852.00/8777: Telegram

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


1. Military. The rebel lines now run roughly as follows: From Tremp to a point slightly to the east of Artesa de Segre, thence south through Bellpuig to a point near Montblanch (which may have fallen today) and finally west to the Ebro parallel and quite near to the Reus-Falset-Gandesa Highway. I understand that the Government forces in the lower Ebro sector are now falling back on Tarragona and that this city probably will be lost.

The Minister of State8 informed me this morning that the morale of the army is excellent but that it is for the moment virtually overwhelmed by the rebel superiority (almost ten to one) in artillery, planes, and machine guns—denoting unsuspectedly large shipments to Franco from Germany and Italy during the last 2 months. He stated that the Government expects to receive further supplies from Russia and elsewhere (provided their passage through France is permitted) and he stressed the hope that has been aroused by the possibility of a change in our neutrality policy which will enable it to acquire military equipment in the United States.

Senor del Vayo stated that while the military situation is undeniably grave neither he nor Negrin regards it as disastrous. They expect to save Barcelona and ultimately to win the war. In answer to my inquiry as to their plans if the rebels should succeed in breaking through to Barcelona, he replied that the war would continue. In reply to the same question a few days ago Negrin stated to the British Minister that the government would remove to the southern area. The British Minister9 incidentally informed me that in that event he would follow the government.

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2. Political. I was informed this morning by Zugazagoitia10 (who will soon be appointed Ambassador to Mexico) that a rearrangement of the Cabinet would be a controversy between Negrin and the Minister of Government11 over the attempted imprisonment of the writer Eduardo Zamacois prevented by Negrin. Efforts are being made to avoid the resignation of Gomez but if they fail he probably will be replaced by Mendez, the present Sub-Secretary.

3. International. While no illusions now are entertained, mild encouragement is derived from the recent visit of a group of members of the French Parliament and evidence of a growing sympathy with the government cause in England and the United States.

Alvarez del Vayo will leave for Geneva Saturday to attend the meeting of the League Council.

  1. Julio Alvarez del Vayo.
  2. R. C. S. Stevenson.
  3. Julio Zugazagoitia, Sub-Secretary for National Defense.
  4. Paulino Gomez Saiz.