852.2221/1749: Telegram

The Ambassador in Spain (Weddell) to the Secretary of State

220. Referring to my No. 195, September 22, 5 p.m.,96 during a recent conversation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs concerning our prisoners of war the Minister said to me textually:

“We have some 80,000 prisoners of war to be tried for offenses; there is frightful congestion in the military tribunals. I beg you to be patient.”

To this I replied by pointing out that I had been patient; that at the end of 6 months I was still ignorant, despite repeated efforts, of what the 8 American prisoners were accused or if they were accused of anything. I repeated my former statements to the effect that these prisoners were of no importance to Spain and constituted points of irritation in my country; that I had understood the Caudillo to promise me all my prisoners but up to date only 11 had been released.

Following this the Minister instructed the Under Secretary to follow up the matter.

Since the above interview the Embassy has been in almost daily contact with the Foreign Office and the present status of the matter [Page 817] is that the military officer in charge of prisoners has been discussing the matter with the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I regret to say however that in spite of my many representations there does not appear to be any disposition to release the prisoners prior to their cases having been tried.

Our remaining prisoners were all visited recently by a member of the Embassy staff and although they are apparently being well treated they are suffering from lack of warm clothing. I am personally purchasing warm clothing for them and will make certain that it reaches them within the next few days.

I will of course continue my efforts to expedite this matter.

  1. Not printed; it conveyed information from the Minister for Foreign Affairs that no decision would be taken regarding American prisoners of war until the government moved to Madrid (852.2221/1736).