The War in Spain: a weekly summary. No. 6
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THE WAR IN SPAIN A WEEKLY SUMMARY EDITED BY CHARLES DUFF UNITED EDITORIAL LTD. No. 6 LONDON, 26th FEBRUARY, 1938 PRICE 1d. THE STRENGTH OF GOVERNMENT SPAIN EVEN for those who know their Spain very well, it has often been difficult since the beginning of the military rebellion to estimate the strength of the two sides in the struggle. Indeed, there was only one factor which seemed certain— the psychological. When the generals put their plan into action in July, 1936, it looked as if there was to be a pronunciamiento —and a successful one —of the old sort. They had on their side about 80 per cent. of the rank and file of the army and over 90 per cent. of its officers. They had the highly-trained Foreign Legion (which contained some of the finest rascals and cut-throats in Europe) and they had the Moorish Regulars: excellent shock-troops, especially for use against a civilian population. And then, as we know now, they had made arrangements beforehand with Germany and Italy for aeroplanes to cover the landing of the shock-troops: all of which worked according to plan. How could any Government face such odds ? It was just as if nearly the whole of the British Army was turned against the Government and civil population of England, on the commands of a group of mutinous generals who had taken a solemn oath of allegiance to the King. In Spain there was that tremendous background of history to inspire the people, who immediately recognised in the rebellion an attempt of reactionary absolutists to gain control of the country in the interests of fast disappearing feudal privileges. The Popular Front Government knew this, and acted on it by issuing such arms and ammunition as it still held to the people —to peasants, labourers, workers, shopkeepers, barbers, doctors, writers, bootblacks or sculptors. A psychological miracle occurred. Galvanised into action, those inspired people, thousands of whom had never touched or even seen an army rifle in their lives, opposed a fully organised and trained modern army that had a plan. Although the rebel army advanced quickly over many areas, in certain vital places it was held and in others the rebellion was completely crushed, often with enormous sacrifices of life by what were hastily improvised groups of untrained men, some of them old, and occasionally aided by women. A morale had been created. From that moment the general success of the rebellion was in doubt. With the passage of time and the transformation of those early militia units into a good army, the failure of the rebels became certain. Franco could not take his main objective, Madrid. The collapse of his cowardly conspiracy seemed imminent. He had to send abroad for more armies —armies of infantry, artillery, etc.: Italians, Germans, Moors, Berbers, Ifnis —anybody willing to fight against Spaniards. He obtained masses of material, and thousands of foreign soldiers. Yet, to-day, he is further from victory than ever and, unless he can obtain about a quarter-of-a-million more foreigners to fight his battles, his defeat by the Government is merely a matter of time. He has been beaten by the morale and the spirit of the people. His boast to a British journalist: "I shall win because I have better arms" sounds hollow beside the claim of a people who know that they are fighting for liberty and against brutal oppression and who, therefore, continue to fight. Elsewhere in this issue we give the startling figures of last year's aerial fighting. They show at least this: that if the Government's Air Force is not bigger than the rebels', it is clearly a better fighting force. The rebels' aerial success has been in the bombing of open towns and, it is an acknowledged fact of aerial warfare that attacking aircraft can always be certain of unloading bombs somewhere ! It is doubtful if any anti-aircraft measures will keep away entirely the aeroplanes which will attack London in the next war, any more than they did in the last. But defenders can make attacks costly. And, as we show elsewhere, that is what the loyalists have done to the rebels. If we leave aside the Italian "victories" at Malaga and in the north last year, and look at the one continuous battle-front in Spain, we find that the Government won victories at Guadalajara, Penarroya, near Cordova, Brunete, Belchite and Teruel; and many minor events elsewhere. The defensive value of the loyalist forces is now magnificent. Their attacking value is fast approaching that of any regular army in the world, and it is better than most. The problem of transport has been virtually solved, and difficult lines of communications immeasurably improved. This, with the new army of three-quarters of a million men, renders a rebel victory a military impossibility. The achievements of the loyalist Navy are little appreciated in England, and many people believe that it is playing a part inferior to that of the rebel fleet. The reason is that the loyalist Navy has concentrated on a purely defensive policy —that of protecting ports and the merchant ships which go to and from Government Spain. Franco's Navy, in its attempts to effect a blockade, has concentrated on piracy. Clearly, there is nothing spectacular about the safe escort of shipping, whereas if a rebel pirate sinks a merchant vessel the information at once reaches the newspaper headlines. All Franco is doing is to shoot and run; the Government Navy is intent on protection. It is the policy of Franco to obtain belligerent rights at almost any cost, for that would give him the right of searching and taking ships which bring food and munitions to Government ports. It would also completely nullify the Nyon system of control. The chief point to be considered is this: the Government Navy can prevent and is preventing a blockade of loyalist Spain. To make any sort of political comparison between the rebel and Government zones is merely to compare the functioning of a military dictatorship with the free functioning of a democratic system. The one represents oppression by force; the other an administration based upon the approval of the people. The days are past when groups or parties in Government Spain were at loggerheads, and in a state of confusion caused by the surprise attack of the rebels. Senor Martinez Barrios, Chairman of the Cortes (corresponding to our Speaker of the House of Commons), announced on February 11th that the political situation in loyalist Spain is one of absolute stability. Parties representing the Popular Front work in complete harmony with the Ministry. All problems of political ideologies have been shelved, and there is only one goal: to win the war. Apart from purely military censorship the press is free. There is no disorder anywhere. Nor is there any widespread anti-religious feeling (though there is a definite anti-clerical bias). Indeed, priests broadcast regularly from Barcelona, masses may be held in private, and there is a move to re-establish open worship in Catalonia. To sum up, Government Spain is well organised, has an army that is getting bigger and better everyday, and the morale of the population is superb. In that lies its strength. If the foreigners on Franco's side were removed, he would not last a month. Only one danger remains: that Hitler and Mussolini should decide to send more troops to the rebels. We advise our readers to contemplate the speech made by Mr. Anthony Eden in the House of Commons on 21st of this month. He did not trust Dictators. Nor does Spain.
|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. 6|
|Document date||26 February 1938|
|Publisher||London : United Editorial|