811.20 Defense (M) Spain/1221: Telegram

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

13. My 3637, December 10, 11 p.m.2 I reminded Jordana3 yesterday that no reply had been received to my memorandum proposing a wolfram embargo.4 He said matter was very complicated with a number of different Government departments involved. Without undertaking to cover the whole matter he wished to call my attention to two aspects, one economic and the other political.

Many private interests involved in wolfram production were exerting utmost influence. Public Treasury likewise involved and Minister of Finance alarmed at prospect. Ministry of Industry Commerce vitally concerned. Germany was now getting only one-third wolfram production and our proposal would involve stopping practically entire production in order to deprive Germany of that one-third.

On political side he said Washington forgets that for considerable months past Spain has been actively and effectively cooperating with Allies. There had been a steady change in our direction. He referred then to declaration of neutrality, evacuation of French refugees, non-recognition of Mussolini regime and improvement in press. He said all these and other things had been accomplished in face of German protests and despite presence of large German forces still on Spain’s northern border. Spain has continued to give favors to us without obtaining adequate compensation. It was too much of a one-way traffic with Spain giving all and receiving little or nothing. He said Washington forgets also that Spain is playing an important role as an impregnable barrier between Germans in Pyrenees and Gibraltar and North Africa.

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Our extended lines of communication could have broken and could still be broken if Spain really moved with Germany. Instead Spain has maintained neutrality and is determined to resist any German aggression. Yet we keep asking for more and more. There is too much pressure from the United States. There is always a limit. Spain has to hold some trumps in her own hand. If Spain is going to preserve real neutrality and stay out of the war, it has to consider both sides. An embargo on wolfram would mean a break with Germany because Germany would not tolerate it.

I reminded the Minister that our wolfram proposal was aimed at saving Spanish economy from the extremely grave crisis which would overtake it when we should suddenly cease our wolfram purchases. Wolfram trade was extraordinarily abnormal and not a proper base for really healthy Spanish economy. I called his attention again to points in my memorandum which I was prepared to discuss with him.

On political side I recognized fully, and I knew my Government recognized, certain things that Spain had done. However, all these things were in Spain’s interest. They were not favors to the United Nations. Nor could I let pass his statement that these things had been done without compensating favors. Despite the fact that all our resources, and, in close cooperation with other American countries, all resources of America were being applied to our war effort, we and other American Republics had made real sacrifices in making petroleum available to Spain. The improvement in Spanish economy would have been impossible without this petroleum. I said further that it was only because of our military victories that Spain had been enabled to recover its independence. Otherwise Spain would be nothing more than a German province. Under the circumstances Spain was profiting greatly from United Nation’s war effort both politically and economically and it was about time it did something positive to show its gratitude. The one-way traffic he had referred to was moving in the opposite direction from that he implied.

The Minister said that when reports from other agencies received he would frame a counter-proposal and submit it to me.

  1. Ibid., p. 664.
  2. Gen. Francisco Gómez Jordana, Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  3. Apparently reference is to a memorandum presented to Jordana on November 18, 1943; see telegram 3398, November 18, 1943, from Madrid, Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. ii, p. 656.