The War in Spain: a weekly summary. No. 3
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THE WAR IN SPAIN A WEEKLY SUMMARY EDITED BY CHARLES DUFF UNITED EDITORIAL LTD. No. 3 LONDON, 5th FEBRUARY, 1938 PRICE 1d. BRITAIN AND "THE NATIONALISTS" THOSE who have followed events in Spain since July, 1936, will remember that, in the first days of the military rebellion, all sections of the English press referred to the rebels as rebels. The movement of generals was everywhere regarded as an attempted coup d'etat or, as Spaniards call it, a pronunciamiento: which, of course, it was. Very little time elapsed, however, before even those observers abroad who were not well acquainted with the internal situation in Spain began to realise that the conspiracy of traitorous generals had ramifications far outside the Peninsula. Italian aeroplanes covered the landing of Franco's Moors and cut-throat Legionaries, and it was disclosed (Daily Herald, August 1st, 1936) that the German bombing planes which were loaded for the rebels in July, had been ordered by General Sanjurjo in March. The Manchester Guardian of July 25th, 1936, stated: "During the week large numbers of Italian and German agents have arrived in Morocco and the Balearic Islands. These agents are taking part in military activities, and are also exercising a certain political influence. For the insurgents the belief that they have the support of two great powers is an immense encouragement; for many of the weapons now in their hands are of Italian origin." Gradually the full story came to light. Even while they were re-affirming and solemnly re-swearing their allegience to the Republic, the conspiring generals were selling their country to the foreign Fascists. As an excuse or explanation, the Fascist propaganda machine began to disseminate the lie that the movement had been prompted by a desire "to save Spain from Bolshevism." At which point, those of us who knew anything about Spanish politics realised that Hitler and Mussolini intended to use Franco as their puppet, and his "movement" as a means of gaining control of the Peninsula and Morocco. Intervention had begun and, while Hitler did not say much, he acted. Mussolini declared publicly that the Italian Government was fully prepared to take whatever interventionist steps it considered necessary. Meanwhile, the rebel movement, with nice effrontery, took upon itself the title of "Nationalist" and our newspapers changed the word "rebel" to "insurgent," and gradually came to use the word "Nationalist" in reference to this international conspiracy and motley army of Moors, Legionaries, Germans and Italians, to which has recently been added some units of African savages from Ifni — gentlemen who wear nose and ear-rings and who paint and tattoo their bodies! The "Nationalists" now require only a few head-hunters from Borneo and some South Sea Islanders to complete the picture. Franco's Spain is administered largely by Germans and policed by Italians, his air force and artillery and mechanised units are all German-Italian—it is these foreigners who are devastating the country in the interest of the Dictators' power-politics. Where does England stand in regard to all this ? Let us look back, and attempt to explain something of the importance of Spain to us. To begin with, let no English person forget three episodes of Anglo-Spanish history: (1) The War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), which drew the battle lines of Europe for the next century; (2) The Peninsula War (1808-14), which was the beginning of the end of Napoleon; and (3) The Moroccan Crises in the beginning of the present century, which lined up the opposing forces of the World War of 1914-18. In the first, England went to war to prevent the foreign domination of Spain; in the second, we helped the Spanish people to expel a foreign invader; and, in the third, a threat to Morocco by Germany resulted in the Anglo-French military alliance against Germany. In short, it has always been in the past a basic principle of British foreign policy to prevent, at any cost, any threat to Spanish independence. And for a very good reason: a Spain dominated by a foreign power is a direct threat to our most vital interests. Spain is the key to the Mediterranean; and to our Atlantic and African and South American trade routes. An enemy in possession of Spain can sink the ships which bring us petrol, meat, grain, cotton, foodstuffs and—almost everything on which we live. When the military rebellion began in July, 1936, French and British statesmen were aware of the danger to European peace, and the Blum Government (prompted from London) in a well-meaning desire to prevent a general conflagration, and to tie the hands of the international Fascists, started the policy of "Non-Intervention." Then began the famous game of dilly-dally and obstruction by Germany, Italy and Portugal, while they gave every possible help to the Spanish rebels; and the constitutionally-elected Government was prevented from freely purchasing abroad the arms it required. By international law they were and are fully entitled to buy arms, but the "Non-Intervention" policy is the brake. Meanwhile, Germany and Italy have invaded Spain; and Franco is reduced from the status of a traitorous rebel general to that of a puppet. Had the De Jure Government of Spain been permitted the benefits of international law, and had the Dictators kept out, the people of Spain would have made short work of the rebels. It would all have been over in three or four months. The reversal of Britain's fundamental policy in regard to Spain— that is, in permitting the invasion of the Peninsula by our potential enemies —has brought about a state of affairs far worse than any that could ever have been contemplated. For, if one admits (just for the sake of argument) a rebel victory, the problem will remain: how to get the Italian Expeditionary Force and the German Administration out of Spain. The Berlin-Rome axis will have achieved its goal. It is ridiculous to suppose that, having achieved dominance of the Peninsula, Germany and Italy would turn round and abandon it. Only a fool could be so naif as to believe that. Every one of Franco's "victories" last year was due to help he received from Italy and Germany. Malaga was taken by a force of at least 16,000 Italians, described by that distinguished eye-witness, Sir Peter Chalmers Mitchell, as a well-disciplined and soldierly body compared with the rabble of Falangists, etc., which entered the town after them. By the time the campaign against the Basques had begun, there were about 100,000 Italians in Spain— with thirteen Italian generals ! They have not won the war for Franco and, apparently, another 100,000 are required if he is to hold what he has won. Spain is a disconcerting country once her people are aroused; it is doubtful if a quarter-of-a-million alien troops could win the Fascist cause. An acute observer in the French press reports that Mussolini is determined to try another gamble in Spain; and to extend his operations generally in the Mediterranean. Tonnage of 182,000 has been mobilised to transport men and material to Spain— a force of 50,000 men and as much material as may be required. Will Germany be drawn by Rome into this fresh "Nationalist" offensive against the Spanish people? If what this French observer reports is true, then we are approaching a very critical period for British interests in the Mediterranean. It is fairly obvious that our interests do not coincide with those of the "Nationalists" but with those of the friendly constitutional Government, whose only desire is to be independent.
|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. 3|
|Document date||5 February 1938|
|Publisher||London : United Editorial|