The President of the French Council of Ministers (Reynaud) To President Roosevelt, June 14,1940


Mr. PRESIDENT: I thank you for having published in America the message I sent you on June 10. I told you then that for six days and six nights our troops had been fighting without an hour of respite, and at one against three, with war material five times less powerful.

Four days of bloody fighting have gone by since then. Our army is now cut into several parts. Our divisions are decimated. Generals are commanding battalions. The Reichswehr has just entered Paris. We are going to attempt to withdraw our exhausted forces in order to fight new battles. It is doubtful, since they are at grips with an enemy which is constantly throwing in fresh troops, that this can be accomplished.

At the most tragic hour of its history France must choose.

Will she continue to sacrifice her youth into a hopeless struggle ?

Will her Government leave the national territory so as not to give itself up to the enemy and in order to be able to continue the struggle on the sea and in North Africa? Will the whole country then live abandoned abating itself under the shadow of Nazi domination with all that that means for its body and its soul ?

Or will France ask Hitler for conditions of an armistice?

We can choose the first way, that of resistance only if a chance of victory appears in the distance and if a light shines at the end of the tunnel.

In the present situation in spite of the weakening of the enemy's forces due to the sacrifice of the French army the defeat of England, our loyal ally, left to her own resources, appears possible if not probable.

From that time on France can continue the struggle only if American intervention reverses the situation by making an Allied victory certain.

The only chance of saving the French nation, vanguard of democracies, and through her to save England, by whose side France could then remain with her powerful navy, is to throw into the balance, this very day the weight of American power.

It is the only chance also of keeping Hitler, after he has destroyed France, and then England from attacking America thus renewing the fight of the Horatii against the three Curiatii.

I know that the declaration of war does not depend on you alone.

But I must tell you at this hour, so grave in our history as in yours, that if you cannot give to France in the hours to come the certainty that the United States will come into the war within a very short time, the fate of the world will change. Then you will see France go under like a drowning man and disappear after having cast a last look towards the land of liberty from which she awaited salvation.


Source: U.S., Department of State, Publication 1983, Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, D.C.: U.S., Government Printing Office, 1943), pp. 550-51

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