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To Robert Woods Bliss
July 10, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]
Dear Mr. Bliss:
Colonel McCarthy tells me that you telephoned him regarding Dorothy Thompson’s article of the sixth of July.1
To a casual observer, conditions in Paris would seem to leave much to be desired. However, the War Department and the theater commander are making every effort to prevent the presence of our troops from being oppressive to the French.
Since Paris is the hub of road and rail communications, many of our headquarters centered there during the period of active operations as was necessary to the efficient prosecution of the war. At the present time headquarters are being moved to other points and the remaining headquarters personnel in the city is being drastically reduced.
American troops do occupy many of the better hotels and billets, largely for the reason that most of these had previously been occupied by the Germans and there was less disruption of the existing housing situation therefore involved. The rapid outflow of headquarters personnel will do much to alleviate the hotel and billet situation. At the same time the usual antagonistic reaction to soldiers the moment the fighting ceases, which results in their being shoved into a decidedly secondary position as to comfort and advantages generally, is not the policy of the War Department. I might add that within a comparatively few days after our soldiers had liberated Rome, and lost quite a few lives in doing so, the proposal was formally made that none of our soldiers be permitted in Rome for recreational purposes.2
The black market situation has given us all much concern as well as the general scarcity of food, fuel and clothing in Paris. To prevent the activities of our forces from further complicating this situation, strict orders have been issued, and are enforced, to forbid the military from engaging in black market negotiations. Incidentally, the French took over as of May first complete responsibility for the implementation and distribution of food in France. Prior to that time the Army had made large importations of food and clothing for Paris civil relief. Coal is now being shipped to France in ever-increasing quantities. In other words, we are doing our best without calling a halt to operations in the Pacific.
In connection with the alleged incident involving French officers in the American club, there are certain clubs set up in Paris by each nation for its own exclusive use. In general, however, most of the clubs are open to the personnel of all Allied nations. I therefore do not know the basis of this particular incident but I hazard the guess that the facts are probably not as represented.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Thompson was a syndicated newspaper columnist. The Operations Division summarized her article as deploring U.S. armed forces activities in Paris and other French cities: civilians lacked coal and food while U.S. Army personnel had ample amounts of both; the best hotels had been requisitioned as billets; Allied offices in Paris were over-staffed; French officers were prohibited from entering U.S. officers’ clubs; U.S. officers patronized black market restaurants. (Hull summary of article, July 8, 1945, NA/RG 165 [OPD, 336 France (July 7, 1945)].)
2. For another comment on the Rome situation, see Marshall to McCloy, August 21, 1945, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-214 [5: 284].
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. 238-239.