The Ambassador in Spain ( Bowers ), Then in France, to the Secretary of State
[Received May 1—3:55 p.m.]
634. From Matthews:
33. My 30, April 25, 8 p.m.86 I was very cordially received by Barcenas, the Under Secretary of State, at Burgos, Thursday morning. I said that quite frankly I was interested in doing all I could to improve relations between our two countries; that for this reason I was most anxious that public opinion in my country should have a better understanding of “the new Spain”. I then explained the great interest at home in the question of American prisoners of war and the Department’s position with respect thereto. I said that I felt that the prompt release of the 10 remaining Americans against whom no charges are pending (and who have now been brought back to Burgos where they say incidentally they are better fed) would constitute a gesture which would be much appreciated in the United States. (Possibly Cardenas87 might issue some statement when the release is effected.) I believe that Barcenas was impressed with this reasoning and at any rate he promised to do all he could to obtain the prisoners’ early release. It is quite obvious, however, that the matter is not primarily in the hands of the Foreign Office. It is also quite obvious that resentment is still strong over the attitude of public opinion in the United States with respect to the Nationalists and at our “delay” in extending recognition. (For instance, when I entered his office Barcenas said with a smile when I told him I was enjoying Spain “you see we are not the terrible people you thought us in the United States. Frankly, you have never understood our cause, et cetera.”
I feel that for the present the method of approach which I took is the one most likely to produce early results. If the delay is long the Department may then give consideration to different tactics. It would be difficult to exaggerate, however, the existing feeling of self-assurance in Nationalist Spain today especially in military circles. With that feeling goes the extremely bitter thought that Spain’s “rebirth” was accomplished to say the least without the aid of the United States and the cost thereof in Spanish lives greatly increased by the brigades of which our unfortunate prisoners were members. [Matthews.]
Copy to Paris.