From New International, Vol.4 No.7, July 1938, pp.198-202.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
We are glad to present the following picture of the situation in Spain to our readers because of the frank and dramatic manner in which it gives eye-witness details about the treacherous role of the Popular Front in the struggle against the fascists. The article is written by a syndicalist militant who has participated in the Spanish civil war and whose integrity is vouched for by the editors of La Révolution Prolétarienne, the organ of the French syndicalists in which it first appeared (May 10 and 25, 1938). Although the editors of The New International do not agree entirely with the point of view of the author or with all his conclusions, the more than ordinary importance of the article warrants its translation for our readers. With the exception of a few minor passages, whose deletion is indicated by asterisks, the article is given here in full. – Ed.
THE SUDDEN WORSENING of the military situation for anti-fascist Spain is not something unexpected: the debacle is no surprise for anybody in the governmental circles, either in Barcelona or in London and Paris. I could quote passages from extreme left wing Spanish journals which, a month in advance, announced “hours of terrible tests”. The Barcelona government, playing its role of scapegoat, takes the responsibility for the defeats desired by London and tolerated by Paris, which does not dare to lift its little finger against The City.
Has the “Prietist” government of Barcelona, in England’s service, ditched by France and the USSR, accepted the shameful mission of buying peace in Spain by its own defeat? Numerous indications tend to affirm this. The first indication is the ministerial shake-up to permit the eviction of Prieto.
One major reason, it is known, deprives bourgeois governments of the Prieto type of the desire to win the war in a revolutionary way: the fear – well-founded, moreover – of being unable to dam the revolutionary drive that would follow. The wearing down of the revolutionary cadres in the war has been in vain, the social aspirations remain. The fear of their weakness which makes the rulers prefer organized and conditional defeat to victory, is precisely the reason that impelled the CNT and the FAI, to pursue a policy of governmental collaboration. Mussolini and Hitler also dread the consequences of this weakness, from the ideological viewpoint; English imperialism, which possesses the greatest part of Spain’s riches, dreads it from the standpoint of its own interests. Hence, the Spanish Republican government does not desire victory and international imperialism demands defeat of it.
How have the Republicans organized the defeat?
First of all there is the story of the provision of armaments. Nobody can be made to believe that, with money and gold, the necessary materials could not be procured. The impossibility, which was real for a Caballero cabinet, no longer existed for a Negrin-Prieto cabinet. But can one really speak of a Negrin-Prieto government as a Spanish government? Can a Negrin-Prieto government want anything different than The City wants?
Added to the lack of material are certain things unforeseen in the conduct of the war: the Aragon front had but one line of defense in March 1938, just as at the end of the autumn of 1936. At the same time that they are powerless to stem the Italo-German advance in Aragon, they divert forces into useless attacks in the province of Jaen in Andalusia and in Guadalajara. Teruel is taken, the possession of which can have no value except to exterminate the International and the CNT brigades – the latter constituting 70 percent of the troops engaged – which will thus no longer threaten to return from the front in case of disturbances at the rear, as in May 1937. On the sea, the Baleares is sunk and the Canarias is damaged. On the day of the engagement, to hear the technicians who took part in it, the Canarias could also have been sunk. But the firing was stopped. As if by chance, units of the English fleet were on the scene and gave aid and comfort to the rebels, impeding the action of the government fleet and aircraft.
* * * *
The army is rotten with spies. In February, young trained recruits are concentrated, one afternoon, in a barrack – Park of the Citadel – in order to leave for the front in the evening. A few hours after the concentration, enemy airplanes arrive and bombard the barrack in shifts, with fury and precision. There are thousands of victims. The communist party demands the arrest and execution of those responsible for this criminal “negligence”.
The police seems to be no more dependable than the army: early in March, the trade union and political organizations, expecting an attack by the “Fifth Column”, mounted guard in their headquarters, ready for all eventualities.
The bombardments have revealed strange things. The bombers have always attacked almost exclusively the popular quarters. After having pounded away at the immediate suburbs of Barcelonetta, where an humble population of 70,000 souls was concentrated, the massacrers attacked the old workers’ quarters of Barcelona, when there was nobody left to kill in the above-mentioned suburb, now in ruins and completely evacuated. There are, however, the ministries which are almost all centralized in two great’ arteries, the Paseo de Gracia and the Diagonal. The foot of the Paseo de Gracia was bombed on March 16 and 18, but only up to the line where the first ministries are located. The only time that the Italo-German pilots aimed at the official buildings was on January 30, in reply to a raid of reprisal on Salamanca, where official German centers were hit; they aimed at the palace of the Generality without succeeding in hitting it. But the Republican government immediately declared its renunciation of all reprisals, leaving it to the judgment of the civilized world and to the action of the chancelleries ...
On the morrow of the collapse of the front which, towards the middle of March, brought the Italo-Germans at a single leap to 50 kilometers from the sea, along an 80 kilometer front, Prieto is supposed to have threatened to surrender if he continued to receive no foreign aid. There is no smoke without fire; for that, the government endeavored to drive the communists out of its midst.
This threat was not new. Feeling the ground slipping from under them – the incarceration of the communist head of the international brigades of the army of Madrid, on the order of Crecencio Bilbao, republican and supreme commissar of the armies; the ditching of Brueno Alonso, commissar of the fleet; the serious threat of being chased out of the censorship services; their brutal eviction from certain positions in the Public Order and in the police, etc. – the communists are holding on with their teeth and do not want to lose their last two positions. For weeks, communist delegations have been coming to the National Committee of the CNT, urging – rather, beseeching – the Confederation to make a pact with the CP These delegations are invariably shown the door. No matter: the communist organs, having changed their tone in time, continue to shower us with kind attentions. The fish doesn’t bite, but the threat that hangs over them of being kicked out of the government, is becoming plainer; the whole party apparatus is set in motion and it decides to undertake a public agitation.
The evening of March 15 a popular demonstration takes place beneath the ministries, demanding the conduct of the war to the bitter end. Their propagandists, unlimited means behind them, muster up crowds from the queer quarters; publicity autos at their disposal bawl through their loud-speaker’s and toss out manifestoes. Knowing all about agitation, the communists create a dreary atmosphere of a state of alarm. The government does not dare to prohibit the tempestuous demonstration which, seemingly, supports its position of a will to fight. But it is on its guard and it bars the demonstrators from the approaches to certain ministries. Starting about 8 o’clock, the crowd reaches its height at 10, when the terrible bombardment begins which is to last three days. Threat of surrender, communist demonstration, bombardment: pure coincidences?
If the rumors about surrender are founded, and there are numerous indications to prove them, the timely launching of a long and horrible bombardment could only accentuate the popular discouragement and ruin the communist agitation. For the first time people are expressing themselves openly and publicly against the war. For three days running, Barcelona was visited by bombers without a single pursuit plane taking the air for its defense.
Pursuit planes began to fly in the night of Friday-Saturday. The bombardment was finished Friday afternoon at 3. To show the public that the government had a hand in the cessation of the bombardment, it told the story that the defense had brought down airplanes, on Sunday, which were presumably heading for Barcelona. But as usual in such cases, they had fallen into the sea ... which must now have swallowed up more lies than pirates! And yet, two pursuit planes always in the air would have been enough for effective protection, because the rebels, coming from Palma, can leave only in planes having a large cruising radius, that is, without protecting pursuit planes. The anti-aircraft defense is disorganized; you would believe, at night, that the guns and projectors are amusing themselves with disturbing or washing the sky. The public takes all this into account: it murmurs and it flees.
* * * *
The demoralization by grapeshot is followed by the demoralization by writing, which dispenses with the former. Is it a manoeuvre, a compact agreed upon? It would be impossible to say. At all events, there is something disquieting about it.
Up to the time of the terrible three-day bombardment – which, in spite of everything, remains a simple bombardment to “frighten” people, when you think of the means that might have been employed: a larger number of airplanes, asphyxiating gases, bacteria bombs, etc. – the official war communiqués minimized the defeats or shaded them off with reports of small local successes a hundred leagues away from the nerve-centers of operation, successes which are, moreover, won by surprise and annulled the day afterward. After the three tragic days, the government decides to sacrifice itself on the altar of Truth. One would think that the cessation of the bombardments is conditioned by the obligation for it to tell the truth about the war – a truth which it has never avowed. No further need of bombs – the official communiqués replace them in the work of demoralization. The government organs show the routs and retreats in headlines, crudely disclose the losses and the disasters, while the non-government papers continue to shade off the setbacks by the usual and insignificant and useless local successes. This peculiarity cannot escape even the mildly attentive observer.
All these factors: deficiency in the military organization on the fronts, in the defense of the cities in the rear, certain zones of which are doomed to extermination, the demoralization by writing replacing that of the bombs – have made the government prudent. It camps at Montserrat, in a convent, a veritable eagle’s eerie, 60 kilometers from Barcelona. At the same time, arms depots are distributed throughout Barcelona. For what eventuality?
* * * *
To win the victory, all sorts of restrictions were preached. Today there is nothing more to restrict because there is nothing more to be bought. War prices, astronomical prices. For a modest meal – the equivalent of a 10 francs repast in Paris [40-50 cents in New York] – you spend more than you earn in a day. Here are a few samples: plain wine, 2½ pesetas a pint; better-grade wine, plain Bordeaux, 4 to 7 pesetas a pint; a plate of Valencian rice, 5 to 7 pesetas; a beefsteak, 8 to 14; dessert, 2½ pesetas; soup, 1½ to 3 pesetas. These prices are for normal and edible portions. The pot-houses are cheaper; but they are lousy and the portions are reduced; so that quantity and price taken into account, you eat worse there. To sum up, by taking soup at 1½, rice at 5, a beefsteak at 8, a dessert at 2½; a quarter of a bottle of wine at 1½; bread at 0.30, you dine for 21.40 pesetas, including the 15% for service and taxes. Now the average daily wage is 20 pesetas. It is impossible, at these rates, to dine every day, to have more than one meal a day, sleep in a bed and have some amusement. And I have given reasonable prices: I do not speak of the finer dishes at 18 pesetas, like leg of chicken from 18 to 25, and lobster at 30 pesetas.
What a problem it is to eat when there is neither sugar, milk, chocolate, coffee, beans, lentils, potatoes, bread nor butter! These foods exist but they are rationed and only the insiders, the speculators or the privileged get them. In the open market, they are unknown. The humble population, as usual, is, for the most part, deprived of them.
For every food you must stand in line for hours, regardless of the weather, getting into scraps and elbowing your way along. Getting provisions is one thing and getting them cooked is another. There is no coal; the gas functions only weakly and at certain hours; and most of the workers’ houses haven’t any because the gas rates were high even before the war. It was replaced by charcoal; but there is no more wood or else it costs more than 2 pesetas a pound, dearer than gas! As for gasolene, alcohol or oil heaters, they are out of the question: all these fuels are lacking. Electricity remains: stoves come to 60 to 150 pesetas, consuming from 0.35-0.60 to 1-2 pesetas per hour. The purchase of the apparatus is thus prohibitive and its use a burden.
Yet there must be cooking. Hence the wiping out of trees and of nature. Parks and woods have been entirely denuded. The natural park of Barcelona was one of the first victims. This magnificent property, where the lovers of nature came every Sunday for a whiff of air, is now a denuded plain, desolated, where you hear only the axe-strokes of the spoilers biting into the last stumps. Numerous trees along the roads approaching Barcelona, for the police is on guard in the interior of the city, have had their bark torn off. Those who cannot buy wood, nor get an axe to hunt it with, burn everything that will burn: they begin with the old furniture and end with the window-blinds and shutters, the proprietor being no longer there to protest! Anything of wood is used for fire. But what fires! For numerous houses have no chimneys: the house gets all smoked up and the doors and windows are opened up for ventilation! This only brings the desolation to its worst. After the bombardments, the people try to trick the police guard. They do not come to see or to pillage, but just to gather up any wood in the debris.
The heating systems have been asleep for two winters, even in the ministries. The temperature is mild. But there are also cold days which paralyze everything.
Over-population aggravates the problem: every setback on the fronts brings with it an overflow. Added to the difficulties of provisioning, is that of lodgings. In the cities more spared by the bombardments, like Gerona, it is difficult if not impossible for a traveler to find food or quarters. Barcelona is suffocating from over-population, but speculation is well organized and it is possible, by payment of good prices, to find almost anything you desire. There the refugees are unfortunate: the inhabitant who is trafficking in his house, doesn’t want them; they have no money. By municipalizing property, the government reduced rentals by half: which does not prevent the main tenant from renting one or two rooms which pay him two or three times his own rental! People who pay 50 pesetas for a whole house now demand 100 to 200 pesetas for a single room. The vulture is no longer the proprietor but the tenant who, only yesterday, spared no curses for his vulture. Over-population is the great cause, but in Barcelona, speculation arises above all from the fact that the crew of functionaries and the armed forces who followed the government, receive good salaries, and thus have a higher purchasing power than the Catalans. Moreover, they get food, a very important thing in times of dearth. You see advertizements by people asking for tenants who are functionaries and can bring food, or functionaries asking for housing with promises of good prices and contributions of food. In these conditions, the Catalans are being displaced at home. It is a supplementary cause for contempt and rancor against the Castilians and the central government.
A fatal, insurmountable dearth? Not at all.
In his speech at the last session of the Cortes, Negrin stated explicitly that the problem of provisioning Spain was of a purely commercial nature. But Spain, capitalist Spain, cannot – he said literally – “compromise its future in order to assuage certain passing sufferings” (sic). It is clear: the missing products could be imported but they prefer to preserve the gold. To hell with the health of the citizens! provided the financial situation remains healthy. In reality, they do better: not only do they refuse to import necessities, loading down even humble private packages with exorbitant taxes, but certain products are still exported in order to discredit the collectivizations and to procure foreign exchange, like Goring: cannon is worth more than butter! There are thus no oranges, no olives, or else those left behind are unsalable; rotten oranges, bitter and blighted olives. And in cases where constraint does not suffice in this deliberate and organized dearth, there are sermons on the grandeur and necessity of voluntary restrictions. A sinister irony, for the government requisitions the provisions for its own cooperatives, destined for the feeding of a goodly number of its watchdogs: functionaries and policemen who benefit, moreover, from special prices in the restaurants. They are the vermin who will be set against tomorrow’s starving throngs in revolt.
This dark picture could be added to further.
First on the causes of the large number of victims, compared with the number of bombs that “hit the bull’s eye”.
The government was lacking in initiative in the construction of refuges. The Generality voted belated credits. But the real refuge constructors were the ward committees appealing for volunteers: the Pueblo Seco quarter, greatly experienced with bombardments, unfolded the greatest activity in this field. These refuges are marvels, when you think of the meager means employed. In the center of Barcelona, there are no refuges. Those being built were started months ago. The one in the Plaza de Tetuan was begun a year ago! The subway is not safe. Only two or three stations can be considered as refuges: Ferrer-Guardia (formerly Urquinaona), Leseps, and Gracia. The others are wasp’s nests, coffins. The townspeople know this and they resign themselves to staying at home, trusting to fate. All the houses are from 6 to 9 storeys high, built of brick, and they crumple under the bombs like houses of cards. Every house that falls is full of these fatalistic tenants; hence the great number of victims. The trade unions raise a row for speeding up the work on the refuges. But they have no credits: unemployed and loungers continue to promenade and get themselves killed. Add to the fatalistic immobility of the population the fact that the bombs are always heard before the sirens. Barcelona is difficult to protect against ærial attack because of the sea: the apparatus for sounding warnings records all airplane movements from Palma, but it cannot follow them. Hence the irremediable surprise.
The lack of refuges, due to the lack of initiative, is only a manifestation of the general lack of foresight. Others are also tragic. Thus, automobile convoys of munitions cross the city instead of avoiding it. During the last bombardments, this negligence produced a horrible catastrophe: in the Gran Via, almost opposite the Coliseum, bombs struck the trucks transporting trilite which, when it exploded, pulverized everything in the neighborhood.
The city, in certain localities, is plunged into complete darkness. But elsewhere, powerful white lamps illuminate the road and the automobiles drive around all night with full lights on! At Pueblo Nuevo there are enormous gasometers. Opposite them is a foundry which, when it is tapped, lights up the gasometers as few projectors could! You ask yourself why the bombers have left them standing.
* * * *
The wide public, and in it may be included certain political leaders, lives in Spain in complete ignorance and incomprehension of international politics.
As much in order not to discourage the public as to win – in vain, moreover – the sympathy of the democracies, the anti-fascist organs, including those of the CNT, have always presented the war in Spain as a struggle between democracy and fascism. The public has been seriously entertained with the opposition between these two systems. Content with appearances, they have spoken of the Italo-German invasion and of poor France and England as the future victims. I have heard Confederal propagandists tell me seriously that the choice must be made between Italian and French imperialism, in conflict in Spain! I thought, at first, that these interpretations of the struggle were deliberate opportunism and dupery. I observed subsequently that such theses were, or else finished by being, taken for the reality. The public does not understand the real sense of the struggle, but those who educate it penetrate no deeper into its meaning.
Domesticated by England, the Negrin government could not permit a thoroughgoing explanation. It could not permit a public denunciation of England for having organized the uprising and subsidized Franco, Hitler, Mussolini and Salazar to crush the nascent revolution. It could not permit the statement that it is London that invented the non-intervention in order to neutralize France and the Nyon agreements in order to block the republican fleet and the Soviet fleet in Odessa. It could not permit the denunciation of the sinking ordered by London of some old English ships in order to discourage certain companies which, tempted by the premiums offered by the republican government, were ready to risk providing anti-fascist Spain with provisions. They continue to speak of the Anglo-Italian antagonism in the Mediterranean. They do not say that Mussolini is “working” not only for the recognition of his East African empire – which he does iiot need or which has been granted long ago – but above all for the granting of capital without which his colonial conquest is of no use to him. The English blackmail Mussolini with Ethiopia and Mussolini blackmails them in turn with Palestine and Egypt. The dickerings of brigands. Between them, Spain is nothing but a simple stake. The censorship prevents an explanation of why the English have sent no troops in place of the false Italo-German invaders as well as the exact reason why they sent their fleet into the Mediterranean; it prevents a denunciation of the real authors of the blackmail in the war, the real inspirers of the words and deeds of Hitler and Mussolini. It has never been possible to denounce those who made the Italian “volunteers” come to Spain, nor to explain why the Germans sent technicians rather than soldiers. It has never been possible to explain what Salazar and Portugal were, and that the English would have invented them if they had not existed.
Opinion is lulled in Republican Spain when it is told that there are two Englands: the Conservatives who are strangling the republic and the left wing ... which watches them strangle it with an affectation of protest. England paralyzes France in Spain, as she paralyzes her – with reason, this time – in Central Europe. To keep the colonies torn from the Germans and to embroil Hitler and Mussolini between themselves, to break the Franco-Soviet pact, the English want to reconstitute the Germanic empire and bring the Germans to Trieste. The English, in practise, govern the world.
It is not by chance that the government seat is 60 kilometers from Barcelona and that Catalonia is destined to be crushed. There is a conflict between the Generality, whose eyes are turned to France, and the central government which is under orders from England, who hates the Catalans and their government. The central government, aided by the USSR and by Mexico, watched, in 1936-1937, over the defense of Madrid but it remains disinterested in that of Catalonia. In men and material, the Catalans have done most for the war. But the central government, disposing of the credits, has made Catalonia work for it and not for herself. Materially, the Catalans are the providers of all of loyal Spain. But they dream of independence and possess the most powerful organizations of the extreme left: a victorious, independent Catalonia would continue the revolution and would soon be a century ahead of the present world. The Catalan conservatives fear this independence: they applauded the intervention of the central power on the morrow of the May days of 1937. But the Madrid politicians, right as well as left – communists included – dread this independence still more, for it would be a firebrand placed at the door of old Spain which each of them dreams of domesticating according to his views. Secretly, therefore, the politicians of the central government must be satisfied with the reverses of the Catalans, reverses which may put the latter into different moods, that is, either crush them completely or oblige them to renounce their fancy for independence, which means here renouncing the social revolution.
When the CNT and the FAI, carry on “Catalanism”, when they pursue a republicanism on the national scale, these are only spring-boards: they are betting on the impotence of both governments to stem a revolutionary drive. It is because they are conscious of this impotence that the republican politicians do not want a victory and that the English demand defeat. The anarchist critics abroad are wrong when they imagine that we did not foresee this: the big problem was not to see it but to be able to say it, not abroad, but in Spain itself.
The general obligation to remain silent about all these fundamental questions has disoriented the minds and now turns them to the worst blunders. The various anti-fascist sectors throw the responsibility for the defeats and the general aggravation of the situation upon each other, for they continue to speak of the fascism-democracy antagonism, of the big bad Italian wolf, and of those “Boche barbarians” who destroyed Guernica. The Young Communists, branches of the USSR, smear the walls with inscriptions urging resistance to the bitter end, “dying to the last man”. But what is Moscow doing, which inspires these slogans?
Nothing. Yielding to the injunctions of England, whose fleet, in concert with the Italians, has halted its vessels, Moscow has renounced the provisioning of arms to governmental Spain. Moscow does not dare to convoy its ships with its war fleet; Moscow does not want to risk a war, but it exhorts its disarmed admirers and partisans to succumb for her to the last man; a useless sacrifice in a struggle which is also unequal. The Spanish communists, whose masters do not dare to brave England, accuse of cowardice and treason the France of Blum, who only imitates, apparently – because in reality France furnishes arms – the Russia of Stalin.
The Catalans have been left in the lurch by everybody, and they nurse themselves on illusions when they hope in France, which cannot move openly in opposition to England. The Catalans have always nourished the secret hope that France would guard their independence: the 17,000 Catalan volunteers who fell in the war of 1914-1918 for “Justice and Civilization”, imply, in their eyes, a certain recognition ... The unfortunates!
* * * *
The confusion in internal social policy and in international policy creates an unbelievable atmosphere of distrust. If the military situation worsens – as is unfortunately probable – the antifascists will decimate each other before being crushed by the fascists. The government wants nothing better: it will thus be able to shift the responsibility for the defeat to the divisions among the brother-enemies.
Already, it has turned over to the organizations not the share of power they are entitled to, but a share of the governmental responsibilities; the reactionaries of Spain have further made the workers’ organizations take bonds in the future bankruptcy ... The support of the CNT had to be obtained at the price of liberating thousands of gubernativos, languishing in the prisons, some of them for more than 10 months. It appears that prisoners were to be liberated on the condition of going to the front or of leaving the country. It is brutal. But when you know what sort of element is mixed with the mass of the prisoners, this measure in itself is rational and prohibits all facile demagogy in connection with it ...
The Spanish revolution has drawn to it a band of adventurers and served as a field of experience for certain light-fingered gentry who, covering themselves naturally with revolutionary principles, engaged in the worst excesses, compromising without their knowledge comrades who were upright, but too impulsive and itching for action ... I have seen those things ... I hare approached the prisoners at close range, as have the comrades occupied with their defense, extremely delicate and complicated, by virtue of the involuntary discreditment mentioned ... Finally, among the comrades with integrity, a great number are opposed to the line adopted by the CNT. And these “ultras” have created grave incidents, putting the CNT and the FAI, in an impossible situation. They bear a large part of the formal responsibility in the unleashing of the bloody May days. The hangers-on interest nobody; the “ultras” are annoying and the only way of distinguishing the two is to offer them the chance of deserting or making them fight.
When all this is known, there is no doubt that the CNT subscribed without hesitation to the conditions concerning the liberation of the prisoners.
The puritans abroad, who do not know the bloody behind-the-scenes facts of the Spanish drama, will say that it would have been better to free these prisoners by force. But where is force at the moment when, under cover of the mobilization, all the comrades are progressively expedited to the fronts? At the moment when the Confederal brigades are dissolved or annihiliated? At the moment when the public is tired and attributes the cause of its misery to the new economy – and this is unfortunately true to a certain extent: the trade union economy is full of initiative but devoid of discipline and system, and the struggle among collectives (especially in food and the gastronomic industry) has replaced the traditional competitions. To speak of force when the police constitutes an imposing percentage of the population in Barcelona, when the personnel of the prisons is fiercely hostile to us and perfectly capable, as experience has shown, of massacring the imprisoned at the first sign of revolt? Resort to the insurrection when the common enemy is at the gate? It is practically impossible. Only the amicable solution remains, the blind alley of concessions. At the point things have reached and as they stand, you can only gain time, organize the rescue and the retreat as best as possible.
* * * *
The Spain of tomorrow will not be of military use to anybody. The Carlists will continue to detest France and the Catalans to love her; the USSR will retain its sympathies and its hates; England will remain hated by the Catalans and suspect to all the others, even the nationalists. As to the Italians, supremely detested in the rebel zone where they behave like blackguards – like every soldatesque – their very name will continue to arouse only hatred in republican Spain. The Germans alone, more discreet even if just as unadapted, will pass away least perceived. The future Spain is unknown, but she will not belong to those who invade her militarily today: the tutors of Spain will remain the obscure financiers of The City.
That is why England is not disturbed by the presence of the Italo-German gendarmes in Spain – and France asks only to believe their assurances, even though she takes certain precautions ... Most disturbing is not so much the nature of the future Spain. It is whether the invaders will first let it be born. They would indeed like to leave, but on the condition that the map of Europe be recast: that’s the price of their service as gendarmes. Is it too dear? That’s what France and England will soon be saying. Before the settlement of the bill – England and Italy have already started discussions on the amount of the bill which was settled in part with Germany by the annexation of Austria yesterday and of Czechoslovakia tomorrow – it cannot be said that Spain fatally includes the risks of the international war. Germans and Italians introduced arms into Spain, but it is really for themselves and at their expense? It does not seem so. That is why the Spanish problem stands differently at bottom from the way in which it is put publicly in order to curb the agitation of the left in France and in England, an agitation which might oblige the rulers to bet on the red horse, whereas they have put their fortune on the white ...
All pessimism is warranted in connection with Spain, but it is in the revolutionary and not purely pacifist sense: there are more risks of social extermination than of international extermination; Europe still has before it several years of peace – if Spain is the only cause of war.
PARIS, May 1938
Last updated on 6.8.2006