The Spanish Government and the Axis :
No. 11. Telegram From the German Ambassador in Madrid to the Foreign Office in Berlin
Previous Document Contents Next Document

MADRID, December 12, 1940.


In reply to telegraphic directive No. 2246 of December 11.

The protocol of General Vigón covering the conference of Admiral Canaris with the Generalissimo (December 7, 1940) reads in translation:

"Admiral was received 19:30 o'clock in presence of General Vigón. Admiral presents Chief of State Fuehrer's greeting and conveys Germany's wish to undertake attack upon Gibraltar within a short time in connection with which German troops are to march into Spain on January 10. Reports that the Fuehrer considers this moment the most favorable since the troops now available for operation are directly thereafter to be used for other undertakings and therefore could not be reserved for indefinite time. Admiral reports that as soon as march of troops began, economic cooperation of Germany would at once begin.

"To this Generalissimo explains to Admiral that it was impossible for Spain for reasons duly presented to enter into the war on the suggested date.

"1. English Fleet still possesses such freedom of operation that the success being expected in Gibraltar-which he considers certain and quick-would very soon be dimmed by loss of the possessions of Guinea and later on one of the Canary Islands. Further, pretexts would be given England and the United States for occupying the Azores, Madeira, and the Cape Verde Islands.

"2. Although tied up with difficulties because of restriction of foreign trade, military preparation of Spain has progressed. They are endeavoring to improve as much as possible defense of the islands and of coast, and are strengthening artillery of the Straits. Everything is however incomplete and unfinished; this is however not the actual reason which is preventing Spain from accepting the proposed date.

"3. Spain's provisioning is absolutely inadequate both with respect to the present scanty supplies, as well as with respect to their distribution. There are at the moment two problems:

a. the deficiency in foodstuffs, especially grain, which latter [deficiency] is estimated at one million tons.
b. the inadequacy of transports due to lack of railway materials and because of the compulsory restriction in the use of motor trucks. If one adds to it the discontinuance of the sea transports as results of the war, the situation of many provinces would become unbearable.

"4. Generalissimo and Government are endeavoring to remove these difficulties. They effected grain-purchases in South America and Canada; they are pushing the purchase of railway cars and are expediting provision of locomotives; they are effecting purchases of gas generators for motor trucks for the eventuality of a complete lack of gasoline. But incipient exhaustion of all supplies and restriction of foreign trade are preventing quick improvement.

"5. For these reasons Spain cannot enter into the war within a short time. She could also not wage a long war without imposing unbearable sacrifices upon the Spanish people. Aside from that, a long war would with certainty bring with it loss of a part of the Canary Islands, which could only be supplied for six months.

"6. In presenting all the difficulties which are preventing Spain from accepting the proposed date, Generalissimo wishes to stress that he is not only thinking of Spain's advantages but is also considering those of Germany, for, in his opinion, in a war of rather lengthy duration Spain's weakened condition would certainly represent disadvantage and burden for Germany.

"Admiral asked Generalissimo whether, under these conditions, which are preventing fixing the 10th of January as the date, it would be possible now already to set a different later date. Generalissimo replies that since removal of difficulties depends not only upon the will of Spain, he too could name no definite date, which might have to undergo change because of the circumstances. In any case, his attention and his effort would be directed toward hastening and completing Spain's preparations. This preparation was being continued with vigor, something which the Admiral himself would have the opportunity of confirming upon his next visit to the area of the Straits. Generalissimo also shows Admiral photographs of the mortar 240, which is to make up for the lack of heavy artillery and air arms, and with which tests are at the moment being made.

"Generalissimo considers it advisable that a German economist visit Spain in order to examine the then-existing condition and to pass on to his Government a first-hand impression. He agrees with the Admiral that preparatory studies and labors begun be continued jointly and in the same discreet form hitherto carried out.

"He then charges the Admiral with conveying to the Fuehrer his most cordial greetings and with reporting the conference [to him] at the same time expressing again his esteem to the Admiral and his delight at seeing him again in Spain.

"signed JUAN VIGÓN Divisional General"

End of the protocol


Previous Document Contents Next Document
World War II 20th Century Page
127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511.