865.30/73: Telegram

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

17. My 13, January 4 noon and 14, January 4, 1 p.m.5 As reported in my 15, January 4, 2 p.m.6 Jordana was greatly troubled during [Page 299] my conversation with him yesterday. He gave me the impression of arguing without conviction. With specific reference to Italian warships his statement that there was no clear legal basis for release does not correspond to a report received by me that Foreign Office experts have recommended in favor of release of warships, nor to statement by high Foreign Office official weeks ago that Jordana wanted to release the warships one at a time.

Beaulac7 discussed with Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs8 last Friday9 most subjects I discussed with Jordana yesterday and Under Secretary made careful notes to furnish Jordana in as much as Jordana was going to see Franco10 that afternoon. It was clear that Jordana was going to discuss these matters with Franco and this probably explains why Jordana postponed my interview with him scheduled first for last Thursday.

It seems evident to me, therefore, that Jordana yesterday was reflecting Franco’s attitude rather than his own. I relate this in turn to reports reaching me recently that Franco is impressed by German resistance in Italy and by German recovery of Dodecanese Islands, that he still believes war will be a long one and that he has predicted it will end in 1946 through negotiated peace. I believe he is continuing to try to steer a middle course without unduly antagonizing either side.

So long as our economic supplies to Spain particularly of petroleum are furnished as nearly automatically as at present I fear that he will continue to believe that he can maintain his present attitude without penalty from us.

As a concrete means of making the Spanish Government more immediately conscious of its economic dependence on us and of thereby influencing its attitude toward important matters now under discussion or which may arise in the future I make the following recommendation:

That I be instructed to inform Spanish Petroleum Commissar through Mr. Walter Smith11 that for reasons directly connected with our war effort February loadings of Spanish tankers have to be suspended.

Count Jordana will undoubtedly ask my assistance in arranging for loadings and I shall inform him courteously that while I shall do what I can the Spanish Government by failing to comply with pending reasonable requests has placed me in a very difficult position so far as [Page 300] influencing my Government was concerned. I shall urge him of course to comply with those requests.

I recommend also that we give consideration to suspending later loadings if first suspensions do not produce desired results.

I consider it essential that during the period to come I maintain the most cordial personal relations with Spanish officials and that Department maintain cordial personal relations with Cárdenas.12

I have given this matter earnest thought over a long period of time and I can think of the following possible risks: (1) that the dates of loadings to be suspended might in fact coincide with some impending military operation which we would not care to reveal; (2) that the Spaniards in retaliation might give Germans increased facilities for purchasing strategic materials; (3) that Spaniards might retaliate in a military way or give special military facilities to the Germans or withdraw certain military facilities now being given to us such as prompt release of our aviators; (4) that Spaniards will withhold from the British supplies of interest to the latter.

While risk 1 will have to be estimated by our military authorities my considered opinion is that risk 3 can be largely discounted.

I believe on the other hand that the setup proposed is needed in order to impress the Council of Ministers and Franco with Spain’s direct economic dependence on us and with the direct relationship between that dependence and our military effort.

I repeat that during the period to come we should maintain the most cordial relations with the Spaniards both here and in Washington.

I have not communicated this concrete proposal to British Ambassador.13 However, it will be seen from my 3822, December 29,14 that the British Ambassador believes that economic pressure if applied at all should be delayed in order that it may coincide with military operations to the north. I disagree in this. I believe that such pressure in order to be of greatest possible utility to us in our war effort should precede our actual invasion of Western Europe especially since the direct effects which we may bring about will not be felt for some time.

I have in mind the other possibility that our initial military effort against the Continent may not proceed as rapidly as we might wish. If our use of economic pressure coincided with instead of preceded any unexpected obstacle in the carrying out of our military plans the risks to us would be greater than they are now when by reason largely of the much greater freedom with which the Spanish press [Page 301] is publishing news of Allied war activities the Spanish Government and public although perhaps not General Franco are today impressed with the vastness of our military preparations and probability that they will eventually bring us victory.

This very impression which the Spanish Government and public have will make it appear entirely natural for us to have to suspend certain loadings of Spanish tankers and it is for this reason especially that we not delay longer in carrying this plan into effect.

I request that prompt and serious consideration be given to this definite recommendation of mine and that I be informed of our Government’s decision.

  1. Latter not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Willard L. Beaulac, Counselor of Embassy in Spain.
  4. Jose Pan de Soraluce.
  5. December 31, 1943.
  6. Generalissimo Francisco Franco, Spanish Chief of State.
  7. Petroleum Attaché at the Embassy in Spain.
  8. Juan Francisco de Cárdenas, Spanish Ambassador.
  9. Sir Samuel Hoare.
  10. Not printed.