852.2221/1645: Telegram

The Chargé in Spain (Matthews) to the Secretary of State

54. Department’s telegram No. 9 [10], May 10, 7 p.m. I formally requested full information concerning all American prisoners of war in Spain and likewise again asked for their early release.89 I also propose to discuss the matter again with Under Secretary Barcenas at Burgos tomorrow.

I sent Crain90 to Burgos yesterday to interview the prisoners personally and to obtain as much data as possible to substantiate their American nationality. He was permitted by the prison authorities to talk to the prisoners for about an hour and to make such notes as he desired. He found them in reasonably good health and spirits and states that they did not show signs of undernourishment though they expressed some complaint at the prison fare. I have sent them some cigarettes and a small sum of money (for which they expressed their appreciation) to enable them to purchase additional foodstuffs and other necessities which they are in general permitted to buy at the prison canteen. They are permitted to spend their days in a large [Page 812] open air enclosure some ten or more acres in extent without any very strict surveillance. Crain explained to them the efforts which the Department and the Embassy are making and will continue to make to arrange their release. He indicated, however, that we could make no promise as to date and this they seemed to understand. Their only specific request was for money, soap and underclothing. If their friends and relatives in the United States arrange to transmit funds therefor through the Department the Embassy can make the desired purchases and/or transmit the money to the prisoners. As he was leaving the prison, commander volunteered the personal opinion to Crain that the prisoners there at San Pedro de Cardena “would soon be released” and the prisoners themselves seem to feel that the concentration camp was about to be closed.

[Here is omitted data regarding individual prisoners.]

This preliminary report will be supplemented as soon as more complete data is available. Copy to Paris.

  1. Note No. 50, dated May 13, to the Foreign Minister at Burgos, not printed.
  2. Third Secretary of Embassy in Spain.