No. 34 NAI DFA 219/2

Confidential report from Leopold H. Kerney to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

San Sebastian, 22 September 1939

Spanish Neutrality

With reference to your minute 219/2 of 14th inst.,1 the text of the neutrality decree published in the 'Voz de España' of 5th September,2 and of which I forwarded you a copy on that date, was a faithful reproduction of the decree as published in the 'Boletin Oficial' of 5th September, and of which I sent you a copy on 16th September.3

It is a somewhat remarkable fact that no special measures of a legislative or military nature have so far been taken in Spain in connection with the war in Europe; I am alive to the importance of advising you promptly of any development which may be observed in either sphere.

Progress is being made with the building of machine-gun blockhouses on the main road between here and the frontier, and in some places what appear to be communication tunnels have been bored through rocks; the machine-gun nests are plainly visible on the roadside, but they are now being camouflaged; they are of course for defensive purposes only and work was begun on them as far back as July.

There are no special troop movements and no evidence so far of any intention to mobilise in defence of Spanish neutrality.

The official military censorship which exists in Spain has nothing to do with the European war; it came into being during the civil war and its continued existence merely tends to prove that its suppression would be a risky experiment for the present regime. The official postal and telegraphic correspondence of diplomatic missions is respected as a rule, although mistakes occur and envelopes are sometimes opened; all letters pass through the hands of the military censor who puts his stamp on all envelopes, even when not opened. Letters addressed in my name, without indication of my representative position, have been opened by the censor; in such cases I have never protested, because the censor could not be expected to know the head of each mission by name; when properly and fully addressed, my correspondence reaches me unopened, so far as I am aware.

The fact that telegrams in code are sent by you to me and by me to you shows that there is no telegraphic censorship for diplomatic missions.

Telephonic conversations are habitually tapped, but this again concerns the internal rather than the external situation.

[signed] L.H. Kerney

1 See No. 20.

2 See No. 7.

3 Not printed.

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