File No. 763.72/3244
The Ambassador in Spain ( Willard) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 7, 4.25 a.m.]
330. For communication to the President. In an audience of an hour and a half with His Majesty this morning I was informed that in reply to Germany’s note of January 31, Spain will protest against Germany’s declaration as interfering with Spain’s maritime rights, This protest will apparently ignore the rights of neutrals in general and applies solely to the injustice and injury with which Spain is thereby threatened. In response to my inquiry His Majesty stated that Spain would not break off diplomatic relations with, or declare war, Germany even in the event that Spanish boats were repeatedly sunk without warning and Spanish lives lost, His Majesty said that as Spain was now the sole remaining neutral nation of influence and power, that she represented or would represent a large portion of the world’s interest at various belligerent capitals, and that in the interest of humanity she would sink her individuality as a nation in the greater interests involved. However, tone of note may be changed as public opinion here is now much confused and may yet exert decided influence. Shall probably telegraph Department again this afternoon after interview with the Minister for Foreign Affairs at 7 o’clock.1[Page 121]
My general impression from this audience is that His Majesty desires to attain a position of great prominence in eventual peace negotiations.
His Majesty then stated that his Government would have supported the President’s so-called peace note if the Spanish Government had been consulted in advance. His Majesty referred with, some feeling to the fact that his communication to the Presidents—see Embassy’s telegram 240, May 10, midnight [May 11, noon]1—was not replied to until Department’s telegram 172, August 23, 10 a.m.,2 and that after his suggestion therein contained, he had anticipated an intimation in advance of any further step in this direction on the part of the President or the Government of the United States.
[For note from the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs in answer to the messages transmitted for Count Tarnowski (referred to in telegram to the Ambassador in Austria-Hungary, No. 1526, February 4, 7 p.m., ante, p. 112), see telegram from the Ambassador in Austria-Hungary, No. 1683, February 5, 1917 (received February 7, 10 a.m.), ante, page 38.]