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With a Foreword by

On the road to Madrid. The slogan, quoting General Franco, reads 'Life is a battle and peace only an accident'. The hat (the author's only 'disguise' in Spain) was a local purchase.
To "Ramon"---
 and our next meeting
iNational Council of Labour Statement, July 1937
iiLetter from Mr. Churchill to General Franco, October 1944
iiiExtract from Potsdam Declaration, August 1945
ivTripartite Declaration, March 1946
vExtracts from a Report on Spain, August 1946
viUnited Nations Resolution, December 1946
 Short Bibliography


201 B.C.Roman Armies enter Spain.
A.D. 406.First Barbarian invasion.
586-701.Visigothic King adopts Catholicism.
711.First Moorish invasion.
1250.Spain, except for Granada and a few southern ports, free from Moorish rule.
1479.Union of Spain ender Castile and Aragon.
1480.Inquisition established.
1492.Christopher Columbus discovers America. Granada captured: Reconquest complete. First expulsion of Jews.
1502.First expulsion of Moors.
1516.A Hapsburg, later the Emperor Charles V, becomes Charles I of Spain.
1520.Rebellion of municipalities in Castile.
1571.Spanish colonists found Manila.
1588.Defeat of Spanish Armada by England.
1610.Second expulsion of Moors.
1700.Death of last Hapsburg King and accession of the Bourbons.
1701-13.War of the Spanish Succession.
1759.Accession of Charles III.
1793.Spain joins the coalition against Republican France.
1808.Beginning of Peninsular War. Joseph Bonaparte becomes King.
1810.Meeting of first united Parliament.
1812.First democratic constitution.
1814.French expelled. Bourbon restoration.
1820.Military revolt against King.
1823.King restored by French.
1834-40.First Carlist War.
1845.New Constitution.
1868.Revolution expels Queen Isabella.
1869.Liberal Constitution drawn up by Parliament.
1869-76.Second Carlist War.
1873.First Spanish Republic.
1874.Military coup restores Bourbons.
1876.New Constitution.
1898-9.War with the United States. Loss of last of transatlantic and Pacific possessions.
1909.First major military disaster in Morocco. Riots in Barcelona.
1921.Second major nilitary disaster in Morocco.
1923.Primo de Rivera becomes dictator.
1927.Morocco pacified.
1930.Primo de Rivera resigns.
1931.March. Abdication of King Alphonso. Second Republic proclaimed.
April. General Election.
1932.Sanjurjo rebellion.
1933.General election. Right-wing coalition victory.
1934.Popular revolts. Asturias rising.
1936.February. General election. Popular Front victory.
July 13. Murder of Calvo Sotelo.
July 17/18. Army rebels.
1936.August. France appeals for non-intervention. Britain bans exports of arms to Spain.
September. Fall of Irun. Siege of Madrid begins. Non-Intervention Committee meets.
October. Franco declared Chief of State by rebel ofmicers' committee. British Labour Party calls for abolition of non-intervention.
November. Germans and Italians recognize Franco.
December. First Italian regular troops land.
1937.March. Government victory at Guadalajara.
April. Guernica bombed. Franco amalgamates Falange and other right-wing parties.
May. Deutschland shells Ahmeria.
June. Rebels take Bilbao.
August. Rebels relieve Oviedo.
1938.January. Government takes Teruel.
March. Rebels enter Catalonia.
September. International Brigade disbanded.
1939.January. Rebels take Barcelona.
February. Great Britain and France recognize Franco.
March 5. Government leaves Madrid for France.
April. Non-Intervention Committee dissolved.
May. Franco holds Victory parade in Madrid.
July. France sends Spanish gold and other assets back to Spain.
September. Second World War begins. Spaio declares herself neutral.
1940.June 12. Spain becomes "non-belligerent".
September. Franco and Suner meet Hitler. Suner goes to Rome.
December. Spain suppresses international control in Tangier and expels British and French officials.
1941.January. Britain sends wheat to Spain.
February. Franco meets Mussolini and Pétain.
July. Franco announces that Blue Division has left for Russia. British Government sends petrol to Spain.
1942.September. Suner deposed from Foreign Ministry.
1943.July. More Spanish troops leave for Russian front.
August. Franco sends representative to French Committee of Liberation.
November. 3,000 Blue Division troops withdrawn from Russian front.
December. 7,000 Blue Division troops withdrawn.
1944.January. U.S.A. complains of unneutral acts on part of Spain. Suspends oil supplies.
1945.August. Republican Parliament meets in Mexico. Potsdam Declaration excludes Spain from participation in U.N.
1946.February. French-Spanish frontier closed.
March. Tripartite Declaration of America, France and Britain condemning the Franco republic.
April. Poland raises Spanish question in Security Council.
December. United Nations agree to withdraw Ambassadors.
1947.February. Socialist becomes Republican Prime Minister.
April. Anglo-Spanish Monetary Agreement.

My friend "Ramon" was a mild and unobtrusive-looking person. He was very different from the popular idea of a resistance chief. But his power of leadership, his patience, and his courage were immense, He had been through the civil war, was sentenced to death by Franco, and had spent years in Spanish prisons. It was there that he began his work with the underground. He was my guide and companion throughout my journey.

Politically, "Ramon" was a moderate. In an atmosphere of bitterness and hatred, from which he had often personally suffered, he preserved a calm and liberal outlook and a firm dislike of extremism in any form. But when, in his company, I visited and talked with leaders of different political groups and parties, he made no comment and kept his own views secret.

Shortly before I left him to recross the Pyrenees, we had a long discussion. In his secret hiding place, the room which had served him as his headquarters since the last of his frequent "changes of address", we talked through the summer night and into the early hours of my last morning inside Spain. Friends kept watch for the police below.

We began far back in Spanish history. As he spoke of old problems, old triumphs, and old despairs, gradually a pattern, a thread of continuity emerged. He let me draw my own parallels with the problems of the present day. Strong though my admiration for him and for his cause had been before, he left me now with a new feeling of sympathy and comprehension. Many of his remarks and observations then and at other times during our journey have stayed in my memory. I was often reminded of them as I wrote the various sections of this book.

To him and to my other friends of the Spanish resistance movement, I am indebted for the great risks they took on my behalf, and for the information which they gave me, while I was their guest. I am also grateful for the reports that they have sent me since I left Spain.

For background information, I found the books listed on Page 96 particularly helpful.

F. N-B

London, 1948


THE central facts of the Spanish Civil War, so forcibly contested in Parliament and on the public platform in this country before 1939, have now become generally accepted. No one can doubt any longer that from the earliest days of the Civil War, Franco was dependent on Mussolini and Hitler for his military success, or that the Democratic countries made a definite contribution to his victory. By their policy of non intervention, they prevented the popularly elected Republican Government from obtaining the supplies to which they were legally entitled, and without which they could not hope to win. Nor can anyone who studies the evidence with any degree of impartiality doubt that while this cruel farce of non intervention was being played out, the Axis Powers were able to stage an effective dress rehearsal for the world war that was to follow.

All this has now become part of the tragic history of appeasement. The two senior partners of the Triumvirate have gone to their own places. Franco remains. The United Nations have passed a resolution disapproving of him. They have even gone so far as to brand him as a pariah. Is that really all we can do by way of moral condemnation, of political ostracism, of Franco's regime? The world certainly cannot afford more bloodshed at the present time. Neither can it afford the example of triumphant Fascism in Spain. The process of denazification to which we rightly attach so much importance will be far from complete while Franco continues to govern Spain. There is a real danger that we may drift into a tacit acceptance of this survival of Fascism in Europe.

Francis Noel-Baker has given us in this admirable book a calm and well-informed account of the Civil War and of the present political position in Spain. It is only by keeping public opinion here and elsewhere constantly aware of the facts of the situation that we can hope to shame the Democracies into further action.



ONE evening in 1946 the House of Commons was discussing Spain. A Minister of the Crown was defending himself from fierce criticism, which came mostly from his own supporters. What had become, they asked, of their election pledge that a Labour Government in Britain would work for the removal of the last vestiges of Fascism in Europe, and the restoration of democracy to Spain? The Minister replied, in effect, that though the Government detested General Franco, and hoped that the Spanish democrats would overthrow him, there was little positive help that we could give them. At this, Conservative M.P.s on the benches opposite protested at the mere idea of interference in the internal affairs of a foreign country, and angrily demanded what business it 'was of Britain's what kind of Government ruled Spain.

The members who spoke in the debate did so with great conviction. Some had an intimate knowledge of the facts. Others were less well-informed. I myself felt strongly that the Government policy was weak, and the Tory members dangerously wrong. But my knowledge of the Spanish problem was not extensive. It consisted principally of the belief that dictatorship of any kind was evil; of memories (at second hand) of Fascist and Nazi intervention in the Civil War; of recollections of Franco's support of Hitler in the years that followed; and of information from various Spanish friends in exile. When a colleague suggested to me that this was an inadequate basis for strong views about our policy towards Spain, I began to wonder what more I could do to understand the Spanish problem and its implications.

There followed a search for further information. Background material was sifted, current reports studied; contacts established with Spanish Republican leaders; visits made to democratic groups in exile. At the same time, preparations of another kind were quietly arranged.

On a dark summer night, some weeks later, the sequel to these preparations began.

The plan of action had been settled well in advance. I had had my "briefing" in Paris and there had been discussions about the programme and the route. With guides from the Republican underground to lead me, I was to slip across the Pyrenees without arousing the suspicions of the frontier guards. As soon as I was safely inside Spain. I was to contact the chief of one of the clandestine organizations, and, with his help, travel across the country to the three main centres of political activity—Barcelona, Bilbao and Madrid. In these cities I would meet the representatives and leaders of all the different democratic groups and parties, the heads of resistance movements, and the committees which they had set up to co-ordinate the work of all the active opponents of the Franco régime.

My journey and my identity while I was in the country were closely guarded secrets. Until I had left, only five men—three in Spain and two abroad—knew who and where I was. When, after my arrival back in France, the story broke, the Spanish Government was taken completely by surprise. A bribe of 200,000 pesetas (about £4,500) was offered to anyone who would give information about how I had crossed the frontier. It was never claimed.

Later, several stories (all equally fantastic) were circulated about my journey. It was alleged, for example, that I had travelled on a false passport; that I was in disguise; that the Spanish authorities had had me followed all the time. For some months the Spanish radio and Press honoured me with a series of violent denunciations. But, to this day, my movement and my contacts during August 1946 are an unsolved mystery at police headquarters in Madrid.

I make no apology for my secret visit to Spain. In a country where every political movement except the Falange is illegal, there was no other way in which I, a Labour M.P., could have met and talked with opposition leaders. It was their safety, not mine, which would have been in peril had I travelled openly and subject to the supervision of the political police. Indeed, not one of them would have dared to meet me had they not been certain that my identity and presence were unknown. Furthermore, with memories of the conducted tours of British politicians in Hitler's Germany before the war, I had my doubts about how much an official visitor might be allowed to see in Franco Spain.

Nevertheless, as soon as I recrossed the frontier, I addressed myself to General Franco's Ambassador in London. It might be argued, I wrote, that as the guest of the underground, I had got an incomplete picture of the situation in his country. Therefore, if his Government would guarantee me the same freedom of movement and contact as I had been granted by my former hosts, I should be grateful for a visa to return. I was not altogether surprised that he made no reply.

This clandestine visit to Spain had several useful results. First, I saw with my own eyes the extent of the resistance movement, and discussed with its leaders their methods and their views (see appendix 5). For a very short time I shared their difficulties and dangers, and could afterwards understand more vividly what it means to live as the citizen of a post-war fascist state. Second, I established direct and permanent contacts with many people in Catalonia, in the Basque country and in Madrid, and the reports they now send me are of great value in keeping me informed and up to date. Third, my journey in itself did, I believe, do something to raise the morale of the resistance movement and its leaders who, at the time of my arrival, were feeling particularly isolated and abandoned by their foreign friends. From the Press and radio they learned who I was as soon as I returned to France—the immediate publication of the news being one of the few conditions stipulated by my hosts.

This book, however, is not the story of a brief underground journey in Spain. The details of those adventures (there were a few, although our programme was carried out to time and without a single serious hitch) cannot yet be told. Too many of my companions and the people whom I met there are still in danger of their lives. They will continue to work and to organize—and if the need should come again, to fight—for the liberation of their country and the restoration of democracy to Spain. But until their struggle has been won and they are free, the secrecy of the underground is their most precious weapon.

It is my belief that their struggle, its causes, and its aims, are of great importance to Great Britain and the British people. That is my reason for putting on record now the results of the investigation (of which my journey was the briefest, though the most vivid, part) which I started after a debate in the House of Commons. This is not an "expert" book. My aim is very simple: to set down some of the more important facts; to put the immediate issues into focus; and to draw my own conclusions.

Spanish fascism is one of the still-unsolved problems of the Second World War. Already, in the past three years, it has been a source of mischief and misunderstanding among the nations. Alas, it is not the only cause of discord on the continent of Europe. But, as I shall try to show, with goodwill and effort a solution could be found. In that solution I believe that our country has both an obligation, and an interest, to play a big part.


IT is hard to follow contemporary Spanish politics (still harder to consider future changes) without some knowledge of the history of Spain. Not of dates and kings and battles, but of the main phases of development through which successive generations of Spaniards have passed. Modern difficulties, and the efforts and aspirations of those who seek to overcome them, can be seen in perspective only against the background of centuries of national, imperial, religious, social and economic struggle and upheaval.

Very early in a study of Spanish history one is struck by the way in which the same situations, the same problems, and the same failures to solve them, repeat themselves time and time again—particularly in the last 200 years. It would be hard to find elsewhere the same constant, indeed monotonous repetition. Each time a crisis is reached in the struggle for political liberty, social progress or economic reform, there are always some new factors, but the basic issues change very little through the years. Therefore from the happenings of the past a good deal can be learnt which applies to the present and the future.

Geographically, Spain is isolated from her neighbours. The great mountain barrier of the Pyrenees kept her aloof from the main currents of continental development. She followed a pattern of her own. Her proximity to North Africa (with which in prehistoric times she was linked by land), and the long years of Moorish occupation, left an indelible mark on all her later progress. Spain, from the Middle Ages onwards, was out of step with the rest of Europe. She is still out of step today.

The origins of the people who now inhabit Spain are still obscure. There are various conflicting theories about when and whence they came One thing is certain: they are now a mixture of many races, upon whom many different civilizations have been imposed. Although, with one exception, race consciousness has now disappeared in Spain, and though proximity and long association has given all Spaniards many common memories and many similar characteristics, unity among them is still not permanently established. The problems of regionalism, local autonomy and centralization are discussed later in this book. But in at least one instance, the Basque provinces, modern "centrifugal" tendencies are, in origin, racial and ethnological as well as political and economic.

Spain was first united, and her detailed history begins, with the arrival of Roman armies 21 centuries ago. The Roman occupation lasted for 600 years. It was the most prosperous and peaceful period that Spain has ever known. The fact that today, in the 20th century, Spain is only able to support less than one-half the population of Roman times, is a grim and striking comment on everything that has happened since. The Romans seem to have been the only rulers who were able to impose a central administration which could be reconciled with regional and local interests, which guaranteed a stable government, and which enabled Spanish economy to flourish. Great areas which are now desert were then rich and fertile agricultural lands. Mineral resources were as fully exploited as the techniques and equipment of the times allowed. A great literary and artistic civilization developed. The modern language of Spain was born.

Although the Roman occupation began as an imperial and colonizing process, the people of Spain very soon ceased to consider themselves, or to be considered, as the subjects of foreign Power. The country took two centuries to conquer (in the mountains of the north and north-west the conquest was never completed), but a century after that the Emperor of Rome (Trajan, who came to the throne in A.D. 98) was a Spaniard by birth, and a line of Spanish emperors succeeded him, Many of the leading writers of the "silver age" of Roman literature came from Spain; and long before the decline of Roman power began she had become as much a "latin" country as Italy herself.

During the Barbarian invasions which followed—of Vandals, and Visigoths from across the Pyrenees—the course of events in Spain was much the same as in other former Roman provinces. It was a Visigothic King who introduced the Christian, and a little later the Catholic, religion. But the unity and the economic stability of the country were destroyed, and her prosperity and population gradually declined. Then, in the 8th century, came another invasion from the South.

The Arabs, Syrians and Berbers, who formed the spearhead of the first Moorish armies, were the forerunners of a new civilization which lasted in some parts of Spain for the next 800 years. It was the arrival of the Moors which finally took Spain out of her European background, broke the continuity of her development, and left her, in the late 15th century, without a parallel in Western Europe. Most of her problems when the Moorish occupation ended were entirely different from those of her neighbours at that time. Others, they had already faced and overcome.

When the Caliphs ruled at Cordoba, Spain became as important a centre of the Moslem world as Baghdad. The new civilization and culture (like the Moorish armies) were superior to those which they replaced. Their roots went very deep down into Spanish soil. Certainly it was an oriental civilization. It had little in common with Spain's past or with her future. But though the leaders had Arab names, though their origins, their methods and their ideals could be traced back to the deserts of the Middle East, yet they soon ceased to be the foreign rulers of a subject people. The Moorish occupation left an imprint which it took long years of fighting, persecution, and eventually mass expulsions, to remove. And those expulsions—of Moslem or recently reconverted Spanish "Moors"—only ended in the beginning of the 17th century. With their departure, Spain lost some of the economically most important sections of her population, and there are those who say that Spanish agriculture has not yet recovered.

The Christian reconquest is a period which has been enshrined in Spanish literature and tradition. Like all crusades, it evoked great enthusiasms and great intolerance. It sowed the seeds of many future problems. There is a theory that the people of Spain have always been (and therefore always will be) intolerant and unable to compromise. This is not by any means supported by all the facts of history. Spain under the Moors had been the home of three religions—Moslem, Christian and Jewish. There were, of course, advantages in adopting the religion of the rulers. But there were periods of great toleration, when Moslems and Christians actually shared the same place of worship.

Later, in the dominions of the Christian Kings in Northern Spain, Moslems and Jews in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries were perhaps more secure and respected than religious minorities anywhere else in Europe at that time. But the reconquest did destroy religious toleration. It also caused great material destruction. Among other things, many of the Moorish irrigation schemes in Southern Spain have never been rebuilt.

The war began, locally and spasmodically, in the Christian provinces and kingdoms of the north. For many years some of these were still nominally under Moorish suzereignty, and unity of purpose between them took a long struggle to achieve. Those were days when the modern conception of nationalism was still unknown. The great unifying force was the Catholic religion. In spirit, it was not so much a war of liberation fought by Spaniards against a foreign occupation, but a war of religion fought by Christian princes and their subjects against the infidels of the South. It can only be seen in true per-spective if Spain is looked at as a frontier, and a point of impact, between Eastern and Islamic, and Western and Christian civilizations.

For this reason, and because the fight against Islam lasted for so long, catholicism and the Catholic Church became more closely identified with the national purpose in Spain than anywhere else in the world. The first origins of Spanish clericalism and anti-clericalism are to be found in the wars against the Moors. Without the Church the wars might never have been won. But without those wars to fight the Church would never have achieved its dominant position in modern Spain. During the centuries of fighting, as the tide of Islam gradually receded, the crusading spirit became a part of the national character of the Spaniards. Under the influence of the Catholic clergy, grew up the powerful belief that all wars are ideological and all differences of opinion crimes.

Early in the 11th century, when the tide had already began to turn against the Moors, the various independent Christian States of the northern fringes of Spain began the process of unification. The ruler of Navarre, who later acquired the kingdoms of Castile and Leon, was the first to claim the title "King of the Spains". A century later a King of Aragon achieved the unification of another block of states, styling himself ''Emperor'' of Spain, though after his death his dominions again disintegrated. By the year 1250 the whole country, with the exception of the Moslem province of Granada and a few ports round the coast, was under Christian rule.

At this stage the reconquest left the country roughly divided into two. In the West was a loose agglomeration of peoples and provinces who owed allegiance to the King of Castile. The East, parts of which had close ties with France and Mediterranean Europe, centred round the Kingdom of Argon. It was not till 1479 that Spain was nominally united.

The joint reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, which began in that year, is generally taken as the starting point in the history of Spain as a modern European nation. But though the first central administration dates from then, and although all Spain now recognized one royal house, real political unity was still a long way off. The kings still ruled not one but many kingdoms. Each had its own local laws and customs. There were separate parliaments, civil services, armies and systems of taxation. There was no such thing as a Spanish subject: a citizen of Barcelona was as much a foreigner in Seville as in London or Rome.

As before, the one great unifying force which exercised its rights alike in every part and province of the country was the Catholic Church. It was the only truly national institution. For all its doctrine of universality, it was first and foremost the Church of Spain. For this reason a breach between the King and the clergy was impossible in Spain. But breaches between Spanish rulers and the Pope in Rome were not only possible, but frequent. Always, the reason for conflict was the eagerness of kings to preserve unchallenged the unity of Church and State.

The unique position of the Church naturally gave it not only spiritual and political authority, but great material power. As early as the 12th century Church landowners enjoyed special exemptions from taxation. In many provinces they were granted important legal and judicial privileges as well. The first big organized political and social task entrusted to the Church after the reconquest, followed the establishment of the Inquisition in 1480. Originally set up to supervise the religious behaviour of converted Jews, its jurisdiction was extended some years later to all Christian subjects of the Spanish King.

Its origin and its early work (it was the Inquisition which urged the big expulsions of both Jews and Moors) explain its natural transition from being the guardian of the Catholic religion against heresy, to becoming the guardian (officially recognized as part of the machinery of Government) of the Catholic state against subversion of all kinds. When the expulsions had been completed, and after a brief period of moderation, the Inquisition turned all its energy and resources against the new doubts and doctrines that were sweeping Europe. From that time on, Spain was sealed against the subversive influence of the Renaissance. One more barrier had been set up to isolate her from her European neighbours.

Meanwhile, however, great events were taking place across the seas. In 1492 (the same year that the last Moorish outpost fell) Christopher Columbus, on a mission for the Court of Spain, had crossed the Atlantic and discovered the West Indies. Next year, the first permanent Spanish settlement was established in the New World. Less than thirty years after that, the whole of Mexico had been con-quered and pacified, most of Central and South America penetrated, and bases established throughout the West Indian islands. By 1571 Spanish colonizers had crossed the Pacific Ocean and established the town of Manila in the Philippines. In less than a hundred years Spain had become the World's greatest Empire. It was not till more than a century later that the first permanent British transatlantic colony was founded.

Today, when that Empire is only a memory, and a few tiny scattered colonies are all that remain of Spain's overseas possessions, it has become the fashion to condemn outright the whole process of her imperial expansion. Certainly barbarous and brutal methods were used. The native South American civilizations were obliterated; in some areas the native populations were wiped out. But those were times when massacre and annihilation were the normal practice in wars of conquest—particularly when Europeans were fighting an enemy not only foreign but heathen as well. The numbers of Spanish troops employed in the early stages were fantastically small. As military ventures, their campaigns in Central and South America are without parallel in daring and brilliant execution. And even from the social, humanitarian point of view, there were redeeming features. The missionary purpose of the Spanish empire builders was not all humbug. Some of the strongest denunciations of cruelty and oppression came from the Spanish clergy overseas. The Spanish Catholic civilization which still dominates great areas of the New World has many qualities and achievements to its credit. Not least among them (and one which the later British settlers cannot claim) is the absence of the colour bar.


DURING the period of imperial conquest, important changes were taking place inside Spain. Less than half the country was effectively involved in the work of colonization and the transatlantic commerce that followed in its wake. For many years citizens of the Eastern provinces were excluded, and until as late as 1778 (less than 50 years before Spain lost every one of her possessions on the South American continent) all trade with the New World had to pass through the west coast port of Seville.

Meanwhile, the crown was gradually establishing itself as the centre of all authority. By the reign of Philip II (husband of our own Mary Tudor) this centralization had reached the stage where, with a few local exceptions, almost every detail of administration had to receive the personal attention of the king. A great State bureaucracy grew up around him. For the next two centuries the well-being of the Spanish people depended very largely on the personal ability of the occupant of the throne. That ability was not always equal to its tasks. It was the monarchs, too, who drew Spain into a series of foreign entanglements in Europe which made heavy calls on her manpower and resources and brought her little benefit in return.

There was, for example, no good political, strategic or economic reason for the Spanish occupation of the Netherlands. They had become a possession of the Spanish crown for purely dynastic reasons when a Hapsburg prince (Philip's predecessor) inherited the Spanish throne. They remained Spanish for as long as Spain could maintain bitterly hated armies of occupation. As soon as Dutch resistance and foreign intervention forced then to withdraw, the unnatural union ended. From a Spanish point of view, many of the other entanglements in Europe which followed, when that same Hapsburg prince became the Emperor Charles V. were as unnatural and as damaging to Spain as her fruitless campaigns in the Low Countries.

At home, the growth of the personal authority of the kings steadily widened the gap between the Spanish people and their rulers. In other European countries, notably England, this was the period when the middle classes were growing up. Through their Parliament, they began to challenge royal prerogative and to win a series of important victories for the principle of government by consent—if not the consent of the people, at least of the bourgeoisie. In most of Spain, however, there was no effective middle class. The expulsions of the Jews (and, to a lesser extent, of the remaining Moors) had seriously depleted the bourgeoisie. The royal policy of centralization which followed gradually diminished the power of representative local institutions. Above all, there was no central rallying place for popular forces—no focal point for opposition to the court.

In many provinces and towns, local democracy had developed early in Spain. In several cities municipal governments can be directly traced to Roman times and the origin of the Basque Parliament is lost in pre-history. The first parliaments—of Leon and Aragon—met in the late 11th century, nearly 200 years before the "Model" Parliament in England. But the municipalities, by their nature, were not often capable of united action, though they did —in Castile in 1520—lead the first big rebellion against royal absolutism. The parliaments too remained separate and disunited. If the unification of the nation under one crown had been followed by the unification of the parliaments of the various component states, constitutional monarchy might have developed as it did in Britain. But it was not till as late as 1810, after years of upheaval, war and foreign intervention, that a united Spanish Parliament first met.

As the power of the king—and, in the reigns of weak monarchs, of the court—increased, the cleavage between subjects and rulers became even wider. On the one side was a small minority of enormously powerful and wealthy aristocrats, landowners and prelates. On the other, a vast majority of poverty-stricken, oppressed peasants, whose voice was only heard in times of rebellion and disintegration. On the fringes of the kingdom, where local industry and foreign trade built up mercantile communities, a new middle class did gradually grow up. But throughout vast areas of central and southern Spain, society has remained almost mediaeval to this day. Stifled by disunity and royal power at a time when it was just developing elsewhere in Europe, the will of the people is a very recent force in Spain.

Nevertheless, there were, in the 16th and 17th centuries, at least some limitations on the power of the King inside Spain. The strangled voices of municipalities and provincial parliaments, and the threat of revolt and disintegration, could not always be ignored. In the Empire, however, personal government was unhampered by these things. The despotism of viceroys and prelates was absolute. Centralization was complete. Policy and administration depended exclusively on the King's instructions. The wars of independence by which the Spanish colonies eventually won their freedom had many causes. But it is a fair comment to say that if constitutional government had been able to develop at home during the period of Spanish consolidation overseas, Spain might still today have had a transatlantic Empire.

In the event, she remained the world's leading Power until early in the 17th century. The beginning of her decline is often dated from the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Though the Empire itself survived for many years, that operation did mark the end of Spanish naval supremacy, and the rise of England as her successor on the sea.

Meanwhile, however, there were many internal causes of decay. Spanish agriculture had never properly recovered from the expulsion of the Moors. Oppressive and antiquated systems of land tenure imposed not only low standards of living on the peasants, but a very low level of production. The centralization of government, and the growth of the royal bureaucracy, stifled political and local freedoms, and at the same time fostered incompetence and corruption. Economically, the growth of the Empire had weakened rather than strengthened Spain. Short-sighted restrictions and the absence of a consistent and practical economic policy deprived her of much of the prosperity which could have resulted from her transatlantic trade. The great influx of precious metals—the gold and silver on which English pirates cast such jealous eyes—itself helped to produce inflation and a rise of prices. Later, financial crisis was aggravated by royal decisions to debase the coinage. In the middle of the 17th century Spain, discoverer of Eldorado, had to abandon the gold and silver standard.

To these difficulties were added revolts and insurrections inside the kingdom, and a long period of entanglement in the conflicts of Central and Western Europe. During a great part of the 17th and 18th centuries the Spanish people were fighting, and being fought, for causes in which they themselves had little interest. Gradually their resistance and resources were worn away. The crown of Spain lost all its foreign dominions on the continent, and itself (ironically enough) became the inheritance of a Bourbon prince. He was a grandson of Louis XIV, King of France, the nation which had been Spain's chief continental enemy. His accession, in 1700, gave rise to a new series of conflicts—the war of the Spanish succession—in which Spain became more and more a passive victim.

Writing in 1946 a Spanish author commented that in the last 300 years the Spaniards have been allowed to play only a small part in the history of their country. Dynastic ambitions and foreign intervention dragged Spain hither and thither between warring foreign States. Often Spain was the immediate cause of conflict. Almost always, whether her "allies" were victorious or not, she was the loser.

As before, policy and government still depended exclusively on the persons of the King and his advisers. In the second half of the 18th century, a progressive monarch, with a new conception of benevolent despotism and a flair for choosing able ministers, was responsible for a period of enlightenment and revival. In King Charles III's reign Spain made great efforts to catch up the rest of 18th-century Europe. But despite big reforms in the administration, despite an economic revival, and despite the expulsion of the Jesuits and a new moderation imposed on the Inquisition (the burning of heretics was stopped, and even prosecutions for heresy were discouraged), "reform from above" could never really succeed. The gap between rulers and subjects was still too vast. The ruling classes were still too steeped in mediaeval conceptions of privilege and aristocratic rights. The people were still too weak, leaderless and disunited. Many more years of bloodshed and upheaval were to follow before Spain could even begin to become a modern European nation.

Under the early Bourbon kings, French advisers and family ties with the French royal family strengthened Spain's relations with her northern neighbour. A more practical reason for contact and collaboration was an identity of interest which the two nations found in their hostility to England. British sea power and British expansion overseas were a continual threat to the Spanish Empire and to Spain's transatlantic trade. When the North American colonies declared their independence from Britain, both Spain and France intervened to help them. It was a short-sighted move. In South America, not many years later, the roles were reversed at Spain's expense, when Britain gave her encouragement to the leaders of the independence movements there.

Meanwhile, the French revolution caused a sudden reversal of Spanish policy in Europe. Royalist and Catholic Spain was outraged by the overthrow of the French Bourbons and attacks on the Church, and hastened to join the fist coalition against Republican France in 1793. But her military efforts were so ineffective that, after a disastrous defeat, she was compelled once again (and on much worse terms than before) to take up arms against Britain at France's side. Again she was defeated. Jervis's victory at St. Vincent temporarily lost her her revenue from overseas. A few years later, hoping finally to consolidate French control, Napoleon invaded Spain, expelled the Bourbon King, and put his own brother Joseph on the Spanish throne.

Then began the first modern Spanish revolution. The people of Spain—or rather, the peoples of the various component parts of Spain—rose against the invader in a new war of liberation. In 1810 the first united Parliament met. It worked out a modern Spanish constitution. Though in many ways an unpractical expression of French revolutionary principles, this constitution is important because it sought, for the first time, to deprive the King of personal power, to exclude the Church from government, and to secure representative elections. But the various local leaders, though inspired by high ideals, suffered from inexperience and lack of unity. Two years later the effective military liberation of Spain began with the help of British forces under Wellington.

The expulsion of Napoleon's armies in 1814 was followed by the restoration of the Spanish Bourbons, and the King promptly rejected the new constitution. With the support of the Church and army, Spain returned again to royal absolutism. But the war of liberation had left deep marks. It had taught the people that they could do without a King. It had restored the lost tradition of parliamentary government. It had spread new democratic ideas throughout the country. Yet it was to take more than another hundred years before all these things were to achieve even temporary realization. The 19th century in Spain is one more chapter of upheaval, revolution and oppression.

When people in Britain watch political struggles in other countries they are sometimes apt to forget their own upheavals in the past. Troubled though Spain had been in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, she had, in fact, spent only half as many years in civil war as England and France. In the 19th century, however, when those two countries were making steady progress towards a democratic way of life, Spain began a new period of desperate civil wars. In other ways, too, these hundred years made sad comparison with what was happening abroad. Western Europe was passing through industrial revolution, but Spain was beset with the crying need for agricultural reforms—reforms which have not yet taken place. While Britain and other European nations were consolidating new colonial Empires, Spain's old Empire was finally lost. Still today, Spain is struggling with many problems, which were solved by her neighbours a hundred years ago.

Not long after the restoration of the Bourbon King, his despotic methods and the incompetence of his advisers provoked a revolution. It was started by an army mutiny in Cadiz, where liberal officers found a ready response from troops weary of long and unsuccessful campaigns against insurgent forces in the Spanish Empire. By now the old monarchy had been restored in France, and once again French intervention saved the Spanish King. But a new division of political forces was growing up in Spain. On the one side were all those—including important sections of the army—who had been affected by the new political currents that had been sweeping Europe. "Liberal" ideas had penetrated Spain, and "liberal" leaders had started to emerge. On the other side were all the old traditional forces of reaction: the King, the court, the landed aristocracy and the Church. An open clash between them was provoked by a dispute about the royal succession in 1834.

The first Carlist war, which lasted for six years, though theoretically a dynastic feud between the dead King's brother (Don Carlos) and his widow, was in fact a political struggle between left and right. That the Queen-Mother should have become a leader of progressive forces was an accident for which she herself was not responsible, and which she certainly resented. But her victory did mean the adoption of a more progressive constitution in 1845, a number of other important reforms and the secularization of monastic lands.

Attacks on the great estates forced the Church, itself the largest Spanish landowner, into particularly firm alliance with the landowning class, and after the defeat of the Carlists—whom it supported—it became all the more closely identified with the forces of reaction throughout Spain. Its spiritual and political influence was still very great, and its material power enormous. At the beginning of the 19th century, including monks, nuns and secular clergy, there were no fewer than 143,398 ecclesiastics in the country. In Italy, at the same period, the proportion of ecclesiastics to laymen was as only half as much. With 3,250,000 acres of agri-cultural land and capital in real estate, the Church derived an annual income, which, with donations, totalled the equivalent of £26,000,000. It is no mere slogan, therefore, to talk of the interest which the Church had in maintaining the social status quo. From now on politics and religion became so fatally entangled that in most parts of Spain they have never yet been separated.

After a temporary lull, the years that followed the first Carlist war saw ever greater confusion inside Spain. Military plots and risings followed one another in monotonous succession. Except for a brief (and moderately successful) operation in Morocco, the Spanish generals devoted their main energies to interfering in political affairs. Meanwhile, intrigues at court were becoming a European scandal. In 1868 a naval mutiny was the signal for a general revolution, and when the Queen fled a long search began for a monarch to take her place. The constitution by which he was to rule was drawn up by Parliament in 1869, and was a model of liberal reform. But when the new King—an Italian Prince—was finally elected and arrived in Spain, his reign was brief and chaotic, and after only three years he found an excuse to abdicate. The vacancy he left behind him was filled by the first Spanish Republic in 1873.

That Republic, which was suppressed by a general before the year was out, had been proclaimed by a parliament that was still fundamentally monarchist in outlook, and was split over the question of decentralization. But its chief supporters in the country were the champions of federalism and local autonomy, who became impatient of parliamentary delays. They proceeded to put their theories into practice. Many parts of Spain assumed their virtual independence. In the south-east all but one of the cities from Valencia to Seville became "independent cantons", and acknowledged no central authority above them.

Meanwhile, the Carlists, whose main recruiting grounds were in Navarre, again rallied. In Madrid three Presidents succeeded one another in and out of office, and Ministers were changing places almost daily, until the military finally took control. In December 1874 a Brigade of troops proclaimed the restoration of the Bourbons, and twelve days later Alphonso XII landed in Barcelona. In two years more the last Carlist strongholds had surrendered, and Spain was again at peace.

The new constitution, which was adopted in 1876, was a compromise between the two earlier constitutions of 1845 (adopted after the first Carlist war) and 1869 (framed after the revolution which led to the first Republic). It was followed by a period of alternate conservative and liberal governments, whose terms of office were determined largely by the palace, and whose supporters in Parliament mostly owed their seats to managed elections, but which did give Spain a few much-needed years of relative internal peace. They were disturbed, however, by a series of revolts in Cuba which culminated in war with the United States, and the loss of Spain's last transatlantic and Pacific possessions in 1898.

With the exception of Morocco, Spain was now left with no important overseas commitments. Her Government could devote its entire attention to domestic problems. There were many that were pressing. One of the most immediate was the need for legislation to curtail the glowing wealth of the Church, which was becoming a formidable capitalist organization, and reaping enormous benefits from its exemptions from taxation. But legislation with this aim aroused such violent opposition from bishops and clergy that its adoption was long delayed.

Meanwhile, with the development of industrialization (particularly in Catalonia, the Basque country and Asturias), the emergence of an urban proletariat, and the spread of socialism and other new ideas, industrial and political unrest was growing. For the first time in their history, the working people of Spain were beginning to become a power in the country. For them, sham democracy was not enough. "Constitutional government", which depended on palace intrigue, faked elections, intimidation from the array and pressure from the Church, was out of date.

The first big popular explosion (the forerunner of many more) took place in Barcelona, after a minor military disaster in Morocco in 1909. The immediate cause was a call-up of Catalan reservists. The result was chaos. In five days of mob rule 22 churches and 34 convents were burned down and scenes of extraordinary ferocity took place; 175 workers were shot in the city streets when the Government regained control, and executions continued for many weeks. This revolt was a sudden episode, and order was soon restored. Bill it served to illustrate the intensity of the fury of the working people against the Army, Government and Church.

Neutrality in the First World War—a neutrality which did not prevent the despatch of war material abroad —did something to revive prosperity in Spain. The nation's sympathies in the conflict were split between the Church, Army, bureaucracy and upper classes, who were mostly pro-German, and the "liberals", intellectuals, traders and working class—and the Basque and Catalan autonomists—who were pro-ally. Towards the end of the war political unrest increased. During a new period of strikes, assassinations, repression and intrigue, it became clear that sooner or later the existing régime must finally succumb to one or other of the forces striving to take power: the republicans and socialists on the one side; or the army, with its military defence committees, organized throughout the country, on the other.

In 1921 a new military disaster in Morocco, for which, this time, the King himself was partly responsible, provoked a widespread demand for public investigation. In the same year there had been new and violent troubles in Catalonia, and general unrest throughout the country. Two years later, just when Parliament had completed a second and fuII enquiry in the Morocco defeat (the first had suppressed many of the facts) and was preparing to publish its report, the Military Governor of Catalonia, General Primo de Rivera, staged a coup d’état. With the King's approval, and with a directorate of generals to advise him, he became the sole Minister of Spain.

The dictatorship—sometimes compared with Kemal Ataturk's régime in Turkey—was absolute, and at first depended entirely on the army. An early act was an official Visit to Italy in 1923 with King Alfonso, who hastened to express his admiration of the fascist State, and to offer to the Pope the troops of Spain in any new crusade the Vatican might plan. In Morocco, in co-operation with the French, native revolts were finally suppressed, and the pacification of the country was completed by 1927.

At home, grandiose schemes of public works were started. The Military Directorate, through which the dictator first governed, lasted until 1925, when he replaced it with a cabinet of civilians. But effective power remained throughout in the hands of the armed forces, and officers everywhere controlled the civil administration. Gradually the dictatorship earned the opposition of all civilian classes. The landowning aristocracy was economically protected, but resented its loss of political power. No attempt was made to tackle the agrarian problem, and the peasants remained oppressed and sullen. The middle class was angered by increasing taxation aimed at industry and commerce, and the dictator (despite considerable efforts) never won the sympathy of the urban working class. The King, too, began to lose faith in his dictator. The first plot—which quickly failed—was organized by an ill-assorted group of disgruntled generals, ousted politicians and demagogues in 1926. Apparently it had the King's support. But as opposition mounted, it became clear that though the Monarchy could not survive with the help of the dictator, without him it was lost. Early in 1930 Primo de Rivera made a last appeal to those who had helped him into power. Spain's military leaders did not respond. He at once resigned and went abroad. At the end of a year of confusion, municipal elections were held throughout Spain. The result was a great victory for the Republican parties. King Alphonso left the country, and in April 1931 the second Spanish Republic was proclaimed.


SOME pages back I noted Spain's geographical isolation from her continental neighbour France. It is geography, too, which largely accounts for what its opponents often inaccurately call "separatism" inside Spain. The Spanish peninsula is an area of great variety of climate, fertility and landscape. At the same time, natural barriers—mountain ranges and semi-desert plains—isolate one region from the next. Modern communications overcame the geographical division of the country, but they cannot overcome the historical and political division which geography has caused.

The struggle between Centralism and local Nationalism, which has persisted since the expulsion of the Moors, might perhaps have been settled centuries ago if the unity of the Crown and of the Church had been accompanied by the unification of popular institutions. Local democracy has very deep roots in the Spanish cities and provinces. But Spain, a collection of originally independent kingdoms, was unified only from above. There was no corresponding unification at the local level. Subjects of the Crown remained citizens of Navarre or Castile or Catalonia. One by one, as Madrid imposed its power upon them, the old kingdoms and the old municipalities lost their traditional local rights. But there was no fundamental union. The first united Parliament did not meet until 1810—in the middle of a revolution. That one fact is symptomatic of the process as a whole.

To the absence of institutional and political unity was added maladministration from the centre. The natural centre for the Government of a single Spain is obviously in New Castile. But the uplands of Castile are, by their very situation, backward and remote from the centres of development and contact with the outside world. The constant feeling that Madrid mishandled and misunderstood their problems was yet another reason for the centrifugal tendencies of the lands she ruled.

So it was that the process of disintegration, that has overtaken Spain at every moment of upheaval since her liberation from the Moors, was as much a reaction against bad and ununderstanding Government as the expression of a real desire for independence. No sensible person would today suggest that Spain can be anything but one economic unit. Politically as well, a great many of the functions of government must clearly belong to the nation as a whole. But there are also local problems which could most efficiently be settled on a local basis. There is, too, in several parts of Spain, a real feeling of individual national consciousness, which repression only makes more bitter and determined, but which reasonable gratification could make into a source of unity and strength.

There are today three areas where effective autonomist movements exist: the Basque country ("Euzkadi"), Catalonia and Galicia. Of these Galicia is the least prominent because the autonomist movement there has only re-emerged in very recent years. Galicians speak their own dialect (very like Portuguese), and have a culture of their own. But their chief problems are isolation, meagre resources, and a very low standard of living. Euzkadi and Catalonia, in contrast, are the two most prosperous, highly developed, and fully industrialized regions in the country. They are, in short, "the Irish problem in reverse". With about 11 per cent of the total Population of Spain, Catalonia today pays over 40 per cent of the receipts of the Spanish exchequer. The fact that the greater prosperity of the Basques and the Catalans has constantly provoked the envy of Castile, whom they accuse of draining their wealth and giving virtually nothing in return, is one of the reasons for their determination to control their own destinies in future.

There are many others. For example, the Basques can recall that their original, and complete, independence was only lost because freely negotiated agreements were systematically violated by Spanish kings. And they can claim that racially they are not related to the Spaniards (in this their ancient language and their early history bear them out), and that almost all their local problems are different, and sometimes the opposite, of those of Spain. Whereas in Castile or Andalusia the great agrarian problem is the big estate, the danger for the Basques is that the peasants’ holdings will become too small. Industrialization in Euzkadi has already been achieved. Their natural resources are fully exploited with up-to-date techniques. From the earliest times a nation of many sailors (they signed with Edward III of England the first treaty establishing the freedom of the seas), they had had constant contacts with the outside world. Even the Church in Euzkadi is different from the Church elsewhere. Relatively free from reactionary political affiliations, with a high general standard of culture and close ties with the working people, the Basque clergy are an example to their colleagues in other parts of Spain. Socially, class divisions are far less acute. By some accident of history or necessity of geography—though the Basques would claim it as proof of their natural democratic instincts—feudalism never fully imposed itself upon their people. To this day an atmosphere of solidarity—social and political—has lasted. It may do much to ensure easy transition in the future.

Catalonia, on the other hand, is a country where oppression has provoked violent extremes. By language and culture she was originally an extension of southern France rather than part of Spain. In the 14th century she built up an extensive Mediterranean empire of her own, and her merchant seamen compiled Europe's first code of maritime law. Prosperous as a trading nation, she had few contacts in mediaeval times with her semi-pastoral neighbours on the interior plateaux. But when she was united under the crown of Castile early in the 15th century her first decline began. The fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453 had made the Mediterranean unsafe for Christian ships, and wrecked her maritime trade. With the discovery of America the primacy of Spanish ports passed from Barcelona to Seville. Catalans were excluded from transatlantic commerce. At the same time extensive peasant troubles did temporary damage to her agriculture.

But it was not till the 17th century, when royal efforts at centralization became stronger, that the first big Catalan revolts began. In 1640, while Spain was in the middle of a war with France, the Catalans rebelled and placed themselves under the protection of the French king. This was the signal for a number of other provincial risings, in one of which Portugal won her final independence. Barcelona only submitted after 12 years to the King's forces, and Catalan guerillas in the countryside kept up the fight for seven more. Forty years later—during the War of the Spanish Succession—the Catalans rebelled again. After a fearful siege of Barcelona the King regained control in 1714, abolished the remains of Catalonia's political independence, closed the Catalan universities and started a new period of repression.

At the beginning of the 19th century the Peninsula War was the signal for a general disintegration of Spain. Until the arrival of British forces under Wellington, operations against the French invaders were carried out on a regional and local basis, and some 20 impromptu committees in various parts of the country declared their independence. Catalonia was occupied by French troops for five years.

There was another Catalan revolt in 1823, and then, under a "liberal" Government in Madrid, a further period of repression, in which Catalonia lost her few surviving local rights—her commercial and penal law, her special tribunals, the use of her language in schools, her coinage, and her local administration. But this was only the signal for a new revival: particularly a linguistic and cultural revival. The Catalan nationalist movement in its present form first began to organize itself about a hundred years ago.

At first it was not predominantly a movement of the left. The big Barcelona rising against the Central Government in 1842 was organized by a combination of factory owners and workers. As industrialization increased the Catalan industrialists and the prosperous bourgeoisie took the lead against the centralism of Madrid. Allied to them at first were the Carlists, who, though reactionary and pro-clerical, also stood for local liberties and interests. After the second Carlist war ended in 1876, the Church herself still supported the autonomists in both Catalonia and Euzkadi. But as the industrial proletariat grew stronger, and as wave after wave of terrorism and repression swept the country in the early 1900s, the leadership of the nationalist movements passed gradually to the people. In 1909 the oppressive policy of the Central Government provoked wild riots which were followed ten years later by the first big general strike. Well organized and relatively peaceful, it paralysed Barcelona and caused the fall of two successive governments in Madrid. This time Government repression was more ferocious than ever before. Upheavals, atrocities and assassinations continued without a pause until 1923, when Primo do Rivera, then Military Governor of Catalonia, made his successful coup d'état.

During his dictatorship, Catalan nationalism was driven deep underground. This, and the declared anti-Catalan sentiments of King Alfonso XIII, made it more than ever republican and left wing. Only after the coming to power of the Republic of 1931, which was actually preceded by the declaration of a Catalan Republic, did Catalonia regain her freedom of expression, her local autonomy, and the right to remember her individuality and her own traditions. The story of the Generalitat of Catalonia, of the autonomous government of Euzkadi, and of how, during the last civil war, the age-old Spanish regionalist tendencies came once again to life, belongs to recent history. But local nationalism and the problems of Catalonia and Euzkadi are not new. They have deep roots in the past. They can never be extinguished by passing wars or military dictators.


THE proclamation of the Second Republic in 1931 marked the final collapse of the 19th-century monarchical setting in which successive Spanish governments, "constitutional" and dictatorial, had followed one another since the first short-lived Republic fell in 1874. During those years the traditional elements in Spanish political life had, one by one, become discredited by abuse. The monarchy had tried to secure its own survival by calling in a military dictator. The dictator had now fallen, and the monarchy, by its association with him, had lost all popular prestige and many of its most powerful friends. The Church, identified with the interests of the ruling class, inextricably mixed in politics, and (with few local exceptions) reactionary to the core, had been a focus of bitter dissension for a hundred years. The army, "the strongest political party in the State", had been responsible for countless risings and rebellions, culminating in the dictatorship which had just surrendered to universal disapproval, and from which the generals themselves had finally withdrawn support. Even the memory of parliamentary government, with its faked elections, its intrigue, and its "management" behind the scenes, had become the target of mockery and disillusion.

In this atmosphere of past failures, the new Republic came to power. It inherited all the old problems still unsolved. Smouldering under centralist repression, the separatist movements were very much alive. In the countryside the agrarian problem had become, if possible, more acute than ever, and the industrial areas were full of discontent. Economically, the country was unstable. After seven years of military rule the administrative machine was inefficient and corrupt.

This was the moment for swift and sweeping changes. The moment to show the Spanish people that the oppression and reaction which for centuries they had associated with the rule of kings had really ended. That government by small privileged minorities was finished, and that the Spain of the future belonged to them.

But the men who first took over when the King left Spain were hardly the natural leaders of a new era of reform. They had no great force of popular enthusiasm to support them. They saw the end of the dictatorship and monarchy more as an expression of general dissatisfaction at the personal incompetence and failure of the dictator and the King, than as a conscious demand for progressive changes in the future. They could claim that the revolution itself had been made not by the nation as a whole, but by the votes of the middle class and some of the workers of the towns. The people of Spain, they thought, had still not begun in earnest the battle for their freedom and their rights.

It was significant that in the very early days even the Church was not unsympathetic to the new Republic, and shortly before the change took place a number of the political leaders of the old ruling class announced their conversion to its cause. It was from their ranks that the first President, Alcala Zamora, was chosen.

The elections which followed in April 1931, however, showed a great landslide. It was the first unchallengeable expression of the desire for something new. Despite the influence of landlords and the management of voting results in country districts—where hatred of the old régime was most justified and most bitter—but which none the less often returned candidates of the right, the republicans and their socialist allies were returned with an immense majority. Only 19 confirmed monarchists were elected to the new Constituent Assembly.

The first Government was predominantly liberal, and included three socialist ministers. For months the Assembly worked on the new Spanish constitution. As finally adopted it represented a great break with the past. "Spain is a democratic republic of workers of all classes …" it began. Its clauses went on to grant universal suffrage, a single legislative chamber, the separation of Church and State, freedom of religion, control of all religious orders, and a ban on their holding more property than they needed for their own subsistence. There was also a provision for the granting of statutes of autonomy to such groups of provinces as might apply, and a definition of the powers of central and local governments. Catalonia became an autonomous Generalitat, with its own President and Parliament, in April 1931. But though the Basques asked—in a local plebiscite—for their autonomy in 1933, it was not finally granted to them until after the civil war began.

The early years of the Republic were beset with troubles. One fundamental cause was the failure of the new régime to press ahead with agrarian reform. In three years only just over 12,000 peasants were given land, out of two and a half million landless. The secularization of the Church was certainly also an urgent problem, but while the Government became deeply involved in bitter disputes about this subject, the great mass of peasants were left in their old conditions of de facto serfdom. Peasant revolts broke out. They were preceded by a series of local strikes, anarchist risings, and a general strike in Barcelona. By 1933, when a rebellion of land-hungry peasants was repressed with particular ferocity by Government police, the new Republic had already lost much of the sympathy of "all the workers" whom it claimed to represent.

The clean-up of the army, too, was ineffective. In the early days of the Republic large numbers of redundant and right-wing officers had been retired—"honourably", and well pensioned. But already, in 1932, the first military revolt broke out in Seville. Its leader was General Sanjurjo, who, had at first been entrusted by the Republic with the maintenance of order. His revolt, inspired by the monarchists, was suppressed. He himself was sentenced to life imprisonment. A little later he was exiled on parole.

So in the elections of November 1933 a right-wing coalition against the socialists and left republicans came to power. The new Government was in the hands of monarchists and Catholic agrarians. That was the end of the period of attempted "liberal" progress. It had failed, partly because popular forces were not yet ready or united, partly because the strongest social and political element was still the old land-owning aristocracy, which had successfully prevented its power being broken by radical agrarian reform. In those times strong and far-sighted democratic leaders were desperately needed. Years of dictatorship and repression had made such leaders rare.

Under the new Government another period of repression for the peasants and the urban proletariat began. In February 1934 28,000 peasants were dispossessed from land which they had taken, and strikes flared up in Saragossa and Madrid. At the end of that year Spain's modern fascist party, the Falange, was first formed. Its leaders were the ex-dictator Primo de Rivera’s son, and young landowners from Andalusia and Castile. At the same time the Government moved still further to the right, and a ministry including new clerical and reactionary ministers took office in October. Uproar throughout the country followed, and the bourgeoisie and proletariat found themselves again united against the new régime. By now the parties of the left and the trade unions were convinced that the monarchists and the right wing were preparing to overthrow the Republic. There was another general strike. The Catalan Generalitat severed connection with Madrid. In Asturias the miners revolted and held their local capital, Oviedo, for nine days. Order was eventually restored—in Asturias only with the help of Moorish troops—but it cost the Left thousands of dead and wounded, and over 35,000 political prisoners.

Disunion then arose among the Government parties, and the Government resigned. In October 1934 it was replaced by a Cabinet still further to the Right. Among its junior ministers was General Franco, Under-Secretary for War. For the next 16 months the Spanish right was virtually unopposed—except by smouldering popular discontent throughout the country. Eventually, after a further Cabinet change, the President of the Republic granted a decree of dissolution, and in February 1936 the last general election took place.

The parties of the right formed an "anti-Marxist" alliance. The moderate Republicans and the left united in the "popular front". They won a great electoral triumph, for which the savage repression of the previous Governments, from 1934 onwards, was at least partly responsible. In the new Parliament the right was represented by 152 members, the centre by 62, and the popular front by 258. The leader of a strong republican group of deputies, Don Manuel Azaňa, became Prime Minister (for the second time) in a Government composed of members of the two main moderate republican groups. In May, at the demand of Parliament, President Zamora was removed and Azaňa took his place. The new Government was led by the head of another of the moderate republican groups. The socialists and other left-wing parties were not asked to join the Government until after civil war had broken out.

Meanwhile, disorder was rife throughout the country. The election itself had taken place in comparative calm. Now, however, riots, strikes and assassinations followed one another to a climax. As the right became more and more aggressive, so violence from the left increased. On July 13th Calvo Sotelo, a spokesman of the right in Parliament, and a former minister of the dictator Primo de Rivera, was assassinated—apparently as a reprisal for the murder of a police officer the day before. Five days later the army of Morocco revolted under General Franco, and the Spanish Civil War had begun.

The five years of the second Republic were a happy period for Spain. They culminated in disturbance and military revolt. The end of the monarchy had not led to that period of peace and progress for which the Spanish people had waited for so long. Its failures were the result of many causes. At the beginning the Republic was divided against itself. Some of its early leaders had no real faith in its institutions or understanding of its purpose. The great power of the representatives of the old régime was never effectively broken. Because of this, long-waited reforms were endlessly delayed. In their impatience for liberation from the oppression of the past, the workers, and above all the peasants, were continually frustrated. When, at last, their own chosen leaders came to power with a great majority over the parties of the right, they were at once challenged with threats of rebellion and revolt. While the army planned and plotted, its political allies helped to work up violence and disorder throughout the country. They knew that this was the moment when, unless they struck, the people of Spain would take their future into their own hands. They knew that no intrigues, no "management", no peaceful efforts could any longer save them and the old order which they represented.

For centuries Spain has been a country of sharp divisions. Never was the division clearer than in 1936. On the one side the Republic, the Government, and the Spanish people who had put that Government in power. On the other, all the old forces of privilege and reaction: aristocracy, landowners, Church, and, above all, the army. Without the army, the rest were helpless. But the army, "fully conscious of its historical mission towards Spain", was ready, with powerful foreign allies, to turn against its enemy, the Spanish people. For 32 ½ months it fought them. In the end it won.


ON July 17th, 1936, the military garrisons of Melilla and Ceuta, in Spanish Morocco, revolted. General Franco, after ensuring the rebellion of the troops under his own command in the Canary Islands, flew to North Africa to take control. Next day all the large garrisons on the mainland joined the revolt, and the first insurgent detachments from Morocco landed at Cadiz. By the end of the week the military rebels controlled most of the big cities of mainland Spain, except those on the east and north coasts and Madrid. In Barcelona the local commander had remained loyal to the Government, and with the help of civilians, Civil Guards and Shock Police, the garrison troops were overcome before their officers could launch a concerted offensive. In the capital the workers alone, armed by the Government, overcame the troops in a short and violent struggle. In the north, only Oviedo was in rebel hands, and there the troops were besieged by the local population.

Despite many warnings, the Government was apparently taken by surprise. It had not believed in an army insurrection, had made no preparations to meet it, and only became convinced of its seriousness after several days. Then it found itself faced with a formidable problem. To suppress a large number of geographically separate revolts before the rebel armies could unite, it had virtually no organized forces at its disposal. Almost every Spanish officer who found himself free to do so had joined the rebels. Those who remained comprised 25 trained staff officers, and about 500 regimental officers of the various arms of the service. The navy was divided. Loyal crews had overthrown their officers on a number of vessels, but Spain's only battleship, two new cruisers, and several smaller craft, as well as the naval bases at Ferrol and Cadiz, were taking rebel orders. In North Africa General Franco had at his disposal 11,000 well-trained Moorish troops and the Spanish Foreign Legion, 5,000 strong. The air force was divided, and the Republic had no effective aircraft. Of the police forces, almost all the 6,500 newly-formed Shock Police remained loyal, but the 34,000 Civil Guards joined the rebels, except those in Barcelona. The bulk of equipment and military stores was naturally in army hands.

The only effective force which the Government could use was, therefore, the civilian population. Of this a minority was already organized or half-organized in trade union and political militias. In the risings and disorders of the past few years they had had some experience of gun battles and street fighting. But there was no unity of command among them, and little discipline. Out of these slender human resources the Republic eventually created a new army of 1,500,000 uniformed, trained and disciplined men, with 40,000 new officers to lead them. The victories of the early days, and the very fact that it was possible to create such an army later, show that now, at last, it was the Spanish people as a whole who were fighting, consciously and with a sense of purpose.

Early in September 1936, when Irun, on the French frontier, had fallen to rebel forces, it became clear that the Government had not prevented the consolidation of the revolt. It still controlled the whole of Eastern Spain from the French frontier to Cartagena; Minorca, Madrid and the centre of the country, Malaga in the south, and the Basque country and Asturias in the north. But the rest of Spain was in insurgent hands. Against all expectations the lightning military coup which the generals had planned had failed. But the Republic, having failed to suppress it while it was still a geographically dispersed series of mutinies, was now faced with a full-scale modern war. The central theme of this war was the effort of the rebel generals to take Madrid—from the west by an advance up the Tagus valley, and from the north from Burgos. Meanwhile, another rebel drive was aimed through the Basque country to Asturias, while Government offensives from Catalonia had Saragossa as their target.

From the north General Mola's forces advanced south to the Guadarrama mountains. From the south, General Franco's troops took Toledo (relieving the rebel garrison which had held out, with great determination, in the Alcazar), and at the end of September 1936 the siege of Madrid began. The insurgents were confident that in a few days it would be over. The President of the Republic and four Ministers left the capital for Barcelona in mid-October. Early in November Madrid was all but surrounded, and its fall seemed near. An offensive by Government troops, however, reinforced by the International Brigade and equipped with arms that had now started arriving from abroad, particularly Russia, saved the city. But it soon spent its force, and towards the end of the month the Cabinet moved its seat to Valencia. Then Asturians and Catalans arrived to reinforce the defending forces. Rebel air bombardment was intensified. On November 15th rebel troops entered the University City. But they got no farther. The front was stabilized with Madrid still in the hands of its defenders.

In January 1937 a new rebel offensive started. Its object was to cut the main road to Valencia, on which Madrid depended for supplies. Government forces held the advance on the Jarama river. In February the rebels captured Malaga, and in March reopened their offensive on Madrid. The town of Guadalajara was their target, and for the attack they concentrated a force including four divisions of regular Italian troops, three divisions of blackshirts, and three German and four Italian squadrons of aircraft. Their defeat, and the panic of the Italian troops which followed, was hailed in Spain and abroad as one of the great republican triumphs of the war. The Government was further encouraged at the end of March by a victory on the south-western front in Estremadura, which saved the vital Almaden mercury mines from the rebel forces.

Meanwhile, the war at sea intensified. In the string of 1937 the rebel fleet was bombarding Government ports, and attacks on merchant ships bringing food and supplies to the Republic became more and more frequent. German and Italian warships—nominally on "non-intervention" patrol—gave the rebels substantial help, and at the end of May, on the pretext that the Nazi pocket-battleship Deutschland had been bombed, German naval units carried out a sudden and fierce bombardment of the open port of Almeria. Attacks on merchant shipping by Italian submarines continued till September, when an agreement among the "non-intervention" Powers to sink all unidentified submarines at sight put a sudden stop to piracy in the Mediterranean.

In June 1937 Bilbao fell to General Mola after determined Basque resistance. Guernica, the ancient Basque capital, had been taken two months before, after a German aerial bombardment which earned the rebel cause more hatred than any other single act of the civil war. From June until October the northern rebel armies continued their offensive along the coast, and by August 22nd the rebel garrison in Oviedo had been relieved. Though guerilla fighting continued in the mountains until 1939, the northern front was now no more. The main rebel effort shifted to the Eastern Front.

At the end of 1937, when a final and successful attack on Government strongholds was generally expected, the Government itself took the offensive, and on January 8th, 1938, captured Teruel. Though the city was lost again in February, the temporary success did much to raise republican morale. But now the last rebel drive on Catalonia (which was entered on March 26th) began. Early in April Lerida was taken, and the first rebel forces reached the sea at Vinaroz on April 15th, 1938, isolating Barcelona from Madrid and Valencia, and cutting Government territory in two. Once again the war seemed lost. General Franco's tourist bureau advertised tours of the northern battlefields. But once again the Republic rallied.

Seven months of stalemate followed. In July 1938 Government troops had crossed over to the west bunk of the Ebro. The rebel advance on Barcelona was held up until they were dislodged in November. By now republican resistance in Catalonia was all but exhausted. General Franco launched his final offensive in this sector in December. On January 15th, 1939, Tarragona fell, and a day later bombed, starving, waterless and lightless Barcelona was occupied by a force of Carlists and Moors, followed by Foreign Legion troops, and a mixed Italian-Spanish unit.

The Government still maintained that all was not yet lost. With an army of 700,000 men, 500 miles of coastline, 11 capitals of provinces and a small fleet under its control it declared that it would fight on. It moved its seat north, first to Gerona, then, after the capture of that town on February 4th, 1939, to Figueras, near the French-Catalan frontier. But the end was now very near. On February 10th the Government returned to Madrid, President Azaňa resigned, France and Britain recognized the rebels as the Government of Spain. On March 5th a "defence council", on which were representatives of all the popular front parties except the communists, was set up in Madrid in defiance of Dr. Negrin's Government. It discussed plans for the surrender. On the same day the Prime Minister and most of his Cabinet left for France. On March 7th fighting broke out between troops taking orders from the Defence Council and elements supporting the Republican Government, including the communists, who wanted to go on resisting to the last. The fighting did not end until General Franco's troops entered the city on March 28th. Next day the remaining provincial capitals surrendered, and at last the Spanish Civil War was over.


TO follow military events at the battlefronts where the Civil War was being fought is relatively simple. Much more complex are the political developments which took place behind the lines. The right-wing coalition which fought and lost the election of 1936 sided, with few exceptions, with the military rebels. Even before the war began their parties and their policies were not difficult to understand. They represented the old order, they had little faith in parliamentary institutions, and from its inception they had distrusted the Republic. In the months before the revolt broke out, their leaders were becoming increasingly violent and outspoken in their threats against the constitution. When once the war had started and the generals were in control, the Spanish Right was simplified still further. Under military leadership the discipline of the army's political allies was assured. It was, however, an accident which made General Franco the leader.

Originally it had been planned that General Sanjurjo should take supreme command of the rebelling armies. He flew from exile in Lisbon when the revolt broke out. But his 'plane crashed and he was killed, leaving only two likely successors to his place. Of these General Mola was expected to have the prior claim. But in the autumn of 1936, when the rebel forces had consolidated their positions, a committee of seven senior officers was formed to take charge of the rebellion in the approved Spanish military style. On October 1st they appointed General Franco Generalissimo and Head of the "Spanish State". At the same time a "technical council of state" was set up which performed the duties of a Cabinet. General Mola himself died not long after in another aircraft crash.

In the spring of 1937 minor agitation by the secretary of the Falange, Spanish fascist party, led to his arrest. The movement was amalgamated by decree with the Carlists and the other right-wing political groups. The new united Falange, of which all officers and N.C.O.s were ex-officio members, then became, and still is today, the only party which General Franco recognized as legal. There was no further trouble in the rebel ranks until the summer of 1938, when one of General Franco's generals publicly denounced his German and Italian allies, and minor mutinies broke out inside the rebel army. But victory was then in sight, and unity was soon restored.

General Franco made relatively few clear declarations of policy during the civil war. The army had a hard campaign to tackle, and to that he devoted his main attention. At first it was thought that he was contemplating an eventual royal restoration, with Alfonso's son, Don Juan, as King, after the war was won. That was the reason given for his refusal to accept Don Juan's repeated offers to serve under his command. His social policy, based on fascist principles, seemed to aim at a corporate state like that of Italy; universal suffrage, trade unions and strikes would be abolished. Regional autonomy would be suppressed. There were plans to maintain the disestablishment of the Church, but the rights of the Jesuits (suspended by the Republic) were restored. In July 1937 the Spanish bishops, with two notable exceptions (from the Basque country and Catalonia), published a joint pastoral letter officially siding with the rebel cause. On August 3rd the Vatican gave its official recognition.

On the Government side, the popular front agreement by which the moderate republican and the left-wing parties had come to power, was originally an electoral arrangement only. The Cabinets which were in office until the revolt was six weeks old were liberal and republican, and included no representative of the socialists or of parties further to the left. Under the Prime Ministership, and later Presidency, of Manuel Azaňa, they had freed large numbers of political prisoners who had been gaoled by the previous régime, they suspended the payment of compensation to expropriated landlords, stopped the ejection of smallholders, limited the property-owning rights of the Jesuits, and gave back her autonomy to Catalonia.

But the new progressive policies were too slowly and too cautiously applied for the mass of urban workers and peasants still smarting from the repression of the past few years. The immediate internal prelude to the Civil War was five months of disorder throughout the country. An opponent of the Government declared that from February until June 1936 there had been 113 general strikes and 218 partial strikes: he was not contradicted. As popular agitation grew, so did right-wing counter agitation. The result was riots and a series of assassinations, one of which—the murder of Primo de Rivera's former minister and spokesman of the Right, Calvo Sotelo—was the immediate forerunner of the military revolt. It was no more the cause of the Civil War than the murder of Archduke Francis Ferdinand at Sarajevo was the cause of the First World War. But there is reason to believe that it precipitated the outbreak which the generals had not planned to start before the autumn of 1936.

Among the forces loyal to the Republic was one organization which has no parallel in modern Western Europe. The Iberian Anarchist Federation, and its trade union movement, the C.N.T., provided the Republic with some of its most daring troops in the early days of fighting. It must be admitted that it also caused serious difficulties. It was not represented in the popular front, nor did it have any members in the Spanish Parliament, because it did not work by parliamentary methods. Anarchism was founded in Spain in the mid-19th century, and the first general anarchist congress was held in Barcelona in 1870. Two years later, at a second congress at Cordoba, it already claimed 20,000 members, 236 local federations, and 516 trade union branches. When the civil war began it was a powerful force, particularly among the urban workers and artisans in Catalonia, and among the landless Andalusian peasants.

The political creed of anarchism is briefly described in the phrase: "Whereas the communists want to conquer political power for the proletariat, the anarchists want the proletariat to destroy it." In practice this meant a general opposition to the use of parliamentary methods, and a belief in direct (and sometimes in violent) action. The ultimate object was the abolition of the State and of central government, and the organization of society on time basis of a series of small and independent autonomous groups. This was the way in which their own movement was organized. It gave it great resilience in times of government repression, and their almost religious fervour made the anarchists a potent influence of the extreme Left. But to the British observer the very fact that a large number of Spaniards believed with such passion and sincerity in the abolition of government itself and of unified administration, seems above all a damning comment on centuries of oppression and misgovernment in Spain.

With the exception of the anarchists and the Catalan and Basque autonomists, the other parties which stood by the Government have counterparts in the rest of Europe. One group of Catalans, a movement which years before had led the struggle for autonomy but which now represented the big industrial owners, had sided with the rebels. None of the other Catalan organizations followed their example. The Basques, whose members of parliament had at first kept to the centre, joined forces with the Government parties shortly before the revolt broke out, and in October 1936 their first statute of autonomy was voted. Though relatively conservative in outlook, and devoted to their Catholic religion, the Basques' resistance to the rebels was one of the greatest efforts of the civil war. When the northern front collapsed, the Basque autonomous Government moved to Catalonia to carry on the fight, and still today their underground resistance is one of General Franco's biggest problems.

The Spanish communist party needs little explanation. It was formed in 1920 when the socialist movement left the Third international. In the elections of 1936, as part of the popular front, it won 16 seats in parliament. Though always a small minority among the movements supporting the Republic, its energy, discipline and good organization gained its members many important key positions. Its influence naturally increased at times when the Republic's main source of material supply was Soviet Russia. Later, the Spanish communists lost much of their prestige. Events during the last few days of fighting were destined to damage it severely for the future.

The socialist party was founded in secret in Madrid in 1879. Its first members were printers and artisans. In 1881, when a liberal government lifted the ban on workers' organizations, it was refounded with 900 members. It believed in seeking political power by parliamentary methods, but its early growth was largely the result of its able organization of strikes. In 1888 its trade union movement, the U.G.T., was founded, and after the Spanish-American war of 1899 its membership grew fast. At this time one of its main centres was the industrial city of Bilbao. From there and from the Asturias, its influence spread throughout the country. In 1909 it called the general strike in Barcelona, and in the elections of that year won one seat in parliament and seats in 40 municipalities. By 1913 its membership was 147,000. From then until 1936 its strength grew steadily, and in the election of that year it gained 89 parliamentary seats. After September 1936, and until the last days of the civil war, Socialist prime ministers headed the Government of the Republic.

When the rebellion broke out, the then Prime Minister, a moderate republican, Casares Quiroga, who had discounted warnings of a serious military rising, at once resigned. President Azaňa attempted to form a compromise government under a moderate leader, Martinez Barrio, which would have included among its ministers leaders who supported the revolt. Under pressure from the Left, however, that government resigned within a few hours. It was replaced by a cabinet under Dr. Giral, one of Azaňa's own political supporters. The fall of Irun in September 1936 damaged its prestige enough to show the need to give more power to the Left, and Largo Caballero, Secretary-General of the socialist trade union movement, took over from Giral, and formed a government which included six socialists, two communists, three moderate republicans, one Basque nationalist and one Catalan. This was a big step towards the unity of the active forces fighting for the Republic. In November the process was completed by the further expansion of the Government to include four members of the anarchist C.N.T.—three of them Catalans.

In Catalonia, however, there was a temporary and violent outbreak of disunity for seven days in May 1937, when anarchists and members of the Trotskyist "United Marxist" party fought a short civil war within the civil war against socialist and communist supporters of the autonomous Catalan Government. The Government regained control, and the anarchists were excluded from the Catalan régime. Shortly afterwards the Government of the Republic also changed. On May 15th, 1937, Dr. Negrin succeeded Largo Caballero, and the C.N.T. was no longer represented. The new Premier was a socialist like his predecessor, but had not been in the front rank of Spanish politics before. Strongly supported by the communists until the last moments of the fighting, there were those who said that his relations with them and with the Russians were too close. A new supreme war council was now set up to ensure the co-ordination of military operations.

In March 1938 relations between the anarchist and socialist trade unions, which had become very strained since the exclusion of the anarchists from the Government of the Republic, were restored. In April the Cabinet was reconstituted, and the C.N.T. regained its representation. On February 1st, 1939, a week after the fall of Barcelona, parliament held its last meeting on Spanish soil, at Figueras near the French frontier; 62 of the 473 elected members were present. They declared their determination to go on fighting, and on February 12th the Government returned to Madrid. A fortnight later President Azaňa resigned his office. Then the "defence council" effectively took over in Madrid and deposed Dr. Negrin's Government. Fighting broke out between its supporters and elements, including the communists supporting Dr. Negrin. Another short and violent civil war within the civil war dominated the last days of the Republic.

If there is a contrast between the discipline of the rebels and the disunity among the parties and movements which fought to protect the Government and the Republic, the reasons are not hard to find. General Franco was the military leader of a military rebellion. From the early days he had almost the entire Spanish forces under his direct command. Throughout, the army was in control. The politicians were a relatively unimportant appendage to the rebel war machine. When they gave trouble, they were forcibly amalgamated (not only with each other but with the armed forces) by decree. A further source of strength was the fact that the rebellion was able to rely on powerful foreign support from the day that it broke out. Victory is also an important factor in the maintenance of unity. Once the big campaigns had started, there were indeed a few serious setbacks, but the general progress of the war was always in the rebels' favour.

The Government was faced with the reverse of all these rebel assets. They began the war without an army. At first, their only fighting forces were untrained, undisciplined and unequipped civilians. Without police, even the maintenance of public order was an insuperable problem. Gradually out of chaos, discipline and organization were built up. But, as was natural in a democratic system, it was the people's movements and their political leaders who shared the power. Shunned by the Governments of democratic states abroad, the Republic found in Soviet Russia her only important source of supply. That in itself was a cause of friction. More important was the fact that, on the fronts, defeat followed defeat in monotonous succession. In these circumstances, the outstanding feature of the republican resistance was that it was able to maintain its hold over its people for 32 ½ months of bitter fighting against enormously superior military force.


WHILE the Civil War was raging inside Spain, many aspects of the struggle were the subject of sharp controversy abroad. Those were the days when the great powers had already abandoned the League of Nations, and when the Second World War was looming on the international horizon. Mussolini had just conquered Abyssinia. Hitler was consolidating his power in Europe and preparing for new aggressions. Russia, despite new communist policies of co-operation with foreign bourgois parties, was still effectively a hermit state. In Britain the Government was facing growing protests against its policy of appeasing the dictators. But even in the democratic countries there were important groups of politicians who believed in friendship and collaboration with the Axis.

In such circumstances as these, it was natural that the wildest explanations of the Spanish Civil War should earn some credence outside Spain. There were those who maintained that the rebellion had been caused by the imminent peril of a communist coup d'état. "Communist" was a label which was fastened indiscriminately on the Republic, its government and its supporters as a whole. Foreign Catholics, pointing to the attitude of the Spanish bishops and quoting reports of atrocities against the Church, claimed that General Franco was simply fighting a crusade against atheism in his country. In general, world public opinion was divided. Right-wing, conservative and "appeasement" parties favoured the rebel (or as they then called it, the "nationalist") cause, while left-wing, liberal and progressive parties wanted to support the Government and the Republic.

Today, with the passing of time, the internal issues can be seen more clearly. In essence, what happened was that a legitimate democratically elected government was attacked by a group of Spanish generals, supported by defeated monarchist and right-wing political leaders. With the help of the units under their command, of Moorish levies, a foreign legion, German and Italian reinforcements and equipment, facilities in Portugal, and constant Axis diplomatic and other aid, the generals overthrew that Government and set up a military dictatorship in its place. The dictatorship proceeded to eliminate its political opponents, to abolish democratic institutions, and to suppress free political expression. Today there are few informed people in any democratic country who deny that these are the facts, or that the result of General Franco's rebellion inside Spain was as near a copy of the nazi or fascist systems as Spanish conditions permitted him to make it.

The international implications of the civil war are also much less in doubt today than at the time. The Second World War, which broke out six months after the Spanish conflict ended, has disposed of illusions about Hitler and Mussolini and their methods. It has also made clear the reasons which prompted their intervention inside Spain. A democratic and progressive Spanish Government was bound, when the world war started, to sympathize with France and Britain. To fascist Italy, the prospect of another hostile democracy on the shores of the Mediterranean was particularly disturbing. Spain also had important material assets needed by the Axis Wan machine. But, above all, intervention in Spain was a useful part of the war of nerves against France and England, and provided an admirable testing ground for new military weapons and technique.

That General Franco's success was due to Axis help is now an established fact. The revolt would have collapsed very quickly without it, and might indeed never have begun. What is still unknown is the precise nature of the arrangements made with foreign governments by Spanish generals before the revolt began. Certainly Portugal was implicated from the start. It was from Lisbon that General Sanjurjo flew to take command. The Portuguese Government gave the rebels every facility that it was in their power to give except to declare open war on the Republic. Rebel ships and aircraft landed at Portuguese ports and airfields. When a German vessel with arms for the rebels docked in Lisbon in August 1936, it was guarded and unloaded by Portuguese troops. On the frontier, rebel officers found full co-operation. Arms, war material and petrol were despatched in great quantities across the border. When General Franco's army in the south and General Mola's in the north were still separated by Government forces on the Estremadura front, it was through Portuguese territory that they maintained contact with each other.

Mussolini's assistance—promised to the monarchists as long before as 1934—also started early. Less than two weeks after the revolt began, five Italian military aircraft with Italian crews left for Spanish Morocco. Two of them force-landed and one crashed inside the French zone. Their identification was the first published news of Italian military help. It increased very fast. Two weeks later, 14 Italian aircraft had already been seen on one rebel airfield alone, and by August 3rd Italian bombers were in action at Irun. In December 1936 the first regular Italian troops had landed. In February 1937 15,000 were reported at Cadiz, and in March over 30,000 Italian soldiers fought (and were disastrously defeated) in the battle of Guadalajara. Thereafter, though he always minimized the numbers, General Franco made little secret of their presence among his troops.

The German armed forces gave the first demonstration of the sympathies of their Government when, just over a fortnight after the rebellion started, the battleship Deutschland arrived at Ceuta and the Admiral paid a formal visit to the rebel commander there. By August 20th, 1936, the rebel forces had received 20 German transport aircraft and five new German fighters. From then on, aircraft, arms, pilots and officers arrived from Germany in substantial numbers. But with the exception of the Condor legion of 6,000 Luftwaffe personnel, the German Government did not send large bodies of fighting troops. Its chief human contribution was in technician and experts. A conservative estimate puts their number as up to 10,000. Probably Germany's main interest in the Spanish war—particularly after it became clear that Mussolini was ready to provide a great deal of manpower—was in the opportunity it offered for practical experiments in modem methods of destruction. The most publicized example of such German experiments was the destruction by Luftwaffe pilots of the Basque town of Guernica in the spring of 1 937.

Under international law, to provide assistance to a foreign rebellion is illegal. But an established and legal government has the right to whatever supplies it needs, or assistance it can get. The help that reached the Republic, therefore, from Russia and from other countries, was not comparable to the assistance given to General Franco by his Axis Allies. In the pre-war world of international legal sham, however, perhaps a more significant aspect of the Russian help was that it was relatively very limited in extent. Russian tanks were reported at Madrid in October 1936, and Russian aircraft were in action there a few weeks later. With the war material came Russian army officers. Supplies continued—though distance, transport difficulties, and the doubtful military value of some of the material, diminished their importance—until the last autumn of the war. The only other state to give effective help was Mexico, whose Government, soon after the revolt broke out, despatched a number of volunteers and a cargo of German arms to the Republic. Later in the war, volunteers from many other countries (as far apart as Albania and the United States) arrived in Spain to serve in the International Brigade. By this time "volunteer" had become a versatile term which was also (in the Non-intervention Committee) applied to regular soldiers of the Axis forces. But, in Spanish Government territory, it retained its proper meaning. The International Brigade was organized by unsponsored voluntary efforts, often in the face of fierce official disapproval in the countries from which the recruits had come. Their maximum number was 20,000. They gave valuable service in the defence of Madrid and on other fronts, but were disbanded and evacuated by the Spanish Government in the later stages of the war.

Throughout the civil war there was a substantial difference in the military needs of the Government and of the rebels. General Franco had started the revolt in possession of almost all the available Spanish army stores of arms and equipment. Immediately afterwards he began receiving important material reinforcements from his foreign allies, and his main sources of supply were relatively accessible and near at hand. His big problem, therefore, was not material but men. Despite the Moors and Foreign Legion, the Italian regulars and blackshirts, and the 10,000 Germans, this problem continued throughout to delay his operations. It was one of the chief reasons why, despite their overwhelming material superiority, the advance of the rebel armies took so long.

The Government, on the other hand, had more men than it could properly equip almost throughout the entire campaign. Unlike the rebels (who, as the territory they occupied expanded, dared not recruit and arm the local population), the Republic had virtually the whole population at its disposal. It was for this reason that it was able, while the fighting was in progress, to organize and train a new army of one and a half million men.

Taken out of its context of European appeasement and impending war, the story of non-intervention would be an utterly incomprehensible record of international hypocrisy and diplomatic sham. But in that context, it stands out as the last great effort by France and Britain to conciliate the Axis by ensuring that the dictators' policies succeeded unopposed (see Appendix No 1). At the time, the Governments of each of these nations sought to put responsibility upon the other. But while there is no doubt about the sympathies of the French popular front Government until its fall in June 1937, the British Cabinet appeared throughout the civil war to see a greater danger in the Republic than in General Franco.

On August 1st, 1936, France, who had already banned the export of arms to Spain, made an appeal to Britain and Italy for non-intervention in the civil war. Three days later Britain gave her support and shortly afterwards herself banned exports of arms and aircraft to Spain. But although, superficially, it appeared that France initiated non-intervention, it is now generally assumed that the real lead came from Britain. On September 9th the Non-intervention Committee met. It consisted of the representatives of 26 nations, including Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Russia, but excluding Portugal and the South American republics. Portugal joined on September 28th. The first decision taken was an agreement not to intervene. It had been broken in advance by at least three of the nations present. A period followed of discussion and delay. On October 7th Russia threatened to withdraw unless the Axis Powers ceased aiding General Franco. At the end of that month Portugal recognized the rebels as the Government of Spain, and in mid-November the Germans and Italians, expecting the capture of Madrid, did likewise. In February 1937 the member nations undertook to ban the recruiting of volunteers for Spain. By April a system was established of international observers on the Spanish-Portuguese and Spanish-French frontiers. A naval cordon—also to watch for volunteers—was then established round the Spanish coast. In May the German battleship Deutschland bombarded the republican port of Almeria, and soon after Italy and Germany withdrew their ships from the cordon. Portugal followed their example in June by refusing observers on her frontier.

At this stage the Italian and German representatives began to press for the granting of belligerent rights to General Franco's forces. In September 1937 a new naval patrol was set up against submarines which were sinking foreign shipping outside Spanish waters. British, French and Italian warships took part, and the threat that any unidentified submarine in the western Mediterranean would be sunk at sight was successful in ending the danger—for which the Italian navy itself had been mainly responsible. In December the British Government appointed a diplomatic agent at General Franco's headquarters, thereby according him de facto recognition.

The discussion of the withdrawal of foreign troops and volunteers then continued for a year. Meanwhile, the Italian and German soldiers were being reinforced in Spain. Eventually, in the autumn of 1938, when the rebel armies had virtually won, the Republican Government disbanded the International Brigade and General Franco sent 10,000 Italians home. In February 1939 the British and French Governments recognized the rebels as the Government of Spain, and in April, a month after the war had ended, the Non-intervention Committee was dissolved. It had been successful in achieving two things: it had cloaked the intervention of Portugal, Germany and Italy on the side of General Franco, and it had prevented the Spanish Government from obtaining the supplies to which it was legally entitled, and with which it would have won the civil war.


INTERNATIONALLY, the Spanish civil war was the immediate forerunner of the European—and eventually, world—conflict which started six months later. In many ways, it was itself the first campaign in the struggle between the democracies and the two dictators. Diplomatically, as well as militarily, it was a triumph for Axis methods. For the peoples of Europe, it was a sombre warning of what was soon to befall them too.

In the same way the problems of Spain after the civil war were a forecast, in miniature, of the problems that might have faced post-war Europe in 1946. The substantial difference was that in Spain it was dictatorship and not democracy which won. The dictator's failure to solve those problems, material and political, has meant that, in the years that followed, his victory has remained inconclusive. Militarily defeated, his enemies have never recognized his triumph, there has been no conciliation, and the determination of the Spanish people to overthrow him is as strong today as when the civil war began.

During the fighting there were a series of foreign attempts at mediation and appeals for compromise between the rebels and the Republic. But at no time while the result of the war was still in doubt did either side respond. There could be no agreement between the leaders of an armed rebellion and the Government they had attacked. General Franco made it clear throughout that he considered the elimination of all political opposition an indispensable part of what he claimed to be his mission to save Spain. The Government, on its side, would at once have lost all the confidence of the Spanish people had it so much as hinted at negotiations with the generals and their Axis allies. Popular support was the one great asset which it had at its disposal, the one weapon which made the defence of the Republic a possibility at all.

The same spirit prevailed after the defeat. The first big public act of the new dictator was symptomatic. On the 19th of May, 1939, after two postponements, General Franco's armies held their victory parade in the streets of Madrid. Spain's Caudillo, Chief of State and Commander-in-Chief, had himself made a state entry into the capital the day before. Now, surrounded by his Moorish bodyguard and by Spanish, German and Italian generals, he reviewed a column of his soldiers 16 miles in length. The Moors, the Foreign Legion, the blackshirts, the Italian regulars and the German Condor pilots were all represented. In the sky the aircraft, and on the ground the tanks, bore witness to the foreign material assistance which had helped him win the civil war. Next day, as testimony of his close relations with the Church, he presented his sword to the Spanish primate at a great religious service.

Soon afterwards the new administration was moved from Burgos to the vacant ministries in Madrid. It had formidable tasks to face. Of these, the biggest were political. They were swiftly dealt with in the manner which supporters and enemies alike had long expected. Thousands of republicans had fled across the frontier into France. Of these the great majority remained in exile. Those inside Spain now filled the prisons and detention camps. For weeks and months executions, denunciations and arrests continued—they still go on today. Though figures for any given moment were never published, there were still in October 1940—a year after the war had ended—a quarter of a million republicans in Spanish gaols. From now on freedom of expression was abolished inside Spain. All representative institutions were suppressed. The Chief of State, the army and the police were in complete control.

Perhaps the two autonomist regions, Catalonia and the Basque country, suffered most of all. General Franco and his Ministers hastened to announce the complete reintegration of all Spain under a single administration. The Press denounced "red separatism" as a mortal danger to Spanish unity. The centralist policy of the new régime was as fierce as any that was followed by the Spanish kings. "Una—Grande—Libre" became the motto of the State. With the accent on the "una", General Franco's followers made great efforts to root out the old traditions of independence and provincial autonomy. Even to speak their own language became a crime against the State for Catalans and Basques. Every expression of individuality was ruthlessly repressed. But repression, as always, bred a powerful reaction. The Basques and Catalans fought back and, from the earliest moments after the defeat, became among the best organized and most effective resisters against the new régime.

Economically, in 1939, Spain was in a desperate condition. Foreign trade had dwindled, transport was paralysed and partially destroyed, agricultural production had fallen to starvation level, and the devastation in many large towns was very great. Although some industries resumed production relatively fast, many of the country's skilled industrial workers were in exile or in prison. The danger of new labour troubles was a problem never solved. Trade unions and the right to strike had been abolished. To take their place, a new "vertical" system, representing both employers and employees, was created. It was dominated by the Falange, and was under government control. In 1940 the Republic's agrarian reforms were officially repealed, and until the old landowners had reinstalled themselves there was great confusion about the ownership of land. The wheat harvest in 1938 was only half what it had been before the civil war. Still, in 1939, it was less than three-quarters of the 1935 production.

Spanish finances were also badly weakened. Part of the gold reserve was sent to Russia during the civil war in payment for supplies. More Spanish gold and other assets were evacuated to France before the Republic fell. The French Government eventually ordered their return to Spain in July 1939. But inflation was a problem the new Government could not solve. Wages remained low while prices of essentials soared. The black market, destined to become a permanent feature of the new régime, sprang into life. The army officers, who from now on enjoyed protection and privileges they had never known before, became one of its main sources of supply. Sharing their good fortune were leaders of the Falange and officials of the new administration. Government offices were riddled with the incompetence and corruption inevitable in the bureaucracy of any dictatorship in Spain.

The grandiose schemes of public works and reconstruction, announced with great prominence by the Press as soon as the civil war was won, were undertaken very slowly. Though Spain is now in her tenth year of peace, there are bombed and devastated ruins left by the fighting for Madrid, which still serve as homes for working people. The slums of that city bear comparison with the workers' sections of some of the worst-hit capitals of Europe at the time of their liberation in 1945. In striking contrast, for their modern and well-built appearance, are the barracks of the army and the Civil Guard in every part of Spain.

Reinforced by totalitarian police methods, the old division between the small, privileged and wealthy minority of rulers, and the mass of oppressed and poverty-striken people, had reasserted itself in a new and desperate form in Spain. In the early days of General Franco's victory, the strength of these rulers was as unchallengeable as it had ever been in Spanish history. The people had suffered total military defeat in a struggle which left them the passive victims of total military power. Utterly exhausted by the effort of their resistance, they were left leaderless and entirely at the mercy of their victors. It was in these conditions that they began again to organize their struggle for liberation. Gradually and in secret the workers' movements were resurrected. New leaders emerged. Relations between the various republican groups and parties were re-established. Contact with the outside world was again set up. Spanish democracy had lost a civil war, but it never surrendered its determination to regain its freedom.


THE Spanish Civil War ended in March 1939. In April the Non-intervention Committee was dissolved. In May, General Franco made his triumphal entry into Madrid. During the summer months the world's attention was focused on Danzig and the Polish corridor. In the face of German threats of new aggression a British mission hurried to Moscow to discuss joint defensive action. In August the world was startled by the sudden announcement of the Nazi-Soviet pact. In September the Second World War began. Spain declared herself neutral.

In the months that followed, General Franco and his Ministers left their people and the world in no doubt where their sympathies lay. Through their newspapers and in public declarations they continued to express their gratitude to their German and Italian allies, their "solidarity" with the Axis, and their readiness for Spain to play her part in the defeat of the democratic Powers. When France collapsed in June 1940 the Spanish Government felt certain that Britain's defeat would shortly follow. Mussolini declared war on June 10th, and two days later Spanish neutrality officially became "non-belligerency", in imitation of the Italian dictator's own earlier example. In the same month Spanish war material was sent to Finland. In September 1940 General Franco and his Foreign Minister met Hitler, and the Foreign Minister then went on to Rome for talks with the Italian leaders. At the end of the year Spanish troops occupied Tangier, suppressed the international administration, and expelled French and British officials.

In February 1941 General Franco met Mussolini and Pétain. In July, after Russia had been invaded, he announced that Hitler's armies were "leading the battle for which Europe and Christianity had so long waited", and a few days later told the Spaniards that 90,000 Spanish soldiers had gone to fight the Russians on the Eastern Front. The Blue Division was selected by army orders from among the serving troops. They were joined by a small minority of Falangist enthusiasts. The losses that they suffered in the fighting of an isolated northern sector were enormous, but they, and the reinforcements which joined them later, were not finally withdrawn till 1944.

This series of openly hostile acts against the allies was accompanied by various less public services rendered to the Axis Powers. War supplies and raw materials were exported. German naval vessels and submarines were refuelled by Spanish ships. With the assistance of the Spanish military and civil authorities, enemy radio transmitters were operated from Spanish territory, and bases for sabotage organizations established. Soon after the fall of France, German soldiers in uniform were granted the right of entry into northern Spain. German officers, officials and Gestapo agents enjoyed every facility that the Spanish administration could give them. But until the publication of the confidential wartime correspondence between Hitler, Mussolini and General Franco (which was found by the American occupation forces after Germany's collapse), the exact nature of Spanish motives and commitments was not known.

These documents show that, in 1940, in return for Gibraltar, Morocco and a part of Algeria, and substantial material help, General Franco had agreed to declare war on the Allies. As it eventually turned out, the Axis assistance was not forthcoming, and the three dictators' rival ambitions in North Africa were never reconciled. The course of the war was such that by 1943 negotiations for Spain's formal participation had finally broken down. But General Franco's devotion to the Axis cause, which lasted till it became certain that the Allies were going to win, is illustrated by a letter he sent to Hitler in February 1941:

"I consider, as you do yourself" (he wrote), "that the destiny of history has united you with myself and with the Duce in an indissoluble way. I have never needed to be convinced of this and as I have told you more than once, our Civil War since its very inception and during its entire course is more than proof. I also share your opinion that the fact that Spain is situated on both shores of the Strait forces her to the utmost enmity towards England, who aspires to maintain control of it.
"I want to dispel all shadow of doubt and declare that I stand ready at your side, entirely and decidedly at your disposal, united in a common historical destiny, desertion from which would mean my suicide and that of the Cause which I have led and represent in Spain…".

At that time the British Ambassador in Madrid had noted that General Franco was then convinced that Germany must win. He reported that General Franco and his Foreign Minister "also believe that a British victory would mean the end of all dictatorships in Europe, their own included".

It was in the autumn of 1942, after the successful Allied landings in North Africa, that the first signs of a change of Spanish tactics were seen. In September General Franco removed from the Foreign Ministry his brother-in-law, a passionate admirer of the Axis who was head of the Falange, and put in his place a less uncompromising general. British policy during the first three years of war had aimed at keeping Spain out of the conflict by economic inducements. The Anglo-Saxon Powers could offer commodities of which Spain was in desperate need, above all wheat, oil, rubber and cotton. In exchange, we ourselves were anxious to obtain Spanish minerals, iron ore, leather, wool and cork. Early in 1941, when the Spanish bread ration became disastrously low, the British Government despatched Canadian wheat to Spain. In July the supply of petrol was arranged. Gradually, through necessity rather than inclination, the Allies were successful in bringing Spain into their own economic orbit. But it was not until the final stages of the war that Spanish supplies to Germany were stopped.

In July 1943 Spanish soldiers were still leaving for the Russian front. In August General Franco sent a representative to the French Committee of National Liberation in Algiers. In November it was announced that, in response to British and American pressure, 3,000 Blue Division troops had been withdrawn. In December a further 7,000 were recalled. It seemed as though the dictator's loyalties had finally begun to change. But in January 1944 American complaints of unneutral action still included the continued export of war supplies to Germany, the presence of Italian ships in Spanish ports and of Spanish soldiers on the Eastern Front. The United States therefore suspended oil supplies to Spain. By May these and other objections had been met, and in July General Franco assured the world that the Spaniards favoured neither belligerent but wanted immediate peace.

After Germany's defeat no effort was spared to convince Allied opinion that Spain had, in fact, been friendly to the Allies throughout the war. Even her failure to attack Gibraltar during the preparations for the invasion of North Africa was claimed as an example of her devotion to the Allied cause. To no one was this servile humbug more transparent than to the Spanish people. Even the Falangists found it difficult to follow the new alignment. They were still organizing demonstrations against the Allies in July 1945. For the others, General Franco and his régime had so identified themselves with the Axis nations that they had never seriously doubted during the war that their defeat would mean his downfall also. They had been forced to witness endless effusive declarations of gratitude and loyalty to Hitler and Mussolini, and insults showered on the Allies and their leaders. They bad watched the departure of thousands of Spanish soldiers to serve under German command in Russia. They had seen the influx of German officers, officials and technicians into Spain. Now, as the war ended, they were to see a hoard of hunted quislings from all over Europe making for the sanctuary of Spanish soil. But with the Allied victory in Europe, a new hope arose in the hearts of the democrats of Spain. After Hitler had fallen, they confidently thought, surely General Franco could not long survive?


THE defeat of the Republic in 1939 divided the Spaniards who had fought in its defence into two groups. The bulk of those who left Spain during and after the collapse are still in exile. Those who got no farther than North Africa or Europe suffered great hardships during the Second World War. As many as could do so sought service in the allied armies. Others found sanctuary in friendly countries in North and South America. For a time Mexico became their chief centre. When the war ended the headquarters of most of their organizations moved back to France. From Paris, Toulouse and other French cities near the frontier, they carry on the democratic activities which are still illegal inside Spain. All the important republican political parties and popular movements are now represented outside the country.

Behind that frontier those same parties and movements are also active. Regular contact with their exiled comrades has long since been re-established. In organization and technique, the Spanish resistance movement is the equal of its former counterparts in other European countries. In the Second World War its members gained valuable experience. Collaboration with the maquis in southern France (which near the border was largely manned by Spaniards), and with the secret services of Allied Powers (who used their help in Spain for the evacuation of escaping prisoners of war and for other work) taught them many practical lessons. Those times, for them, were times of hope. At last there was active co-operation, if only in a small and secret way, with the democracies from whom, one day, they expected help in their own liberation.

When the world war was over they lost these contacts, but the task of organization still went on. Despite constant police penetration and arrest, they were able to build up a network of active resistance groups covering the whole country. In the big towns they set up committees to co-ordinate the work of the chief republican political parties. They recognized, however, that, for the moment, there was no use in actions which might lead to bloodshed. Spain, they believed, must at all costs be spared another civil war. For the moment, too, they saw that the forces ranged against them—the army, the Civil Guard and the police, on which the State was still spending 65 per cent of its annual budget—had such overwhelming strength that there was no likelihood of a successful armed revolt. They therefore concentrated on pacific action: propaganda, building up their membership, providing assistance to the victims of persecution, and maintaining their contacts with each other and with the outside world. They also prepared for strikes, and in May 1947 the first big general strike shook the Basque country for 10 days.

Meanwhile their representatives in exile had maintained republican institutions, and were working for allied diplomatic action against General Franco. On March, 5th 1939, the Prime Minister, Dr. Negrin, and the government of the Republic had flown to Paris from Madrid, where the Defence Council had sued for peace. Soon after, some 20 members of the permanent committee of the Spanish Parliament met in Paris and called on the exiled Prime Minister to resign. He refused to do so, and the outbreak, a few months of the world war led to a period of disunity and confusion. In Mexico a Spanish "Liberation Committee" was set up by a veteran socialist leader, and the communists established a committee of their own. It was not until 1945, when the war was over, that a fully representative gathering of exiled republicans was held in Mexico, and unity among them was re-established.

Mexico had never recognized the new régime in Spain. In a building in Mexico City, the extra-territoriality of which the Mexican Government formally recognized, a session of the republican parliament was called. It was attended by over a hundred of its members. Martinez Barrio, its Chairman, was formally appointed President of the Republic, in succession to Don Manuel Azaňa who had resigned in 1939 and was now dead. Dr. Negrin submitted his resignation as Prime Minister, and—despite a socialist majority among the members—was succeeded by Dr. Giral, a moderate republican, who had been Prime Minister in the early days of the civil war. The Government then moved to Paris. Accorded facilities by France, and official recognition by eight foreign governments, it worked to secure international action against General Franco. In May 1946 Dr. Giral presented his Government's case to the United Nations. Their failure, however, to agree to any steps beyond the moral condemnation of the Spanish régime, its exclusion from their own organizations, and the withdrawal of their Ambassadors from Madrid, led to his resignation in February 1947.

The Republican Government which now took office was headed by the Secretary of the Spanish Socialist Party, Don Rodolfo Llopis. That party had very close working contacts with its members inside Spain, and the new Government's policy aimed at securing the greatest possible unity between all the anti-Franco forces. Its ministers included two socialists, two moderate republicans, a Basque, a Catalan, a communist, and a representative of the C.N.T. It declared that it would go on working for international action through the United Nations, and it began a series of negotiations with Spanish groups which had hitherto had no contact with the re-publicans in exile, but which might now he prepared to co-operate in seeking the removal of General Franco.

When no positive results had been achieved by July 1947, the Socialist Party withdrew from the Republican Government. But it continued, on its own initiative, negotiations with non-republican anti-Franco groups. In October, the veteran socialist Sr. Prieto met a monarchist leader, Sr. Gil Robles, in London, and both men later saw the British Foreign Secretary. These negotiations still continued at the time these words were written; and meanwhile the Government in exile was reformed. Representatives of the moderate republican parties took office, and maintained the legal continuity of republican institutions.

The Spanish republicans in exile will ultimately be judged by their success or failure to contribute to a change of régime in Spain. Today, their Government is a symbol for all those, inside and outside the country, who fought in the Republic's defence during the civil war. Despite foreign recognition of the new régime, it preserves legal continuity with the last Government constitutionally elected on Spanish soil. The perseverance and determination of the Spanish republicans are the more remarkable in that they have survived over eight years of exile, a world war, and the boycott of Great Britain, America and other allied powers. Their policy today is straightforward: the overthrow of the dictator, the restoration of political liberties and the holding of elections so that the Spanish people may freely choose the system under which it wishes to live. But because General Franco came to power with the help of foreign armies—the armies which were finally defeated in 1945—the republicans now expect from the Allied Nations the international action without which he cannot be overthrown.


TOWARDS the end of the world war, it became clear that General Franco's régime, because of its origins, its methods of government, and its actions during the war, could not hope to be admitted into any new international organization that night be set up by the victorious Allies. In October 1944 the British Prime Minister had informed the dictator that it was "out of the question for His Majesty's Government to support Spanish aspirations to participate in the future peace settlements". He added: "Neither do I think it likely that Spain will be invited to join the future world organization." (See Appendix No. 2)

When the Charter of the United Nations was drawn up at the San Francisco Conference in June 1945 it limited membership to "peace-loving States". Before that conference ended, a resolution was adopted excluding "defeated Axis Governments, or those imposed in any manner by military forces of the Axis". That this exclusion applied to Spain was made clear at the time, and was endorsed by the American, British and Russian Governments in their Potsdam Declaration of August 1945. (See Appendix No. 3)

In February 1946 the General Assembly of the United Nations approved a further resolution condemning General Franco's Government, but proposing no specific action to be taken by member-states. In March the Governments of America, Britain and France issued a joint declaration (see Appendix No. 4) calling for a peaceful change in Spain, which should ensure a political amnesty, the return of exiled Spaniards, freedom of assembly and political association, and free public elections, under an interim government which, they promised, would at once receive allied recognition.

In April 1946 a new series of discussions on Spain began at the United Nations. A special Sub-Committee of the Security Council was set up, and to it the Prime Minister of the Republic presented his case. General Franco protested. By December, after heated debates between the representatives of Britain and America on the one hand and those of France, Russia, Norway and other States on the other, the only practical action that had been agreed was that member-nations should withdraw their Ambassadors and Ministers from Madrid. This was promptly done by Britain and a number of other countries, though the Argentine chose that moment to send a new Ambassador to General Franco. The United Nations also decided that if "within a reasonable time" a change of régime had not taken place in Spain, the Security Council should discuss further measures to be adopted. (See Appendix No. 6)

From the negotiations between the Great Powers, and from the speeches of their delegates at the Security Council and the Assembly of the United Nations, the general alignment for and against international action against the Spanish Government became clear. France hoped to induce America and Britain to adopt effective measures—preferably economic sanctions—and herself took the initiative of closing the French-Spanish frontier at the end of February 1946. But both America and Britain resisted French overtures, and consistently followed a policy of publicly condemning the Spanish régime, while declining to act against it. Russia and Poland, supported by France, Mexico, Norway and other countries, pressed for action. America and Britain steadily opposed them. The United States even abstained from voting on the Assembly resolution which recommended that Ambassadors be withdrawn, although they themselves had, for some months, been represented in Madrid only by a Chargé d'Affaires. A small number of South American countries, including Colombia, Salvador and the Dominican Republic, went further and voted against resolutions which did no more than repeat the Potsdam condemnation of the Spanish régime.

With this background of inconclusive international debates, moral condemnations and official expressions of hope that the Spaniards would liberate themselves from the dictator, General Franco was steadily consolidating his own position. The exclusion of Spain from the United Nations and its subsidiary agencies was certainly a serious obstacle to his foreign policy. The semi-official recognition by one of its sub-committees of the Prime Minister of the Republic was a blow to his prestige. The withdrawal of Ambassadors had at first caused considerable repercussions inside his country. But behind all the gestures and high-sounding phrases was the hard and tangible fact that the Great Powers were divided over Spain, and that of these the two which were economically vital to her were ready to continue diplomatic and commercial relations.

On Britain and America, Spain depends for many essential imports. Britain, too, is one of Spain's biggest natural foreign markets, and at one time took 34 per cent of all her exports. When the war ended trade with Spain started steadily to expand. In April 1947, after the British Ambassador had left, a new Anglo-Spanish monetary agreement was signed. It estimated that Spanish imports to this country would rise to a value of between twenty and twenty-five million pounds a year, and that the trade balance in Spain's favour would increase.

As tension between the Soviet Union and the Western Allies became greater in 1947, and the Moscow and London Conferences ended in deadlock, General Franco's hopes of ultimate survival rose. It was disunity among the great nations which had helped him to seize power before the war. Perhaps a new period of post-war disunity would prevent his downfall. His chief problems now were no longer diplomatic. Foreign "detestation" could do him little harm. The one remaining danger was the possibility of economic collapse. Expanding foreign trade seemed to have averted the crisis which might have threatened the stability of his administration. With the power of the army and police behind him, he was confident of maintaining his control inside Spain. His régime, which at the end of the war, and again after the British elections of 1945, had shown serious signs of cracking, had gained a new confidence. The potential quislings inside that régime (and there were many) saw no reason now to abandon the dictator. It was clear to them at least that the Western Powers were prepared to let him stay.


THE survival of General Franco's Government in Spain two years after the end of the world war against dictatorship and fascism, is a paradox which neither his friends nor his enemies expected while that war was being fought. Certainly he did not expect it himself. For six years Allied leaders had assured the peoples of the world that they were fighting not merely in self-defence, not simply against the armies of Germany, Italy and Japan, but against the system of government which those nations represented. The destruction of all traces of the fascist way of life was to be one of their chief peace aims. It was for this reason that, after the war was won, the defeated enemy nations were not only disarmed and subjected to military occupations, but their former political institutions were ruthlessly and methodically destroyed.

Today only Spain survives: the last fascist state in Europe. Her régime, modelled on Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany, and brought to power by the efforts of these two dictators, is still free to practice an ideology which the rest of the Continent overthrew in 1945. Its declared loyalty to the fallen dictators, the help it gave them, the troops it sent to fight with Hitler's army—all these things have gone unpunished.

The dictatorship in Spain is not simply a Spanish problem for two substantial reasons. First: it was installed not by the people of Spain themselves, but by the armed intervention of the Axis Powers. The Spanish war was an integral part of the dictators' onslaught against the democracies of Europe. The Spaniards resisted until they were overwhelmed. In their defeat they rightly saw the first Axis victory in an international conflict which started long before the invasion of Poland in 1939. Second: from 1939, until the final defeat of the dictators became certain, the Spanish Government formally ranged its self at their side, and committed a series of openly hostile acts against the democracies, at moments when such acts were most likely to contribute to their defeat.

When the world war ended, these two facts were universally recognized. They were the justification for the exclusion of Spain from the community of nations, and for the formal banning of Spanish participation in the new international organizations which were set up. Forcefully and in public, the allied governments declared their detestation of General Franco and his régime. Openly they called on the Spaniards to overthrow him. By so doing, they made it clear that they considered the removal of the Spanish dictator an international and not simply an internal problem.

Until now, however, their call has not been answered. The reason is simple. Without outside help the Spaniards are powerless to win their liberation. Once installed, a modern military dictatorship is practically invulnerable to internal revolt. The physical supremacy of a small organized and armed minority is so great that the mass of the people cannot hope, by themselves, to overthrow it. Such is the strength of the police and the army in Spain today that unaided popular insurrection could have little prospect of success. But there is also another factor. With memories of the devastation of the civil war, no responsible member of the opposition inside Spain wants to see a new outbreak of bloodshed—even if there were a possibility that revolution might succeed.

In these circumstances there are only two ways by which a change of government might be achieved. The first is disintegration inside the régime itself; and the second is foreign pressure. To a great extent the one depends upon the other. In the last three years there have been many signs of disunity among General Franco's chief supporters. The course of the war, and the new policy of attempting to conciliate the Allies which became necessary in its later stages, led to important changes among leading members of his administration. The end of the war, and the possibility (which was then generally expected) of Allied action against Spain, made the Spanish generals waver. There were changes in the army commands. The result of the British elections in 1945, and the expectation of a new British foreign policy, gave the Spanish rulers a further shock. More leaders prepared to abandon General Franco. At the same time, economic difficulties inside the country spread new discontent among the business classes. They too prepared themselves for changes. There were also signs that the Spanish Church had realized the necessity for a new political alignment. Then, as the danger of effective foreign pressure faded, the régime gradually recovered its prestige among its own supporters. The process of disintegration seemed to stop.

Certainly the difficulties of international action are now greater than they were three years ago. In 1945 a mere show of force by the Allies might have caused General Franco's downfall in a few days. In 1946 swift diplomatic action by the member-states of the United Nations, and an effective diplomatic boycott, might have succeeded without the need for further action. Today, much of the force of such measures has been lost because, after each temporary display of resolution, the Allies have made it clear that they were not in earnest.

In Britain the merits of economic sanctions have been widely discussed. No one has denied that a cessation of Spanish trade with Britain and the United States would be fatal to General Franco. But it has been claimed that such measures would do great harm to the working people of Spain, before they had made themselves felt by the dictator and his administration. To this the opposition inside Spain has replied that the great mass of Spaniards would gladly accept even a further temporary fall in their living standards, if that was the only way by which they could achieve their liberation. In fact, however, it would not be difficult to devise a system of economic pressure which would minimize the immediate suffering which the Spanish people themselves would have to endure. Their most urgent need is food. Food is also the chief commodity which Spain exports. A ban on food exports from Spain, combined with a limited ban on certain selected foreign imports into Spain—for example, oil, cotton and rubber —would be fatal to the régime. But it would not deprive the Spanish workers of the immediate necessities of life. Even more important than the practical economic effect of such action would be its psychological effect inside Spain. Those who now stress the difficulties of sanctions seem to forget that in the later stages of the world war, when Britain and America were determined to enforce demands on Spain, they did not hesitate to use economic pressure, or, in the case of the United States, to stop exports which they were sending to that country.

After the British elections of 1945 Spain became a prominent target for criticism of British foreign policy. Not unnaturally, many people in this country and in Europe remembered that during the civil war the Labour Party had been the champion of the Spanish Republic, and had vigorously denounced the non-intervention policy pursued by a Conservative Government at that time. The Spaniards themselves—both the people and the supporters of the dictator—believed that British initiative would soon lead to action against General Franco. But, for more than two years, in an atmosphere of apparent deadlock between East and West, and with pressing domestic and imperial difficulties facing the British Government, Spain has tended to be overshadowed by wider problems.

But the problem of Spain itself has very wide international implications. Since 1945, distrust of British motives towards General Franco has not been the least of the causes of friction among the big Allies. In Europe great damage has been done to our prestige by the suspicion that some hidden interest has prevented bolder action on our part. Two explanations of our Spanish policy are current. The first claims that Britain fears the loss of raw materials from Spain and has given economic needs priority over her detestation of the dictator. The second is that she fears that a change of government in Spain might lead to an extremist reaction and the establishment of a communist-controlled republic.

To the first contention, Spanish republicans reply that no one has ever doubted that a cessation of trade relations with Britain and America would very swiftly bring about the downfall of General Franco. In the process, temporary damage might be done to British and American interests. But as soon as a new Spanish Government assumed control, both it and the Powers which had helped it overthrow the dictatorship would have every interest in expanding mutual trade relations to the limit.

Early in 1948, plans for economic co-operation among the democratic nations of Western Europe gave a fresh impetus to demands for action against General Franco's régime. Clearly Spain, under a fascist Government, could not be included in any Western European regional arrangement, nor in any United States Government programme for European recovery. But a democratic Spanish Government, able to co-operate with its neighbours and with the other members of the United Nations in international schemes for post-war revival, would be of great benefit both to Western Europe and to the Spanish people.

The second argument—that a change of government might lead to communism in Spain—requires deeper investigation. Among the forces now opposed to General Franco, the Spanish Communist Party is an active but small minority. In the last elections held in Spain it gained (largely because of its alliance with the parties of the popular front) 16 seats out of 472. During the civil war its influence increased, partly on account of the energy and good organization of its members, and partly because Russia was then the Republic's only important source of supply. At the end of that war, it did its cause damage by fighting on against the Defence Council, after it had become clear that further military resistance against the rebels was hopeless. Again, at the end of 1944, an attempted "invasion" of Spain by the Spanish communist maquis from the south of France (where they had been fighting with the French Resistance), which soon ended in retreat, lost it still more support in Spain. General Franco's constantly repeated claim that his dictatorship is the one alternative to communism in his country, is therefore utterly without foundation. Indeed, the danger of an extremist reaction lies not in his removal but precisely in the continuance of his régime.

Oppression and tyranny breed despair. When dictatorship is indefinitely prolonged, counsels of moderation and patience gradually lose their hold over the people. In 1946 the great mass of Spaniards were still confident that the democratic Allies were coming to their help. But repeated disappointments had already begun to have a serious effect on British and American prestige. Once again Russia appeared to be the only Great Power prepared to take effective action. Soviet influence began to grow. At the same time the danger of eventual violence increased. There is a limit to human endurance, and many members of the republican resistance felt that they had almost reached it. However disastrous open revolt might be, they began to wonder whether it was not the only way of forcing the world to take the Spanish problem seriously. Today republican leaders are making great efforts to check the impatience of their people. They are working for unity among all the opponents of General Franco. They still hope to achieve a change by peaceful means. But the longer the dictator remains in power, the greater becomes the danger of bloodshed and of an extremist reaction inside Spain.

Since the world war it has sometimes been suggested that a restoration of the monarchy might be a possible solution to the Spanish problem. By reason of the past record of Spanish kings, the present pretender's own support of General Franco during the civil war, and, above all, the absence of any effective or united monarchist movement inside the country, it has never seemed a serious proposition. In the minds of the great mass of Spaniards, monarchy has for generations been synonymous with dictatorship and oppression. Today a monarchist restoration would be feasible only with the acquiescence of the present dictator. It could only result in the prolongation of the fascist dictatorship in a new disguise.

But the future régime of Spain can only be decided by the Spanish people. They were deprived of that right by Hitler and Mussolini, and until they are free once again, no one can choose for them the system under which they shall live. It was for that reason that the republican leaders themselves have insisted that the first duty of a new Spanish government must be to restore political liberties, and then to arrange for free elections.

The process of transition from dictatorship to democracy inside Spain will be no easier than it has been in the countries of Western Europe already liberated from fascism. But there is no reason to believe that it will be any harder. The unity of the republican resistance, its desire to use moderate methods, and its anxiety to avoid any action that might lead to a second civil war, will be a powerful force working for peaceful change. But the change can only start to come when the nations which destroyed Hitler and Mussolini remember that their fight is still unfinished while fascism survives in Spain.


No 1. Statement issued by the National Council of Labour on July 27th, 1937.»top

A year ago Spain was plunged into a ghastly Civil War by mutinous officers, the instruments of the feudal, intolerant and mediaeval Spain which had refused to accept the young Spanish Republic, and to co-operate in the moderate social, agricultural and educational reforms of a liberal character proposed by a duly elected popular Government. Spanish reaction deliberately chose civil war, rather than accept the verdict of another General Election.

Nevertheless, the war in Spain was more than a military rebellion. From the outset there was German and Italian foreknowledge of and complicity in the revolt. German and Italian assistance was given to the rebels. In the absence of well-founded expectations of Italian and German co-operation, assuredly the rebellious generals would not have begun their bloody adventure.

Thus the conflict of economic interests and political and social ideals in Spain became at once indissolubly bound up with the external policy of the Fascist Powers. The interventionist policy of the Fascist Powers created a new and immediate danger of war in Europe, as a consequence of an attempt by Germany and Italy to change the strategic balance of power in the Western Mediterranean, and thus imperil the vital interest of France and Great Britain.

To avert this danger of war among the Great Powers and localize the civil conflict in Spain, French and British diplomacy invented the principle of non-intervention. This principle was accepted by Italy and Germany, and the other European Powers.

The consequences are now visible to the whole world.

Out of the ranks of the workers and peasants the Spanish Government has created a new popular army to defend, reconquer and establish a modern Spain, emancipated front the tyrannous oligarchy which had misgoverned Spain for centuries. This new army-the miracle of its creation, its self-sacrifice and heroism-is the people's answer to those who deny that the Spanish Government possesses the confidence of the Spanish people.

The rebel generals, on the other hand, were obliged to bring back the Moors to Spain in order to further the interests of their friends. They have had substantial aid from the Italian and German troops and air forces. On the sea they have profited by the co-operation of the Italian and German navies.

The Fascist Powers have not merely failed through inefficient administration to carry out their non-intervention obligations. It is not that arms have been smuggled into Spain from Germany and Italy. Germany and Italy formally recognized General Franco' Government as the legitimate Government of Spain. Their air squadrons and organized military units are fighting in Spain. Through their controlled Press and the speeches of their responsible public men they have declared that the Spanish Government will not be permitted to defeat the rebels. German air squadrons bombed and destroyed Guernica, the cradle and symbol of Basque civilization.

Further, Germany and Italy have revealed the purely Imperialistic motives of their intervention, by their agreements with General Franco for a Fascist monopoly in Spain's mineral resources, particularly iron ore, mercury and copper; and by establishing naval depots and aerodromes on the coasts of Spain and the Spanish possessions, both in the Western Mediterranean and the Atlantic, which are a threat to French and British sea communications. They have even taken the first steps to threaten the security of Gibraltar and the freedom of French and British communications through the Straits.

Meanwhile they promulgate the legend that Spain needs salvation from Bolshevism, a legend which is repeated by the British Conservative Press with open or restrained sympathy.

International tension has therefore not been lessened by the policy of non-intervention. Peace among the Great Powers has been preserved. But only because French and British statesmen, owing to the constant encroachment by the Fascist Powers upon their lines of communication, have repeatedly been obliged to utter grave warnings as to their determination to defend these communications. These warnings, which have an ominous significance, have not been rendered unnecessary by the fact that Italy and Germany are still nominal adherents of the policy of non-intervention.

The prestige and status of the Spanish Government, in public opinion and in diplomatic relations, had been diminished in order to preserve the authority of the Non-intervention Committee. The Spanish Government are being treated as if they, too, were rebels. France and Great Britain having based their policy of non-intervention upon the assumption that the Fascist Powers are neutral-while in fact they are allies of General Franco-think they may save peace by relying upon General Franco to respect their vital interests in Spain in opposition to the ambitions of his German and Italian allies. This policy is also foredoomed to failure.

The British Labour Movement is profoundly convinced of the folly and danger of ignoring these developments. France and Great Britain assumed the grave responsibility of promoting the policy of non-intervention. They devised the machinery. They cannot escape the consequences of events which have convinced the public opinion of the world that this machinery has broken down through the flagrant violation of solemn engagements by the Fascist Powers. The political and territorial integrity of Spain is not the exclusive interest of France and Great Britain. It is a matter of concern to all the members of the League of Nations. It is the duty of the League to assist the Spanish people to recover their independence. The systematic and organized attempt to impede the Spanish Government in the full exercise of commercial liberty in the purchase of arms and munitions for their defence ought to cease. The rights of belligerents in international law, even in a restricted form, ought not to be granted to the rebels. Great Britain should use its power and influence as a Member of the League of Nations to ensure the immediate withdrawal of foreign troops from the soil of Spain.

No 2. Letter from Mr. Churchill to General Franco, October 1944.»top

1. Your Ambassador has sent me a copy of your letter to the Duke of Alba, in which you express the desire to clarify the relations between the Spanish and British people and to secure closer and more intimate relations in the future.

I have studied this matter with great interest, as have my colleagues in the War Cabinet. It is our desire that the relations between the peoples of Spain and Britain should be sincere and intimate, and I observe with some surprise that your Excellency attributes the difficulties now existing between Great Britain and Spain to the attitude of His Majesty's Government, to British political opinion, and to the activities of British propaganda and British agents in Spain. I can assure you that your assertions with reference to the activities of British agents in Spain have no foundation whatsoever, and I am led to suppose that your Government has been misled in the allegation of those whose obvious interest it was to disturb relations between the Spanish and British peoples. I therefore accept your Excellency's proposal that the time is ripe to clarify the position, and after long consultation with my colleagues and in the name of the War Cabinet, I take the opportunity of expressing to your Excellency, with absolute frankness, the serious difficulties which, in our view, still hinder the satisfactory development of the relations between both countries.

2. I must first of all remind your Excellency of the policy which your Government has up to the present followed during the present world war, as His Majesty's Government and the public opinion represented by the Government have seen it. I have not forgotten that Spain did not oppose at two critical moments of the war: the collapse of France in 1940 and during the Anglo-American invasion of North Africa in 1942. But I also recall that throughout the war German influence in Spain has been consistently allowed to hinder the war effort of Great Britain and her Allies and it is a fact that a Spanish division was sent to help our German enemies against our Russian allies. During this period the Spanish Government publicly followed a policy not of neutrality, but of non-belligerence.

3. His Majesty's Government has also been compelled to make numerous complaints against activities little in accordance with Spain's policy of neutrality. I need not go into detail here as these activities have been the subject of repeated pretests to your government by His Majesty's Embassy in Madrid. I feel, however, that I must mention the arbitrary suppression in 1940 of the international régime in Tangier in violation of two treaties which Spain had signed, and the number of speeches in which your Excellency conternptuously referred to this country and other members of the United Nations and spoke of their defeat as desirable and unavoidable.

4. Now that the war is coming to an end and plans are being made for the future of Europe and the world, His Majesty's Government cannot overlook the past record of the Spanish Government nor the consistently hostile activity of the Falangist Party, officially recognized as the basis of the present political structure of Spain, nor the fact that the Falange has maintained a close relationship with the Nazi dictatorial party in Germany and with the Italian Fascists. I am, however, less interested in the past than in the present or the future, and it is my desire to see all the obstacles in the way of cordial Anglo-Spanish relations removed. I was genuinely pleased to observe the changes in Spanish policy toward this country which began when General Jordana took office, and I publicly referred to it in the speech I made in the House of Commons on May 24th.

Unfortunately, as you acknowledge in your letter to the Duke of Alba, this was not sufficient to remove all the barriers remaining between our two countries. As long as these exist the development of more intimate relations of friendship and co-operation with Spain-desired by His Majesty's Government-will meet with difficulties and it is out of the question for His Majesty's Government to support Spanish aspirations to participate in the future peace settlements. Neither do I think it likely that Spain will he invited to join the future world organization.

5. Your letter to the Duke of Alba contains several references to Russia which-in view of our relations of friendship and alliance with Russia-I cannot pass without comment. I should let your Excellency fall into serious error if I did not remove from your mind the idea that His Majesty's Government would be ready to consider any bloc of Powers based on hostility to our Russian allies, or on any assumed need of defence against them. His Majesty's Government's policy is firmly based on the Anglo-Soviet Treaty of 1942, and considers permanent Anglo-Russian collaboration within the framework of the future world organization as essential, not only to her own interests, but also the future peace and prosperity of Europe as a whole.

6. Finally, I beg your Excellency to understand that I should not have allowed myself to be so outspoken, but for the wish which your Excellency expressed so frankly to clarify Anglo-Spanish relations, and for my own conviction that relations of friendship and co-operation between our two countries are desirable and that they can develop and, be maintained only within the framework of the principles I have offered for Your Excellency's consideration.

No 3. Extract from the Potsdam Declaration of August 1945.»top

"The three Governments, so far as they are concerned, will support applications for membership [to the United Nations Organization] from those States which have remained neutral during the war, and which fulfil the qualifications set out above. They feel bound, however, to make it clear that they would not favour any application for membership put forward by the present Spanish Government which, having been founded with the support of the Axis Powers, does not, in view of its origins, nature, record, and close association with the aggressor States, possess the qualifications necessary to justify such membership."

No 4. Tripartite Declaration by Great Britain, France, and the United States of America, on March 4th, 1946.»top

"The Governments of France, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.A. have exchanged views with regard to the present Spanish Government and their relations with that régime. It is agreed that so long as General Franco continues in control of Spain the Spanish people cannot anticipate full and cordial association with those nations of the world which have, by common effort, brought defeat to German Nazism and Italian Fascism, which aided the present Spanish régime in its rise to power and after which the régime was patterned. There was no intention of interfering in the internal affairs of Spain. The Spanish people themselves must in the long run work out their own destiny. In spite of the present régime's repressive measures against the orderly efforts of the Spanish people to organize and give expression to their political aspirations, the three Governments are hopeful that the Spanish people will not again he subjected to the horrors and bitterness of civil strife. On the contrary, it is hoped that leading patriotic and liberal-minded Spaniards may soon find the means to bring about a peaceful withdrawal of Franco, the abolition of the Falange, and the establishment of an interim or caretaker Government under which the Spanish people may have an opportunity of freedom to determine the type of government they wish to have and to choose their leaders. Political amnesty, the return of exiled Spaniards, freedom of assembly and political association, and provision for free public elections are essential. An interim Government which would be, and would remain, dedicated to these ends should receive the recognition and support of all freedom-loving peoples. Such recognitions would include full diplomatic relations and the taking of such practical measures to assist in the solution of Spain's economic problems as may be practicable in the circumstances prevailing. Such measures are not now possible. The question of the maintenance or termination by the Governments of France, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.A. of diplomatic relations with the present Spanish régime is a matter to be decided in the light of events and after taking into account the efforts of the Spanish people to achieve their own freedom."

No 5. Extracts from a confidential report on Spain submitted to a group of Members of Parliament.»top

1. I entered Spain on the night of August . . . and recrossed the French frontier shortly after dawn on August . . . During the interval, I visited Bilbao, San Sebastian, Madrid and Barcelona, passing through several small towns (including Burgos and Saragossa) on the way. I completed the arranged programme without incident.

2. The object of my journey was to talk to the leaders (or their representatives, where the leaders were in prison) of the various democratic opposition groups in Spain. I therefore did not see either monarchists or communists. I was careful throughout to make it clear that my mission was exclusively personal and informative, and that no member of the Government had any knowledge of my presence in Spain.

3. Almost all the representatives I met emphatically stressed the necessity of avoiding further bloodshed in Spain. They affirmed that, even were it a feasible proposition (which, owing to the strength of the army and police, it was not), they would still rule out any action that might precipitate a second civil war... .

9. It is my impression that unco-ordinated British contact with Republican groups and with royalist and military elements (sometimes by official or semi-official persons, sometimes by unofficial British citizens in Spain) has, in the past, sown mutual distrust among them. It has confused and hindered their attempts to reach agreement. I could find no evidence of any British "plan" to bring these people together.

10. On the other hand, recent British statements and actions have done much to stop the disintegration of the various elements now supporting the régime. There are potential quislings in the Government, the administration, the police, and even the Falange, as well as in the army. British policy since March 1946 has helped to unite rather than divide them.

11. For example: in my view, it was not primarily the closing of the French frontier which "solidified" the generals last spring, but their belief that the western allies had decided not to express their dislike of Franco in anything stronger than words. All those whose loyalty to the régime had wavered at the time of the allied victory and of the result of the British elections, now became convinced that there was no need, after all, for them to find a way of detaching themselves from the dictator.

12. British diplomatic intervention against police terrorism seems to have been very ineffective. During my own journey, 1 was personally (though indirectly) affected by a case where the police so tortured a member of one of the Republican organizations, that his removal to Madrid from San Sebastian gaol (which had been ordered by the Security Department "for further interrogation") could not be carried out. This was not an isolated occasion. My impression is that police brutality is if anything getting worse, although our Embassy and Consulates ought now to be able to use their influence to protect Franco's political opponents, at least from those "security measures'' which even contravene present Spanish law.

13. These two practical complaints (i) that Britain is hindering rather than helping the achievement of unity against Franco, and (ii) that British protests against the police terror are weak and ineffective), together with a number of specific political disappointments, have resulted in increasing bitterness and disillusionment among Spanish democrats of all parties. British prestige has fallen very low. Though as yet Communist influence is extremely weak, there is a growing current of pro-Russian feeling, inspired by the (misguided) belief that Russia is the only great power actively friendly to the Republic.

14. Great harm has been done by two British arguments (used in various forms by His Majesty's Government) which have been enormously exploited by Spanish Government propaganda: (i) That it is "for the Spaniards to solve their own internal problem"; (ii) that "economic sanctions would hurt the Spanish workers". Almost every person I met protested hotly against both.

15. Without some outside advice, encouragement and help, the Spanish people cannot overthrow Franco's police terror, any more than the Germans and Italians unaided could overthrow Hitler or Mussolini once they were firmly in the saddle. His Majesty's Government, the Republicans believe, cannot be unaware of this elementary and obvious reality.

16. As for economic sanctions, I am personally convinced that the great majority of Spanish working people would gladly endure still further privations if they were the prelude to their liberation from the dictatorship... .

18. The 1946 Spanish harvest is the best for many years. Owing to the way in which food is distributed in Spain, however, there will probably not be much improvement in the diet of the working family. The black market—largely supplied from army sources-sells at prices well above their reach, and official rations cover only a small proportion of their weekly needs. Conditions in the Madrid slums reminded me of Greece just after the occupation.

19. I am at a loss to explain recent reports of Franco's increasing popularity in the provinces. At San Sebastian l was able to observe at close quarters the fantastic security precautions taken to ensure his personal safety, and I can vouch for the utter inaccuracy of Spanish newspaper stories of his "enthusiastic reception by the population"... .

21. I have tried to confine this report to comments on what I saw during my visit. I left Spain even more anxious about British policy than when I arrived. I believe that if we took an initiative now, we could help to produce the necessary degree of unity among the elements of opposition and potential opposition to Franco to make possible, without bloodshed, a transition to democratic government. But if the present hesitation continues, His Majesty's Government will not only lose whatever remains of its prestige among non-fascist Spaniards, but also make inevitable an eventual extremist solution, with all the dangers to the Spanish people and Great Britain which that implies.

F. N-B.

No 6. Resolution passed at the General Assembly of the United Nations in Decemebr 1946.»top

The peoples of the United Nations, at San Francisco, Potsdam, and London, condemned the Franco régime in Spain and decided that, as long as that régime remains, Spain may not be admitted to the United Nations.

The peoples of the U.N. assure the Spanish people of their enduring sympathy and of the cordial welcome awaiting them when circumstances enable them to be admitted to the U.N.

The General Assembly recalls that in May and June 1946, the Security Council conducted an investigation of the possible further action to be taken by the U.N. The subcommittee of the Security Council charged with the investigation found unanimously:

(a) In origin, nature, structure, and general conduct the Franco regime is a Fascist régime patterned on and established largely as a result of aid received from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
(b) During the struggle of the United Nations against Hitler and Mussolini, Franco, despite continued Allied protests, gave substantial aid to the enemy powers, e.g. (i) from 1941 to 1945 the Blue Division, Spanish Legion volunteers, and the Salvador Air Squadron fought against Soviet Russia on the Eastern front; (ii) in 1940 Spain seized Tangier in breach of international statute, and as a result of Spain maintaining a large army in Spanish Morocco, large numbers of Allied troops were immobilized in North Africa.
(c) Incontrovertible documentary evidence establishes that Franco was a guilty party, with Hitler and Mussolini, in the conspiracy to wage war against the United Nations. It was part of the conspiracy that Franco's full belligerency should be postponed until a time to be mutually agreed upon.

The General Assembly, convinced chat the Franco Fascist Government, which was imposed by force upon the Spanish people with the aid of the Axis Powers and which gave material assistance to the Axis in the war, does not represent the Spanish people, and by its continued control of Spain is making impossible the participation of the Spanish people in international affairs, recommends that the Franco Government be debarred from membership in U.N. international agencies and from participation in U.N. conferences or other activities, until a new and acceptable government is formed in Spain.

The General Assembly further, desiring to secure the participation of all peace-loving peoples, including the people of Spain, in the community of nations, recommends that if, within a reasonable time, the political conditions enumerated above are not realized, the Security Council shall consider the adequate measures to be taken in order to remedy the situation, and recommends that all members of the United Nations immediately recall from Madrid their Ambassadors and Ministers Plenipotentiary accredited there.


The Civilization of Spain, J. B. Trend (Oxford University Press, 1944); The Spanish Cockpit, Franz Borkenau (Faber and Faber Ltd., 1937); The Spanish Tragedy, E. Allison Peers (Methuen and Co. Ltd., 1936); Spain in Eclipse 1937-43, E. Allison Peers (Methuen and Co. Ltd., 1943); Politics, Economics and Men of Modern Spain, 1808-1946, A. Ramos Oliveira (Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1946); Freedom's Battle, J. Alvarez del Vayo (William Heinemann Ltd., 1940); The Civil War in Spain, Frank Jellinek (Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1938); Spain, Salvador de Madariaga (Creative Age Press Inc., New York, 1943—First published, Jonathan Cape Ltd., 1943); The Spanish Labyrinth, Gerald Brenan (Cambridge University Press, 1943); War in Spain, F. White (Longman's Green and Co., 1937); Spain: Review of Commercial Conditionss October 1945, His Majesty's Stationery Office (1946); Ambassador on Special Mission, Sir Samuel Hoare (Viscount Templewood) (Collins, 1946).

Copyright © 2009-2017 Irene Noel-Baker.