The Chargé in Spain ( Culbertson ) to the Secretary of State
687. For Hickerson or Reber. Father Molina Spanish with first US papers now at Catholic University favorably known to Embassy during war called on me week ago at which time we had off-the-shoulder exchange views. He knows Franco personally, has church approach to regime but seems honestly interested in solution Spanish question. He asked whether I had seen Franco. I said no, that I was merely a Chargé and had nothing to say to Franco although if Franco wanted to see me and I could speak freely a meeting would be O.K. by me. At San Sebastian1 on Thursday I learned from Embassy Madrid Franco wished to see me at 6:30 yesterday afternoon. I returned to Madrid yesterday by Embassy plane. Molina and I went to Pardo in Molina’s car. No one else was present at the meeting which lasted two hours. Molina interpreted. Franco was extremely friendly and the talk was carried on very informal basis.
Franco opened up with discussion complexities Spain and need for people know Spanish history both old and recent past in order understand present situation in Spain. He explained his position and that of [Page 1086] Spain in recent war step by step, frequently citing conversations with or remarks made to Ambassador Hayes. He laid considerable stress, as did Artajo on July 3, on promises they claim Churchill and Eden made in 1940 provided Spain remain neutral. These promises according to Franco involved territorial adjustments in North Africa at expense French. He said that Spanish Government has documents in connection with this matter but will not use them because to do so would complicate British-French relations. He said also that Germans had offered make French border readjustments, including Andorra but that Franco had refused this offer. He did not mention the Roosevelt letter of November 1942. His attitude and words were to effect that he could not understand why Spain was now being penalized by rest of world, particularly the US since Spain had retained real neutrality during war and had given allies benefits for which Spain now receives no credit. He discussed at very considerable length the problem of communism in Spain going back in his historical development as far as 1922. More particularly however he discussed a “revolution” in Asturias in 1934 at which time he was called back by the then government from the Canaries to put down this revolution. He touched only lightly on infiltration communism into Spain during civil war. He discussed problem Spaniards outside of Spain mentioning briefly the Monarchists but more particularly the other elements. He explained that these people were all free come back Spain and cited case of Lerroux2 and also mentioned fact that Hazana’s3 son had recently left the country but on leaving declared that he would and wanted return.
Franco went into considerable detail on economic and social program of regime stressing point that he is anxious develop educational system in Spain in order that there may be not only educational advancement but a resulting political and civic development of people.
While Franco did most talking I was able to get in a number points with regard our general position and I found that Franco took my remarks without any resentment even though he did avoid getting into a direct discussion on such things as lack of political liberties here in Spain.
I stressed several times during conversation that while I appreciated his feeling that rest of world must understand Spain’s position, Spain and her government must likewise understand reasons for policies toward Spain which have been adopted by US and other countries.
At the end of our conversation Franco indicated an interest in our [Page 1087] meeting again near future and in carrying on in informal way in which discussion went yesterday afternoon. On coming back town Molina mentioned another meeting and I told him that if Franco raised question with him again I would be quite happy continue talk but that initiative would have come from Franco himself.
The one impression I got from this meeting was that Franco is sincere and honest with himself. He is convinced that what is now being done in Spain is in the best interest of Spain and the Spanish people. He thinks that Spanish people are being lifted up both economically and socially and he will not lightly relinquish his position to anyone else unless he is convinced that whoever takes over will maintain stability and order and will continue what he considers to be present progressive evolution and education Spanish people.