John McGovern 1937

Terror in Spain

has destroyed Working Class Unity,
undermined the fight against Franco,
and suppressed the Social Revolution

Published: by Independent Labour Party, London, [n.d.];
Source: University of Warwick's Digital Collections;
Transcribed: by Zdravko Saveski.

Table of contents


McGovern's Permit to Visit Secret Prison

El Director del Preventori Judicial de Barcelona Saluda

Al Jefe del Departamento Especial del Estado

y le ruega atienda a los Sres. M. Felicen Challays del Comite Central de la Liga de los Derechos del hombre: Mac Govern, Diputado Laborista del Gobierno Ingles y Jose Rebull del S.R.I., los que han venido a este Preventorio Judicial para visitarlo, muy bien recomendados por el Sr. Secretario del Ministro de Justicia. Seria muy conveniente visitaran este Departamento del Preventorio calle Vallamjor por creer se trata de una prision clandestina.

Gaspar Dalman i Gibanel aprofita aquesta avinentesa per a oferir-vos el testimoniage de la seva consideracio i estima.

Barcelona 28 de Noviembre de 1937.




Salutations! To the Chief of the Special State Department,

begging him to grant facilities to Monsieur Felicien Challaye, of the Central Committee of the League for Human Rights, and John McGovern, British Workers' M.P., together with Senor Jose Rebull, of the S.R.I., who have come to visit the Judicial Preventorium, and who have been properly recommended by the Secretary of the Minister of Justice. It would be very desirable for them to visit the Department of the Preventorium of the Calle Vallmajor, because they believe it is a secret prison.

GASPAR DALMAN I GIBANEL takes this opportunity to offer the testimony of his consideration and esteem.

BARCELONA, November 28th, 1937.


Terror in Spain
by John McGovern


Comintern - Communist International
Cheka - Communist Secret Police Organisation
C.N.T. - Syndicalist Trade Union Federation
U.G.T. - Socialist Trade Union Federation
P.O.U.M. - Marxist Party of Workers' Unity (Spanish I.L.P.)
F.A.I. - Anarchist Federation

THE Spanish people have passed through some of the darkest and most brutal experiences in history, but it is doubtful whether any experience has been blacker or more cruel than what they are now undergoing. During the last seventeen months they have gone through hell. Franco has played the role of the devil, but behind him have been Spanish landlords, capitalists, bankers, army and naval officers, and clerical reactionaries determined to resist at any price the extension of education and economic change, determined to defend at all costs their own privileges and profits. These Spanish tyrants have been aided in their bloody repression by the foreign Fascist Powers, Germany, Italy, and Portugal, and by hosts of Capitalist reactionaries throughout the world.

Since the Russian Revolution in 1917 the one shining light in the long list of disastrous retreats by the workers has been the spirit and organisation of our Spanish comrades in their opposition to Franco and his bestial forces. Since the beginning of the Civil War on July 19, 1936, it is recorded that one and half million Spanish workers and their children have been killed. Every intelligent person wishes a speedy and triumphant victory for the workers of Spain over the fiendish Fascists.

The I.L.P. has been one hundred per cent. behind the workers in Spain in their war for human liberty. We have paid tribute to every person or organisation which has responded to the call from over the sea to join in the common battle.


Workers' Power or "Democracy"?

From time to time there have been changes in the Government of Spain and its tactics. This has been due sometimes to pressure from outside and sometimes to internal pressure.

Russia has provided certain military supplies to the Spanish Government. It is freely alleged that in return she has been permitted to place certain representatives in key positions, especially in the army and police forces. It has also been alleged that the recurring changes in the Government have been in large part due to the plotting and threats of Spanish Communist representatives acting on the orders of the Communist International.

There can be no doubt about the hostility of large masses of workers in Spain to the presence of middle-class, moderate elements in positions of importance within the Government, and to the weakening of the economic revolution achieved in July, 1936, which has resulted from this. The change of the objective from "Workers' Power" to "Defence of Democracy," under the influence of Liberals, Right-Wing Socialists, and particularly the Communists, has been bitterly resented.

It is widely suspected that this change has been put through in order to placate French and British Capitalism. Russia is believed to be anxious to improve her standing with the British Government in order to conclude a further military alliance. Russia believes the way to do this is to prove her trustworthiness by repudiating any economic revolution in Spain.

It has been difficult for the revolutionary workers in Spain - the C.N.T., F.A.I., and P.O.U.M. - to come out openly in active struggle against this dangerous policy. They saw that the fruits of their early economic conquests were being lost, but they did not wish to divide the anti-Fascist forces or to weaken the military front, thus making a Franco victory more likely. In spite of their caution in this respect, a spontaneous resistance took place during May when the rank and file came out in the streets of Barcelona and refused to surrender arms and key positions. The P.O.U.M. did not organise this resistance, but when it took place sided with the workers.

This was the beginning of a move by Communists to disarm those who were opposed to the policy of the Communist International in Spain. They declared the P.O.U.M. an illegal organisation and banned its papers.

When the struggle against Franco began the Communist Party in Spain was weak, but the supply of arms by Russia gave it an influence and a share in government out of all proportion to its strength. The Spanish Communist Party also had a very poor leadership, but it soon proved that what it lacked in intelligence was made up by cunning and ruthless brutality.

After the May Days' resistance, a demand was made to appoint Senor Burillo, a Spanish Communist, as Police Chief at Barcelona. As soon as he was installed the Comintern Cheka was established in Barcelona; there were wholesale arrests, abductions, tortures, disappearances and murders of opponents of Communist policy. Andres Nin, late Minister of Justice in the Catalan Government and General Secretary of P.O.U.M., was singled out by this vicious machine of Comintern, Cheka Limited. He was charged by the Communists with being a Fascist spy, was arrested, taken to Madrid and foully murdered.

Nin had previously been a prominent figure in the Spanish Communist Party and had been influential at Moscow. But he defended Trotsky, repudiated the changed policy of the Communist International, and linked up with the P.O.U.M. This made him particularly loathsome to the Cheka.

To oppose the anti-revolutionary line of the Popular Front and to criticise Moscow puts your life in serious danger at the hands of the Communists in Spain. If you are a member of P.O.U.M. or defend it against Comintern slanders, that is sufficient for arrest and imprisonment. Over three thousand anti-Fascist fighters have been placed behind prison walls in Spain by Communist robots on orders from the Comintern. They include all the best known leaders of the P.O.U.M., hundreds of its members, as well as hundreds of members of the C.N.T. and the Left of the U.G.T.

The hand of the Cheka has stretched outside Spain. The wife of Joaquin Maurin, the P.O.U.M. leader, who is a prisoner in Franco's hands, lives in Paris. Her home was raided by French Communists. Eight of them invaded her flat, cut off the telephone, locked the doors and proceeded to ransack the papers and books; they believed that her flat was a centre of P.O.U.M. propaganda. Even in France the Moscow-directed Cheka operates.


Why We Went to Spain

The I.L.P. and the International Bureau of Revolutionary Socialist Parties have sent three delegations to Spain in order to demand a public trial or the release of the revolutionary prisoners. Fenner Brockway went in July and was promised an early and public trial of the P.O.U.M. leaders. James Maxton went in August, secured the release of many prisoners, and was again promised an early trial of the leaders. But we had had no word of the trial by the end of November and we were greatly disturbed, not only by continued imprisonments, but by the disappearances of individuals and by open threats of death to Senor Pabon, the famous Spanish lawyer, who was engaged to defend the P.O.U.M. leaders. The evidence of Cheka brutality grew.

It was decided therefore to send a further delegation to Barcelona, and Professor Felicien Challaye, of Paris University, and I were asked to undertake the task. Our duty was to interview members of the Government, to press for a speedy trial or release of the P.O.U.M. leaders, to urge an amnesty for all anti-Fascist prisoners, to investigate their conditions in gaol, and to check up on the allegations of Comintern Cheka brutality and murders.

Apart from the humane object of our mission, we believed that an amnesty and the ending of Cheka operations would strengthen the Workers' Front against Franco and his Italian and German allies. With these aims we set out for Barcelona, determined to do everything in our power to bring about the release of the anti-Fascist prisoners, to encourage working-class unity, and to assist the struggle against Fascist Capitalism in Spain and throughout the world.


Communists Destroy Workers' Front

Communists always denounce the P.O.U.M., the C.N.T., and Largo Caballero, the leader of the Left section of the U.G.T., for causing division in the anti-Fascist front in Spain and for weakening the military fight against Franco. The exact opposite is true. It is the Comintern and the Spanish Communists, obeying Moscow instructions, who have broken the working-class front and undermined the military struggle. This is easy to prove.

At the beginning there was magnificent unity. Despite deep theoretical differences, the Syndicalists, Socialists, Anarchists, Communists and the Revolutionary Socialists of the P.O.U.M. were all together. They fought the Fascists side by side, they formed their workers' militia, they had a United Military Council to co-ordinate their activities. Through this Military Council they could have developed unity of command and gone forward with one common front against Franco.

All sections of the working class were represented in the Government. It was the Comintern which destroyed this unity. It sent instructions that P.O.U.M. must be excluded. For the sake of Russian arms the other sections of the working class agreed. Then in turn the C.N.T. and the U.G.T. were excluded from the Government and the ranks of the U.G.T. were split from top to bottom by Communist manoeuvres. The result is that the mass working-class movements are now outside the Government and there is intense bitterness among them against the Communists.

The only way to bring about anti-Fascist unity in Spain is to reverse Communist policy, to liberate the prisoners of the other sections and by so doing to encourage all sections to take a full share and responsibility in the struggle.

The Communists are also mainly responsible for weakening the military fight against Franco. They refused to allow arms to be sent to the Aragon Front because the anti-Fascist forces there were manned by the C.N.T. and P.O.U.M. If arms had been available, the anti-Fascist army could have advanced months ago at Saragossa - and Madrid would have been relieved and the Fascists would never have succeeded in taking the Basque country or the Asturias.

This is now recognised to have been the great strategical error of the war. The Communists were even prepared to sacrifice the war because of their political opposition to the C.N.T. and the P.O.U.M.

There are many other ways in which the Communists have weakened the military fight - the splitting of the Workers' Front itself inevitably meant a lessening of military solidarity and enthusiasm, and the middle-class officers whom the Communists imposed again and again proved less reliable than the working-class officers of the workers' militia - Malaga, Santander and Bilbao are examples.

We can recognise to the full the value of Russian arms and the International Brigade, but even such help was dear at the price of the disastrous results of the disunity and military sectarianism for which the Communists have been responsible.

In going to Spain, therefore, we were concerned not only with releasing the working-class anti-Fascist prisoners. Bound up with that objective was the reunion of the working-class forces against Franco and the re-establishment of the conditions which would permit a united military effort to defeat the Fascists.


Visit to Minister of Justice

Our first visit when we reached Barcelona was an interview with the Minister of Justice, Senor Irujo, and his brother, who is his personal secretary.[1] We had a heart-to-heart talk on the question of an amnesty for the anti-Fascist prisoners. The Minister, who is a Basque Catholic and a strong opponent of Fascism, heard our plea in a very sympathetic manner. He explained to us that a short time previously an amnesty had been considered by the Government and that every member of the Government, except the two Communists, had been in favour of the release of every genuine anti-Fascist prisoner. The Communists were violently opposed to the release of any of the prisoners, and, since the Communist Party were partners in the Popular Front Coalition, it was not easy to act without their consent.

Senor Irujo stated, however, that "in spite of Communist opposition" the Government had been prepared to release the prisoners quietly one by one, but on November 21 a large demonstration of C.N.T. members and Socialist militants gathered outside Valencia prison and threatened to pull down the walls if the prisoners were not released. He added the usual Government formula: "We were prepared to act, but not in response to threats of violence."

I raised the question of the possible exchange of a Fascist prisoner for Joaquin Maurin, who in addition to being leader of the P.O.U.M. is a member of the Spanish Parliament, the Cortes. He has been a prisoner in Franco's hands since August, 1936, and is now in a military prison at Saragossa. A list of prominent Fascists in Government prisons was in my hands, and I suggested that one of them, Senor Lucia, who is also a member of the Cortes, might be exchanged for Maurin.

Senor Irujo replied that quite recently the Government had discussed the exchange of Maurin and that the Communists were alone opposed to any exchange. Nevertheless, he gave me permission to approach the British Foreign Office with the authority of the Spanish Government and to ask it to take steps to facilitate an exchange. He said he would accept any nominee of the Insurgents in exchange for Maurin. He said I could depend on his word being honoured. Since I returned to Britain news has come that the International Red Cross has been provided by the Spanish Government with a list of Fascist prisoners who would be exchanged for Maurin. This confirms Senor Irujo's promise that the Government would be prepared to go ahead despite Communist opposition.

We enquired if it were true that a sister of Senor Diaz, Secretary of the Spanish Communist Party, had been exchanged for a Fascist. We were informed that the Communist members of the Government had pressed for an exchange not only of his sister, but of his mother also. These two women had in fact been safely exchanged for two prominent Franco Fascists in Government prisons.

Senor Irujo assured us that he was "all for freedom" and would speed up the machinery to assist a general amnesty. Both he and his brother hotly refuted the Communist lie that Andres Nin or any other P.O.U.M. leader had been in league with Franco.

We next raised the question of visiting Barcelona prisons. We were given an official letter to the Director of Prisons authorising us to enter any prison and a permit to see Katia Landau at Barcelona General Hospital, where she had been transferred after eleven days' hunger strike in the women's prison. Katia Landau's husband, a German anti-Fascist with a brave record in the fight against Hitler, had been murdered by the Communists.


Visit to the Model Prison

On Sunday, November 28, we went to Carcel Modelo (prison in Barcelona) and presented our credentials to the Director of the men's prison.[2] He was very courteous and introduced us to the Medical Officer. We were informed that there were fifteen hundred prisoners in the Modelo - five hundred anti-Fascists, five hundred Fascists, and five hundred criminals. It was Sunday and visiting hour, and we found about five or six hundred visitors clamouring for admission in order to see their friends. The anti-Fascist wing of the prison was appropriately on the left! We passed into the hall through a large iron gate about twenty feet by twelve feet. The prisoners had got word that we were coming and we had a fine reception.

Our difficulty was that everyone wanted to tell us of their brutal treatment by the Cheka previous to being admitted to this prison. One Italian prisoner showed us a remarkable drawing which he had made depicting the method of torture inflicted on him in an underground cellar. He was pinned to the wall with his hands above his head, two guards were at his side with fixed bayonets, whilst a young Cheka officer had papers in his left hand and a revolver pointed at the prisoner's heart in his right. The Cheka officer was putting him through the third degree, claiming that he had false papers, demanding to know where certain other comrades could be found, and threatening to shoot him and to throw his body in a sewer that passed through the cellar. The Italian had been through this torture for five or six hours at a time on a number of occasions before he was finally handed over to the Modelo Prison.

Professor Challaye and I also interviewed a French subject who had been in the French army and who had thrown up his position in order to fight against Fascism in Spain. He had been made an officer in the Spanish Government army and had fought outside Madrid for over five months. His only reason for being in the Modelo Prison was that he had been rather outspoken against Comintern and its Cheka methods. He impressed me as a splendid type. He felt it to be a tremendous outrage that he should be kept in prison for over four months. His demand was: "Put me on trial if I have been guilty of any offence - if not, I demand my liberty."

Quite a number of the prisoners had been wounded in the war against Franco - and yet here they were held in prison as alleged Franco supporters! Our delegation was specially welcomed by the P.O.U.M. prisoners, and we spent an hour in the cell of Enrique Adroher Gironella. A number of prisoners were confined in the one cell.

It was a real Prisoners' International in the Modelo. They came from France, Greece, Germany, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland and America, as well as Spain. We were asked by scores of these prisoners to expose the operations of the brutal Cheka, with its torture, third degree and death for militant Socialist fighters in Spain.

When we made to leave the anti-Fascist wing of the prison there was a spontaneous surge towards the gate. The prisoners sang two C.N.T. songs and then the "International," finishing with lusty cheers for the C.N.T., F.A.I., and P.O.U.M. The I.L.P. delegation was specially singled out for international recognition. Following this, there were cries of: "Down with the brutal Comintern Cheka in Spain" and loud hisses.

It was indeed an inspiring and moving sight to see these five hundred anti-Fascist prisoners, mostly young, crowding the balconies, stairs and hall, with their clenched fists raised, their eyes shining, their heads up and thrown back defiantly. Our final view was of hundreds of cheering men surging inside the huge iron gate.

We saw this iron gate as symbolical of the Comintern Cheka. By such means it suppresses the revolutionary movement in Spain, which is determined to change its false slogan of "bourgeois democracy" into the slogan of "Workers' Power." The Communist International and its organised thugs are creating a tremendous force of antagonism. One day the storm will break and destroy their brutal gangsterdom. That will be a disastrous day for all who have supported it.

We were asked to go quietly towards the office, as the Doctor and Director stated that they had never seen the prisoners so moved before and feared a revolt. On our way out we met Senor Fernandez, late Chief of Police in Barcelona, and found that he had been a prisoner for three and a half months in the Modelo. One year previously John McNair and I had received great kindness from him in Barcelona. Now he has been placed in prison by Burillo, his Communist successor. He was imprisoned for the alleged disappearance and death of an official during his period of office.


Visit to Women Prisoners

Our next visit was to the General Hospital, where Katia Landau was a prisoner and patient after her hunger strike. She had been in prison for over five months; it was during her imprisonment that her husband was seized by the Cheka, tortured and murdered. In spite of her ordeal we found her full of fight. She was fierce in her antagonism to the Comintern and its Cheka in Spain. She is a little woman, only four feet ten inches in height and five stone eights pounds in weight, but full of idealism and energy. Katia had two armed guards at the hospital and no one could visit her without a permit.

With her husband, Katia had fled from the Hitler terror to Paris. Both had a record of heroism in the struggle against Fascism. When the Spanish Civil War broke out they went to Spain to assist in any way possible to defeat Franco. When arrested by the Cheka, she got a warning through to her husband and he managed to escape, but night and day numerous victims were put through third degree torture and threat of death in order to track Kurt Landau to his place of hiding. A German Communist, whose name I have, is the Comintern Cheka Officer. His threat was (as I subsequently heard from a prisoner to whom it was made): "We must get Kurt Landau and kill him - he is an opponent of the Comintern and the Popular Front and a P.O.U.M. Trotskyist." Kurt was finally traced, seized and murdered by order of the Moscow gang of thugs.

We had raised the question of Katia's plight with the Minister of Justice. He told us that he had visited her in prison, dissuading her from the hunger strike and telling her frankly that her husband was dead. The Minister released her the day following our visit. She was then in this difficulty: the Communists had stolen her papers, including her passport and marriage and birth certificates, as they always do. At our request she was given official papers, along with another German woman comrade, Else Homberger, who, despite the fact that she had a fine record of five and a half years in the workers' struggle in Spain, had been kept in prison for over five months, including one month in the Cheka Secret Prison I will describe later. Else Homberger's husband had been at the front. When he came to see his wife he was put over the frontier into France.[3]

At the Women's Prison, which we visited next, we found a varied group of anti-Fascist prisoners. They were housed and mixed with the ordinary criminals. There was a family of three, mother, daughter and daughter-in-law. The latter's husband was fighting at the front - and she warned him to remain at the front as his life would be in danger if he returned. There was a young German woman, Erika Gilpen, who was six months' pregnant. She had been over four months in prison just because she, like the others, was a member of P.O.U.M.

I had a long talk with Dr. Carlotta Margulin, a German woman who could speak perfect English. She had been in Spain for four years and in prison for over five months. She was in charge of the first hospital train to the Aragon Front and later of the Maurin Hospital; she had joined the P.O.U.M. and so was arrested.

For the first few weeks she had been kept in the Cheka Secret Prison, and had been put through the third degree for five and a half hours; it was to her that the Comintern Cheka Officer said that Kurt Landau must be killed. Dr. Margulin was threatened on many occasions before being handed over to the Women's Prison. Since my return to London I am glad to say that I have heard that she has been released.


Visit to Two More Ministers

We visited the Home Secretary, Senor Zugazagoitia, a Right-Wing Socialist. We had two hours with him. He deplored the disappearance and deaths of Andres Nin and Kurt Landau, and assured us that he was still having energetic enquiries made. He stated openly that in his view the accusations that the P.O.U.M. leaders had been associated with Franco were outrageous.

I asked: "How is it that Fernandez, C.N.T. Chief of Police in the previous Government, is in prison for the disappearance of one official, while Burillo, Communist Chief during the disappearance of Andres Nin, Kurt Landau, Erwin Wolf, Marc Rhein, Georges Tioli, and others, is free?" He could not explain why. In answer to an allegation of Cheka domination, he replied: "Well, we have received aid from Russia and have had to permit certain actions which we did not like." He promised to speed up an amnesty for all genuine anti-Fascist prisoners.

We paid a visit to Senor Miravitles, Minister of Propaganda. We saw new films of an attack on Madrid and offences on Belchite and Aragon and had a long talk with him. He deplored the death of his friend, Andres Nin, and informed us that when the arrest took place he phoned many of the Ministers repudiating the suggestion that Nin could have had any association or sympathy with Franco. He thought support of the May Days' resistance was wrong, but that was a difference of opinion among anti-Fascists. He had no doubt that Nin and others had been murdered.


Visit to Cheka Secret Prison

Our final visit was to the Cheka Secret Prison at Junta Plaza, Adraine Bonanova. We had been warned about this prison by many good comrades. Prisoners who had been in it told us of how they had had to sleep on the floor, men and women in the same room, with guards in attendance, and no light at night. I could not shake off the memory of the picture drawn by the Italian comrade of his torture in the cellar with the sewer. As we approached it, the question in my mind was: "How many human beings have been tortured and murdered in this modern Inquisition?"

When we walked up the steps of Calle Vallmajor Prison our path was barred by two guards with rifles and bayonets fixed in position. We presented our authority to visit the prison from the Director of Prisons and the Minister of Justice,[4] and word was conveyed to an inner room. In due course a further official appeared and he looked at our credentials with evident contempt. He informed us that he did not take any orders from the Director of Prisons or the Minister of Justice as they were not his bosses. We enquired who was his boss, and he gave us an address to the Cheka headquarters. His refusal to allow us to inspect the prison or see the prisoners was definite and complete.

I must add that this official of the Secret Prison, as well as the two armed guards, were of a much lower type than any of the officials we had previously seen. They had the look of gangsters. This was the immediate impression not only of myself, but also of Professor Challaye.

We proceeded to the Cheka headquarters at Puerta del Angel 24. We entered by a courtyard and passed through a passage to an inner room which had all the appearance of a Detention Department. We observed that there were a number of U.S.S.R. propaganda books and Communist papers on the table, but no other type of book or paper.

After a short delay a young lady entered and enquired as to our business. She did not conceal the fact that she knew who we were and that word had been sent on from the prison that we were on the way. She took the documents giving us authority to visit the prisons. In due course there appeared two young men, neither of whom was Spanish. Our interpreter, who has a wide knowledge of languages and countries, was convinced from their manner of speech that one was Russian and the other German.

The Russian informed us that we could neither see inside the prison nor interview the prisoners. I replied that we had credentials from the Director of Prisons and the Minister of Justice and asked whether he was more powerful than the Government, adding that if we were refused admission we would be compelled to draw our own conclusions as to the reason.

The two officials were evidently taken aback by this direct and challenging question and retired again for consultation or orders. When they reappeared we were once more informed that we could see neither prison or prisoners. There was no alternative for us but to retire, but before doing so we asked if we could 'phone the Minister of Justice. The answer was: "No, we will 'phone him." After a delay of ten minutes, we were informed that Senor Irujo was not at his office, but that his secretary had implored us not to press for admission.

Here was a direct challenge to the Government. We had intended to leave Barcelona immediately, but decided that we would wait and see who would win this battle - the Government or the Cheka.

On the following morning we 'phoned the Minister of Justice and informed his secretary of our failure to see the prisoners. He replied: "You must not leave Barcelona with the impression that the Government do not govern this prison. If you will leave it to us, we will guarantee your admission."

For a few hours we thought the Minister did rule the prison after all, but when, according to request, we called at his office at 12.30 p.m., the secretary reported failure. It was clear that the Minister of Justice had not been able to get permission from the Cheka. Another effort was promised, and we called again the next day as arranged. We were then told by the secretary that alterations were being made in the prison and that it was unsuitable for visits. I asked to see the prisoners at the door; but it was no use. We wanted to see Georges Kopp, Eva Sittig and others.

The mask was off. We had torn aside the veil and shown where the real power lay. The Ministers were willing, but powerless. The Cheka was unwilling, and it had the power. We realised that if we pressed further we ourselves would be in danger.


Two International Brigades

Russia has bought her way into Spain. In return for Russian assistance in arms, Comintern has been given this tyrannical power and she uses it to imprison, torture and murder Socialists who do not accept the Communist line. There are two International Brigades in Spain, one a fighting force, drawn from the Socialist Movement of the world, and the other an International Cheka drawn from Comintern's paid gangsters, especially from Germany and Italy. Lenin once said: "The leaders generally have passports in their pockets, but as there are not enough passports to go round, the rank and file must remain behind to face the dangerous enemy."

These German and Italian Communist officials who escaped from Hitler and Mussolini have now themselves adopted the Fascist methods of brutality.

The Cheka first attempts to destroy the character of every decent working-class leader by slander. Then it proceeds with arrests, abductions, tortures and assassinations. The victims of this Murder Trust lie dead in Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid. Where is Andres Nin, Erwin Wolf, Mark Rhein, Georges Tioli and others? Where are the many good comrades who have disappeared from the cities of Spain?


A Remarkable Letter

Why has Bonita Pabon, the famous Spanish lawyer, had to leave Spain, cross to France and go to the Philippines? Let Pabon speak:

"It is very hard for anyone like myself, who has taken an active part in Spanish events ever since the 19th of July, to break definitely all the ties that bind me to these activities without making a supreme effort. I had undertaken the work with such devotion that, strange as it may sound, I imagined that I had made no enemies. I had repeated to the point of monotony in all my conversations with the different anti-Fascist organisations, in all the meetings and speeches, that I was firmly convinced that only mutual loyalty, and unity of action and objectives, could bring us victory. . . .

"Nevertheless, and this is the sad truth, the desire of certain parties, and especially the Communist Party, to monopolise everything has led to a situation full of disagreements, sordid internal struggles, and hatred - it has led to this when there should have been only harmony and understanding. . .

"The concrete fact is that, resulting largely from the real and effective aid given by Russia to the war, the Communist Party to-day rules as it pleases the destinies of Republican Spain. If it does not go further in the destruction of the other political groups, it is only because at the moment this would be neither advisable nor advantageous to it. It still must keep up certain appearances at home and abroad.

"This monopoly of the C.P. means the introduction of the political methods characteristic of Russia. The disappearance and assassination of Nin was an alarming and tragic symptom. The Communist organisation, with the complicity of certain sections of the National Department of Police and gambling on the good faith of the Minister of the Interior, had him kidnapped and killed him.

"Not satisfied with this, they invented a clumsy story, fitting only for children or idiots, according to which the one-time Secretary of the International Red Trade Unions was an ally of the Fascists who had snatched him from the hands of the police.

"Once launched on this path, one kidnapping succeeded another. Eager to do away with all those who do not submit to their designs, the Communists not only use violence, but what is even more disgusting, all the machinations Machiavelli would have dreamed of employing against his enemies. Life, liberty, honour, prestige of men in the highest positions - these are no barriers to them. Left and right they fling calumnies against men of the purest revolutionary record, calling them traitors and spies, forging documents and inventing lies to prove their case. . .

"I have made my decision, but before definitely leaving Spain I felt it was my duty to make this explanation. Not the least of the reasons for which I hesitated was my desire to defend your comrades, the militants of the P.O.U.M., subjected to the most unjust and absurd lawsuit. If I were convinced that my staying in Spain would offer any guarantee to your comrades, I would not hesitate in the least to remain even against my own interests. Unfortunately, I have to confess that, knowing the situation as I do, all the efforts I would have been permitted to make would be useless and dangerous.

"Recently in anti-Fascist Spain a theory has been adopted more ridiculous than we ever imagined possible in the most despotic period of the Monarchy. This is the theory that a lawyer defending a case can for this reason be accused of complicity in the alleged acts of his clients. This was the explanation given of the arrest and imprisonment of certain well-known lawyers. The Communist press clearly stated its opinion that because I was the lawyer for the P.O.U.M., I was as much a traitor, spy and friend of Franco as my clients were alleged to be. Can you tell me what guarantees I would have in such an atmosphere, where calumnies are invented and documents of accusation forged overnight, that my role would not be changed from that of defending lawyer to that of one of the accused, without any possibility of defending myself against all the slander that they wish to heap upon my name? . . .

"From here, wherever I may be outside Spain, I am ready to help you in giving out the true facts of the matter. I give up everything. I go away completely disillusioned. To you I unburden my spirit, heavy with the sadness of having to leave a country where I have worked so loyally to try to remedy, as much as was within my power, the injustices from which our people suffer."

(The above are extracts from Senor Pabon's letter to the P.O.U.M. Executive).


Comintern Terror or Socialist Freedom?

Moscow would still the tongues, shackle the limbs, and mould robot minds in every militant fighter throughout the world. It buys and corrupts leaders in each country and pours out money in propaganda. But this cannot go on indefinitely. A terrible price is being paid for this betrayal, and a terrific hostility is being stored up in every country against it. Friends of Russia stand horrified by the mass murders which take place. We begin to understand the reasons for the banishment of Trotsky and his supporters, and for the murder threats against them.

It is my firm conviction, born of study and experience of Communist tactics, that to assist them to win a place in the workers' movement is criminal folly. For my part I cannot excuse or apologise for their acts. Human decency demands an exposure of their brutal methods.

If Socialism meant what Moscow imposes, I would not want it. The Socialism I work for must give freedom, not tyranny, to the workers. All tyrannies I will denounce. The workers of Britain must choose between the terror of the Comintern and the freedom of Socialism. I know what their decision will be when they understand.



[1] Since my return from Spain news has come that Senor Irujo has been deposed as Minister of Justice on the demand of the Communists. The incidents described in this pamphlet may be one of the reasons for this.

[2] Since my return, the Director of the Carcel Modelo has been deposed through Communist pressure.

[3] Since I returned, following the deposition of Senor Irujo from the Ministry of Justice, Katia Landau and Else Homberger have again been arrested.

[4] See page two [above] for reproduction of the Minister's letter.