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

626. Although a report from a neutral diplomatic official just returned from France indicates that Germany has greatly strengthened her border patrols in an effort to keep Frenchmen from entering Spain clandestinely they continue to enter at rate of several hundred per day.

Portuguese Ambassador told me this morning upon his return from Lisbon that Salazar27 is entirely agreeable to Jordana’s suggestion that French refugees be allowed to proceed through Portugal in transit to North Africa. He said Portugal has always followed a policy of letting refugees through and if the Germans complained they would be told that. Spain hitherto had not followed such a policy and he regarded Jordana’s evident willingness to allow Frenchmen to depart as a very helpful sign of Spain’s changing attitude which Portugal wanted to support.

He said Salazar would like refugees to pass through Portugal without stopping any longer than absolutely necessary. It made no difference through what port they departed but he suggested Lagos would be most convenient because of shorter distance and adequate rail communication. The Ambassador has been authorized to grant group visas and would like arrangements for transit to be made in Madrid at least for the present because he would like to keep in close touch himself and keep the matter out of Lisbon for the time being.

He recommends greatest haste in arrangements. It is immaterial whether British or French ships call for refugees. He would prefer that refugees leave in lots of 200 to 300 although I doubt he would object to 1400 leaving at once if reasons for this were made clear to him. He has pointed out limited hotel facilities at Lagos and I assume he does not [expect] it to be too ostentatious.

I later discussed matter with British Ambassador who said he would urge London promptly to facilitate use of French ships for this purpose. If two French ships scheduled to call at Cadiz are still in Gibraltar, I recommend they proceed promptly to Lagos or Lisbon when Malaise requests them. If they have departed I request other arrangements be made promptly upon Malaise’s request. My 546, March 8, 6 p.m.

Repeated to Algiers for Murphy and Lisbon; copy by mail to Tangier.

  1. Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, Portuguese Prime Minister.