740.00114A European War 1939/112: Telegram

The Chargé at Tangier (Childs) to the Secretary of State

611. Castillo left for Madrid this morning for a few days. My Spanish colleague informed me this morning the High Commissioner had been greatly impressed by the assurances I had given him.

Concerning the American planes (my 602, November 12) the Spanish Consul said these planes would be as Castillo had informed me, carefully guarded and sealed but it would not be possible to accede to the suggestion I had made that we also seal them.

Concerning our American aviators, it was suggested Washington authorize our Embassy in Madrid to discuss this question with the Spanish Foreign Office and that we propose their exchange against German or Italian prisoners who may be in our hands. It was stated that it would not be possible to exchange them against members of the Axis Armistice Commissions as the two categories were entirely different and the members of those Commissions who have taken refuge in Spanish Morocco and have then proceeded [to] Ceuta and Melilla were now in Spanish territory and had not been interned.

When I pressed my Spanish colleague for more precise information as to their status, he was evasive and spoke of the fact that their status was not comparable with our aviators as the former were civilians and were in Spanish national territory.

I recalled the very explicit assurances Castillo had given me that the members of the Commissions whether civil or military would be interned in Ceuta or Melilla. I said that there could be no misunderstandings on this subject as I had already made an observation on the presence of two civilian members of the Italian Armistice Commission here whom Castillo had assured me would be immediately interned.

My Spanish colleague was extremely friendly and conciliatory and stated that this would be taken up at once with the High Commissioner by telephone. I emphasized to the Spanish Consul my belief that there should be no difficulty in the exchange of our aviators against at least military members of the Axis Commissions who [Page 519]might have sought refuge in Spanish Morocco. I pointed out that in fact I considered my Government might reasonably ask for an exchange of these aviators against members of the Axis Commissions whether civilian or military, inasmuch as such members were of military age.

The Spanish Consul stated he did not believe there were many military members of the Commissions but I contested this statement remarking that in the case of the German Commission, practically the entire personnel if not all were military. I ended the conversation on this subject by remarking I felt certain my Government would expect the Spanish to release a number of the American aviators now interned against an equivalent number of the German and Italian Commission members who might have sought refuge in Spanish Morocco and who might be allowed to pass into Spain or out of the control of the Spanish authorities.

Repeated to Madrid.