Page images

Minister of Foreign Affairs desires to inform the Ambassador of the United States that he has just repeated to General Dentz the following previous orders:

Not to attack the English in reprisal for bombardments unless British troops cross the frontier. In the latter case, General Dentz would be free to use all the forces at his disposal to defend Syria.

It is again made clear that there is in Syria no collaboration between German forces and French forces."

Rochat went on to say that he had likewise "been authorized" by Admiral Darlan to inform us that Hitler himself had given orders for the withdrawal from Syria of all German airplanes which had gone to the assistance "of Iraq;" and that he had been further authorized to say that there are no German planes in Syria and no German military personnel.

We asked if this included anti-aircraft specialists (having in mind telegram No. 181, May 31, 12 noon, from Beirut) and Rochat replied that to his knowledge no German military personnel of any sort had been in Syria. He said that this question of Syria has assumed considerable importance in the eyes of the French Government since the tone and statements of the British radio have become "so exaggerated as to lead the French to believe that an early British attack is anticipated".

We merely said that we would transmit the message promptly.

In reply to our request for specific information as to the nature of today's important Cabinet meeting Rochat replied as usual that he had no information but did not believe that anything "sensational" had taken place.

As to news from Washington he made no comment on the Secretary's statement 82 but did say that whereas this morning an “encouraging telegram" concerning resumption of our plan for supplying North Africa had been received (we had been shown earlier a telegram from Chatel 83 conveying to General Weygand the statements made to him by Murphy 84 under the Department's telegram 125, June 4, 6 p. m. to Algiers 85), this evening a 5-page telegram from Henry-Haye 86 had arrived indicating the suspension of all plans. The only section of the telegram he read us was a reference to orders stopping the loading of ships destined to supply North Africa and orders canceling authorization for the unblocking of funds for various French missions in the Western Hemisphere. He displayed no resentment, merely indicating that he imagined all de

82 Statement to the press on June 5; for text, see Department of State Bulletin, June 7, 1941, p. 681.


Yves Chatel, Secretary General of the Delegation General of the Government of French Africa and principal civilian adviser to General Weygand. "Robert D. Murphy, Counselor of Embassy in France, on special assignment in French North Africa.

85 Vol. II, p. 365.


Gaston Henry-Haye, French Ambassador in the United States.

pends on the outcome of "political developments in Vichy with which he is not au courant".

Copy to Beirut.


740.0011 European War 1939/11742: Telegram

The Consul General at Beirut (Engert) to the Secretary of State

BEIRUT, June 7 [6], 1941-10 p. m. [Received June 7-3: 33 p. m.]

195. High Commissioner published proclamation today in which he denies as gross lies the reports referred to in my 184, June 3, and claims all that happened was that "some foreign airplanes flying from west to east landed in Syria in order to continue their journey. They are returning under the same conditions going from east to west". He stated that the French Government had modified its policy toward Germany because France was facing starvation and hundreds of thousands of her sons were in captivity. If nothing is done to preserve France now there will be no Frenchmen left when years hence the "hypothetical victory is won which is being dangled before your eyes". He added the Marshal demanded that all French possessions be defended and in Syria and Lebanon the people did not want any emancipators other than the French.


740.0011 European War 1939/11743: Telegram

The Consul General at Beirut (Engert) to the Secretary of State

BEIRUT, June 7, 1941-4 p. m. [Received June 7-2: 52 p. m.]

196. For the Under Secretary. My 184, June 3. Please see also second paragraph my 187, June 4, the last paragraph my 190, June 4, and my 195, June 6. The British are doing their cause great harm and are playing into the hands of the Germans by continuing to broadcast inaccurate statements re alleged German military activities in Syria. If the British have decided to occupy Syria the events of the past 3 weeks have provided them with every legitimate ground without the necessity of resorting to specific rumors of today-most of which the Germans and the French are now deliberately combining to make appear utterly false and unfounded.

It seems to me what the British should proclaim from the housetops is that in view of recent French readiness to put Syrian landing fields at the disposal of the Germans and supply them with arms and ammunition there is nothing to prevent their doing it again whenever

it suits German plans. As this would render Cyprus untenable, renew the danger of German aggression in Iraq and would directly menace Palestine and Egypt the British cannot afford to run such risks.


740.0011 European War 1939/11744: Telegram

The Consul General at Beirut (Engert) to the Secretary of State

BEIRUT, June 7, 1941-6 p. m. [Received June 8-10:30 a. m.]

197. My 195, June 6, and 196, June 7. General Jannekeyn, commanding French Air Force, sent an officer to assure me that the only serviceable German airplanes now in Syria were 2 troop carrying planes and 1 Messerschmidt 110 at Aleppo and they were expected to leave today or tomorrow. The following airdromes contain badly damaged German planes:

Palmyra 2 Heinkels 111, 1 Messerschmidt 110.

Aleppo 2 troop carrying planes.

Damascus 1 fighter plane.

Nothing at Rayak.

The General suggested that a representative from this Consulate General verify these statements by inspecting the flying fields. I am, of course, not accepting the offer as it would force us into the position of testifying against possible British claims.


III. British and Free French Invasion and Occupation of Syria and Lebanon; Good Offices of the United States in Arranging Armistice

740.0011 European War 1939/11795: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Johnson) to the Secretary

of State

LONDON, June 7, 1941-6 p. m. [Received June 7-2:06 p. m.]

2331. Personal for the President from the Former Naval Person.87 "1. We enter Syria in some force tomorrow morning in order to prevent further German penetration. Success depends largely upon attitude of local French troops. De Gaulle's 88 Free French outfit

will be prominent, but not in the van. He is issuing a proclamation

87 Code name for Winston S. Churchill, British Prime Minister.


Gen. Charles de Gaulle, Leader of the Free French.

to the Arabs offering in the name of France complete independence and opportunity to form either 3 or 1 or 3 in 1 free Arab states. Relations of these states with France will be fixed by treaty, safeguarding established interest somewhat on the Anglo-Egyptian model. General Catroux 59 is not to be called High Commissioner, but French Delegate and Plenipotentiary.

2. I cannot tell how Vichy will react to what may happen. I do not myself think they will do much worse than they are now doing, but of course they may retaliate on Gibraltar or Freetown. I should be most grateful if you would keep your pressure upon them. We have no political interests at all in Syria except to win the war.

3. Thank you so much for letting Harriman 90 go to the Middle East. He is seeing your son tomorrow before leaving, and I shall see him myself, I hope, at luncheon Monday."


740.0011 European War 1939/11765: Telegram

The Minister in Egypt (Kirk) to the Secretary of State

CAIRO, June 8, 1941-10 a. m. [Received June 9-6:30 a. m.]

678. The following is the text of a proclamation to be made by General Catroux on entering Syria this morning accompanied by a supporting declaration by the British Ambassador 91 here in behalf of the British Government:

"Inhabitants of Syria and the Lebanon:

At the moment when the forces of Free France united to the forces of the British Empire, her ally, are entering your territory I declare that I assume the powers, the responsibilities and the duties of the representative of 'La France du Levant'. This in the name of the Free France which identifies itself with the traditional and real France and in the name of her Chief, General de Gaulle.

In this capacity I come to put an end to the regime of the mandate and to proclaim you free and independent.

You will therefore be from henceforward sovereign and independent peoples and you will be able either to form yourselves into separate states or to unite into a single state. In either event your statute of independence and sovereignty will be guaranteed by a treaty in which our mutual relations will be defined. This treaty will be negotiated as soon as possible between your representatives and myself. Pending its conclusion our mutual situation will be that of allies closely united in the pursuit of a common ideal and aims.

89 Gen. Georges Catroux.


W. Averell Harriman, Special Representative of President Roosevelt in the United Kingdom, with the rank of Minister, responsible for expediting lend-lease aid to the British Empire.

1 See British Cmd. 6600, Syria No. 1 (1945): Statements of Policy by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom in Respect of Syria and the Lebanon, 8th June-9th September, 1941.

Inhabitants of Syria and the Lebanon, you will see from this declaration that if the Free French and the British forces are crossing your frontiers it is to ensure it. It is to drive out of Syria the forces of Hitler. It is to prevent the Levant from becoming against the British and against ourselves an offensive base of the enemy.

We cannot allow, we who are fighting for the liberty of peoples, that the enemy should submerge your country step by step, obtain control of your persons and your belongings, and turn you into slaves. We cannot allow that populations which France has promised to defend should be thrown into the hands of the most pitiless master that history has known. We cannot allow that the age-long interests of France in the Levant should be handed to the enemy.

Inhabitants of Syria and the Lebanon, if in answer to our appeal you rally to us, you should know that the British Government in agreement with Free France has promised to grant you all the advantages enjoyed by free countries who are associated with them. Thus the blockade will be lifted and you will enter into immediate relations with the sterling bloc which will open the widest possibilities for your imports and exports. You will be able to buy and sell freely with all free countries.

Inhabitants of Syria and the Lebanon, France declares you independent by the voice of her sons who are fighting for her life and for the liberty of the world."


740.0011 European War 1939/11745: Telegram

The Consul General at Beirut (Engert) to the Secretary of State

BEIRUT, June 8, 1941-11 a. m. [Received 4: 25 p. m.]

198. I have just called on the High Commissioner who confirmed to me in a voice trembling with emotion that the British attacked this morning and that the French forces were resisting. Town of Deraa on the railway to Damascus was already in flames and several Britishers who were caught interfering with communications behind the French lines had been captured.

He then repeated to me the substance of the information contained in my 197, June 792 and said if the British had not precipitated matters he would himself have taken me to the various aerodromes to show me that practically no German planes were left. He also referred to the unfounded reports mentioned in my 184, June 3 93 and said it was regrettable that the British should base an invasion of a French possession on such flimsy pretexts.

I replied that I did not for a moment believe that the British Government's decision was influenced by such rumors but that public opinion in England-incidentally also in the United States-had be

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »