No. 203  NAI DFA Secretary's Files P12/1

Telegram from Seán Murphy to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(No. 195)

VICHY, 10 May 1942

I was received by Laval yesterday, Friday. The interview lasted 20 minutes. When we had exchanged usual courtesies, he referred to attacks on Madagascar with particular reference to attitude of United States. He said he considered attitude of President of United States as intolerable. He seemed to assume right to tell all countries where their interests lay. I replied I thought his reply was dignified and calm and that his verbal declaration was very conciliatory in the circumstances.

He said he wanted to inform American people that he was not seeking pretext for break with United States. He believed attitude of President of United States towards France did not fairly reflect American public opinion.

He then referred to his declaration of policy, and said, with very evident sincerity and conviction, that he firmly believed that policy was the only policy for France and also for any hope of peace in Europe. He said he was aware that it was unpopular and that there were a great many difficulties ahead, some created by his own countrymen, others by foreigners aided by his countrymen. He had always been in favour of understanding with Germany, and he was now more than ever convinced of its necessity.

I said it was obvious that idea went against the grain of numbers of Frenchmen whose dislike and distrust of Germany was deeply rooted. He said that was quite correct and quite natural, as Frenchmen had been brought up for generations to hate the Germans. That attitude would and must change if France was to survive.

I then asked him if he hoped for some act of comprehension from Germany. He said he had great hopes that Hitler's party would assist him in releasing fairly large numbers of prisoners, but unfortunately these hopes were dashed as the escape of General Giraud1 had made it impossible. He praised the General as a great soldier, but without any political appreciation whatsoever.

He was, however, not discouraged. He knew all the difficulties but felt fairly confident that he would succeed in his policy.

He then referred to Ireland, and said that he sincerely hoped we could remain neutral in spite of American troops in Northern Ireland. I took the opportunity to refer to Ireland's position, and he said that he fully understood the position and hoped Mr. de Valera would be successful to the end. He assured me that he would be always ready to receive me and to give me any explanation of the French situation that I might require to furnish to my

Government. I then took leave of him.

1 General Henri Giraud (1879-1949) escaped from the high security prison at Königstein Castle, Dresden on 17 April 1942 where he had been held since his capture by German forces at Wassigny in Northern France on 19 May 1940. Vichy refused to return Giraud to Germany. Giraud later joined the Free French.

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