Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs (Culbertson)

Participants: The Under Secretary of State, Mr. Acheson,
Dr. José Giral,21
Mr. Juan Meana,
Mr. Paul T. Culbertson, Chief, Division of Western European Affairs

Dr. Giral and Mr. Meana called on the Under Secretary yesterday at their own request. Mr. Meana acted as interpreter, since Dr. Giral does not speak English.

Dr. Giral led off by saying that he wished to express his appreciation of the courtesies which the United States had shown to himself and to the various representatives of his “government”. He went on to say that he was shortly leaving for France where he would have conferences [Page 1037] with other members of his “government”, at which time he would probably broaden the base of the existing government. While he did not state what was involved in the broadening of his government, it probably means the inclusion of the Communists. He indicated that he hoped that the meeting which the French had proposed last December might take place at an early date in order that some decision might be reached with regard to relations with Franco. Mr. Acheson replied by saying that he did not know that a meeting was necessarily involved, although we had told the French we were prepared to exchange views in the matter.

In response to Mr. Acheson’s statement that he would like to hear Dr. Giral’s plans for the future, Dr. Giral replied in a sort of general round the waterfront manner. There were, however, two outstanding points in his reply.

In the absence of a peaceful solution of the Spanish problem the Republicans were prepared to fight it out with Franco. In this connection he said that there were considerable arms cashiered [sic] out through Spain and that the fighting force would come from the guerrillas presently in Spain, the labor unions which he alleged were entirely behind his government, and the Spanish refugees in France, particularly those who had fought with the Maquis during the war.
Dr. Giral thought that as time went on and increased pressure came from outside as well as inside Spain, Franco would reach the conclusion that he had nothing to gain by staying on in power and would be prepared to hand over his government to another government. Giral felt that by that time the Mexico City group would have established themselves as a government near the Spanish border and that Franco’s withdrawal would bring about a popular move within Spain which would result in the placing of the Republican government in power in Madrid.

Dr. Giral in a sense rather brushed aside the army and stated that there were about 11 generals now in exile who could move right in and take over the army in the various parts of Spain.

Throughout the conversation there were numerous nebulous references to pressure such as the breaking of diplomatic and economic relations with Franco which would of necessity come from the outside. Mr. Acheson made no reference at any time as to what possible action this Government might take.

  1. Of the Spanish Republican Government in Exile.