740.0011 European War 1939/2667: Telegram

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

106. I called on the Foreign Minister1 yesterday afternoon to say goodbye. In the course of our conversation I asked him directly what was Spain’s attitude in the present war.

The Minister replied that Spain was neutral and that it was determined to maintain this neutrality if necessary by force of arms against anyone who acted against the sovereignty of the country. When I inquired whether Spain’s position would not be a difficult and delicate one should Italy become a belligerent, he remarked that I was discussing a matter which was extremely theoretical. (In a previous conversation, the Minister had mentioned that he felt convinced that Italy would not enter the war for economic and other reasons.)

I then inquired whether Spain would continue to recognize the Polish diplomatic representative here. By way of reply, he handed me a copy of the diplomatic list and of the budget of the Foreign Office: in the former, the Polish Minister appears and in the latter provision is made for a Spanish Minister to the Polish Government. He remarked that Spain would “dishonor itself” if it withdrew its recognition of Poland, although this attitude was highly offensive to Germany, and that the same attitude was and would be maintained toward Norway and Denmark. He remarked, however, that Spain was not sending a Minister to the Polish Government now in France since the latter-named country was a belligerent.

In support of the Foreign Minister’s statement that Spain was determined to defend her neutrality against anyone who might attempt to violate her sovereignty, are the recurring rumors of substantial re-enforcements being sent to the Balearic Islands and to the neighborhood of Malaga in anticipation of the possibility that an Italian entry into the war might be followed by an Italian attempt to occupy these areas.

[Page 795]

In conflict with the foregoing, however, is a statement made yesterday to the Naval Attaché2 by a prominent Spanish military figure to the effect that in the event Italians should attempt to seize the Balearics, Spain would find it very difficult to resist such an attempt by force of arms. While it is impossible under present circumstances to make definite predictions as to future events or future policies of the Spanish Government the entry of Italy into the war would raise question of Spanish participation or continued neutrality to a point where it would be very difficult to foresee the outcome. It is my own feeling, however, that the more reasonable elements in the Spanish Government will make every effort to preserve Spanish neutrality and that the final outcome may well depend upon the internal situation existing at the time of a possible Italian entry into the war or any direct attempt against the neutrality of this country. In this connection it might be remembered that the internal situation in Spain is increasingly more difficult as a result of lack of foodstuffs and other vital supplies. In the event that the Government’s attempts to meet the food and industrial needs of the country are unsuccessful, the very existence of the present Government would be at stake.

Repeated to the Embassy at Rome.

  1. Juan Beigbeder y Atienza.
  2. Commander Ben H. Wyatt.