Paris Embassy Files

The Ambassador in France (Caffery) to the Director of the Office of European Affairs (Hickerson)

personal and top secret

Dear Jack: I was glad to get your letter of February 3 regarding the question of a more direct contact with General de Gaulle since this has been a problem which has preoccupied me more and more in recent weeks and I had already come to the conclusion that something would have to be done before very long to remedy the situation.

My own conclusion is that even if the General were willing to receive a member of my staff (which I doubt), it would be unrealistic to count on being able to keep such a meeting secret. (You will recall that when Mr. Dulles saw the General “secretly” two members of the press were awaiting him on the street as he emerged from the interview.) Consequently, I think the only thing to do is for me to arrange to see the General myself and to do so as quietly as possible.

In connection with such a visit, I think that there are three factors of varying importance which should be taken into consideration:

As you know, the General’s invalid daughter died only a few days ago. I am told that he was devoted to her and I would not wish to approach him until a decent period has elapsed—say another two or three weeks.
If possible, my visit should be timed to take place when the Government is in a relatively strong position and it is not in the middle of a crisis of some kind. Otherwise it would give weight to the inevitable outcry that the United States Government regards the Schuman administration as doomed and is deserting it for de Gaulle.
Prior to seeing the General I should frankly tell Schuman, Bidault and Blum of my intentions in order that they may be in a position to tell their supporters that they had been consulted in advance. In discussing the matter with these three men. I would propose to place my desire to see the General on the grounds that while we occasionally see members of de Gaulle’s entourage, we have no means of knowing that our views are fully and accurately reported to the General and that it is important that he, as a prominent Frenchman, should know exactly where we stand on important questions of the day. (I saw Blum this afternoon and spoke to him along the above lines. I shall take early occasion to speak in similar vein to Schuman and Bidault.)

I trust that the above will meet with the Department’s approval. I think at least a brief flurry is inevitable when the visit takes place, but [Page 625] I hope and expect that the procedure I have outlined above will hold damaging speculation to a minimum.1

With kindest regards,

Very sincerely yours,

[File copy not signed]

  1. On February 17 Hickerson replied that he thought Caffery should go ahead with the proposed meeting, using his judgment “as to timing and amenities” in consideration of the three factors listed.