Felix Morrow

C.P. Paint Brush Will Not Hide
the Truth on Spain’s Betrayal

(May 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 29, 2 May 1939, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Heralded in announcements on preceding days as “the inside story on Spain’s betrayal”, the Daily Worker published on April 21 a “manifesto of the central committee of the Communist Party of Spain.”

The document reveals very little about the “inside story”. The “manifesto” is, rather, an attempt to still misgivings.

Why did the Spanish Communist party remain silent during the crucial days when the Negrin government cleared out and the Miaja-Casado Popular Front Junta took over and surrendered to Franco?

The actual facts are damningly clear. On March 5 the Junta took power. The next day the Negrin cabinet, including the Communist ministers, Uribe and Hernandez, evacuated the country, and in the same planes or others also went La Pasionaria, Lister, Modesto, Hidalgo de Cisneros, Carlos Nunez Mazas, Antonio Cordon, etc. – in a word, the entire leadership of the Communist Party (the general secretary, Jose Diaz, was already out of the country).

We pointed out at the time the impelling motive which made it impossible for the Stalinists to resist the Popular Front Junta. The Stalinists dared not admit to the world that the Popular Front had ousted the Stalinists. Still less could the Stalinists in turn oust the Popular Front, and take over the helm. Stalin himself had already abandoned Spain – as Krivitsky has since told in detail – and so the Stalinist leadership simply cleared out with Negrin.

Faking Dates to Fake an Explanation

But how explain all this away? The “manifesto” which attempts to do so is dated March 18. This date, the most plausible which the Stalinists could attempt, is undoubtedly a fake. The central committee was not in Spain but in France, since March 6, and had they written the document on that date, it would have been published long ago, and not on April 21. The dateline in the Daily Worker, “Paris, April 3 (by mail)” is pure fakery, for the huge Stalinist apparatus cables immediately here tenth-rate documents, let alone one of such significance, and why would the Spanish leadership hold the document in Paris from March 18 to April 3?. Actually the document must have been written well after the events. The “manifesto” is so written as to give the impression that it appeared in the midst of the events surrounding the establishment of the Miaja-Casado Junta. But the Junta took power on March 5, put down the protesting troops in the succeeding week, and on March 18 had radioed an appeal for peace to Franco and had ceased all pretense of resistance to the fascists! The Daily Worker’s introduction to the “manifesto”, as one which “warns the Spanish people that the Casado ‘Junta’ could only bring about the enslavement of the Spanish people”, and the present-tense references in the “manifesto” to activities of the Junta, are pure fakery.

“Manifesto” Dodges the Key Question

Why does not the “manifesto” denounce the death sentences against Barcelo and other Communist troop leaders? Why does it not accept responsibility for the revolt? On the contrary, it says that those “who speak about a ‘Communist uprising’ know very well, that if we had wanted to rise up in arms against the Government we could have done it, because we had the forces to do it and to win.” Then why didn’t the Communist Party overthrow the treacherous Junta and organize resistance to Franco? This key question is the one which above all is asked by those – International Brigaders, Communist party workers in the various pro-Spain organizations, etc. – who sacrificed for Spain and want to know why their sacrifice was in vain. But the “manifesto” is designed, not to answer, but to avoid answering this fundamental question.

In order not to answer, the usual paint brush is employed. The “manifesto” is entitled the Casado-Trotskyite treachery, and is bestrewn with references to “Trotskyites”. The fact that our whole movement, in Spain and internationally, was the only one in the whole workers’ movement which irreconcilably denounced the Miaja-Casado Junta and that we characterized its counter-revolutionary character while the Stalinist press remained silent – this established fact does not trouble the Stalinist fabricators. At all costs they must confuse the issue by the usual mountain of slander against the Fourth International.

They dare to link us with Casado – they whose party leader, General Miaja, presided over the Casado Junta, and who, as the “manifesto” admits, tried to make peace with the Junta!

Negrin went because the rest of the Popular Front, in seeking to save their own hides, needed a scapegoat to offer Franco, and the Stalinists, who controlled Negrin, were the obvious scapegoats. But Negrin’s whole policy differed not a whit from his successors: both sought conciliation with Franco.

The Stalinists have sought to conceal this. In line with their preposterous picture of Negrin as a bitter-ender, the “manifesto” pictures the result had he remained at the helm:

“... today we would have peace, independence and liberty without reprisals. And we even say that it could have been possible to save some of the social gains made by the Republic for the benefit of the workers and peasants. Today, the peasantry would hot have the prospect of seeing the landowners come back as the victors nor the workers the prospect of a slavery regime.”

Unfortunately for the Stalinists, however, even their own collaborators have divulged part of the truth. For example, Negrin’s foreign minister, Alvarez del Vayo, wrote in the British weekly, the New Statesman, (reprinted in Left, April 1939):

“Of the three conditions for making peace which Dr. Negrin had stipulated in that last meeting of the Cortes at Figueras on February 1 – the independence of Spain, freedom for the Spanish people to determine its destiny, and the assurance that there would be no reprisals – we knew perfectly well that the only one still possessing practical meaning, the only one we must strive for, was the third ... it was a question of making possible the departure from Spain of some twenty thousand marked men and women ... It was for this that the Negrin government was still disposed to resist – and for nothing else.”

To save the hides of the Popular Front leaders – that was Negrin’s sole program and that was the program of his successors. The “manifesto” cannot, any more than previous alibis, conceal this fact nor the indelible fact that the Popular Front – whether headed by Caballero, Negrin or Miaja – crushed the revolutionary masses and thereby made certain the victory of Franco.

Last updated on 17 January 2016