852.48/779: Telegram

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

636. Department’s 295, November 9 [8], 1 [6] p.m. I called last night on the Minister for Foreign Affairs and asked him to arrange [Page 834]an interview for me with the Chief of State which he said he would do.

I told the Minister that the object of my visit was to lay before the Caudillo certain statements and observations of my Government with further reference to the question of supplying foodstuffs and making credits available to Spain. I also informed him of the essential portions of the Department’s telegram under reference and left with him a memorandum closely paraphrasing in Spanish the various points laid down therein.

In the subsequent conversation I referred to his previous remark concerning the “political solidarity” of Spain with the Axis stating that I did not quite understand what it meant. He replied that he could best illustrate by pointing to the attitude of the United States with relation to Great Britain, that Spain’s situation vis-à-vis the Axis was almost identical with this but with the difference that Spain had nothing to give to the Axis while the United States could do everything for Great Britain. He added that the Axis had helped Spain at a critical time in the time [sic] of the country and that it would be disloyal not to recognize this.

I interrupted the Minister here to ask the bold question whether if German or Italian troops crossed the frontier or otherwise violated Spanish neutrality this would be resisted by force. He answered that Spain would fight to the last man. I then stated that my Government laid great stress on this point and that it felt in fact that it could not justify the extension of aid to Spain before American public opinion unless it were in a position to reassure this opinion through some public utterance of the Generalissimo that it was definitely not the intention of Spain to facilitate the belligerent activities of the Axis Powers against Great Britain. Although however startling, I did not find strong opposition in the mind of the Foreign Minister to this suggestion and am inclined to think that the Spanish political and economic situation has reached a degree of gravity such that this proposal which might normally be expected at least to evoke some expression of surprise and opposition is now apparently taken calmly and deemed worthy of deliberation.

I said in conclusion that the Minister would doubtless wish to study the memorandum in detail and repeated my request that as soon as convenient an interview with the Chief of State be arranged.

The impression left on me by the Minister’s remarks was that “political solidarity” with the Axis under present circumstances is a matter of sentiment and ideologies and hardly translatable into actual aid.

Weddell