852.00/2393: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Straus) to the Secretary of State

716. The following excerpts from despatch No. 1206 of August 325 which Hallett Johnson at Saint Jean de Luz reports he has forwarded to the Department by open mail are cabled herewith as of interest:

“It has been impossible to ascertain the membership of the ‘committees’ which control the cities of San Sebastián and Irun and it is not known whether these ‘committees’ are controlled by individuals who are Republicans, Communists, or Syndicalists. It is my personal impression that the Left extremists are gaining the upper hand. Guns and ammunition have been supplied to the whole countryside and it seems likely that the Extremist Left fringe will have the greatest influence over the armed proletariat. Should the Government forces win the present contest it may prove difficult for them to restore actual local authority to those legally entitled to it and still more difficult to get back the arms which have been given to the whole Loyalist population including in many cases women and young boys.

… if General Franco succeeds in bringing all the troops from Africa into Spain this may prove the deciding factor. It will be remembered that in the revolution in the Asturias in October 1935 [1934] it was found necessary to bring these same efficient troops from Africa in order to put down this movement. General Franco is considered to be perhaps the ablest Spanish General. Whichever side wins, however, the conflict looks now as if it would be a long and terrible one.

In conclusion I wish to point out the very serious danger which threatens foreigners in Spain in case the strict neutrality of foreign nations demanded by Martinez Barrio26 is not maintained. If the armed proletarian forces of either party to the conflict get the idea that foreign countries are helping the other by the sending of military or semi-military supplies, their fury against foreigners will be great and they will not always differentiate between nationals of offending countries and other foreigners. I am even now apprehensive as to the effect on the minds of the Republican armed levies of the report that Italian aeroplanes have carried machine guns to Franco’s forces.”

A telegram just received from Johnson states that he has read the observations in this despatch to the British Ambassador who remarks that they express his opinion as well.

  1. Telegram in two sections.
  2. Not printed.
  3. President of the Spanish Cortez.