852.48/775: Telegram

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

295. Your 619, November 6, 7 p.m. Your recommendations contained in your 606 and in your telegram under reference have been given the most careful and sympathetic consideration. After full reflection, the Department desires you to see General Franco at an early opportunity and to lay before him the following considerations:

The Government of the United States was preparing, with the assistance of the American Red Cross, to make available for impartial distribution to the civilian population in Spain certain quantities of food supplies and was also prepared to give further consideration to the question of credits for the Spanish Government for the purchase of raw materials in the United States. Recent developments apparently involving a change of policy on the part of the Spanish Government have made it necessary in the opinion of the Government of the United States to delay a final decision in this question.
As General Franco, the Department is confident, clearly understands, the sums to be expended in the purchase of food supplies to be sent to Spain for distribution by the American Red Cross in cooperation with the appropriate Spanish relief organizations are sums pertaining to the Government of the United States itself and appropriated by the Congress of the United States. They would not be funds of the American Red Cross itself. Under these conditions, public opinion in the United States would most positively disapprove the expenditure of these funds in the manner proposed unless it were assured that it is not the policy of the Spanish Government to facilitate the axis powers in their belligerent activities against Great Britain.
The policy of the United States, as it has been clearly and officially stated, is to furnish all possible assistance short of war to Great Britain in her defense against aggression. It would, consequently, be illogical and counter to the policy of the United States Government as well as to the desires of the overwhelming majority of the American people for the United States to render any assistance, even of a strictly humanitarian character, to Spain were Spain to assist Germany and Italy in their present hostilities against the British Empire.
The statements made to you by the Spanish Foreign Minister in your recent interview with him referred to “political solidarity” between Spain and the German and Italian Governments. Unless General [Page 830] Franco were to find it possible to make it publicly known that the policy of the Spanish Government not only does not envisage any change in the present neutral position of Spain, but also does not envisage any assistance to Germany and Italy in the war upon Great Britain, the Government of the United States could not justify the assistance which it had proposed to render to the Spanish people and to the Spanish Government.
Should your conversation with General Franco take such a course as to make it in your opinion desirable and expedient, you may also point out that if the Government of the United States undertakes to render assistance of the nature proposed and undertake an act of mercy to the Spanish people in their distress, it would, of course, be hoped and expected that the Spanish Government itself would undertake a policy of mercy in its attitude towards Spanish political prisoners and those Spanish political refugees who may have been returned to Spanish jurisdiction.
It would be desirable for you to make clear during the course of your interview with Franco that this Government is deeply interested in the renaissance and rehabilitation of Spain. It is confident that this objective cannot be attained if Spain now takes part in the present war since such participation would inevitably have a disastrous effect upon Spain both political and economic, and this effect likewise would result from any acquiescence by Spain in a breach of her neutrality by the axis powers. This Government believes that the policy pursued by the United States after the achievement of its own independence of strict non-involvement in the wars then raging in Europe and of being prepared even to defend its neutrality by armed force, was the only policy which made it possible for the United States to achieve its present world situation. It believes the similarity between the position of the United States at that time and the situation of Spain, now emerging from a prolonged and cruel civil war, is very great.

For your personal and confidential information, public opinion in the United States is very much exercised with regard to assistance by the American Red Cross so long as it would appear probable that Spain would undertake active assistance to Germany and Italy and so long as the Spanish Government was undertaking political executions of a character which profoundly shock American public opinion. While the Department fully recognizes the need of the Spanish people, it could not justify alleviating such need were Spain to give practical assistance, direct or indirect, to the axis powers. The only remedy for this situation would be a clear cut and public declaration of policy on the part of the present Spanish Government that it not only intends to remain neutral, but that it would not undertake any kind of assistance to Germany and Italy which would aid them in their war against the British Empire.

In the face of Serrano Suñer’s positive assertion to you of the Spanish “political solidarity” with the axis powers and of the hostile attitude of Spain toward Great Britain, there must be some act of good [Page 831] faith on the part of the Spanish Government to justify this Government in acting on the assumption that Spain will keep out of war and not directly or indirectly assist the axis powers. This Government would be severely censured and with full reason, if after, or at the time of, extending aid to Spain, German or other foreign troops or forces should cross, use or occupy Spanish territory, or if political executions should continue.