190. Memorandum of a Conversation, General FRANCO’s Residence, Madrid, November 5, 19551



  • General FRANCO
  • Sr. Martin Artajo, Foreign Minister of Spain
  • Interpreter for General FRANCO
  • The Secretary of State
  • Ambassador Lodge
  • Mr. Merchant

Driving directly from the airport the Secretary, with the Ambassador and Mr. Merchant, was received at about 12:30 by General FRANCO at his residence. General FRANCO was attended by his Foreign Minister and an interpreter. General FRANCO greeted the Secretary warmly in his office and, seating his guests on chairs arranged in one corner of the room, he expressed his pleasure at receiving the American Secretary of State on what he understood to be the latter’s first visit to Spain.

The Secretary responded by expressing his pleasure at finding it possible to come to Madrid even for so short a period during the course of the Geneva Conference.2 He said that while it was true that this was his first visit to Spain since becoming Secretary of State he had visited it a number of times since boyhood including an extended stay with a Spanish family in Madrid for the purpose of studying the language.

The Secretary then said that he brought with him the cordial greetings of the President of the United States and he recalled the pleasure that the President had had in entertaining General FRANCO’s daughter in Washington.

The General responded with animation and obvious appreciation.

The Secretary then said that he thought the General might be interested in his reporting a little by-play with Molotov when he had seen him the previous evening. The Secretary had informed Molotov that he was to see General FRANCO the next day and inquired if Mr. Molotov had a message for him to carry. Mr. Molotov had replied that he had no message but would be interested in whatever message the [Page 548] Secretary might bring back with him from Madrid. He had then added something to the effect that it was extraordinary that General FRANCO had stayed on in power so long.

General FRANCO laughed heartily and then asked the Secretary to tell Mr. Molotov that he felt a great friendship for the Russian people but none whatsoever for Communism.

The Secretary then referred briefly to the conference at Geneva and made the point that Mr. Macmillan and M. Pinay were stout partners. He said he felt that there was better coordination and team work between the three Western delegations than at any previous conference which he had attended. He went on to pay tribute to M. Pinay’s character. He was a man of little subtlety but of complete honesty and personal integrity. He was moreover a real figure in French politics, being the leader of the Right of Center group. He had broad public appeal and whatever the fate of the present Cabinet, the Secretary felt sure he would remain a political power in France. He expressed the hope that General FRANCO would find it possible to work with him in the sense of supporting his policies wherever this was possible.

General FRANCO indicated appreciation of the Secretary’s estimate of Pinay. He said that for two years the French have been following a disastrous 19th century policy in Morocco. In some ways it seems that the French are unable to adapt themselves to the modern world. Now however French policy in Morocco had evolved satisfactorily. He recognized that Pinay had had a personal part in this development.

The Secretary went on to say that the Soviets had opened a new theater in the Middle East and that it was obviously the result of long preparation. General FRANCO nodded vigorous agreement. The Secretary said that it was on the oil of the Middle East that the British foreign exchange position, the entire economy of Western Europe and the mobility of the NATO forces all depended. He was deeply disturbed by developments and in particular by the Czech sale of arms to Egypt. The situation between Israel and its Arab neighbors was explosive. We did not despair, however, and we did not see any need yet for adopting an anti-Arab policy. We were watching the situation closely and he had talked several times to Mr. Molotov concerning it. If the first threat of the new Soviet initiative in the Middle East was directed against the oil in the area, the second was directed along the North African shore and indeed against the entire continent of Africa.

General FRANCO agreed that it was an extremely disturbing development. In Morocco, he said, the Communists had not created the situation which existed but they were capitalizing on it. French slowness in correctly diagnosing the situation now had them in deep trouble. A similar political failure had cost them Indochina. Twenty years ago the international Communists had sought to obtain control [Page 549] of Spain not only because of its geographical position with respect to the Arab world but also because of the influence that could thereby be exerted on Latin America. This attempt had decisively failed but their activity in the Middle East and Africa was designed to serve their long-term and unchanged objectives. He reiterated that the French were now following an enlightened policy in Morocco but commented that if Morocco obtained its independence the Berbers in the mountains would come under Communist control and the urban areas would be in the hands of the “luckiest warriors.” Spain, he said, understood the Arabs better than the French. (In passing down the line of Moorish guards in FRANCO’s residence on the way to the interview, Santa Cruz said to Merchant, “These Moors who are General FRANCO’s personal bodyguard are the same Moors that the French are fighting in Morocco.”)

The Secretary then said that he would like to discuss United States policy with respect to Tito, not necessarily expecting the General to agree with him but in the interest of promoting a better understanding of our purposes. The Secretary said in effect that Tito was the first to lead a satellite out of the monolithic Soviet empire. This had been a most significant development. Since his defection we had given him substantial aid both military and economic. We did this not only to enable him to defend and support his newly achieved national independence but equally for the purpose of showing by example to other satellites that if they escaped from the control of the Kremlin they could expect benefits from the West.3

The Secretary then described at some length the situation as he estimated it within the Soviet Union. The Soviets were making vast expenditures for armaments and for capital goods with a productive base only a third that of the United States. They were not in a crisis or necessarily facing one in the foreseeable future. There seemed, however, little doubt that there were internal strains which made it convenient for them to seek a relaxation of external tensions and some general reduction in armaments.

General FRANCO interjected that they also had internal political problems since the death of Stalin and the Secretary agreed.

The Secretary said that he felt it essential that the West should not let down its guard and that, by maintaining its strength and holding to its policies which rested on principle, continue to keep the Soviets under pressure.

General FRANCO agreed. He said that one of the great problems of Europe and causes of world tension was the hold of the Soviets on the European satellites. This was unnatural and unjust. All of those countries had had long histories of national independence.

[Page 550]

General FRANCO said that he felt one consequence of the Summit Conference was sharply to lower the hopes for ultimate liberation in the satellites.

The Secretary interjected that we were well aware of this fact and had accepted this disadvantage in proposing the conference of Heads of Government. It had been necessary for other reasons. One of the difficulties in the West, he said jocularly, was that we have elections too frequently. The election campaign in Britain was one of the most important factors leading to the Summit Conference. In this general connection, however, the Secretary said that we must not overlook the forces which were invisible to us but which he was satisfied had been set in motion behind the Iron Curtain as a consequence of the various actions taken by the Soviets in order to produce a general relaxation of tensions. We could readily see our own weaknesses but comparable weaknesses could not be as easily detected in the Soviet empire. The Secretary said that we were trying to keep the situation in perspective and said that General FRANCO was no doubt familiar with the President’s Philadelphia speech4 which was his last major public utterance before his illness. General FRANCO said he was familiar with it and indicated that he thought it had been extremely helpful.

General FRANCO went on to say that we must all do whatever was possible to keep alive the hope for freedom and the spirit of resistance in the captive peoples. If for no other reason this would force on the Soviets the realization that if they went to war substantial forces would be required to maintain the security of their lines of communications and to keep the local populations under control. He said he had no doubt that messages were going to Moscow from all the Soviet commanders in the satellites to the effect that in case of war their forces would be occupied in preventing trouble.

The Secretary agreed and then went on to say that the tactics of the Russians at the current Geneva conference impressed him as always with their skill in long-term planning.

He was convinced that there was a master group of anonymous planners deep in the Kremlin who planned Soviet political strategy on a long-term basis and who provided a continuity of policy which survived the passage of the leaders and Soviet spokesmen. Long-term policy of this character was difficult in the West and in America where the tendency was to expect quick results from month to month and rarely to look beyond the next biennial election. General FRANCO agreed.

[Page 551]

The Secretary said, however, that he was not discouraged; that as against the mechanistic, chess playing type of calculation that the Soviet Communists indulged in, there was a quality in freedom which in the long run always enabled it to survive as against atheistic materialism. It was sometimes hard to understand just why it happened, but perhaps God had intended it to be that way.

General FRANCO then inquired of the Secretary what the position was in the United Nations. He recalled that on our urging Spain had submitted its application for membership.

The Secretary said that the situation was still unclear and that we did not know surely what the position would be. A so-called package deal which would involve the admission of a number of Soviet-sponsored candidates would be difficult for us to accept. The repercussions within the satellites, because of the prestige and recognition which admission to the United Nations would connote, would nourish the very trends which General FRANCO feared were encouraged by the Summit Conference. The General’s reply was that the presence in the UN of such vigorous anti-Communist Christian countries as Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland would more than offset the damage which would result from the admission of the satellites.

General FRANCO made it quite clear that Spain was deeply interested in admission to the United Nations and that a rebuff in the form of a rejection of its application would be extremely serious. He then dropped almost casually the remark that since the Chinese Communists now had firm control of the mainland of China and the chances of Chiang Kai-shek returning had so greatly diminished, the Chinese Communists should be admitted to the United Nations. It was not reasonable to refuse to recognize the facts, he said, particularly when so large a country was concerned.

The Secretary pleasantly but with a detectable bite in his voice said that he sincerely trusted that if Spain were admitted to the United Nations, its first act would not be to vote for the admission of Communist China. General FRANCO said there was no such intention.

The Secretary then turned to the subject of Spanish-American relations. He said he was happy that they were steadily improving and that the United States was particularly appreciative of the extraordinary degree of cooperation which the Spanish government had afforded us in connection with our military base program. He said that he realized that a program of this magnitude and character brought in its train many difficulties. On the economic side there were the inflationary aspects of the expenditures for construction; on the human side there were the always difficult problems of the relations of soldiers to civilians. General FRANCO responded that it was natural that they should cooperate with us for we were working for common aims. As for our military personnel who had come to Spain in connection [Page 552] with the program, “All the people love them.” General FRANCO then raised the question of economic aid and briefly cited its importance to Spain. He referred particularly to the need to improve all sorts of communications as a direct consequence of the military program.

The Secretary replied that we fully understood the problems which the construction program had produced. It was our hope to continue a modest but nevertheless substantial economic aid program for Spain. In this connection it might well be possible to continue what we have been doing with surplus commodity products under PL 480.

General FRANCO expressed his appreciation for the Secretary’s sympathetic interest in this matter and indicated his familiarity with PL 480. The aid given under that legislation had been extremely helpful.

[1 paragraph (6 lines of source text) not declassified]

[7½ lines of source text not declassified] The Secretary [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] expressed once more his gratification at the fact that relations between Spain and the United States were steadily growing more cordial and more close.

The Secretary then turned to the Foreign Minister and said that he feared they would be overdue at the luncheon which the Foreign Minister was giving. He rose to go and General FRANCO escorted him to the door with cordial expressions of appreciation for the opportunity of talking at length with the Secretary.

The interview ended at about 2:20 p.m.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 62 D 627, CF 572. Secret. Drafted by Merchant. On October 25, the Spanish Ambassador had raised the possibility of Secretary Dulles visiting Madrid while he was at Geneva for the Conference of Foreign Ministers. On November 1, Dulles took advantage of a break in the conference to pay a 6½-hour visit to Spain.
  2. For documentation on the Conference of Foreign Ministers at Geneva, October 26–November 16, see vol. V, pp. 537 ff.
  3. For another record of the discussion of Yugoslavia, see the editorial note, infra.
  4. For text of President Eisenhower’s address to the annual convention of the American Bar Association at Philadelphia, August 24, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1955, pp. 802–809.