852.00/2427: Telegram

The Chargé in France (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

720. We understand that largely on the advice of the British the French have inquired of the German, Belgian, Portuguese, Russian and Polish Governments their views regarding the matter of a declaration of non-intervention in the affairs of Spain. The press reports that the British have agreed in principle to the French appeal and that the Belgians have accepted outright. An official of the Foreign Office told me today that these inquiries have been made in the most informal manner and that it may be 2 or 3 days before the replies from the other Governments are received.

In a conversation today with the Counsellor of the German Embassy, he stated to me that his Government had indicated in reply to the French that there would be no difficulty on their part in joining in such a declaration provided the Russian Government was likewise invited to join and accepted. He also said that he understood that the British Government had counselled the French Government against trying to hold a conference on this subject feeling that the consultations should preferably take place by ordinary diplomatic channels. He added that the German Embassy here under instructions from its Government had inquired of the French Foreign Office regarding a report received from the German Embassy in Madrid to the effect that the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Madrid had appealed through the respective diplomatic representatives of the Governments of France, Italy and England to send troops to Madrid to protect foreign residents in the event that the Spanish governmental forces should withdraw from Madrid and disorders ensue. The French Foreign Office replied to the German Embassy that there was no foundation so far as it knew for this report and that in any case the French Government had never given any consideration to sending troops into Spain. The German Counsellor expressed the view that it was of the [Page 465]utmost importance that early agreement upon a statement of non-intervention in Spanish affairs be arrived at among the principal interested powers since at any moment a serious international incident might be provoked.

In the Chamber of Deputies yesterday during a debate on the June deficiency bill the Minister of Air, Pierre Cot, was questioned concerning the truth of a report that four French planes despatched to Spain by the French Government for the purpose of repatriating French refugees had been commandeered by the Spanish regular authorities and immediately put into military use, in certain quarters the inference being made that the French Government had used an underhand method thus to provide the Spanish Government with planes. Cot replied that he had read these reports in the press but that it was the function of the Minister for Foreign Affairs to inquire into such a requisition of planes.

Last night the Quai d’Orsay gave out a statement to the press denying reports that the French Government had sent planes to the Spanish Government in an underhand manner, stating that at the request of French representatives in Spain the Government after having first obtained from the Spanish Government the assurance that these planes would not be requisitioned had sent three unarmed civil planes belonging to a private transportation firm to establish regular communication between Madrid and Alicante from which point French nationals were to be embarked for Oran. As soon as the service was commenced on July 29 the French Government was informed that one of the three planes had been requisitioned by the local authorities at Alicante. Twenty-four hours later it was advised that the other two planes had been similarly requisitioned at the same place. On July 29th the French Consul at Madrid made a démarche to the Spanish Government on this point which he renewed on July 31. The Spanish Government on August 2 decided to yield to the demand of the French Government and the decision to lift the requisitions was communicated to the French representative in Madrid by the Under Secretary of State on the morning of August 3.

There has been considerable comment in the press concerning the reported courtesy visit of the commanding officer of the German cruiser Deutschland and of officers of the German destroyer Luck to General Franco at Tetuan. All of this comment is to the effect that this proves that Germany is actively interested in the Spanish situation on the side of the rebel forces, Pertinax stating in addition that the fact that the German Government has sent to the Straits its most powerful vessel shows that it intends to be among those who will regulate any new problems arising either in Spanish Morocco or in the Mediterranean.

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Considerable mention is made in the Left press of an appeal signed by the National Committee of the Rassemblement Populaire to obtain a subscription of 15 million francs for the assistance of the Madrid Government in its fight against Fascism.

Mailed to Geneva, London, Berlin, Rome.

Wilson
  1. Telegram in four sections.