The American Embassy in Spain to the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs 42

Note Verbale
No. 1050

The Embassy of the United States of America presents its compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Ministry’s Note Verbale No. 1007 regarding an alleged publication in the Semanario Gráfico of the Press Section of this Embassy. The aforesaid Note Verbale, although dated December 4, was received in this Embassy on December 10.

The Note Verbale states that the aforesaid publication in its number dated November 29, last, contained an article from the New York Herald Tribune of the 26th of the same month regarding “secret correspondence between Franco, Hitler and Mussolini found in Germany” and now in the Department of State. The Note Verbale goes on to say that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would have no objection to the publication in the Semanario of the aforesaid article if [Page 700]there were not involved an especially tendentious commentary and one offensive for the Chief of the Spanish State. It adds that since the Ministry cannot believe that among the purposes which the aforesaid publication may pursue there is that of attacking the Chief of the State to which the Embassy is accredited, the Ministry does not doubt that the Embassy will reiterate the necessary instructions to the aforesaid Press Section in order to avoid the repetition in the future of actions of serious discourtesy as are those which the Ministry has had to point out on two occasions.

The Embassy desires to state categorically that the Note Verbale in question is based upon a complete error as to facts and furthermore this Embassy regrets and rejects the tone which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has seen fit to employ in the aforesaid Note Verbale.

There was no issue of the Semanario Gráfico of this Embassy dated November 29. A copy is attached43 of the issue of November 28. It does not contain any quotation whatever from the New York Herald Tribune.

In the November 29 English language, “Department of State Radio Bulletin”, a copy of which is attached,43 there did appear an editorial comment from the New York Herald Tribune, the text of which was as follows:

New York Herald Tribune November 26th:—

“Unearthed in Germany, the secret correspondence between Franco, Hitler and Mussolini is now in the possession of the State Department in Washington. The news may well provide much food for thought to the Generalissimo in Madrid. The anomaly of Franco poses a difficult problem for the State Department as it studies the confidential correspondence. While it endeavors to make up its mind, the publication of that correspondence would be of assistance to the general public in making up its own mind.”

This “Bulletin” incorporates material which is sent daily by the Department of State to the diplomatic missions of this Government all over the world in order to keep the officials of this Government informed as to news developments and public opinion in the United States. The following note, which daily appears at the head of the “Bulletin” explains this plainly:

“This Bulletin is prepared by the Department of State for the use of the officials of the United States Government abroad. It has been compiled from press and other sources and is in no way an expression of official opinion.”

A feature of this “Bulletin” is the so-called editorial comment section, the purpose of which is explained as follows in the section itself:

“The following is an attempt to present an objective, factual and unbiased daily picture of the editorial opinion appearing in representative [Page 701]American newspapers. In an effort to indicate opinion in different parts of the country, the newspapers selected will be varied from time to time. No effort has been made to select editorials or to give either favorable or unfavorable emphasis.”

The above-quoted editorial from the New York Herald Tribune was one of thirteen editorial selections published in the issue of the “Bulletin” of that day. It is desired to repeat that these selections are made by the Department of State and are sent in identical form to all of the diplomatic missions of the United States abroad.

This “Bulletin” then is not a publication of the Press Section of this Embassy but rather of the Department of State in Washington for the benefit of the missions of the Government of the United States throughout the world. A sufficient number of copies is prepared in the English language only for distribution in Spain to official American personnel, to the diplomatic representatives accredited to Spain or certain foreign countries, to certain American and British citizens resident here, to certain foreign press correspondents and finally to certain officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to whom the Embassy is pleased as a courtesy to send copies. The latter category together with a small number of miscellaneous cases involves fourteen copies daily.

Since the Ministry of Foreign Affairs raises the issue of a previous occasion on which a Note Verb ale was forwarded by the Ministry with regard to the Semanario, this Embassy desires in closing to reiterate the serious concern with which it views the fact that official utterances by the President of the United States or by the Secretary of State or other high American officials regarding the relations between the United States and Spain are denied publication in the Spanish press because of official Spanish censorship. This situation is indeed inconsistent with that prevailing in the American press in regard to statements of Spanish officials, regardless of the circumstances or the nature of those statements, and is a serious obstacle to mutual understanding.

  1. Copy transmitted to the Department in despatch 1319, December 15, 1945; received January 2, 1946.
  2. Not attached to file copy of this note verbale.
  3. Not attached to file copy of this note verbale.