THE SITUATION IN SPAIN Sept 1936?
On the 1st September, I received through the LSI a letter from Pietro Nenni in Madrid, which stated that "under these circumstances, the question of material must be regarded as the main one. The present state of deadlock cannot last for long and will turn out in favour of that side which can get hold of material. Thus the position here is determined by that in Europe. We may experience some very unpleasant surprises if the Fascist States merely play at non-intervention".
On the same day, I immediately got into touch with Jouhaux, who had returned from a journey, in order to discuss with him the possibilities of co-ordinating help for Spain. Jouhaux is in the middle of negotiations with the Ministry of Marine to get a ship for transporting food supplies to Spain. He found himself up against great obstacles. Jouhaux had also been approached by Fimmen, who is in Paris, on the subject of organising ITF assistance for Spain. Fimmen stated that he had had a chance in the previous week to get hold of a considerable supply of material for the Spaniards, and he said that he still had an organisation which could assure the supply of material to Spain by sea. Fimmen was expecting Nathans, who was coming from Spain the next day.
We met him at the station early on the morning of 2nd September. His report - he has been in Madrid, some other Spanish towns and at the Guadarrama Front - showed that he had on the whole got a good impression. [All the People in arms were] A whole nation, in arms, is on the side of the Government, and there was a steady and universal resolve to fight to the last ditch. The war is terrible. The rebels execute all their prisoners. The Government troops set free their rank-and-file prisoners, who mostly join up with them, only the rebel officers being executed. In Cordova 400 railwaymen were shot for refusing to work for the rebels. There is no lack of food in Madrid, except of salt fish, one of the staple foods of the workers. The ITF arranged with Gomez, who is in charge of supplies for Madrid, to despatch salt fish, this will be arranged with Norway. What is lacking is material. Nathans saw soldiers being drilled, where some hundred soldiers only had ten or twenty guns between them. Nathans brought a message from Caballero, that they need material and beg that everything be done to supply it.
There seems to be a great divergence between the Left and Right wings of our Movement, so great, in fact, that leaders of one side would not meet Nathans at the same time as representatives of the other. For the moment they are solid against the common enemy, but when the fight is over, it is likely that the Left wing will go over to the Communists, who are in fact to-day much more moderate than the left wing. Great difficulties are in any case expected to arise after the civil war from the Anarchists, who are arming themselves, confiscating cars, but not going to the Front, only remaining in occupation of the towns.
In the afternoon of the 2nd September, Nathans and Fimmen again went to see Jouhaux, to whom Nathans gave a report. Jouhaux then declared himself prepared to buy material out of the funds collected by the CGT, in reply to Fimmen's enquiry as to what he intended to do with the money.
I had telephoned earlier to Adler, who in Schevenels' absence is in charge of the International Solidarity Fund, in order to know when I could see him or when he could, if possible, hear Nathans' report. As Nathans and Fimmen did not want to stay in Paris any longer, and as Jouhaux also had to be in Brussels on