851R.00/8–1746: Telegram

The Consul General at Algiers (Finley) to the Secretary of State

confidential

503. I put the question raised in urtel 4083 to Paris8 to Governor General Chataigneau9 this morning. He considers that a serious and important change has recently (since the visit here of Marty) occurred in the Algerian picture. He confirmed that with Soviet inspiration the Communists are now offering the Algerian Nationalists an alliance which he doubts can be averted. He pointed out the great advantages which the Nationalists would find in this association both because of the strength of the Communists in the Parliament and because of the powerful press which would then be put at the Nationalists’ disposal. He stated that his latest information was that the Communists would probably run no candidates in Algeria at the October elections but would support the Nationalist candidates.

Chataigneau said that the present government was prepared to grant Algeria an assembly and a greater degree of local self-government but it could not consent to relinquish its sovereignty over the country which is what the Communist Nationalists want. He characterized the attitude of the Communists in this respect as little short of treason.

The Governor General recalled that the Communists were also supporting the Nationalists in Tunis and he feared that we could look for the Soviets to play with the Arab League (asking me at the same time if I could give him or get for him any information along this line). He felt confident that previous rifts between the manifest10 and the PPA would disappear; that he was going to Paris probably tomorrow to see what he could learn about Messali and to discuss this whole situation which is obviously giving him great concern.

Finally the Governor General recalled the interest which both the United States and Great Britain had in forestalling the extension of Soviet influence to this part of the Mediterranean; that he was glad to learn that we had more ships here; and that he hoped that we might [Page 59]some day soon send a ship into Philippeville and Bone. He asked me to keep in touch with him and intimated that we might have another talk when he returned from Paris.

Sent to Department as 503; repeated to Paris as 102.

Finley
  1. Not printed; this telegram, dated August 14, 1946, requested information concerning whether recent overtures from the Communists to the Algerian Nationalists for the formation of a united front constituted primarily a tactical maneuver in order to gain votes in the coming Assembly elections in October. These overtures had apparently been made by André Marty, Secretary of the French Communist Party, in a recent visit to Algeria and were reported in telegrams 484 and 492, August 12, 1946, from Algiers, repeated to Paris as telegrams 98 and 99. (851R.00/8–1246)
  2. Yves Chataigneau, Governor General of Algeria.
  3. Reference is to the Democratic Union of the Algerian Manifest (Union Democratique du Manifeste Algerien) founded by Ferhat Abbas.