851R.00/10–446: Telegram

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


4974. Deptel 5199, October 1.19 Recent playing down of Communist support for independence of French colonies as reported by Algiers has also been noted in French Communist press. It is believed main reason for this is internal political situation in France.

Recent change in Communist tactics towards open support for autonomy and even independence of colonies and cooperation with local Nationalist movements met with sharp reaction in non-Communist French circles, particularly since it coincided with trend in center and moderate parties away from ultra-Liberal colonial policy. (Many voices have been raised, including General de Gaulle,20 warning of dangers of too great relaxation of central controls over overseas territories.)

New Communist colonial policy was given increased and dangerous (for Communists) publicity through series of close votes in Constituent Assembly where balance of power was exercised by Algerian Manifest Party led by Ferhat-Abbas, which consistently voted with Communists. In addition, public indignation was aroused by reports of ambushes, assassinations and massacres by Viet Nam adherents in Indochina at time when French Communist Party was vigorously supporting Ho Chi-Minh21 and blaming French Government for refusing to meet his demands.

It would thus appear French Communist Party faced with highly important elections in few weeks decided new tactics in colonies were dangerous and must be put back on shelf at least for time being since they would furnish too valuable ammunition to their opponents in political campaign. Also likely relative lack of success of efforts to form united front with nationalist movement in Tunis and even less progress made in approaches to Istiqlal Party in Morocco have had some influence in persuading French Communist leaders that return to classic Marxist colonial tactics should again be postponed at least until after elections.

Department please repeat to Tunis as unnumbered, to Algiers as 58, to Tangier as 26, to Rabat as unnumbered, to Casablanca as unnumbered, to Moscow as 369.

  1. Not printed; it requested comment from the Embassy in Paris on such reports from Algiers (851R.00/9–1846).
  2. Gen. Charles de Gaulle had resigned as President of the French Provisional Government in January 1946.
  3. President of the Republic of Viet Nam.