FÉDÉRATION SYNDICALE INTERNATIONALE
INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS
9, AVENUE D'ORSAY, PARIS-VIIe
TELEGRAPHIC ADDRESS: INTERFED, PARIS TÉLÉPHONE : INVALIDES 4S-88
Sch/H/T F. I. de Sol.
22nd May, 1939.
To Affiliated National Centres,
To International Trade Secretariats.
We are compelled to appeal once again to you on the problem of Spanish relief. As you know, the International Solidarity Fund, after having given every possible aid for two-and-a-half years to the Spanish comrades fighting for the liberty and independence of the Republic (more than 100 million francs were thus collected and expended by the Trade Unions and the Labour Parties belonging to the International Solidarity Fund), was faced after the evacuation of Catalonia and the surrender of central Spain with quite a different kind of problem in the way of affording relief to the Spanish comrades.
What actually happened was that more than 400,000 refugees - soldiers, disabled men, women and children - flocked into France within a few weeks. Whatever may have been the grave defects in the organisation of the camps and homes where these refugees were given shelter, it cannot be denied that France, both the Government and the people, has in these circumstances given proof of a solidarity and humanity which no other country has up to now even tried to equal.
The immense financial burden which thus rests on the Government and the regional and municipal authorities of France amounts to more than five million French francs per day, which means that more than 500 millions has been spent over the past three months. In spite of this, hundreds of thousands of refugees are still in need of practically every necessity, and assistance for these Spanish comrades in distress is thus more necessary and more urgent than ever.
The most pressing task is to alleviate the sufferings of the great mass of refugees in the different camps and homes. They are in need of everything, but in particular of clothing, underclothing, footwear and soap. Then there are a certain number of leaders whose position in the Labour Movement and activities during the fight against Fascist aggression in Spain, means that their lives are particularly endangered, so that they must be specially protected. Finally there is the problem of organising the emigration of several thousands of Spanish refugees, who cannot at any cost return to Spain under the present circumstances, and who cannot all remain indefinitely in France.