811.20 Defense (M) Portugal/1430: Telegram

The Minister in Portugal (Norweb) to the Secretary of State

496. I understand that in the course of his conversation yesterday with the Secretary General of the Foreign Office the British Ambassador dealt with the four possible considerations which have no doubt caused Dr. Salazar to delay in giving a reply on the question of wolfram. These were the hope of obtaining commercial advantages from Germany, the fear of German reprisals, sensitivity on the point of Portuguese sovereignty and the desire to maintain Portuguese neutrality. Having set up these four points Campbell proceeded to “knock them over.” Germany’s impending defeat would wipe out any hope of deriving economic benefits from continued association with her. Germans’ growing weakness had reduced the danger of German reprisals practically to the vanishing point. There was no intention of impinging on Portuguese sovereignty. The Anglo-Portuguese alliance fully covered Portugal so far as the maintenance of neutrality was concerned.

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Sampayo’s reactions were along the following lines: Salazar was deeply worried over the juridical aspect of the wolfram situation; had he any right to cut off from the Germans the wolfram produced by their own miners. Salazar still found it difficult to believe that denying wolfram to the enemy would really shorten the war. He was also watching closely the wolfram issue in Spain and was very anxious not to do anything at all so long as it might look like giving way under pressure. In conclusion Sampayo said that we must not think nothing was happening. In fact a great deal was happening and Salazar was resisting German pressure both as regards the conclusion of a new wolfram agreement and as regards German complaints that they had only received something like two-thirds of the wolfram promised them during the year now ending.