The Counselor of Embassy in Spain ( Thurston ) to the Secretary of State

No. X–61

Sir: In amplification of my despatch number X–48 of February 14, 1937,41 I have the honor to report that I have been informed by a member of the Cuban Embassy that the distribution of refugees in the foreign missions in Madrid is approximately as follows:

Mexico 1800
Turkey 1300
Chile 1200
Norway 800
Rumania 800
France 600
Cuba 450
Argentina 300
Sweden 300
Holland 250
Bolivia 120
Poland 113
Paraguay 100
Switzerland 26

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Some of the refugees enumerated are, as in the ease of the Cuban Embassy, nationals of the country represented by the mission granting asylum—but the great majority are of course Spanish citizens. It is understood that in according asylum to Spanish nationals the French Embassy endeavored to admit only such persons as had business or family connections with France. The Finnish Legation, on the other hand, is alleged to have accorded asylum on the basis of the applicant’s ability to pay the sum demanded by the Finnish Chargé d’Affaires—who now is a refugee together with his late guests in the Turkish mission. The refugees formerly in the Argentine Embassy have been evacuated, the Argentine naval vessel Tucuman having been employed for this purpose.

It is reported that the attitude toward the question of asylum assumed by Chile, and especially the personal behaviour of the Chilean Ambassador, has provoked the active resentment of the Spanish Government, and that in consequence it has determined to bring it about that the refugees in the Chilean Embassy shall be the last to be evacuated. Notwithstanding this rumor, a caravan of several motor buses acquired in France for the transportation of the refugees in the Chilean Embassy and in the charge of the Chilean Military Attachés at Paris and Brussels recently passed through Valencia on its way to Madrid.

Whereas the Argentine refugees were evacuated from Alicante, and it was believed that the Spanish Government preferred the employment of that port for the purpose, the Cuban Embassy has been advised that evacuation must be effected through Valencia, in groups of about 50 persons, and that only one such group may be present in Valencia at a given time. Should these stipulations be enforced it is obvious that the evacuation of the eight thousand persons who have been granted asylum in the various missions in Madrid would extend over a theoretical minimum period of five months, and in practice probably would require more than a year.

Respectfully yours,

Walter C. Thurston
  1. Not printed.