Harry Pollitt 1937

International Unity Can Bring Peace to Spain and Europe

Source: International Press Correspondence, Volume 17, no 26, 19 June 1937. Scanned, prepared and annotated for the Marxist Internet Archive by Paul Flewers.

In his recent lead to the international labour movement, as expressed in the article ‘The Lessons of Almería’, Comrade Dimitrov has sounded both the note of urgency and also the way to victory in connection with the Spanish situation.

It will be warmly welcomed by all the active workers in the international labour movement, because it corresponds to their desires.

Unfortunately, we have to record the fact that the biggest obstacle to international united action is the policy of the British Labour leaders. It needs to be placed on record that so far they have not organised a single mass demonstration in Britain on behalf of the Spanish government, nor does Spain figure in any of their current political campaigns.

It must be a source of astonishment to workers in other countries that the Labour leaders in ‘the oldest democracy in the world’ should have been so hesitant in organising mass support for the young democratic Spanish government.

But all this is against the wishes of the rank and file of the British labour movement, who have given so many instances of practical support for the Spanish people.

Badajoz, Málaga, Madrid, Guernica and Almería are not only household words in Britain, the horrors and atrocities wrought by the fascists in these Spanish towns have aroused a burning resentment amongst masses of the population, that if the Labour leaders would organise it, could bring about immediate changes in the policy of the National Government [1] towards Spain.

The appeal of Comrade Dimitrov to the Labour and Socialist International and the IFTU [2] should be supported in every meeting and labour organisation in the country. International unity can prevent any further Guernicas and Almerías. It can bring peace to Spain and Europe.

Whether this appeal is accepted or not depends on the leaders of the British labour movement. We hope at this grave hour and crisis in world history that they will fulfil the responsibility that is placed upon them.

The National Government are intent on crushing the League of Nations; they intend to sign an agreement with fascist Germany; they have disgusted the representatives of impatient Dominions; they are the chief support of Hitler, Mussolini and Franco.

The workers of London, immediately the infamous bombardment of Almería [3] took place, under the leadership of the Communist Party, demonstrated in their thousands before the German Embassy. Later, hundreds went to the House of Commons to interview Members of Parliament, and made the whole place ring with their slogans demanding an end be put to these acts of fascist terror.

Now we must do everything in our power to ensure that international united action shall be established.

The proposals of Comrade Dimitrov must be brought before every meeting and demonstration, they must be taken into every branch of the local labour, trade-union and Cooperative movement. The masses must be won for mass action to break down the opposition of certain dominant Labour leaders.

In this way we are sure that the British labour movement can be won for international unity on behalf of Spain.

One hundred and fifty British workers have given their lives in defence of Madrid. They have saved the honour of British Labour. Their sacrifice must not be in vain.

The Communist Party of Britain will do everything in its power to popularise Comrade Dimitrov’s proposals, for we, as well as all the most active workers in Britain, realise the burning truth of his words, when he declares:

The fate of the Spanish people and the cause of universal peace urgently demand united action of all international working-class organisations. The bombardment of Almería is a serious lesson to all working people, irrespective of their political views and of the organisations to which they belong. It is a serious warning against the further division of the forces of the labour movement.

United action of the international proletariat must and will be established!


All notes have been provided by the MIA.

1. Britain was governed by a series of National Governments from 1931 to 1945. The first emerged from the collapse of the Labour Government in August 1931 through a deep Cabinet division in respect of public expenditure cuts following the Wall Street Crash of 1929, with the former Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald at its head, leading to his expulsion from the Labour Party. A general election was held in October 1931, and although the Conservatives won a resounding victory, MacDonald remained Prime Minister. MacDonald resigned in June 1935, and the Conservative leader Stanley Baldwin took over. The Conservatives won another victory in the general election of November 1935, Baldwin remained Prime Minister, and was replaced in May 1937 by Neville Chamberlain, who was himself replaced by Winston Churchill in May 1940.

2. The International Federation of Trade Unions.

3. After Republican aeroplanes attacked the German warship Deutschland off Ibiza, causing 31 deaths, the Graf Spee and four destroyers bombarded the coastal town of Almería, destroying 35 buildings and killing 19 people.