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SPAIN: Stars & Stripes & Bourbon

7 minute read

With a soldier’s contempt for the feelings of the Anarchist, Communist and assorted Marxist adherents of the Valencia Cabinet of Premier Largo Caballero in Spain last week, White Generalissimo Francisco Franco let his radiorating General Queipo de Llano appoint as Military Governor of Málaga, just captured from the Reds (TIME. Feb. 15), a soldierly Bourbon, the middle-aged Duke of Seville, onetime Colonel in the Spanish Infantry of King Alfonso XIII.

Set up was a court-martial to try all more or less authentic Reds on whom the White victors could get their hands, much as the defenders of Málaga set up after the civil war began a “people’s court” to crack down on any Spaniard who seemed to be more or less Monarchist or even middleclass. That an orgy of Spanish vengeance did not at once erupt in Málaga last week, as it has erupted after almost every previous White victory in Spain’s civil war, seemed to be due to the fact that decisive in taking Málaga fortnight ago were Italian forces. These strangers not only lacked the local enthusiasm for Spanish fratricide but quietly did all they could to restrain the acts of General Queipo de Llano, though no one could restrain the words of Spain’s hottest-headed “Radio General.” By week’s end the Spaniards tried, condemned and actually executed in Málaga numbered only 200, this first batch being mostly officers and men of Spain’s pre-civil war regular Army who had sided with the Reds.

With the victory at Málaga, which deprived the Valencia Cabinet of their last seaport on the south coast of Spain, came a tough problem for the Italian press. As yet Il Duce does not choose to make it official that Italian forces are fighting in Spain, but also last week Benito Mussolini did not choose to keep his people fror glorying in a victory won largely by Italia arms. The solution: Italian papers printed nothing from their own correspondents about Málaga, reprinted under banner headlines stories in which London, Paris, Berlin and other papers had spilled the facts.

Significantly meanwhile British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, no friend of Il Duce, went to “vacation” on the French Riviera, although Mr. Eden has only just finished enjoying the long English Christmas and New Year holidays. In London foreign policy was thus in full charge of Sir Robert Gilbert Vansittart, a leading figure last year in “The Deal” which sealed the fate of Haile Selassie (TIME, Oct. 14, 1935 et seq.). Last week such veteran correspondents as the New York Times P. J. Philip scarcely veiled their overwhelming hunch that the French, Italian and German Ambassadors and Sir Robert were sealing the fate of Valencia. Headlined the Times: POWERS WILL DROP NEUTRALITY POLICY TO LET FRANCO WIN.

In any war, prediction is premature, but, British official quarters murmured in terms of having about convinced the French—i. e. harassed Premier Blum who was daily wangling the Communists & Socialists among his “Popular Front” supporters as best he could—that it woul be “disastrous” if a final Spanish White victory should be considered a victory for Italy and Germany without also being a victory for Britain, France and moderate Europeans generally. Stanley Baldwin knows that many of his best friends think he bumbled in not getting Britain in on the Italian conquest of Ethiopia and His Majesty’s Government now have a similar “opportunity” in Spain—sine after all the Empire is an imperialist Democracy.

Once English-speaking correspondents started poking around Málaga last wee they found several U. S. citizens and Britons to tell them what had been what during the Red rule of this great Spanish port, “The Queen City of Andalusia. Said Mrs. Violet Montagu Owen, English keeper of a small beach hotel: “I have seen men cut down on the beach outside my house. I have seen people murder each other in the streets over a piece of bread. Pistol brigades roamed the street looking for ‘traitors.’ They shot suspect on sight.”

With the Spanish Whites entered truck loads of bread. Munching Málagans were soon telling between mouthfuls how numbers of Spaniards have been saved fror pistol squads by the boldness of Mr. & Mrs. Edward Bainbridge Norton of Memphis, Tenn.

“At the outbreak of the war,” said Mr. Norton, “we raised the Ameri-can flag on our villa and provided shelter for some of our Spanish neighbors.” Said Mrs. Norton: “There is a road up the hill behind our house called ‘execution lane,’ where dozens of our best friends were shot down like cattle—sometimes because they were Rightists, because they were Catholics, and sometimes because they were gentlemen and ladies. I have seen priests and nuns shot. Nobody was safe. When we finally saw the troops of General Queipo de Llano approaching it was the happiest moment of my life.”

Most amazing figure in Red Málaga, and she was retained by the Whites as matron of the jail, is black Florence. “Never you mind what is my husband’s name,” she told correspondents. “My name is Florence and he is a nice Portuguese.””Are you Red, Florence?””No, sir, I am black and I don’t do no dabbling in politics!”


The hour of need among Spanish Reds became more acute this week. The Whites, still not encircling Madrid after 108 days of siege, nevertheless had cut all access to the erstwhile capital except the Valencia road. Dashing along this in a taxicab to prove it “open,” two U. S. correspondents ran a hot gantlet of White sniping and shell fire. At Valencia, to which Premier Largo Caballero and his Cabinet sped from Madrid (TIME, Nov. 16), the aggressive Premier whose usual costume is a shirt and a pair of blue overalls, exhorted throngs from a balcony. “Our Government does not want to have to enforce discipline, but, if necessary, it will for the common welfare! More important than any party ideology, is the necessity to win the war and save Spain!”

This was rumored a Red prelude to giving Largo Caballero the authority of Dictator for the duration of the war, an advisable move which it has been impossible to make up to now because the Premier’s followers are of so many different shades of Red, and claim to include even “radical Catholics” together with Pinks. Into this motley Valencia camp this week projectiles screamed. Lying so far off shore that nobody in Valencia even saw it clearly, a powerful warship hurled 30 shells, then steamed away over the Mediterranean’s blue brim.

White Generalissimo Franco fortnight ago defined his aims in answer to a Scripps-Howard questionnaire (TIME, Feb. 15). Last week Valencia’s Foreign Minister answered for Premier Largo Caballero: “Madrid, I affirm, cannot be taken now. . . . The war has actually been won by the Republic. . . . Fascist marionettes now play a purely secondary role because Germans and Italians occupy all the posts of responsibility and are at the side of every enemy gun and machine gun. … It is very difficult to predict safely the final form of government [in Spain]. … I consider that the most obvious pattern will be a continuation of a Democratic Republic which will permit extremely advanced social legislation. . . . The Spanish Capitalistic system must be immediately modified. . . . We have ideas for a new social organization which cannot actually be called plans. . . . The Communists at present show the most enthusiasm in the defense of the Republic.”

In regard to Catalonia, which has been trying to secede from the rest of Spain for longer than the oldest inhabitant can remember, the answer of Valencia last week was the same as that of the Whites fortnight ago: Catalonia must remain with the rest of Spain, no matter who wins the war.

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