Watford turned out in hundreds on Sunday last to hear the authoritative statements of Fr. Francis Woodlock, Si.,. in a lecture on " The Conflict in Spain." The meeting, which was held at the Oddfellows Hall, lasted for over two and a half hours, and ended in a lively discussion. Dr. O'Donovan, the lay president of British Catholic Action, was in the chair.
The chairman said that he had in the past had the honour of representing the constituency of Stepney for some years in Parliament: this district was, of course, very largely Jewish, and it was remarkable to note how deeply Jews felt, and suffered in, the wrongs of their co-religionists all over the world—a fact which had helped Jewry to remain stable in the face of massacre and persecution throughout the ages.
With this example before him Dr. O'Donovan realised that at least some Christians had something of the same spirit. Generally, unfortunately, this was not the case, the people of this country being utterly indifferent to the sufferings of their fellowChristians on the Continent.
Fr. Woodlock, after outlining the history of the reaction in this country, explained how to understand the position in Spain; it was necessary to go back some years, and to look not to the people of Spain for explanation but to Moscow. The revolutionary movement in Spain, he said, started in Russia and was engineered from there. In the official papers issued by the Komintern (the International Committee for the establishment of Soviet control throughout the world) reports appeared as continuously staling the progress of their agents in Spain, working during the past eight or nine years for the coming Spanish revolution.
Referring to the underhand methods of propaganda used by the Reds, Fr. Woodlock said that they called their opponents " Fascists," which was very far from being the case.
The "insurgentarmy contained Fascists, he said, but in no great proportion. The branding of all their opponents with this title, however, had gained the Communists untold support, especially in Great Britain.
Atrocities Fi.. Woodlock then alluded to the question of atrocities during the campaign.
"At first we were inclined to pass first reports of atrocities aside as journalistic exaggerations: now, alas! I know they were not far short of the truth—if at all, for I myself have spoken repeatedly to many refugees in Rome and elsewhere, and all have had the same dreadful story to tell." said Fr. Woodlock.
Dealing with Franco's alleged "atrocities" the speaker showed that in every case they were almost entirely fabrications—stories that had begun with a deliberate misunderstanding and been exaggerated and passed round for popular consumption.
Bombing of Madrid
With regard to the bombing of Madrid in particular, this was a matter of criminal mismanagement on the part of the Government, who were to blame for every noncombatant life lost. Franco—even at the loss of strategic advantage, gave three weeks' notice of his intention to bomb the city (which it was, in warfare, of course necessary to do, as it is the key-position for Spain). His 'planes dropped warning pamphlets during those weeks, urging evacuation of civilians he sent official warning, and left a road clear for non-combatants to leave in safety. The Government paid no heed—evacuating only some of their own " Reds."
" Such are the methods of the party that is bidding for power in Spain, hoping to make of it a collection of small Soviet states under the control of Moscow, and against which Franco and his army are fighting to ensure that Spain shall remain as she always has been—Catholic and free," Fr. Woodlock added.