The Chargé in Spain (Thurston), Then in France, to the Secretary of State
[Received March 18—11:45 a.m.]
597. Department’s [B–]492, March 14, 8 p.m. The “arrangement” for the exchange of American prisoners held by Franco for Italian prisoners held by the Government is merely an agreement by each side to effect the reciprocal release of those prisoners. It is quite simple for the Franco regime to do this, as the prisoners it holds can be brought to the French frontier at any time and turned over to some responsible agency. The position with respect to the Government however is quite otherwise. The prisoners it holds must be embarked at seaport. I doubt very much whether the International Red Cross is taking any steps to provide such transportation, or that the Government is either—under present circumstances. As we cannot provide transportation the exchange will not be consummated unless some other agency intervenes.
The indicated agency for this task is of course the so-called Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, and I would suggest that the subject be discussed with them. They might be able to work out an [Page 805] arrangement with Sherover76 whereunder one of his ships could convey the Italians to Marseille. Both parties named however probably would reject such a suggestion. The alternative is to await the end of hostilities, following which it is to be assumed that Franco will be disposed to relinquish the Americans.
- Miles M. Sherover, president of the Hanover Sales Corp., who had been acting for the Spanish Government as fiscal and purchasing agent in the United States.↩