852.00/8838: Telegram

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

126. It will be recalled that during the height of the crisis in September20 it was generally understood that the French General Staff had perfected plans for the immediate occupation of the Spanish zone in Morocco in the event of hostilities. Rumors of similar plans in connection with present events in Spain and the general belief that [Page 727] in case of a Franco victory Mussolini will not withdraw his forces from Spain and the Balearic Islands at least until he has driven a hard bargain with France have been circulating here for the past few days. The fact that these rumors have been set in motion by the press section of the Foreign Office first by word several days ago to a few selected foreign correspondents including the London Times man and again yesterday afternoon at a press conference with the Anglo-American correspondents seems significant. In our opinion this is a maneuver on the part of Bonnet to reply in kind to Mussolini’s intimation in Informazione Diplomatica of January 15 that strong French support of Republican Spain would bring about the substantial increase of Italian forces in Spain. Last night’s announcement that General Gamelin and Vice Admiral Darlan had postponed their scheduled departure on visit of inspection to North Africa until probably the end of next week also seems of some interest in connection with the Spanish situation and the debate on foreign policy in the Chamber in which the Left parties continue to attack nonintervention. The debate was adjourned last night until next Tuesday.

  1. For correspondence regarding the German-Czechoslovak crisis, see Foreign Relations, 1938, vol. i, pp. 483 ff.