BELIEF IN EARLY RED COLLAPSE A Day On The Ebro Front
AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR OF THE SPANISH WAR EVERY INTERNATIONAL EFFORT IS BEING MADE TO SAVE THE REPUBLICAN SIDE BY MECIAT ION AND ARMISTICE.
Writing as a prominent representative of the Nationalist cause, the Marquis Merry del Val has sent the CATHOLIC HERALD a statement explaining why the Nationalists must reject the solution by mediation.
He outlines as well the whole story, as the Nationalists see it, of the withdrawal of volunteers from the agreement of the Nonintervention Committee to the voluntary withdrawals from Nationalist and Republican Spain.
The sense of collapse on the Republican side, so prominent in the Marquis Merry del Val's despatch, is likewise evident in the latest report from the Ebro Front from our own correspondent in Spain.
SNAG IN MEDIATION
By 'Marquis Merry del Val, G.C.M.G., ex-Spanish Ambassador in London.
The British Press is misinterpreting the attitude of Nationalist Spain to current proposals to end the Spanish war. The misunderstanding begins with the NonIntervention Committee's proposal to withdraw volunteers.
This proposal is the result of a compromise born of long and painful debates in which by dint of manoeuvring. the Soviet representative and his allies in that body had succeeded in introducing such a series of conditions as to place General Franco in a state of inferiority vis-a-vis his enemies from a military point of view. Moreover the plan thus elaborated was so complicated as unavoidably to implyoan armistice. Without a suspension of hostilities no one could carry out in practice such intricate arrangements particularly on the Red side.
An armistice, however, must be regarded as the main, although unavowed object of Moscow.
Well does the Komintern know that to call the " cease fire" in any campaign, but much more in a civil war, signifies the beginning of the end. Never more will the troops take up arms much less to kill their own blood-brothers.
General Franco, like a real soldier, cut the Gordian knot.
Franco's Offer He accepted the Committee's proposal in principle, but breaking through the meshes of the intriguers' web, he offered to order the withdrawal of a block of 10,000 foreign volunteers from his own forces if the Reds would do the like. Thus would the preliminary condition laid down by the Committee be fulfilled and, supposing its intentions to be honest, in so full a manner that according to its own rules that belligerency, which, according to International Law, should never have been denied him, had automatically to be recognised without further demur.
This solution of the problem did not satisfy the Non-Intervention Committee for many reasons. Chief among these was the avoidance of an armistice. They hastened to entrust a delegation with the mission of explaining in Burgos the practical meaning of the Committee's plan for the withdrawal of foreign volunteers.
The Red Manoeuvre Meanwhile the Reds have attempted to delude the world by a move calculated to put General Franco into a false and in
ferior position. Happily they will only deceive those who wish to be hoodwinked, that is to say, the open or secret sympathisers with Communism now masquerading under the name of Democracy at Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid.
Now when their International Brigades, their one and only mainstay, have melted to their dregs under Franco's fire, now when the remnant of these foreign forces refuses to go up to the fighting line, now when they have been obliged to re-organise their shattered Spanish battalions with boys of sixteen and men of forty-five, now when the unhappy inhabitants of their zone are literally dying of hunger in their unlit and fire-less homes, the Reds magnanimously come forward and pompously announce the disbandment of all their foreign volunteers.
They even include those thousands which they had converted into impromptu Spaniards by the simple process of providing them with a passport in the hope of rendering impossible the task of their separation from their genuinely Spanish comrades by the Non-Intervention Committee's agents if the original plan of withdrawal came to be carried into effect, a stratagem they had never confessed up to the present.
The people who at one time were giving Russian names to the streets of their towns, to their organisations, ships, etc., while lauding their International Columns to the skies or boasting of their prowess, and now give themselves out as the defenders of Spain's independence against foreign invasion because Franco has admitted a small number of volunteers into his army of 300,000 Spaniards, are capable of anything.
First Consideration We already detect their care in selecting among the first for withdrawal the subjects and citizens of those nations whose public opinion has shown itself more gullible to their wiles, i.e., Great Britain and the U.S.A. In addition General Franco reports that foreign prisoners continue to be taken on the Ebro front even now that all alien Red volunteers are professedly concentrated at the rear and are even supposed to have been in part dismissed.
There can be no doubt that today the Red forces are more strongly officered by foreigners than ever before and that the whole of their artillery is in the hands of veterans front other lands. Will they too go home?
The Non-Intervention Committee's delegation are going to Burgos on a thankless errand.
The Committee's chief object is already accomplished, more thoroughly than was expected in London.
If on the other hand its agents aspire to mediation, they travel condemned to bitter disappointment. It is just as well to say now and at once that all Nationalist Spaniards stand compact and firm behind General Franco to reject such a sorry solution.
Mediation Impossible Mediation would stultify the very aim and meaning of their magnificent crusade.
Not only is it beyond the power of human nature to live cheek by jowl in peace with those who have murdered and raped with cynicism and impunity our nearest and dearest, who have endeavoured to stamp out our Faith in the persons of our priests, religious and nuns, who have actually destroyed by the thousand God's temples over the length and breadth of Spain. who have for ever destroyed more than half her art treasures, who have robbed her gold and disjointed her economic life for generations, but it would be the height of folly to once more admit within the fold those cunning poisoners of our children's and our people's minds who still hold their own in the Red zone.
Franco has brought his enemies to their knees. For them the only terms can and shall be unconditional surrender.
They may have engineered a new trick by enlisting foreign factors in their desperate attempt to clutch at this red-hot nail. It must be their last.
To such a proposal we with one voice and to a man, whatever the consequences, reply, Mediation Never!