Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.

Roosevelt as Friend of France

President Charles de Gaulle in discussing current Franco-American relations often focuses upon the prewar neutrality of the United States as well as upon his wartime differences with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In doing so he conjures up the image of an unreliable American ally. His recollections have also pushed into the background of public memory the two years before France's tragic collapse in June 1940, when, in the words of former Premier Edouard Daladier, "President Roosevelt was for France a very great and noble friend." As Premier during those years, Daladier witnessed at first hand the American President's efforts to help France order some 4,000 American combat planes to rebuild French defenses against the imminent attack of Hitler's vastly superior air power. Hitherto the details of the story have been wrapped in the secrecy of American and French archives, private papers and personal memories, but it can now be seen that Roosevelt concentrated his principal effort on that aid because he believed that in no other way could the United States strengthen France so significantly. Neither Morgenthau's monetary agreements nor the sale of machine tools and raw materials would do so much to increase French capacity to resist Nazi aggression. Roosevelt was ready to go as far as possible in spite of isolationist opposition to the delivery of planes to France because of his further conviction that, despite the Neutrality Act, the frontiers of the United States extended to the Rhine. It was not until late 1937 that France seriously considered the purchase of American combat planes to help offset Germany's overwhelming aerial superiority. Since 1935, when Hitler tore up the Versailles Treaty and began to build his air forces, the German aircraft industry had adopted the latest aluminum construction techniques and turned out planes with heavier engines, higher altitudes and faster speeds than the wood and canvas planes which still made up the majority of the French and British air forces. By the end of 1937 Germany possessed some 1,000 war planes of the latest type,

Loading, please wait...

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.