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Draft Message from the President to Charles de Gaulle
April 30, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]
General Eisenhower’s message to you regarding Stuttgart, dated April 28th, has just been brought to my attention.1 In a matter of this importance I must be frank in stating that I am shocked by the attitude of your Government in this matter and its evident implications. Also I am deeply concerned, in view of the publicity already given the matter in this country from French sources, that the American public will become aware of what has actually transpired as I know this would awaken a storm of resentment which would be most unfortunate in its results.
If the time has come, in your opinion, when the French Army is to be considered as engaged in carrying out the political desires of the French Government, then an entire rearrangement of command will have to be made, but I should deplore such a crisis and I am certain it would be deeply regretted by you and your Government.2
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed draft.
1. On April 28 General Eisenhower protested to General Charles de Gaulle: “Instructions were issued by General Devers to General de Lattre de Tassigny to evacuate Stuttgart because this city was in the operational zone of the Seventh Army, and was urgently needed as a link in the supply and communications system supporting the current military operations of that Army. I regret to learn that because of instructions received direct from you General de Lattre has declined to obey the orders of his Army Group Commander.” (Papers of DDE, 4: 2657.)
The First French Army had occupied Stuttgart soon after General Devers had redrawn his sector’s boundary lines to include the city within General Patch’s Seventh Army. De Gaulle, head of the French Provisional Government, had ordered General de Lattre to maintain the French garrison at Stuttgart until the French zone of occupation in Germany was established by the Allied governments. General de Lattre refused to hand over the city to U.S. forces but informed Devers that the Sixth Army Group could use the city. On April 27 General Devers visited Stuttgart and decided to readjust the interarmy boundary to include the city within the French area because it was “too badly damaged to be of use” to the Sixth Army Group. (Charles B. MacDonald, The Last Offensive, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1973], pp. 427-30, 432-33.) “I will never personally be a party to initiating any type of struggle or quarrel between your government and troops under my command,” Eisenhower wrote to de Gaulle, “which could result only in weakening bonds of national friendship as well as the exemplary spirit of cooperation that has characterized the actions of French and American forces in the battle line. Accordingly, I am seeking another solution for the maintenance of the Seventh Army.” (Papers of DDE, 4: 2657-58.)
De Gaulle insisted that since the French were not represented in the Combined Chiefs of Staff meetings, he was forced “to step in sometimes, either with respect to plans or their execution. . . . While agreeing to place French operational forces in the western theater under your Supreme Command, I have always reserved the right of the French Government eventually to take the necessary steps in order that French Forces should be employed in accordance with the national interest of France which is the only interest that they should serve.” (Pogue, Supreme Command, pp. 459-61.)
While relating the successes of the French forces during April, General de Gaulle recalled the Stuttgart incident in his memoirs. “But in the coalition, the roses of glory grew thorns as well. As we expected, the interallied command opposed the presence of our troops in Stuttgart.” (The Complete War Memoirs of Charles de Gaulle [New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964], pp. 859-63; quote on p. 862.)
2. President Truman sent the message as drafted to General de Gaulle on May 1. (Marshall to Eisenhower, Radio No. W-76554, May 3, 1945, NA/RG 165 [OPD, TS Message File (CM-OUT-76554)].) De Gaulle replied to the president that “in the same spirit of frankness with which you were pleased to address me, I believe it my duty to express the wish that such unfortunate incidents may be avoided. To that end the Allies of France need only recognize that questions so closely touching France as the occupation of German territory should be discussed and decided with her. As you know, this unfortunately has not been the case thus far, in spite of my repeated requests.” (Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, 1945, 9 vols. [Washington: GPO, 1967-69], 4: 685.)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 161-162.