Source: Labour Monthly, May 1942, Vol. 24, No. 5
Transcription/HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2008). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
JOSE DIAZ is dead. . . . It is hard to speak of it, comrades, but still more tormenting to experience this. Our friend, the beloved leader, the greathearted comrade, has left us for ever. Jose Diaz, the general secretary of the Communist Party of Spain, is dead. . . . Black crepe envelops the banners of enslaved Spain, which has lost one of its best sons, for the death of Diaz is not only an irreparable loss to the Communist Party of Spain; it encompasses in woe and sorrow the entire Spanish people, which had its interests self-sacrificingly defended by Jose Diaz. There has died not only the Communist Party’s first leader; there has died a great fighter for the anti-fascist cause; there has ceased to beat the heart that inspired the heroic resistance of Spain to the Italo-German invaders; there has died one of the chief inspirers of the people’s army; there has died a man of iron will who, at the critical moment, succeeded in 24 hours in stirring up the people of Madrid, inflaming theirs with confidence in their own strength, with confidence in victory, and in leading them off to the front, making the defence of the beloved city a thing that will never die.
When the news of this people’s son, so great in his modesty, penetrates to that huge prison which is called Spain, our people, which in the process of heavy struggle has learned to discern the character of individuals, will bow their heads in sorrow. Jose Diaz will not be with them when the day arrives of the liberation of Spain. The people of Spain will not hear his ardent, stirring words on the day of victory. Jose Diaz will not be alongside of other victims, the merciless accuser of the traitors and butchers.
Jose Diaz was a worker, a modest son of the people; by his life and activity he brought no shame on his class or country. At the age of 18 Jose Diaz was already a leader of his trade union organisation, “Aurora,” the bakers’ union in Seville. During Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship Jose Diaz waged a tireless struggle against the dictatorial regime. He was arrested and subjected to such severe prison regime as only the notorious Arlmego was capable of dooming imprisoned workers to. But neither torture nor prison could shatter the faith of the young worker who was to become the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Spain and an outstanding national figure. Active struggle gradually advanced him to the Communist Party’s leadership. At a difficult moment, when reaction furiously persecuted the Communists, Jose Diaz revived the liquidated Party organisations and, in 1932, after the Seville Congress, he was elected General Secretary of the Party.
Jose Diaz was profoundly concerned with the position of the Spanish proletariat, and exerted tremendous efforts as Communist Party secretary to bring about proletarian unity, regarding it as the best weapon of the workers in the struggle against Fascism. But Jose Diaz was not a narrow-minded politician; he understood the need not only of proletarian unity in the ever-sharpening struggle against the fascist and near-fascist reaction, but also the unity of the proletariat and democratic forces for the struggle against the common enemy—fascism.
And Jose Diaz became the driving force of the unification of the democratic forces under the banner of the Popular Front. It can be said that thanks to his persistence the Popular Front was established; in the process of hammering out this powerful weapon in the struggle against fascism, disagreements and difficulties arose which were overcome thanks to the firmness of Jose Diaz. And when anybody considered these difficulties insurmountable, he taught us how to overcome them, always having in view the final aim, and leaving second-rate incidental matters on one side.
In Parliament and at public meetings Jose Diaz constantly directed the attention of the masses to the menace of fascism, and pointed out the path of irreconcilable struggle against this enemy of the freedom of the peoples. But it was in the development of our war of liberation that his great talent as political leader was manifested particularly brilliantly. And this is not surprising. Jose Diaz was bone of the bone and flesh of the flesh of the people, our heroic people which rose up to the defence, not only of its own liberty, but also the liberty and independence of all peoples threatened by the barbarians, who, having laid Spain waste, are spilling rivers of blood throughout entire Europe.
At the very first moment of the military fascist revolt Jose Diaz proved to the masses that it was not a matter of an ordinary civil war, but of a war of national liberation against the Italo-German aggressors who, thanks to their Falangist agents, were able to enslave Spain. And that is why it was necessary to maintain unity, not only of the anti-fascist forces, but also of all Spanish patriots to whom the independence of the country was dear. Jose Diaz was tireless in pointing out to the rulers the appropriate measures for the development of the struggle with chances for victory: the establishment of the regular army, the organisation of a war industry, and the mobilisation of the resources of the whole country.
Unfortunately his advice was not always taken in time. On the other hand, the people felt that the Party’s policy was correct, and that its most authoritative representative was correct and loved Jose Diaz, and had boundless confidence in him.
Jose Diaz’s name was indissolubly bound up with the defence of Madrid.
Only the treachery and undermining work of the Fifth Column agents, whom Jose Diaz exposed so often, succeeded in breaking its heroic resistance and transforming Spain into a huge concentration camp. The events which developed after the defeat of Republican Spain showed the profound political intuition of Jose Diaz, who, day in and day out, repeated that the defeat of Spain would not be an isolated fact, but would be the beginning of the direct aggression of Hitler Germany against the entire world. “The security of France is being defended on the Madrid front,” once said Jose Diaz in a warning to the French people, and had not the French rulers, long before the collapse of France, pursued a systematic policy of capitulation to fascism, the heroic resistance of the Spanish people would have enabled France to defend itself and maintain its independence.
The experience of events within and without the country has confirmed the profound conviction of Jose Diaz that only on the basis of national unity, on the basis of close unification of all who are desirous of defending the integrity and independence of their native land, can the aggressor be defeated, can the peoples save themselves from fascist domination. Jose Diaz’s constant care was Spain, the Spanish people whom he so deeply loved.
Jose Diaz, who suffered from severe illness which made necessary three serious operations, has met on Soviet territory, among the Soviet people, their organisations and leaders, the tremendous love, touching attention and concern which his poor health stood in need of. Soviet science did everything in its power to save its great friend and comrade. In the person of Jose Diaz the Soviet people and its leaders saw the representative of the heroic Spanish people. In the titanic struggle of the Soviet people and the Red Army under the leadership of their brilliant leader Comrade Stalin, and in the forthcoming victory over the Hitler aggressors, Jose Diaz saw the path to the liberation of Spain. But till the last moment of his life Jose Diaz did not cease to assert that the Spanish people cannot passively await their liberation at the hands of the Red Army; that the Spanish people’s historic duty makes it incumbent on it to organise the struggle, basing itself on a wide national unity embracing all the Spaniards who desire to see Spain liberated from foreign tutelage and foreign regime.
And such is the last will bequeathed to our Party and our people by their great leader. Jose Diaz is dead; but the spirit, firmness and resistance to the enemy, which he succeeded in implanting in us all, lives on. His work remains. The great Communist Party of Spain lives despite fascist terror.
Jose Diaz! The Party which you moulded and trained, and which is fearlessly fighting inside of Spain, is keeping alive the flame of resistance. It will fulfil your last will by bringing about national unity as the basis of the liberation of our Spain, the Spain to which you devoted the whole of your life to the very end.