Letter to Arthur Funk from H. Freeman Matthews, American Embassy, Netherlands, regarding the Vichy period in France (May...


Material Information

Letter to Arthur Funk from H. Freeman Matthews, American Embassy, Netherlands, regarding the Vichy period in France (May 4, 1955)
Series Title:
Physical Description:
Matthews, H. Freeman, 1899-
Publication Date:
Physical Location:
Box: 1
Folder: Autograph Correspondence (Arranged alphabetically)


Spatial Coverage:
Europe -- The Netherlands -- The Hague

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
sobekcm - AA00005484_00001
System ID:

Full Text


American Embassy,
The Hague, Netherlands,
May 4, 1955.

Dear Dr. Funk:

I hope you will pardon the delay in answering your
letter of April 10 with further reference to the Vichy

I am afraid as usual that my memory has let me down
on the details of the Clark-Darlan Agreement. I can
only guess at the motivation behind the provision that
French civil authorities would be retained in their office.
I do not know whether that proposal was made on the
initiative of the French or by our side though I am in-
clined to believe the former. At the time the Agreement
was made the problem foremost in the minds of every
American in North Africa was the requirement of speed
in reaching Bizerte. It had been hoped that Anderson's
First Army (British) could get there before the Germans
arrived in force and speed was of the essence. (In the
light of history, as you know, Anderson was about three
days too late to prevent the German mass arrival but
in the long run it enabled us to destroy a number of
German forces in Africa which we would otherwise have
had to face in Italy. I suppose the strategists can long
argue which was better). To supply Anderson's First
Army presented great logistic problems with one rather
feeble rail line running from Morocco to the East and
road transport in rather poor condition. It was essential

Dr. Arthur L. Funk,
Villa Claramar, Calle Calvo Sotelo,
Cas Catald,
Palma de Mallorca, Spain.


therefore from the military point of view which was the
basis for the whole Clark-Darlan Agreement that a
French civil administration remain in as full and efficient
functioning condition as possible. This applied to rail
transport, highways, merchant marine and the maintenance
of essential civilian services in such state where they would
be the least possible hindrance to Allied military movement.
Probably we felt that the best way to keep this civil machinery
working was to keep the incumbent office holders in their
jobs rather than to have a system of wholesale dismissals,
resignations or flight. The extreme importance of military
success was the sole preoccupation in our minds at the time
and the long run political effects or disadvantages of the
Clark-Darlan Agreement played little or no part in this
hastily negotiated document.

I hope that the foregoing may be of some help to you
at least in supplying the background atmosphere. In-
cidentally the Colonelbostert mentioned in your letter
was our finest bilingual interpreter who is still very
active in developing improvements to simultaneous inter-
pretation systems, etc. at international conferences.

I wonder if you have read Robert Aron's "Hist rje de
Vichy". It was published in 1954 and judging from the first
100 pages seems to be a very objective and well documented
piece of work. Aron as you know writes for the Figaro
and I think is the outstanding French journalist. He has
certainly done a lot of research both documentary and by
personal interview and is well fitted for his task.

With all good wishes to you and Mrs. Funk in which
my wife joins me and hoping you continue to enjoy the
tranquil sunshine of Mallorca.

Very sincerely,

N r ~L