The War in Spain : a weekly summary. No.1
|Previous||1 of 4||Next|
small (250x250 max)
medium (500x500 max)
large ( > 500x500)
Loading content ...
THE WAR IN SPAIN A WEEKLY SUMMARY EDITED BY CHARLES DUFF. UNITED EDITORIAL LTD. No. 1 LONDON, 22nd JANUARY, 1938 PRICE 1d. WHY THE WAR CONTINUES WITH the New Year, the war in Spain entered upon a new phase. The Government victory at Teruel (to which we shall refer later) convinced observers acquainted with the struggle that a turning point had been reached. The first phase of the war was an onslaught by the Army, using Moors and desperadoes of the Foreign Legion as shock-troops against the people of Spain and their elected Government. That Government and people resisted, and a hastily organised and ill-equipped militia put up such a fight that the rebel leaders had to appeal for help to foreign countries. Then followed a phase which can only be described as the invasion of Spain by Italian armies, thousands of German technicians, with masses of German and Italian war material, aeroplanes, etc. What had been planned by the reactionaries as a quick, overwhelming movement, developed into a war in which the Government forces fought for each foot of soil against great odds—retreating here, holding on there, mostly retreating but, as on the Guadalajara front, at Brunete and a few other places, occasionally inflicting forceful indications that their military capacity was improving. Out of the improvised militia of the early days a fine modern army was growing. It remained for this army to demonstrate that it could take an offensive on a fairly wide scale, pursue the offensive to a point of undoubted success, and consolidate the gains. That happened at Teruel. The next step will consist in a further series of Government offensives—the next phase of the war. Most readers of the daily press realise that the civil war in Spain is a full-dress modern war on a great scale, in which there are features—the annihilation of civilian populations by aerial bombing, for example—which provide a foretaste of what we may expect if a European war should come upon us one of these days. Few understand the underlying causes of the events in Spain, and it may be useful to sketch them briefly. When Municipal Elections of April, 1931, resulted in the abdication of Alfonso XIII, a democratic Republic was constituted. The task of that first Republican Government was formidable. It had to solve the worst land problem existing in Europe, possibly in the world. Here are the sinister statistics of that problem :— 1% of the population owned 51.5% of the total land. 14% " " " 35.2% " " 20% " " " 11.1% " " 25% " " " 2.2% " " 40% of the population owned nil! On the one side there was a small group of rich and mostly absentee landowners; on the other, an impoverished and desperate peasantry living in conditions that shocked the feelings of all but their masters. The second great task of the Republic was to solve the Church problem, which was interlocked with the first. The Roman Catholic Church in Spain was more powerful than any other institution. It consisted of 106,734 members of the clergy and religious orders; there was one priest for every 900 Spaniards. It dominated education, the key to the minds of the people; even in 1930, about 45 per cent. of the people could not read or write. It was also owner and controller of great wealth. Don Valentin Ruiz Senen, for example, representing the Society of Jesus, was President of nine vast undertakings such as the Madrid tramways; Vice-President of six; and a director of 28 others. He drew a million-and-a-half pesetas per annum personal income from those sources ! In the last Budget under the Monarchy, from the taxpayers' money, there was allocated a sum of approximately sixty million pesetas to help maintain the State Church. So vast a sum (equivalent to nearly two-and-a-quarter million pounds sterling) from a public fund at a time when health, education and other social services were neglected and while peasants starved !—is it necessary to say that anti-clericalism grew apace ? Note: anti-clericalism, and not anti-religious feeling. The third problem was the Army, always the weapon used by Landowners and Clericals to maintain their hold on the wealth of the country. It was an Army with three curious characteristics: (1) it was organised for use in Spain, and not in foreign wars; (2) the officer caste was carefully selected, mostly from the sons of the wealth-owners, and its numbers were out of all proportion to the number of men—one officer for half-a-dozen or so men; and (3) three-fifths of the total Budget allowance for the Army went on salaries for officers. The three forces outlined above, the Landowners, the Church and the Army, formed an alliance against the young Republic of 1931, worked against it with all their ability, and returned to power in 1934 from which moment they reversed every progressive attempt of the Republican Governments. Then came the February elections of 1936, when the united progressive elements, calling themselves "Popular Front," won a general election with 277 seats in Parliament against 164 of the Right and Centre, and about 20 Independents, etc. From that moment the reactionaries began to work for the overthrow of the Government by force. They spread a story to the effect that Communists were about to turn Spain into a Soviet Republic (there were 15 Communist Deputies out of the 453 in Parliament and not one in the Government). They said that the Popular Front deputies were red revolutionaries, whereas they were:— Lawyers .. 130 Writers .. .. 23 Professors .. 34 Engineers .. .. 20 Doctors .. 31 Other Professions .. 3 Representatives of workers and peasants, etc. .. 36 A less extreme collection of men could hardly be imagined: but they were aware of the fundamental problems of Spain, and pledged themselves to a progressive, peaceful programme. The actual ministry continued to be democratic republican, without even one Socialist. Never mind ! They must be smashed, and the Land and Wealth and Power of Spain must be assured once and for all time to the few. That was the cause of the military rebellion of July 17th, 1936. Antonio Goicoechca, leader of the Renovacion Espanola, a very extreme Right Party, has announced publicly that since March, 1934, the Right Wing parties, including his own, had been planning a military rising which "if necessary for the safety of Spain should be a civil war." He declared that he and his friends "went to Italy to secure the support not only of the Italian Government but of the Fascist party in the event of civil war in Spain." We know that General Sanjurjo went to Germany with the same object in 1936. The plans were laid, and the fury burst on the Spanish people in that fateful July of 1936. Owing to the anti-Spanish, unpatriotic spirit of the leaders of the rebel movement, what started as a sordid army revolt in favour of feudal values almost led to a European war. The unequalled creative and fighting spirit of the people of Spain, in the face of that conspiracy and surprise onslaught, have made Hitler and Mussolini realise how dangerous is the enterprise upon which they embarked. The war must continue until they are out of Spain, with all that they stand for.
|Archive collection||Publications from the archive of Henry Sara and Frank Maitland|
|Archive folder||Journal of the Friends of the Spanish Republic : Journal : The War in Spain: a weekly summary|
|Document title||The War in Spain: a weekly summary. No.1|
|Document date||22 January 1938|
|Publisher||London : United Editorial|