851.5045/10–2848: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Acting Secretary of State


5590. For Lovett personal eyes only from Marshall. Reference to the declaration of John L. Lewis to William Green, President of the AFL, concerning the strike situation in France.

Prior to the inauguration of the present coal strike he [we?] here in Paris received trustworthy information to the effect that Moscow intended to launch strategic political strikes with the aim of undermining the French Government and sabotaging the French national economy as well as the ERP program. The Communists chose the coal mines as the most strategic branch of the national economy and as the strike unfolded, it became clear that it was not being carried out primarily in the aim of satisfying legitimate demands of the miners but rather to paralyze French recovery and discourage the American people and Congress from continuing ERP aid. Resort by the strike leaders was made to actions unprecedented in French labor history, namely, the abandonment of maintenance in its [pits?] threatening long-term damage to the mines and in some instances actually flooding the mines.
The foregoing analysis of the situation is shared not only by all the political parties forming the present Radical Socialists but also by [Page 674] the entire non-Communist labor movement, namely CGT-FO (the principal anti-Communist labor movement), the CFTC (Catholic Workers) and the smaller but nevertheless independent and autonomous unions. Even the Directing Committee of the Socialist Party has unanimously condemned the strike as a Comintern maneuver to inflict injury upon French national economy and render ineffective American aid to France and Leon Blum has made it clear in emphatic terms that he regards the strike as foreign-inspired and Communist-led and that a referendum would result in the return to work of the majority of miners. He has also written that while miners’ wages are not satisfactory, they are not “starvation wages” and miners have higher “real wages” than other classes of French workers. With a unanimity rare in France all non-Communist public opinion shares these views and approves the action of the government.
The government has made it clear from the outset and is fully supported by the facts, that the police measures which it has undertaken are not to break the strike but are directed solely to preserving the nationalized mines from the deterioration which is the inevitable consequence of this unprecedented action of the Communist labor leaders in withdrawing the maintenance crews.

Please bring foregoing to attention of President for his background.

Caffery is now endeavoring to get a message from Blum1 and the non-Communist labor leaders referred to in your 4186. Results will be reported in subsequent message.

For reasons that you will understand that relate to my situation here in France, any quotation from my statement to you would be inadvisable and is to be avoided if practicable.

  1. In telegram 5593, October 28, 4 p. m., Caffery reported that Blum had “expressed stupefaction over failure of Lewis to understand essential nature of strikes” and had sent him a cable stating that the strike was not caused by “legitimate labor grievances” but was “instigated by the Communist leadership of the CGT for purely political reasons” and was being carried out “against the will of the majority of workers whom they refuse to consult”. Blum also asked Lewis to read the article that he had published in that morning’s Le Populaire. (851.5045/10–2848)