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103 Attlee to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 9 LONDON, 14 January 1943, 11.35 p.m.


1. Swiss Government have been asked by Vichy Government to
safeguard latter's interests in Australia. Have expressed
readiness to accept providing His Majesty's Government in the
Commonwealth of Australia have no object[ion]s and have asked that
Commonwealth Government's views be ascertained.

2. Position in this country is that Vichy Consul General in London
[1] who broke with Vichy when Germans occupied whole of France has
been informed that he can no longer be recognised as Consul
General but has agreed to act as unofficial intermediary on behalf
of Frenchmen who have not rallied to de Gaulle [2] and to retain
custody of French Embassy and Consulates. Vichy Government have
not since raised the question of the representation of Vichy
interests here.

3. We understand that United States [?State] Department takes the
line that there is now no French Government which another
Government could represent in the United States, although Swiss
are allowed to assume the 'Unofficial' protection of Vichy
interests in United States.

4. When Swiss Government recently made communication on lines
similar to those in paragraph 1 above to Canadian Government
latter replied to general effect that they had no objection to
representation in Canada by the Swiss Government of certain French
interests there but wording used was such as to avoid undertaking
to hand over to care of Swiss all French interests in Canada, and
especially French state property there. Reason for this reply was
that Canadian Government, who have publicly announced that they no
longer recognise Vichy as the de jure Government of France, wished
to remain free to recognise in the future some other body as the
legitimate Government of France and to avoid causing embarrassment
to the Swiss should Canadian Government then wish to hand over
French state property in Canada to the representative of the new
French Government.

5. It appears desirable that as far as possible the same line
should be taken by all United Nations in reply to such requests
from Vichy. If Commonwealth Government on grounds of convenience
and with view to preventing Vichy from withdrawing consent to
protection of Australian interests in Vichy France would wish to
allow Swiss to take charge of Vichy interests in Australia we
would suggest that in the circumstances outlined above this
permission should be granted to Swiss on an informal basis only
leaving the way open for an eventual resumption of the charge of
all French interests by a duly constituted French Government
fighting with the United Nations.

6. Should be grateful to learn what reply Commonwealth Government
wish to be returned to Swiss Government's enquiry.

1 M. J. E. Jalenques was French Consul-in-Charge in London.

2 President of the Free French National Committee.

[AA:A1608, H33/1/5]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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