Felix Morrow

Spanish C.P. Leaders Seek Peace
with Madrid Junta

(March 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 17, 21 March 1939, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The Spanish Communist Party has made its peace with the Casado-Miaja Junta, it would appear from a Valencia dispatch to the N.Y. Times, March 15:

“The Communist morning newspaper Verdad appeared today for the first time in ten days. It laid great stress on the assertion that the Communist party wanted only ‘an honorable peace,’ the same that other parties are striving for, and pointed to the number of Communists who had fallen on Spanish battlefields ‘in the fight for our common ideals’.”

This development appears to be the explanation for the sudden cessation of the anguished outcries against the Miaja junta uttered last week by the Stalinist press. Since Monday, no anti-Junta material has appeared in the Daily Worker. On Wednesday and Thursday Spam disappeared from its front pages altogether. Nor has there been any editorial comment or any other material seeking to explain the Spanish events. This studied silence of the Stalinist press seems to indicate a change of line toward support of the Miaja Junta.

First Direct Statement

The first direct statements by Communist Party leaders on the Madrid fighting against the Junta were published by La Voz, Spanish-language Popular Frontist daily of New York, in a Paris dispatch, March 16. It was an interview with Antonio Mije and Francisco Anton, members of the Central Committee of the Spanish Communist Party.

Anton, as Political Commissar of the Army of the Center, was the right-hand man of Miaja during the siege of Madrid.

“This could have been avoided,” said Anton, speaking of the fighting in Madrid, “because there were legal methods available for ousting the Communists from the government. We are not intransigent, but the violence employed against us forced us to defend ourselves. The coup d’etat was avowedly anti-Communist. Our people were arrested and in some places, like Valencia, the buildings of the Communist party were assaulted.

Did Not “Prolong” Fight

“To these aggressions,” continued Anton, “the Communists” answered by taking up arms against the Defense Council. But we did not break up any front, we did not draw off forces from any firing line to extend our protest. We communists used only those forces that we had in reserve.

“Nor did the Communist leaders prolong the rebellion, although we would have been justified. We would have been able to increase our forces, beside those fighting, for we had men in the armies of all the Central zones that would have obeyed our orders to fight; we preferred, nevertheless, not to benefit by extending the field of battle (against Miaja).

“We wished to continue united, resisting (Franco) as well as we could, in order to obtain an honorable peace, because we know that fascism does not parley with the weak, and we were able to offer at the least three months of resistance with the materials at our disposal. Meanwhile many men could have left Spain who are now going to fall into the hands of the enemy, because of lack of military strength to continue resisting.”

In conclusion, Anton said:

“To negotiate with Franco is now more difficult ... We wished to continue the war because our resistance was efficacious for obtaining peace. But they (the rest of the Popular Front) did not know how to understand us.”

What It Means

This significant statement of the Spanish Stalinist leaders clarifies a number of important points:

  1. The Communist party did not make a decision to revolt against Miaja. Party units, attacked by the Junta, merely defended themselves.
  2. As soon as possible, they cut short the fighting, having no intention or perspective of continuing the struggle to the point of overthrowing Miaja. The main forces under Communist military leaders were not brought into the fighting.
  3. The Communist party was in fundamental agreement with the Miaja Junta for making peace with Franco, but speaking of an “honorable” peace. Only after they were assaulted, did the Communist party leaders discover a tactical difference on how to secure the best peace.

Stalinist press claims that they and Negrin were for a last-ditch fight are thus blasted by the testimony of their own Spanish leaders. They had no principled difference with the “Trotskyist-fascist” Miaja Junta, and the United Press was probably correct in reporting, the day after the Junta took power, that the Communist party had declared its support to the Junta. But Miaja rejected their support, and launched an attack upon them, for one of the primary purposes of establishing the Junta was to throw the Stalinists to the wolves in the hope of thereby securing better concessions from Franco.

Threaten Resistance

Franco’s continued insistence on unconditional surrender and preparations for an offensive against Madrid may be the cause of the compromise between the Junta and the Stalinists. The reappearance of the Spanish Stalinist press may be notice by the Miaja Junta to Franco that if he does not grant their request for amnesty, they will reunite with the Stalinists for a show of resistance.

That tomorrow Miaja will again throw the Stalinists to the wolves in return for minor concessions from Franco must be obvious to the Stalinists. But their main preoccupation now is not the lives of their Spanish party members, but the preservation of the Popular Front myth.

If they can patch things up with Miaja, they will brazen out afterward the peace with Franco. Whereas to fight Miaja would mean to admit publicly that the Spanish Popular Front has betrayed the fight against fascism.

Last updated on 28 November 2014