Paul Nizan 1936

The Counter-Revolutionary Insurrection in Spain

First Published: La Correspondance Internationale, no. 33;
Source: Paul Nizan, Intellectuel Communiste. Maspero, Paris, 1967;
Translated: by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2008.

Paris, July 22, 1936

A violent struggle is unfurling in Spain, where the fascist elements in the army, supported by the leagues, have unleashed a vast movement against the Republic.

The movement began in Spanish Morocco. Here, troops of the Foreign Legion, the very ones that had exercised a savage repression in Asturias, rebelled, bringing along with them native units. The insurgents rapidly became masters of Spanish Morocco, where General Franco, military governor of the Canary Islands, went to place himself at their head.

Nevertheless, it’s a question of a vast concerted movement, since sedition occurred in Barcelona, in Madrid under the leadership of General Goded, and in almost all the garrisons of Spain. The goal was to overthrow the government that resulted from the February elections and to establish an authoritarian regime with a republican form.

The government, though warned that a widespread fascist plot was in the works, seemed at first to have been taken by surprise, and the Casares Quiroga cabinet resigned on the night of Saturday into Sunday. It was replaced by a Martines Barrio formation. This new ministry, almost entirely made up of men of the Republican Union, extended as far as the party of Mr. Sanchez Roman, was clearly oriented towards the Right. It is what is called an “appeasement cabinet.” Naturally, this ministry was badly received and resigned in order to give way on Sunday to a Jose Giral cabinet, situated more to the Left: Mr. Giral is member of the Republican Left and his minister of the Interior, General Pozas, Inspector General of the Civil Guard, has the reputation of being a solid republican.

The resistance has been organized: the Civil Guard, the Assault Guard, the air force and a portion of the navy have remained faithful to the government. But the extent of the revolt was too great for these elements to be sufficient. General Pozas has decided upon the arming of the proletariat. In this he met up with the spontaneous movement of the people, since 6,000 Asturian miners had decided to go to Madrid, while in the south the miners of Rio Tinto and Linares organized the resistance. The socialist and communist workers’ militias played a primary role, which the minister paid homage to.

On the fifth day of the movement the situation was the following: the fascists were the masters of Spanish Morocco, of a part of Andalusia, and Galicia. Isolated movements had broken out in a few provinces. In Barcelona and Madrid the attempted insurrection had been crushed, and General Goded, taken prisoner, invited the rebels to pose their arms. The fighting continued.

The government stripped all officers of their ranks and confided command to sergeants; all soldiers have been freed of their duty to obey seditious officers.

What is more, wherever the fascists have proclaimed the state of siege the unions declare a general strike. The government has the support of the socialists, the communists, the united youth, the UGT, Pestana’s syndicalist party, and certain elements of the CNT.

* * *

This isn’t a matter of an isolated revolt, but of a general plot, remarkably prepared and executed with all possible precision. A combat is engaged by fascism against the Popular Front: this combat will be decisive.