The Department of State to the Spanish Embassy
The Department of State has carefully considered the Spanish Embassy’s memorandum of January 7, 194319 with further reference to the question of the exemption of Spanish citizens from military service in the United States. The Embassy states that many cases have arisen in which such persons while not objecting to such service when required by Selective Service authorities to indicate their wishes in this regard have nevertheless appealed to the Embassy. The Embassy attributes the fact that they have made “no objection” to military service to “ignorance on the part of the Spanish citizens, who frequently belong to humble classes and who lack sufficient independence freely to take a decision, for which reason they are intimidated by the scarcely suitable manner in which the corresponding questions are asked and by their ignorance of the language”.
The questionnaires in which Spanish citizens along with other aliens are asked to indicate whether they have any objection to military service are printed forms which are sent to them by mail, to be returned to their local boards in the same way. There is nothing to prevent the alien who is furnished with such forms from obtaining assistance in answering them. Since no officials of the Government are present when the forms are filled out no intimidation is possible. The Selective Service regulations specifically provide, in case the registrant requests and is granted an audience before his local board, that “if he does not speak English adequately, he may appear with a person to act as interpreter for him”.
With reference to the Embassy’s statement that occasions have arisen in which the exclusion of a Spanish citizen from military service has resulted in the loss of his position, it can only be stated that if such situations have arisen, they relate to private matters between the individual and his employer, over which the Department of State has no control.
The Spanish Embassy again suggests “that the precepts of the Treaty of 1902 should be automatic and that any Spanish citizen should be released from military service by virtue thereof merely because he is such citizen” adding that “unquestionably, there would then be but a few cases of voluntary enlistment for such service which should be provided for only when a direct application is made by the individuals concerned”. It states that “Such a procedure is followed in Spain where any American citizen is released from his [Page 500] enrollment in the military service merely by proving his status”. The difference in the procedure followed by the United States and that followed by Spain is no doubt due to the fact that in the United States all aliens are potentially liable for military service unless specifically exempted by law which is not understood to be the case in Spain.
In reply to the Embassy’s request for the review of certain cases which have come to its attention in which Spanish citizens who failed to object to military service before their local boards have requested its assistance in obtaining their release from such service, it may be stated that the Department of State will be glad to give careful consideration to any case brought to its attention by the Embassy.
[Further correspondence with neutral Governments regarding their objections to the drafting of their nationals concerned individual cases.]
- Not printed.↩