The Ambassador in France (Bruce) to the Secretary of State
1513. The death of Blum1 has produced consternation among Socialists here as well as among observers who feel that Socialist Party, however weak and divided, fills great need in political life of France as only Leftist Party owing allegiance to France. Although Blum’s influence has been on decline owing largely to his ill health [Page 1369] and age during past few years he still remained his party’s outstanding chief who could wield great influence thanks to his personal prestige as the grand old man of French Socialism. His death leaves party without single person of first class ability and with large following. While Moch may be considered party’s strong man, and while he undoubtedly can render great services not only to his country, but also to his party in future, fact that as Minister of Interior he courageously assumed role of “policeman” will make it difficult for him to exercise the intellectual and moral leadership necessary to unite the many cliques and currents of opinion within Socialist Party.
One grave difficulty that now arises from Blum’s death is problem with whom in Socialist Party one can now talk in order to exercise real influence or effect decisions that could be carried out. For example, question of Socialist unity in Italy is problem that could be discussed only with Blum if it were desired seriously to converse with French on this matter.
Hope remains that one of younger elements in party will eventually develop authority and prestige, but no one now appears on horizon who would seem potentially to possess making of Socialist leader in great tradition of Jaurès, Albert Thomas and Blum.
Finally, it should not be overlooked that Blum had many friends in US and respected our country and that his departure cuts off a close link between France and US, particularly with American labor leaders such as Dubinsky, to whom he was personally attached and with whose organization he closely collaborated. From this viewpoint his death is heavy blow to Franco-American relations, because no other leader of anti-Communist left in France entertains relations of so close a nature as he did. From very beginning of his return from deportation in Germany, Blum fought against unity of action with Communists.
Sent Department 1513, repeated London 434, Rome 115.
- Léon Blum, who had served as President of the Council of Ministers in 1936–1937, 1938, and 1946–1947, died on March 30, 1950.↩