The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 8—6:30 p.m.]
244. I discussed the Spanish situation with Bonnet this afternoon. He read to me Jules Henry’s telegram recounting his conversation with Negrin last night.[Page 741]
Jules Henry stated that Negrin had said to him for the first time last night that he knew the Republican cause in Spain was lost. He was ready to make peace immediately with Franco on the following terms: (1) that Spain should be independent; (2) that the Spanish people should have the right to decide the form of government they prefer; (3) that there should be no reprisals.
Negrin said to Henry that if Franco should accept these conditions he would be prepared to surrender immediately. If Franco should reject these conditions he would take an airplane to Valencia and attempt to hold out against Franco’s attacks as long as possible. He added that Franco was preparing a major attack on the central part of the southern front and he did not know whether sufficient material could be brought together to parry this attack; but in any event if Franco should refuse these terms the only course would be for him to fight to the bitter end, however terrible might be the suffering of the Spanish people.
Bonnet said that the British were transmitting these terms of Negrin’s to Franco today. He added that he thought Franco would reject them and propose unconditional surrender.
Bonnet also showed me a telegram from the French Consul in Valencia recounting a conversation he had today with General Miaja. The Consul stated that the General appeared to be exhausted and to have some difficulty in bringing out his words. The General had said that never had any man been left in such a situation as he was left in. He had received no orders of any kind from his Government for many days. He would continue to hold out to the bitter end. No sooner had Miaja said this, however, than he asked the Consul to give him a visa on his diplomatic passport good for entrance into France or Algiers. This visa was given to him.
Bonnet also showed me a telegram from a representative of the French Government in Barcelona. It stated that General Franco had stopped the northward march of all Italian troops at Gerona and had ordered them sent southward so that no Italian soldier should appear on the French frontier.
Senator Leon Berard returned from Franco’s headquarters today. He had two long conversations with General Jordana32 but did not see Franco. He will return to see Franco in 3 or 4 days. From his conversations with Jordana and other contacts, Senator Berard derived the impression that Franco genuinely desired to get the Italians and Germans out of Spain as soon as possible. General Jordana insisted to him that there were only 16,000 Italian soldiers now in Spain and 2,000 Germans. It was the intention of the Franco Government either to buy the Italian and German aircraft now in Spain or to send them home.[Page 742]
Bonnet said that the French Government was now convinced that General Franco would favor the reestablishmeut of a monarchy in Spain with ex-King Alfonzo’s son Jaime on the throne. It would be the policy of the French Government to support the establishment of Jaime as King of Spain.
Van Zeeland33 a few days ago quoted to me Salazar, the Portuguese dictator, as saying that “as soon as Franco had won his war against the Republican Government the real civil war in Spain would begin”. Salazar was of the opinion that the Phalangists who were controlled largely by the Germans would set out to destroy the Requetes and the Carlists. Salazar expressed the opinion that Franco would be unable to retain his hold on the Phalangists and might be eliminated personally by the Phalangists who were determined to behave with great savagery if necessary in order to establish a Fascist state in Spain.
I asked Bonnet if he had had similar reports and he stated that the French Government was fully aware of this danger. If however the Germans and Italians should attempt to eliminate Franco and the Requetes and the Carlists then the French and British Governments could not remain passive.
In this connection I asked whether the French Government was going to permit the Italian Government to take over the Island of Minorca. Bonnet said that the British Government had agreed to prevent the Italians from taking over the Island of Minorca.
Bonnet said that Franco was not interested in obtaining the de facto recognition of the French Government. He wanted help. Franco had not however insisted on the immediate sending of an Ambassador. Bonnet added that the question of a title for the French representative at Burgos in his opinion [would?] be a great stumbling block to the establishment of diplomatic relations. The French must have a representative in Burgos at once to whom he could telephone.
Bonnet said that General Jordana had stated to Berard that even though Negrin and Miaja should attempt to resist to the utmost and even though morale in the Valencia-Madrid area should remain intact, Franco’s forces now would be so overwhelmingly strong that resistance could not be prolonged for more than one month at the outside.
In spite of protests from the Extreme Left in France public opinion here has reconciled itself to a Franco victory and I believe that there will be no serious political resistance to the establishment of diplomatic relations with Franco.