WITH the end of the war in Spain comes the difficult task of restoring normal conditions in the recently conquered areas."
Thus wrote The Times special correspondent on 4th April, 1939.
Despite the rigid censorship of news and a ban upon most foreign journalists, evidence is available to show that persecution and reprisals are now in full force in Spain.
Nationalist "Justice" in Operation
On 13th February, 1939, a decree was issued by the Nationalist Government at Burgos, outlining the basis for the administration of law in the conquered areas. It outlaws all parties and social organisations which formed part of, or supported the Republican Government. It makes a "crime" of all actions committed after 18th July, 1936 (the outbreak of the revolt), either of concrete acts against the Nationalist Government or persons adopting a policy of "grave passivity." Political responsibility is to be exacted from any individual who has opposed the Nationalist Movement and supported the Republic, whether a prominent leader, a member of one of the political parties or a convener at the 1936 General Election.
Anyone who committed acts by speech, press, radio or other means against the Nationalist Movement committed a "crime." The only exceptions to be made were those under fourteen years of age or "totally disabled gentlemen."
On the third day of the occupation of Madrid, a decree was issued enforcing martial law. Under this, the death penalty was imposed, not only for shootings or looting, but "for anything affecting the normal life of the people." According to the Daily Telegraph correspondent, on the spot, this included: —
(a) Insult, provocation or aggression against any member of the armed forces.
(b) Spreading false or tendentious news or news subversive to the Nationalist cause.
(c) Clandestine printing.
(d) Disturbing food supplies.
(e) Any meeting of more than three persons without permission.
(f) All offences committed since the outbreak of the war must come under the military courts, whatever the nature.
In regard to the last point, it will be recalled that in reply to the British Government, Franco asserted that no military courts would be set up and that the: -
"Courts of Justice, applying the established laws promulgated before 16th July, 1936, would try, within the framework of those laws, all those accused of crimes."
(House of Commons, 28th February, 1939)
This has not been the case. Special military tribunals have been established throughout the whole of the occupied territory.
The same decree ordered all persons "having knowledge of crimes committed during the Republican regime" to inform the military authorities at once, whilst the "two oldest males in each house or block of flats, who did not belong to any party associated with the Popular Front" are instructed to denounce all persons guilty of crimes during the period of Republican rule.