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The Chargé in France ( Wilson ) to the Secretary of State

112. There is no doubt that responsible quarters here are deeply concerned over the danger to France which may develop from the Spanish situation. Bonnet17 said as much to me last night. He stated at the same time that France has assurances from Britain that if after Franco’s victory the Italians attempt to maintain control of strategic points in Spain the British will help the French to “dislodge” them.

Bonnet said that he will speak in the foreign affairs debate in the Chamber tomorrow, that the Government will maintain the policy of nonintervention and that he is confident it will be supported by the “customary” safeguards. (Others tell me that the Radical Socialist [Page 725] Party is fairly well divided on this point and that while it is likely that most of the party will support the Government this will only be the result of strict stipulations imposed by party leaders.)

Bonnet said that he wanted to inform me in strict confidence that while the Government was maintaining the façade of nonintervention it was in fact permitting war material to cross the frontier. It was he said in part due to this assistance that the Loyalists have been able to defend themselves as well as they have done. (Undoubtedly arms have been trickling over the border recently; I doubt very much, however, whether substantial shipments of war material such as airplanes and artillery have been allowed to cross into Spain since last June when Bonnet is believed to have clamped the control down tightly.)

In conversation with General Gamelin, Chief of Staff, he made no effort to conceal his concern over the situation. He said that the fate of France might be at stake very shortly and that any weakness or indecision would be fatal.

I also had a brief talk with Daladier and asked him if the growing uneasiness in the Chamber might not oblige the Government to modify its stand towards nonintervention. He said no, that it was too late now to change policy and that the time to have made a change was 2 years ago. (A left-handed criticism of Blum who is now attacking the Government for failure to take the action which he himself when head of the Government refused to take).

  1. Georges Bonnet, French Minister for Foreign Affairs.