852.2221/769: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Counselor of Embassy in Spain ( Thurston )40

436. Your 923, March 29, 5 p.m. We are naturally giving the most careful consideration to policy regarding Americans in Spain in [Page 278] the event that the situation should call for emergency measures. This Department has in the past taken steps with a view to saving lives and will be guided in general by the same consideration in the future. We are, however, anxious to avoid any possible complication with either side or with both as a result of any move on our part to assist the evacuation of persons serving with and actually a part of the armed forces in Spain. The Americans in question would seem to fall into three categories: (a) nurses, doctors, and relief workers who have entered Spain with valid passports; (b) wounded American volunteers who are, however, still under the orders of the Spanish military authorities; (c) American volunteers who are still on active service.

Please send us an approximate estimate of the numbers in Loyalist Spain of these three categories.

The Department has not been approached by either the Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade or the Medical Bureau and North American Committee to Aid Spanish Democracy. If you are consulted by interested parties it would be advisable for you to suggest that they consider making their own arrangements to use the Oregon for evacuation purposes of individuals whom the Spanish Government might permit to leave. You should also make it clear that there are no official funds available for repatriation of American volunteers who may be evacuated from Spain, and the consequent desirability that interested organizations should provide funds and themselves make arrangements for repatriation from France since most of these men will probably leave Spain in destitute condition.

In the event that the Spanish Government should release wounded American volunteers and permit them to leave the country please telegraph us for our information. In any event, if an emergency should arise such as a possible collapse of the Spanish Government, American naval vessels will be sent to Spanish ports in view of possible chaotic conditions to evacuate all Americans in general who may wish to leave.

We have sent copies to Ambassador Bowers at St. Jean de Luz and to AmEmbassy, Paris, for their guidance.

  1. Copies sent on the same date to Ambassador Bowers at St. Jean de Luz (in Department’s No. B–423), and to the Embassy in France (in Department’s No. 194).