108. Telegram From the Consulate in Elisabethville to the Department of State1
355. Most critical situation has arisen between UN on one hand and Europeans and Africans on other.2 UN now placing entire blame for misfiring of its plan to turn Katanga over to GOC on intervention of Europeans, mainly Belgians, who appear increasingly effective as snipers, troop commanders or armored car drivers and machine gunners. GOC Commissioner has arrived but has no possibility of negotiating with any official and has to be closely guarded. UN claims only two soldiers killed, but eyewitness accounts tell of attack on and destruction of two trucks filled with Swedish soldiers and another attack on Irish convoy by Katangan armored vehicles manned by Europeans. UN helpless to prevent participation by Europeans in what has now become “war of liberation” against UN, but may be forced to decide to employ Malayan troops and armored cars expected soon, plus artillery, recoilless rifles, et [Page 213] cetera in full warfare which would result in widespread destruction and loss of civilian lives.
Europeans’ attitude even more emotional than UN’s. Belgians led by their ConGen seem to have declared war on UN. ConGen enraged over severe damage to Belgian Consular offices in fighting around post office. Also charges UN, especially Indian troops, with atrocities such as defenestrations of surrendering Katangans, firing on ambulances, shooting of Red Cross man and other civilians and fortifying by Irish of civil hospital filled with patients. Belgians adopting threatening tones against all who do not accept their viewpoint and one has told me that I must associate myself with Belgian Government (which Crener3 says is through with UN) and other Western Consuls in denouncing atrocities of UN monstrosity. British Consul shares these views completely and other consuls may also. After taking asylum at British Consulate yesterday (according to CAS report), Tshombe now in Kipushi organizing national resistance movement, which will probably have support of majority of white population and active participation by considerable number of Belgians.
Attended roadside meeting near Belgian ConGen residence at which Belgian extremists planning moves. A group leader arrived and, not realizing who I was, said he had just come from directing Katangan troops fire and that UN morale low but Katangan soldiers very tired. Speaker said time has come for Europeans to give helping hand to Katangans and those present appeared to know that organizational procedures underway.
Above situation places members of Consulate completely on side of UN despite our willingness to recognize that UN has committed inexcusable blunders in not preparing for any eventuality and not having sufficient armored transport to assure control of streets of city.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 332.70G/9–1461. Confidential; Niact. Also sent to Léopoldville and repeated to Brussels, USUN, London, Paris, and Salisbury.↩
- Fighting broke out in Elisabethville between U.N. and Katangan forces early on September 13. Telegrams that day from Elisabethville and Léopoldville reported that the U.N. forces had sought to seize public buildings and strategic points in Elisabethville and arrest Munongo and most of the other Katangan leaders. They had not tried to arrest Tshombe since they hoped to bring about a political settlement. Munongo and most of the other Katangans escaped. (Ibid., 332.70G/9–1361 and 770G.00/9–1361) An unnumbered telegram from Elisabethville sent late in the day reported that European-led Katangan forces had launched strong attacks against the U.N. forces. (Ibid.)↩
- Belgian Consul General Henri Crener.↩