Telegraphic Address: "LABREPCOM, SOWEST, LONDON." Telephones: VICTORIA 9434 (3 lines)
THE LABOUR PARTY
TRANSPORT HOUSE (South Block), SMITH SQUARE, LONDON, S.W.1
Secretary: J.S. MIDDLETON
I have received your letter referring to an appeal which you have received from the International Brigade Association for funds to help members of the International Brigade interned in France, Spain, and North Africa, and to the resolution which accompanied this appeal demanding the intervention of the Government for the relief and release of International Brigaders.
I take the liberty of making a few observations on this matter. The National Executive Committee is fully aware of the problem in all its aspects.
I might point out, in the first place, that the part of the problem in which you reveal a special interest has already been raised in the House of Commons. Mr. Eden stated in the House of Commons one year ago, October 1st, 1941, that before the end of the Spanish War the Spanish Republican Government repatriated all those members of the International Brigade who were British subjects, and that, according to his information, no British members of the International Brigade were, at that date, interned in France. The circular of the International Brigade Association contains indications that other Governments have interested themselves in the repatriation of their own countrymen. Mr. Eden stated further that he had no confidence that representations to the Vichy Government, on the lines recommended in your letter, would be likely to produce good results. That is even more true now. The British Government has still no direct diplomatic relations and no influence with the Vichy Government. There are no British Consuls in France. The American Government has slender relations but very little influence.
You should not forget that there are tens of thousands of Spanish refugees still in France who were not Brigaders; that 50,000 foreign Jews - many of whom are nationals of Allied nations - have been rounded up and interned for deportation to Germany; and that there is now a threat of expulsion from Vichy France to the Occupied Territory of all foreign refugees who entered the 'Free Zone' after September 1st, 1939. This is a vast problem.
The International Brigade Association are interested in their friends and their sympathy is well-understood, but the British and American Governments have to think also of the many others of their own and other Allied nationalities in the Occupied Zone, of those who are already interned, of those who have escaped internment and those who are threatened with expulsion from the 'Free Zone' to the Occupied Zone.
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