Page 9, 26th February 1937

26th February 1937
Page 9
Page 9, 26th February 1937 — British Ambassador Sums Up On Spain

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People: Francis Lindley
Locations: Madrid, Athens


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British Ambassador Sums Up On Spain


"In the face of these facts the attitude of some of our highly-placed divines is stupefying. and to me personally, as a life-long member of the Church of England. revolting.

" It requires but little reflection or knowledge of events to see that the outcome of the elections (in Spain) has no bearing on the present position from the legal and constitutional point of view.

" It seems to me that the two sides are as the poles apart."

These are striking phrases taken from an article on Spain in the current number of the National Review, signed by Sir Francis Lindley.

Sir Francis Lindley, formerly High Commissioner, Minister or Ambassador in Russia, Austria. Athens, Norway, Portugal, Japan, may be supposed to have a slightly greater experience and a slightly better knowledge of foreign countries and foreign ways than those who presume on the basis of a little newspaper and much propaganda reading to pontificate about the Spanish war.

Sir Francis—who has probably never set eyes on the Catholic press — comes to exactly the same conclusion and interprets the story of the tragedy in almost exactly the same way as the Catholic Herald.

He first demolishes the claims of the Madrid Government to be constitutional in spite of the elections " which have led so many of our own honest Parliamentarians astray."

Without admitting that the election results were partly cooked or mentioning the fact that a greater number of actual votes were polled for the opponents of the Popular Front, he writes:

Government Only in Name

" In order legitimately to claim the obedience of citizens a government need not he ideal. But it must perform certain elementary duties such as the protection of the lives and property of the public and the vindication of the law in essentials. If it fails to carry out these duties—still more if it does not even attempt to do so—its claim to allegiance falls to the ground and citizens are free, indeed they are in duty bound, to band together in self-defence and in vindication of the law of the land. This is precisely what has happened in Spain.

" At no moment did the original Popular Front Government make any attempt to govern; unless orders to the police not to protect sacred buildings from destruction or well-to-do people from murder can be called governing.

"It is sometimes put forward as an argu meat in favour of the original Popular Front Government that it contained no extremists. A feebler argument could not be found; for, had the majority elected to the Cortes been extremists, it might have been argued that extremist action had Constitutional justification The opposite is admittedly the case and its moderate composition robs the original Popular Front Government of the last vestige of a claim to obedience."

It was, Sir Francis says, humanly impossible for people, least of all Spaniards, to sit quiet while their relations and friends were murdered and their feelings outraged by the destruction of all they held most sacred.

Fanatical Control

Of the revolutionary wing which usurped power he writes: "The revolutionary wing is itself led by a number of fanatics, whose doctrines, while differing fundamentally as regards the kind of Utopia they hope to establish, are unhappily at one as to the means by which it should be set up.

" The disciplined organisation and ruthless thoroughness of the Communists directed from Mdscow are here allied to the natural ferocity and sadistic bestiality of the home-bred anarchists and syndicalists; and we see the result in the systematic destruction of all traces of religion, the murder of those who profess it, of whichever sex, and the extermination of everyone likely to oppose the dictatorship of the proletariat and the confiscation of property."

The Atrocities

After pointing out that it is the " broadminded and contemptuous habit of Englishmen to maintain that where foreigners are concerned there is little to choose between them, he deals with the atrocities: " On the Government side (not by Government orders, for if any are given they are not obeyed) we have the shooting of prisoners of war unless they are at once enrolled in the Government forces, the bombardment of any open towns and villages occupied by Franco's men, and continuous systematic mass murders of men, women and even children behind the lines. The destruction of churches and emblems of religion and the confiscation of property are not atrocities in the popular sense, but, to put it mildly, they have an irritating effect on the devout and on those with anything to lose.

" On General Franco's side we have the same bombardment of open towns, including to a limited extent Madrid, and, in many cases, the shooting both of prisoners of war and of men suspected of having

taken part in fighting. There have also, no doubt, been many isolated murders in cold blood. The Government recently published a list of one hundred such murders.

Rising with Reason " It seems to me," he goes on, " that the two sides are as the poles apart. In the first place, it must always be remembered that General Franco's rising was caused by murders and the destruction of churches which were and are continuous.

"The reaction of his forces to these events are to be condemned,: but I would in all seriousness ask those who most loudly condemn them to try to imagine what they would feel like when faced by the accomplices of those. ur possibly the very men, who had murdered their dearest relatives and friends, and destroyed all that they held most holy.

"I hope I should have had restraint in the hour of victory; but in my heart I feel I might have seen as red as the Spanish Nationalists. However that may be, there has been nothing on General Franco's side at all comparable to the systematic destruction of whole classes."

Of intervention Sir Francis bears out the view of Our Diplomatic Correspondent in last week's issue, proving once again that intervention is and has always been the set policy of Communism which must take the full blame for having provoked the Fascist powers to retaliate in kind for self-defence.

The Fascist Myth The writer's refusal to accept the cornmon British view that a victory for Franco would mean Fascist domination in the Western Mediterranean is of particular importance in view of his own diplomatic experience.

" Should a Soviet State be set up in Spain. the danger of Germany entrenching herself in some Spanish possession in order to counteract Bolshevik activities becomes a very real one," Sir Francis declares.

"General Franco, on the other hand, is fighting for Spanish unity and it is highly improbable that he would consent in the hour of victory to cede any part of the Spanish dominions. Italy is a little off the map as a bogey after the recent AngloItalian exchange of Notes; but, while the same argument applies to her as to Germany, her geographical position already makes the friendliest relations with Great Britain an imperious necessity for both countries."

We strongly recommend all sincere students of the conflict to read the article in full which can be borrowed from any public library.

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