4-359 Memorandum for the President, April 18, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: April 18, 1944

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the President

April 18, 1944 Washington, D.C.


Since my note to you of April fifteenth transmitting General T. Bentley Mott’s comments regarding the situation in France, the group of officers to which I referred called on Mott and discussed in detail his written statement which you have.1

It now appears that General Mott has somewhat tempered his views which I summarize as follows:

Secretary [Cordell] Hull’s announcement of our plans for a civil government in Reoccupied France was statesmanlike by proposing to use De Gaulle but not to set him up as a dictator.

The French people are in dire need of a leader but there is no one in France who can qualify. Being pro-Giraud does not prevent a Frenchman from being pro-De Gaulle; only extremists find that there is a cleavage.2

The French people fear the Committee of National Liberation more than they fear De Gaulle. The De Gaulle organization has been inept in its propaganda broadcasts to France.

At the present time in all echelons the government of France is accomplished by officials with a German at their side. Requisitions are made by French officers who are targets for part of the unpopularity which requisitions occasion. Mott feels that a practicable means of controlling civil government in the early stages would be merely to replace these Germans by Americans.

Mott states that there are plenty of active men in France. Germany received no conscripted laborers from February 1943 to February 1944. The highest proportion of available young men is probably in the former Unoccupied area.

There are 60,000 to 100,000 Communists, many of whom escaped from Spain, who are now running loose in France. These are troublemakers and as a result there is a great deal of thuggery going on.

There is adequate food in France for all but young children and mothers. Butter is being sent from Normandy to Germany. Fuel is the greatest need.

Discussing Giraud, Mott said that Weygand’s3 son, who served under Giraud, told him that G was very much of an individualist and was inclined to be non-cooperative; in battle he would shove ahead without bothering to notify either his higher commander or the units on his flank.

While living in Paris General Mott stayed at the Bristol Hotel, largely occupied by German Army and Gestapo officers. His sources of information were old French Army friends, career civil servants and important business men who were producing war materials for the Germans. He had no specific knowledge of resistance movements and felt that reports have exaggerated their importance.4

G. C. Marshall

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed memorandum signed.

1. For background information, see Marshall Memorandum for the President, April 15, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-353 [4: 412-13].

2. For more information on the French situation and the positions of Generals Charles de Gaulle and Henri Giraud, see editorial note #4-384, Papers of George Catlett Marshall [4: 451-53].

3. General Maxime Weygand was the last commanding general of the armies of the Third Republic. He had served briefly as minister of defense in the Vichy government.

4. President Roosevelt returned this memorandum, after adding his penciled note along the entire left margin: “Where ignorance is bliss.” (William D. Leahy Memorandum for General Marshall, April 21, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

Mott issued another installment of notes on April 20, in which he discussed the importance of the radio as a medium for disseminating information in France. (Major General Thomas T. Handy Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, April 24, 1944, ibid.)

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. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 421-422.

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