852.51/503: Telegram

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

199. My 182 [189?] June 13, 8 p.m.8 and Department’s 87, June 13, 5 p.m. Spanish reaction to the news of the French collapse has been [Page 799] immediate and jubilant. This ignominious destruction to the previously prevailing pro-Axis non-belligerency of the country together with the hope of reward at the peace table or otherwise may easily be strong enough to overbear the relatively conservative Government elements (these are believed to include Franco) thought to be opposed to Spain’s entry into war.

However even should this final step be avoided the possible arrival of German troops at the Spanish frontier would probably result in an even more dominant German influence in Spain’s foreign policy, on the other hand should Spain enter the war under such circumstances I incline to think that the possibility of internal uprisings mentioned in previous telegrams would be diminished.

With regard to our position vis-à-vis the Spanish Government as clarified by the Department’s telegram number 87, I would invite attention to the seemingly indifferent attitude of Franco toward receiving me, an attitude which has been reflected by the Foreign Minister to whom I strongly hinted the nature of my errand when I saw him on June 6th. For the Department’s information I asked the Foreign Office on the morning of June 14 (in view of the non-receipt of instructions from the Department up to that time) to hold in abeyance my request for the interview which had been originally promised between the 6th and the 10th. Upon receipt late that afternoon of the Department’s new instructions I renewed my request for an early interview and was informed that a meeting had been arranged for the 15th but in view of my request this had been postponed (this statement may or may not be correct). The Foreign Minister now tells me that the Caudillo8a “has been very busy” but that he will be able to see me on June 22.

The foregoing strengthens my apprehension that the Spanish belief in a quick German victory is allied to the hope and perhaps Axis assurances that this success will bring with it needed supplies without any necessity for recourse to the United States.

The Department is of course aware that the situation is changing from hour to hour and this is particularly true in this country. Furthermore a period of 5 days must yet elapse before I am to see Franco.

In these circumstances I venture to suggest a reconsideration of the instructions contained in the Department’s number 87 to the extent that I be given a free hand to decide at the time of the interview whether or not all the questions contained in the Department’s existing instructions shall be laid before Franco. At this time and under the present circumstances I would prefer, with the Department’s approval, to limit my preliminary remarks to the Caudillo to general statement of our sympathetic attitude toward Spain’s needs, an [Page 800] attitude conditioned on Spanish neutrality, and then to ask for a clarification of the Spanish position as a result of the declaration of non-belligerency and of recent events in France. Should I receive an indication of an attitude which would signify the possibility of a cooperative policy and a worth-while assurance with regard to Spain’s future attitude toward the European conflict, i might then discuss in more detail the various possibilities contained in the Department’s instructions under reference. In any case a free hand is to be desired since it is impossible to foresee what the situation will be at the time of my interview on June 22.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Gen. Francisco Franco.