The Department of State to the Spanish Embassy
Acting through the American Embassy in Madrid, the Department of State has had occasion in recent months to approach the Spanish Government on the subject of visits of Axis submarines to Spanish ports and the treatment accorded these submarines and their crews by the Spanish authorities.
In as much as reports of a disquieting nature continue to reach the Department in this regard, it desires to bring to the attention of the Spanish Embassy, for communication to its Government, that it is the Department’s understanding that the Spanish Government intends to be guided in these matters by the provisions of the Hague Convention XIII of 1907, to which it has signified its adherence; and that it is its further understanding that any other course not only would be contrary to a stated policy of the Spanish Government but might involve as well a violation of the duties incumbent upon a neutral state under generally accepted principles of international law.
The Department also desires to bring to the Embassy’s attention, for communication to its Government, that information has been received indicating that the port of Vigo has been used as a refueling base for Axis submarine activity.
According to this information there are at present three German vessels in the outer harbor of this port, which reportedly have been used in these refueling operations. It is the Department’s view that if these vessels are to be permitted to continue in the port of Vigo they should be moved into the inner harbor where it is thought that a stricter surveillance can be maintained.
Information has been received, moreover, indicating that these same vessels are at present being refitted to serve as ocean-going [Page 325] supply vessels for Axis submarine activity. In view of this the Department strongly suggests the advisability of removing and interning the crews of the three vessels and of placing Spanish guards aboard them.