852.48/1434: Telegram

The Ambassador in Spain ( Hayes ) to the Secretary of State

469. French refugee problem continues to grow despite Spanish Government’s decision in principle to release French nationals as number now crossing frontier far exceed number who can be released and evacuated with present facilities. We are working with Colonel Malaise on a program of large scale evacuation to North Africa and it is expected that over a thousand will leave during the coming week but influx of refugees from France continues at an estimated rate of from 150 to 500 daily with indications of further increases. Recently arrived refugees report that further large numbers are preparing to leave France prompted by German labor mobilization there and by reports of general release of French refugees in Spain and there are prospects of a drastic increase as the snows recede. Vast majority of refugees appear to be males of military age anxious to reach North Africa to fight and many are highly qualified military men.

Pending preparation of more detailed figures on expenditures for relief (which include cash and/or material assistance to over 1500 [Page 262] refugees) it is estimated that our funds as well as those available to Colonel Malaise for refugee relief will be exhausted before end of March and it is highly important that arrangements be made well in advance of that time which will make possible the continuance of this work on the present scale. As previously discussed I consider it very desirable that the primary responsibility for the care of French refugees in Spain be turned over at earliest possible date to the French North African regime and its representatives in Spain who could then continue the work with our assistance. Such an arrangement would, however, still leave with us responsibility for the care of lesser number of refugees of declared American nationality who are not yet eligible for release except in special categories.

Department’s 302, February 11, my 401, February 17, midnight.19

  1. Neither printed.