The Ambassador in Argentina (Armour) to the Secretary of State
[Received 9:02 p.m.]
205. I saw Gilbert this afternoon and told him that in view of Government’s decision to break relations with Axis not later than noon January 29, my Government had decided to defer certain action planned for today and confine itself to a statement purport of which would be nonrecognition of Bolivian Junta. He seemed greatly relieved. At the same time I warned him that a mere break in relations if not accompanied by stern action against Argentine nationalists and others who have been collaborating with Axis and carrying on subversive activities14 aimed at governments of neighboring countries would not be sufficient.
Gilbert insisted that the Government intended to proceed vigorously against all these elements. That not only would prompt action be taken against those implicated in the Hellmuth case but he expected to have “our” six Axis spies sentenced within the next 2 weeks.
Gilbert said he hoped we would have the news of their decision to break with Germany and Japan (he now includes Japan) kept strictly confidential as his Government wished the announcement to “fall like a bombshell”. I said he must understand that the other American Governments had been advised in a general way of the course our Government had proposed to follow and would undoubtedly be surprised [Page 234] at the last minute change. For this reason I urged him to advance the date. He said they might act as early as next Wednesday. He intended to call in the Prensa and Nación and enlist their cooperation in preparing public apparently through articles playing up the Axis spy ring, et cetera. Gilbert said that their investigations had now proved that we were right and they were wrong in our insistence that Nazi espionage was going on here and they intended “chivalrously” to admit this in presentation of the case. I repeated that serious as this phase of the matter was the plotting by their own nationalists was equally serious and must be stopped if they hoped to convince us of their intention seriously to cooperate in hemispheric defense. He said he was willing to be judged by their action in the immediate future.
The British Ambassador15 saw Gilbert at 2 o’clock today. Kelly reports that Gilbert gave him identical assurances as those given me this morning, the only difference being that he added Japan which Gilbert confirmed to me in my talk this afternoon.