851.00/9–947: Telegram

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

3650. During four-hour evening conversation MRP leaders, André Colin and Albert Gortais, appeared more harassed, tired and worried than ever before. They stated reports were reaching them from their federations throughout France that Communist Party is increasingly major beneficiary of recent disintegration of public morale. They added that quasi-unanimous reaction against our German policy had been and remained important contribution factor to upswing in Communist Party’s popularity.

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According to them, De Gaulle’s RPF is gaining rapidly in Paris and large cities where it is winning over vast majority of bourgeois vote which had supported MRP in past elections. However, in rural areas, villages and small towns, they reported little increased interest in the General.

Requesting complete secrecy, they admitted that MRP had so far failed to attain the fundamental objectives which they and other MRP founders originally set: More efficient government and, generally speaking, a reaction against demagogic and sterile political mores of French Third Republic. Referring to the possibility of an MRPRPF alliance, they said it was “unthinkable” and explained that “such a group led by staff now surrounding De Gaulle and imbued with its present social philosophy would find itself completely cut off from the world of labor and could not form a popularly accepted government. Furthermore, it is inconceivable that De Gaulle or his entourage would permit any MRP leaders to exert influence in establishing policies.”

At present the MRP has not decided on its electoral strategy. Only concrete statement made was that in some areas and more particularly in and around Paris there would doubtless be “many joint MRP–Socialist lists”. It was also learned that instructions have been given to local MRP organizations to postpone establishing their lists and making commitments until the last minute.

Throughout talk there ran recurring theme of intense fear of situation now moving so fast that showdown between De Gaulle and Communists could not long be postponed and that at all costs a reprieve had to be given to Center, “to the forces of sanity” so that France could get through the winter “without the irreparable having happened”. They literally begged that we be sufficiently magnanimous to overlook the shortcomings of European planning and implement in part or at least confirm in unequivocal terms some stopgap measures of assistance to France and to Europe following lines of Lovett press statement.1 “Without this breathing spell, anything can happen”, they repeated several times.

Furthermore, they declared it essential the US act quickly before October municipal elections, to help scotch present anti-American campaign: “This growing anti-American feeling throughout country [Page 738] is serious for reaction to US German policy is based on deep-ingrained traditions and not merely result of Communist and fellow-traveling press campaigns”. They hoped that US would stage a real “coup de theatre” by offering to submit bi-zonal plans to conference of sixteen for study and comment: “Thus the US would prove their good faith, set an example of give and take, and would take essential step towards acceptance of new standards of international negotiations and relations needed for inception of real plan of European cooperation, customs union, et cetera.”

In purely domestic field, they said situation could also be saved should Ramadier accept to change a few ministers and “start governing, inaugurating immediately overdue fiscal and administrative reforms”. For last two weeks they said some MRP leaders had been unsuccessfully attempting to convince Ramadier to replace doctrinaire André Philip, Tanguy-Prigent and Jules Moch, sacrificing an MRP Minister if necessary to save Socialist face. Both were pessimistic, however, about chance of such energetic and decisive government.

  1. In a statement to the press on September 3, 1947, Under Secretary of State Robert A. Lovett warned that if the United States waited until the Marshall Plan could be worked out and put into operation it would be too late to save Europe. Mr. Lovett indicated that he favored the calling of a special session of Congress to deal immediately with the rapidly-deteriorating economic situation, and he suggested that the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development or the Export-Import Bank should extend temporary aid. For additional information on the statement, see the New York Times, September 4, 1947.