram 2344, March 7 to Department34 and Rome’s [Caserta’s] telegram 33, March 835) in telling us and the French that they would like to see our relations improve, but they are creating a little confusion in the minds of the French. However, I do not suggest that this be brought to the attention of the London Government because if it were brought to their attention and they attempted to explain to the French they would only create more confusion.
Sent Department; repeated London as 146 and Rome 39.