The Vice Consul at Barcelona ( Flood ) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 30—9:20 a.m.]
Recent developments in military situation make it advisable to give further consideration to policy regarding American volunteers in Government forces and to anticipate what action can be taken in case large numbers of such Americans, whose lives would be endangered for political reasons, should present themselves at this office. Three former deserters have already arrived and have been refused assistance.
In spite of the fact most of these men came to Spain with non-valid passports, I believe it would be inexpedient to refuse whatever aid this office might be able to give them in such an emergency.
In view of the Government’s apparent desire to avoid unnecessary trouble in case of defeat, and the possibility of the international brigades ceasing to exist as an organization, it is possible the Government will change its policy regarding foreign deserters; it would obviously not be prudent to press this issue in advance.
The only suggestion I can offer at this time is that when the situation arises this Consulate General be authorized to use its discretion in issuing emergency documents for travel to France where the question of verification of citizenship can be given further consideration. According to the French Consulate, arrangements are being made to receive refugees across the frontier where they will be temporarily taken into custody.
The Department’s instructions are respectfully requested.