852.00/2196: Telegram

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

626. Following just received over the telephone from Wendelin:

After discussion with the Military Attaché, Consul General, Commercial Attaché and head of the American Telephone Company who is in a peculiarly good position to know the situation, they reached the opinion that the situation was sufficiently grave to offer hospitality of the Embassy to any Americans who wished to go there. Unless there is a change for the better in the next hour or so this offer will be made. They are making all arrangements possible in the Embassy to take care especially of women and children and thus keep them two or three days if necessary. Food supplies in Madrid are running short because communications are being harassed by the rebels. It is estimated that food supplies will last only 2 days more. There are no fresh vegetables and they are making every effort to lay in canned goods.

The reason they have reached the foregoing decision is that irresponsible Communist and Socialist youths are now more and more committing acts of depredation. Hotel Nacional has been taken over by these youths. There are four Americans there, one man and three women, and the Embassy has been unable to communicate with the hotel but will try to send someone there shortly. Several other hotels in which Americans have been staying have been under fire for 2 days. It is more owing to luck than anything else that no one was injured as, despite warnings from the Embassy, some Americans insist on going into the street to see what is going on. There are now two guards at the Embassy and two Assault Guards at the Consulate which is near the Embassy so that if Americans are concentrated in the Embassy they will have the assistance of four guards. Office of Commercial Attaché has been closed and he is now at the Embassy. He requests that his Department be notified that he did not go on leave and is still in Madrid.

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Another serious problem is that these armed youths are requisitioning automobiles from everyone. Several instances have occurred of American-owned automobiles being seized. The Embassy cannot expect any help from the authorities in this matter as they are too occupied with their own problems.

There is no news today as to the battle taking place in Toledo where the rebel troops are holding the city against the militia from Madrid. The Embassy is constantly trying to keep in touch with the consulates in Spain but so far the only one they can communicate with is Barcelona.