740.00119 Control (Germany)/5–2646

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chargé in Spain (Bonsal)62

Participants: Foreign Minister, Alberto Martín Artajo
British Ambassador, Sir Victor Mallet
American Chargé, Philip W. Bonsal

The Foreign Minister received us at 6:20 p.m., May 22, 1946.

Repatriation of Germans

The British Ambassador and I expressed as forcibly as possible our disappointment at the slow progress which has been made in the [Page 813] repatriation from Spain of the Germans whom we have named to the Spanish Government. While we recognize the good will which has been shown in this matter by various officials of the Foreign Office, we were constrained to take the position that their good will was by no means reflected by many of the Spanish officials upon whose efforts we must count if effective results are to be obtained. We referred specifically to the arrival of the vessel Marine Perch at Bilbao on June 6 and expressed the view that a failure to take advantage of the capacity of this vessel (over 900 persons) would produce a most unfortunate effect particularly taking into account the fact that since the departure of the Highland Monarch in early March the Spanish Government in spite of its expressions of good will has been able to produce only twelve candidates for repatriation.

The Foreign Minister said that he had on this same day had a conversation with the Minister of the Interior on this subject and that he had urged the necessity for making a good showing on the Marine Perch. He said, however, that the matter was one in which the Government did not have the support of Spanish public opinion which was unable to see why these Germans had to be removed, particularly those who had resided for many years in the country or who had rendered special services during the Spanish Civil War. Among such services he included the saving of lives of Franco’s supporters from the Reds. He said that the Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo had mentioned the matter to him.

We furnished the Foreign Minister with figures showing what a small proportion of the important officials and agents whom we named last November have been repatriated or even located. We also pointed out to him that the German Government had had over 2,000 Germans in its employ in Spain, counting officials and agents. The Minister’s attitude throughout was one of endeavoring to make a deal with us whereby we would agree to limit the number of persons in whom we are interested in exchange for greater Spanish cooperation in regard to these people.

The Minister said that he intended to try to catch and hand over to us almost all the Germans on our first two priority lists which he presumed to be the principal officials and agents. There might be one or two exceptions among those who had rendered special services during the Civil War and of course it might not be possible to find some of those Germans who were in hiding but he would do his best. He obviously wanted us to withdraw our claim for compulsory expulsion of those on the lower list but we gave him no hope whatever that we would agree to this.

The Minister made the suggestion that it might be desirable for the Marine Perch to stay several days, perhaps a week, in Bilbao. He [Page 814] said that he believed that large numbers of Germans were finally making up their minds to leave Spain and that if the opportunity for departure could be held open for them the number going might be increased. The British Ambassador referred to the cost of holding the vessel and to the fact that we had no authority over its movements.

The British Ambassador then left with the Foreign Minister an aide-mémoire regarding the case of Meyer Doehner, the German Naval Attaché who failed to show up on the occasion of our last air lift to Germany. The aide-mémoire deals with the Minister of Marine’s interference in the matter and his indication to Meyer Doehner that he not depart as he had given his word of honor to do. The Minister said he would look into the matter. I raised the question of DeGrelle and Lagrou.63 The Minister asked the British Ambassador whether he had received any reply from London regarding the possibility of trying these men by an international tribunal instead of turning them back to the Belgians. The Ambassador replied in the negative but expressed doubt as to whether such a solution would be feasible. The Minister stated that DeGrelle had given some indication of a desire to depart voluntarily from Spain.

  1. Transmitted to the Department in despatch 2202, May 24, from Madrid; received June 7, 1946.
  2. Léon DeGrelle and René Lagrou, two Belgians considered by the Belgian Government as traitors, had entered Spain as members of the German armed forces asking for asylum. The Belgian Government requested extradition of the two men.