The Chargé at Tangier (Childs) to the Secretary of State
[Received December 23—5:15 p.m.]
880. Potous, the new civil interventor in Tangier, ex-Spanish consular officer who served many years ago in New Orleans, Jacksonville and Philadelphia, lunched with me today.
He said when he had been offered the position he had remonstrated with General Orgaz stating that he had no sympathies whatever with the Falange and that he was a monarchist. Potous added Orgaz had replied “I am a monarchist also”, and had assured him his political attitude did not in any way stand in the way of his appointment.[Page 527]
Potous then went on to say that Jordana’s statement in Lisbon regarding Spain’s neutrality had been extremely welcome by Spaniards. He remarked that Spain desired above all things to keep out of the war, that 90 per cent of the Spanish people were against the Falange and that sympathy for the Allies was very widespread.
I asked Potous what Spain’s attitude would be in the event of a German attack. He answered that Spain and the Army would defend itself vigorously. He said “We are determined to defend ourselves from attack from whatever quarter it comes. We shall fight you if you attempt to invade us and our resistance to the Axis will not be halfhearted”.
In the course of the conversation he said significantly “If the Axis attacks us we shall count on aid from you and Great Britain”. Potous assured me that both Orgaz and Uriarte98 are very friendly disposed to us and that they are both most anxious to maintain Spain’s neutrality. He emphasized specifically that Uriarte and Orgaz inferentially were more friendly disposed to us than to the Axis.
I asked him if German pressure had not been very strong recently on Spain and he said that Germany was doing everything possible to stir up the Falange against us but he did not believe it would succeed. The above are the frankest and most explicit statements made to me by a Spanish official since I have been in Tangier. I believe Potous is very friendly disposed to us and that he could be a most useful intermediary in case of necessity. See my immediately following telegram.98a
True reading to Madrid, Algiers and Casablanca.