851.00B/3–349: Telegram

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


887. Communist inspired peace propaganda compaign has recently been greatly intensified by speech Maurice Thorez February 6, 19491 which will shortly be forwarded Department in translation, and by subsequent concerted utilization all media throughout France including posters, pamphlets, Communist and fellow-travelling press, and mass meeting of which latest drew tremendous crowd in Paris on Wednesday March 2.

Informal conversations have been held last two weeks with Prime Minister’s office on effectiveness this campaign and on what measures can and should be taken by French Government to counteract its effects and put Communist Party on defensive. Embassy now unofficially informed by Devinat2 that Prime Minister recognizes importance taking counter-measures for which however French administration singularly badly equipped both with regard to facilities and to organization. Devinat stated Secretary of Information Mitterand could not be counted on to organize and carry out such campaign effectively. Embassy feels and has informally recommended that no attempt be made by French Government to set up new organization for this purpose but that official of high authority should give attention to this problem and be able issue instructions and directives to orchestrate counter-campaign by mass utilization existing means. Devinat personally [Page 634] favors this approach and gave impression Prime Minister and himself would shortly take steps which should prove effective.3

As Department aware current campaign not limited to France but carried out by all Communist parties and fellow-travelling elements throughout world.4 Embassy feels that short of energetic and able effort by present government, emotional appeal of peace campaign will have far-reaching and highly unsettling effects on French opinion not only on internal political level but with regard to Atlantic Pact, proposed military aid program, US foreign policy in general, and role in foreign affairs of present French Government.

  1. For further information on the speech by the Secretary General of the Communist Party of France, see despatch 291, March 23, p. 635.
  2. Paul Devinat, State Secretary in the office of the President of the Council of Ministers.
  3. In telegram 1116, March 18, 6 p. m., the Embassy reported that Queuille had persuaded the parties comprising his Government coalition to agree on an effective campaign of counter-propaganda. The Embassy added, “without undue immodesty”, that it believed this accomplishment to be due in no small part to its efforts to bring home to French officials and parties the need for concerting action against Communist propaganda, particularly the “phoney peace campaign” (851.00B/3–1849).
  4. Related documentation is scheduled for publication in volume v.