852.48/785: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

3803. I saw Lord Halifax41 for a few minutes yesterday afternoon and he mentioned the condition of starvation in Spain which he regards with great anxiety due to its direct bearing on Spanish relations with the Axis Powers. He referred to a telegram which he had just sent to Washington instructing the British Chargé d’Affaires to express the hope to the Department that we would not insist on General Franco’s making a public declaration of non-belligerency as a condition for receiving food supplies from the United States. Lord Halifax said that it was quite impossible for General Franco to make such a declaration and that the situation in Spain was so critical that he hoped our point of view might be modified. When I called to see Mr. Strang42 at the Foreign Office this afternoon he showed me this telegram as well as previous telegrams from the British Ambassador at Madrid and one from Lord Lothian to the British Chargé d’Affaires at Washington all of which I understand have been repeated to Mr. Butler for communication to the Department.

While I am aware of no facts in this connection not known to the Department I feel that I should report the foregoing in view of the very great importance which Lord Halifax attaches to an immediate alleviation of the Spanish food situation.43

  1. British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  2. William Strang, British Acting Assistant Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  3. In a message of November 23, 1940, to President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill wrote: “Our accounts show that the situation in Spain is deteriorating and that the Peninsula is not far from starvation point. An offer by you to dole out food month by month so long as they keep out of the war might be decisive.” (852.48/11–2340. Photostatic copy obtained from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N. Y.)