The Ambassador in Spain ( Bowers ), Then in France, to the Secretary of State
[Received February 24.]
Sir: I have the honor to report that, with the fall of Catalonia, a large number of prisoners held by the Government, including a large number of Italians, were released. This leaves us with a much smaller number of foreign prisoners held by the Loyalists on which to draw for the exchange of the Americans. There are, or until recently were, a large number of Italian legionnaires in the Valencia-Madrid section. I am assured this morning by the Marques de Rialp, the Franco agent in the exchange of prisoners, that he will inform me within a few days of the disposition of the Italians, and will be ready to act. With this assurance I shall get in contact with the Government at Madrid which has always assured me of its willingness to exchange the Italians for the Americans and which has acted on that assurance in the past.
We cannot agree to an exchange of Americans for the Spaniards in the various legations and embassies in Madrid, since, under the agreement, the foreigners are returned to their homes and the Spaniards may remain in Spain. This, at any rate, is a matter for the Spanish Government to decide. I merely mean that it would be most tactless for us to suggest such an exchange.