Chapter 18: Before Coming Events

One thing, however, Stalin's followers in Spain have achieved. They have shattered the anti-Fascist front and have delivered Catalonia to the Negrin government. To achieve this end they have allied themselves with the most reactionary elements of the old regime, of whom a large number are nothing but Fascists in disguise. When on July 19th, of last year the organized workers of Barcelona put down the Fascist revolt and took the land and the factories under their own management, many of those people who now stand on the side of the Communists left Spain in great haste and took refuge abroad; ahead of all the others, the leader of the Catalonian Separatists, Se-or Dencás, who very significantlv, fled to Rome, later to help the Stalinists arrange the "uprising" in Barcelona.

In June of this year the National Committee of the C.N.T. in Valencia issued a public statement on the events in Barcelona, in which the underground activities of these people were nailed down, and it was proved by a long list of assured facts that many of the prominent leaders of the Estat Catalá, like Aiguadé, Dencás, Casanovas, Lluhi Vallesca, Ventura Cassols, Sancho Xicotta and many others were maintaining secret connections with Fascist circles in France. In this open indictment the committee stated: "We are assuming full responsibility for every word that is said here. No one will be able to dispute these facts. The individual cases which we cite here are based on trustworthy information and are the result of exact knowledge of the true state of affairs."

None of the persons so seriously accused has thus far attempted to mitigate the force of this public indictment by the National Committee of an organization which numbers over two million members in Spain. But this does not in any way concern the leaders of the Communist Party in Spain and their Russian prompters. They have a definite mission from the Russian government to fulfill, and anyone who will be helpful in this is welcome to them. And after the occurrences in Catalonia they did not cease their ruinous work, which had as its first objective to force the C.N.T. out of the Generalidad of Catalonia. How they are going about this is shown by the following secret circular from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Spain to their agents in Catalonia:

"Crisis. Provocation of the same. Motives: We can rely upon the transient aspect of the present government. But our party demands the presidency. The new government will display the same characteristics as the government in Valencia; a strong government, a 'Popular Front' government, whose chief mission it will be to foster the desire for peace in the minds of the people and to call to account the instigators of the recent counter-revolution. (The occurrences in Barcelona are meant. -- Author.) The C.N.T. will be permitted to participate in this government, but under such conditions that they will feel obliged to refuse co-operation. Then we can represent ourselves as the ones who wish to co-operate with all factions. If certain inconveniences should arise from this, they will not fall on us, but on those who on other occasions have been in the same position."

This secret document was published in Madrid by the daily "CNT" on the same day on which the Communists in Catalonia provoked the recent governmental crisis, and with the result, moreover, that the C.N.T. withdrew its representatives from the government. Comment on this infamy is superfluous.

For the time being reaction is marching on in Spain. The press is subject to an intolerable censorship. Hundreds of the best fighters of the anti-Fascist front are languishing in the jails. The dissolution of the P.O.U.M. and the arrest of its leaders was the first stroke. And while the reactionary Negrin government is leaving no means untried to strengthen itself internally, increasingly stubborn rumors of Franco's efforts toward a rapprochement with England and France continue to make their appearance in the foreign press. World famous papers like the Paris "Temps," the "New York Times," and "The Daily Herald" in England have repeatedly hinted during the last few weeks that Franco is thinking of adopting a new course in his foreign policy and intends to part with his former allies, Germany and Italy. The "Manchester Guardian" of July 13, was able to report that Franco's agents in London and Paris are actively seeking to raise a loan there. The paper speaks of a sum between twenty-five and fifty million pounds sterling and comments: "It is not known whether these negotiations have thus far been successful."

That for a considerable time negotiations have been in progress to end the war in Spain by compromise at the first suitable opportunity is beyond the slightest doubt. England's sudden advances to Italy also point to this. According to a report of the "Cosmos" international news agency the Belgian Prime Minister, Van Zeeland, is also playing an important part in these proceedings behind the scenes. That the Negrin government, which was brought into existence by direct pressure from England, France, and Russia, has knowledge of all these things is a matter of course. If one takes all this into consideration the real causes of the bloody May events in Barcelona are much easier to understand.

On the other hand, however, the bloody reaction of the Negrin government, which is entirely under the control of Russia and her imperialist allies, has effected a great internal transformation, which becomes more obvious every day. The left wing of the Socialist Party under Largo Caballero, which today is being fought by the agents of Russia just as bitterly as the C.N.T., is now aligning itself sharply against the treacherous disintegrating labors of the Communists and their bourgeois retinue. The enormous majority of the U.G.T. is on this side and is just about to form a revolutionary alliance with the C.N.T. for the defense of the achievements of the revolution. "The U.G.T. of Catalonia is not our U.G.T., the U.G.T. of Spain," declared Hernandez Zancajo, one of the most prominent leaders of the U.G.T., and the words were echoed with a roar by the fighting men of the movement.

However, in spite of all the reactionary machinations of the governrnent, the C.N.T., together with the F.A.I and the Libertarian Youth, is making important gains in all sections of the country. The workers and peasants do not intend to surrender their social conquests to the reaction and are preparing to defend them. What the Monarchist reaction did not succeed in doing in seventy years Stalin's despotism and its Spanish agents will not succeed in doing either. A movement which is so deeply intergrown with the lives of the Spanish people and which constitutes one of the most important parts of that life, cannot be throttled by the methods of the Russian Cheka.

The Negrin government is trying by all the devices of a ruthless censorship, which is completely in the hands of its Russian taskmasters, to keep these matters from the knowledge of foreigners. But they are not succeeding even in that. The mysterious disappearance of the P.O.U.M. Ieader, Andres Nin, which the government hushed up for weeks, has roused a storm of indignation. Nin, who after the May events in Barcelona was arrested with other leaders of his party and taken to Valencia and from there to Madrid, has vanished without a trace. The government at first stated that he had escaped from his guards, but nobody in Spain believes that fairy tale. Instead they are everywhere convinced that he was murdered by Russian Chekists either on the way to Madrid or in Madrid itself. Even in the camp of the bourgeois Republicans they are beginning to resent Russia's guardianship, which is becoming constantly more unbearable as time goes on. The Nin affair has called forth even in these quarters protests such as one would not previously have expected there. They are getting tired of being the wards of a cowardly mob, for which any crime is good enough so long as it serves the ends of Moscow.

Spain today faces a new decision. They feel that on both sides; for the present situation is unbearable and can but lead to certain catastrophe.

For twelve months a brave people has been sacrificed to the eelfish interests of imperialist robbers and their Russian henchmen. It is high time for the Libertarian world to understand that and to wake up to the fact that the fate of Spain will be the fate of Europe. Never has a people fought for its freedom more heroically. Never has a people been worse betrayed by open and secret enemies. It is Spain's great tragedy that she has hitherto been so little understood: the story of the sufferings of a people that is bleeding from a thousand wounds and still will not give up the fight, because it knows that it carries in its breast the precious growth of freedom and human dignity on which the future of all of us depends.

New York, August, 1937.