740.0011 European War 1939/4628: Telegram

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

358. In conversation with the Foreign Minister this morning he re-emphasized Spain’s desire to keep out of war and said that he felt that his country was called on to play a definite and helpful role at the appropriate time in the achievement of a permanent peace.

Referring to the numberless rumors concerning Spain’s attitude and hostile intentions toward Portugal he described these as tendentious. He was equally critical of what he called false and misleading constructions placed on certain local happenings. For example German troops in Pamplona had entered the country on tourist visas; manifestations in the streets of the capital with cries for Gibraltar [Page 802] were merely characteristic of the Spanish mentality; the hostility of the press towards Great Britain and to a voluble extent toward France were expressions of a press which might be duplicated elsewhere; he added here that while his Government could limit what should not be published it was less concerned with material appearing to which it did not have specific objection for reasons of domestic order or otherwise.

I asked the Foreign Minister whether he envisaged an attempt by Italy to occupy French Morocco. He assured me that he did not but that if it occurred it would create a most grave situation, comparable to a British landing at Casablanca or a German occupation of some port or frontier point.

The Minister was most pessimistic with regard to the outlook for Europe, declaring that in a few months stark famine would prevail and that the United States must help. He added that his representatives in France reported general conditions there as very bad.

As the Department is aware, the political forecasts of the Foreign Minister have not always proved reliable and I see no reason to alter my views on future possibilities already telegraphed to the Department.