851.00/5–245: Telegram

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

918. Shortly after 1 p.m. the Consulate General in Barcelona received information from one of its informants at the Barcelona airport that a German Junker–88 plane containing five men and one woman had just landed there. It was ascertained that Laval51 and Abel Bonnard52 were among the passengers and that it seemed quite possible that Marcel Déat53 was also a passenger. The Consulate General immediately got in touch with both the Civil Governor and the Embassy. In turn, I have had several talks with the Foreign Minister54 on the telephone and have just returned from seeing him at the Foreign Office. He confirmed to me that Laval and Bonnard were on board the plane but did not have the names of the other passengers. He said that when informed of this, General Franco55 had agreed that the plane must leave Spanish territory at once with all on board except the woman.56 Having in mind the position set forth in the Department’s telegram 2701, October 3 [4], 5 p.m.,57 I told the Minister I felt this solution would be satisfactory to us. However, I suggested to the Minister that a Spanish plane accompany them to make sure that the plane left Spanish territory and not return to metropolitan Spain or to the islands. In my presence he telephoned this request to the Air Minister.58 The Air Minister apparently asked Lequeriea what they should do if Laval and the others refused to board the plane or the pilot to take off. Lequeriea replied that under Franco’s orders he should tell them that if they refused to leave they would be “held here at the disposition of the Allied Governments”.

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Shortly after the arrival of this plane I notified the French delegate59 and the British Chargé d’Affaires.60

Repeated to Lisbon as 86, Tangier as 41 and Paris as 178.

  1. Pierre Laval, formerly French Chief of Government at Vichy.
  2. Formerly French Minister of National Education at Vichy.
  3. Formerly editor of newspaper L’Oeuvre in Vichy.
  4. José Felix Lequeriea.
  5. Generalissimo Francisco Franco, Spanish Head of State.
  6. Madame Laval.
  7. Not printed. The position set forth by the Department was that Spain had the prerogative to expel at once any political refugee from another country (740.00116 E.W./9–2944).
  8. Gen. Vigón Suerodíaz.
  9. Jacques Truelle.
  10. Reginald J. Bowker.