The Ambassador in France (Straus) to the Secretary of State
[Received July 22—11:30 a.m.52]
625. Talked with Wendelin on the phone this morning who reports as follows:
Things in the city quiet last night. Armed militia is outside the city fighting the rebel troops in important battle near Toledo.
Last night in a pension next door to the Consulate where an American and his wife … were living two young armed men entered the place. They put all people in one room except this man’s wife whom they took into another room and raped. Wendelin writing note to the Ministry of State on this matter as soon as he has all details. Doctor was called immediately and certified to the accuracy of this statement. On the basis of this event Wendelin went personally to the Director General of the Sûreté last night and reiterated his demand for the protection of the Consulate and the residence of the Consul which is on the same street opposite office. Last night after waiting a considerable length of time Wendelin obtained two guards who are now on duty at the Consulate as well as residence and who are also in a position to watch the pension above referred to and other places where there are Americans.
Wendelin is preparing the Embassy with food supplies and other necessities to receive American residents in Madrid in case of necessity. Total number of Americans in Madrid approximately 100. Wendelin knows of no American being injured except the case above referred to. He is informed that the British Embassy is already admitting their citizens to the Embassy grounds for protection and the French Consul has instructed his nationals to go to the Consulate whenever they feel unsafe where they are. In our case, because of the fact that Americans are living in widely scattered parts of the city [Page 629] and particularly in the case of women, Embassy hesitates to tell them to come to the Embassy by their own means. There are no means of transportation available except street cars. Embassy therefore plans in case of necessity to pick them up with the Embassy cars with whatever guard they can get hold of. The telephone company is cooperating with the Embassy to the best of its ability in getting communication with other parts of Spain and outside of Spain. Late last night Wendelin was in touch with Barcelona and had following report regarding situation in Barcelona.
Consul Franklin53 reports that the troops in the barracks there revolted against the Government on Sunday or Monday. The revolt was suppressed with considerable casualties. In the city, great numbers of armed Socialists and Communists are pursuing the Fascists throughout the city and in the process searching the buildings and houses. Considerable firing in the streets which makes it dangerous to go out. Consul Franklin reports he has been requested by the General Motors Company branch in Barcelona to order a small American freighter which is at Tarragona to come to Barcelona and take them on it. The Consul declined to do this because he considered it not a useful measure, also he feels he has no authority to do so; and furthermore, there are several hundred Americans in the city and the freighter could not take off more than 20 or 30. Consul has attempted to communicate with the Department twice by cable telling the Department that in a conversation with the President of the Catalan Government yesterday afternoon he was told by him that the circumstances made it impossible for him to guarantee the safety of Americans and other foreigners in Barcelona and that he would view favorably the Consul’s action in requesting American ships to come to Barcelona to receive American citizens on board and would give them every facility in the port.
Consul reports that the French Consulate is attempting to evacuate the French colony which amounts to some 12 or 15 thousand people. Consul Franklin states that he does not feel personally able to recommend that ships be now sent to Barcelona for this purpose but that he would greatly like to have one or two American ships in the port in case of emergency. He has advised all Americans in Barcelona to remain indoors. Thus far no Americans in Barcelona have been injured. He was trying to communicate with the Embassy in Paris last night. He will try today to communicate with the Embassy in Paris (we are trying to reach him but without success so far).
Mr. Wendelin has no other news except what he received from the Consulate in Gibraltar by way of Lisbon. They say that the situation in southern part of Spain near Gibraltar is chaotic; at Malaga [Page 630] there has been much rioting and burning of churches and the extremist element seems to be in control. They have no definite information of the progress of the military revolt in that area and can only say definitely that the rebels hold the cities of Algeciras and Melilla in Africa.
Wendelin says communication with Lisbon so far today has been poor and he could not understand them.