740.00119 Control (Germany)/5–145: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of State 52

19. There follows the text of a message from the President to General de Gaulle:

“General Eisenhower’s message to you regarding Stuttgart, dated April 28th, has just been brought to my attention. In a matter of this importance I must be frank in stating that I am shocked by the attitude of your Government in this matter and its evident implications. Also I am deeply concerned, in view of the publicity already given the matter in this country from French sources, that the American public will become aware of what has actually transpired as I know this would awaken a storm of resentment which would be most unfortunate in its results.

If the time has come, in your opinion, when the French Army is to be considered as engaged in carrying out the political desires of the French Government, then an entire rearrangement of command will have to be made, but I should deplore such a crisis and I am certain it would be deeply regretted by you and your Government.”

General Eisenhower’s letter of April 28 to which reference was made in the President’s message reads as follows:

“As you are aware, instructions were issued by General Devers to General De Lattre de Tassigny to evacuate Stuttgart because this city was in the operational zone of the Seventh Army, and was urgently needed as a link in the supply and communications system supporting the current military operations of the Army. I regret to learn that because of instructions received direct from you General De Lattre has declined to obey the orders of his army group commander.

I am informed that your instructions to General De Lattre were to hold Stuttgart and all other territory occupied by the First French Army until the French zone of occupation has been delimited. I am sure you must realize that the location of Stuttgart in connection with any French zone of occupation did not enter the minds of either General Devers or myself, as this is a matter entirely outside the scope of my responsibility, which is limited to the military defeat of our common enemy, Germany.

Under the circumstances, I must of course accept the situation, as I myself am unwilling to take any action which would reduce the effectiveness of the military effort against Germany, either by withholding supplies from the First French Army or by any other measures which would affect their fighting strength. Moreover, I will never personally be a party to initiating any type of struggle or quarrel between your government and troops under my command, which could result only in weakening bonds of national friendship [Page 683]as well as the exemplary spirit of cooperation that has characterized the actions of French and American forces in the battle line. Accordingly, I am seeking another solution for the maintenance of the Seventh Army.

I believe that the issuance direct to the First French Army of orders based on political grounds which run counter to the operational instructions given through the military chain of command, violates the understanding with the United States government under which French divisions, armed and equipped by the United States government, were to be placed under the Combined Chiefs of Staff whose orders I am carrying out in this theater of operations. It was with complete faith in this understanding that I have so long and so earnestly supported French request for armament for additional divisions.

In the present circumstances I can do nothing else than fully to inform the Combined Chiefs of Staff of this development, and to point out that I can no longer count with certainty upon the operational use of any French forces they may contemplate equipping in the future. I repeat that I have no knowledge of the probable decisions that may result from negotiations going forward between your government and Britain and the United States concerning a future French zone of occupation in Germany. Consequently the embarrassment I am now experiencing in supplying and administering the Seventh U. S. Army, and in coordination military operations involving the First French Army, seems to me the more regrettable.”

Grew
  1. The Secretary was attending the United Nations Conference on International Organization at San Francisco.