By Maria F. de Laguna
CCALANGE ESPANOLA TRADI F CIONALISTA," of which General Franco is the head (ever since his Unification Decree last year), is the one and only State Party in National Spain.
.:le dynamism of Falange, or the Fet, as it is called for short, is directed particularly to social reforms and social aid. One of them deserves special attention. It is "Auxilio Social" (Social Aid). This terrible war is proving to Spaniards, i.e., Nationalists, that they can be as good organisers as any other race. Efficient organisation is noticeable from the moment one crosses the frontier at iron. In "Auxilio Social " one does not know which to admire most: the spirit of justice which engendered it, or the selflessness and patriotism of those who are responsible for its excellent results.
In a recent interview in Burgos, Dofia Pilar Primo de Rivera. head of the Session Femenina de Falange Espanola Tradicionalista, gave me considerable information about " Auxilio Social."
While I was waiting to see her I could see, through the open doors and in the corridors, numerous Falange women, who, in their dark blue uniform with sleeves rolled up and a business-like air, were attending to the ever increasing work of the Women's Section of the FET.
Dona Pilar kindly answered my questions and gave me a number of leaflets, data and statistics. Behind her desk hang the portraits of General Franco and of her brother, Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the original Falange. Underneath is the inscription : " The revolution must be carried out by stout hearts, inaccessible to discouragement.—Jose Antonio." On the opposite wall is a large Falange banner on which are inscribed the names of the Falange women killed in this war as nurses or in some other non-combatant capacity. (There were never any armed militia women in Nationalist Spain.) Forty Falange women have been awarded the Military Medal.
Over 580,000 women are serving in the FET, mostly as voluntary workers. Thousands are working in hospitals, the uniform factories, military laundries, orphanages, creches, the kitchens and dining-rooms of " Auxilio Social," and other State activities.
" Auxilio Social " is run chiefly by the "SecciOn Femenina." Though it has already won unstinted praise from foreign visitors to Spain, it is not as well known as it deserves to be.
In San Sebastian " Auxilio Social " runs four children's dining-rooms, two " Brotherhood Kitchens " (from which about 200
poor people carry home two hot meals every day) and one large dining-room for destitute Nationalist refugees. The number of these dining-rooms and kitchens varies in every town according to its needs. The result is that there are no beggars in
National Spain. This is all the more remarkable, if one remembers that under the Republic beggars had become an absolute plague. It was almost impossible to walk down the Madrid boulevards without being repeatedly molested by them. Now, not only is begging strictly prohibited, but to everyone's intense relief all the genuine poor are cared for in National Spain, irrespective of their political past.
The organisation is excellent. The children's dining-rooms are certainly the brightest spots in Spain. There are flowers on all the tables, which arc covered with blue and white cloths. The helpers all wear the Falange uniform and a large white apron, on which is embroidered the Falange
emblem : a red yoke across five red arrows. Under this disguise, Falange women of all classes, mixing happily together, devote their time voluntarily to the cause of justice.
Passers-by linger round the large open windows of the children's dining-rooms to watch the happy healthy children tucking in to huge platefuls of hot-pot or meat stew. Some of the smaller children, perched on the laps of the helpers, are spoon-fed to the accompaniment of much fun and lau. hter.
Funds for " Auxilio Social " are collected in several ways. To begin with, everyone is obliged to give at least 30 centimos every week. Then there are two collections every month, to which each family contributes an agreed amount of food, or the equivalent in cash. Needless to say, a cause like "Auxilio Social" is attracting donations both small and large.
" Auxilio Social " also runs " Hogares Infantiles " (children's homes) all over National Spain. These have, fortunately, no resemblance to the old-fashioned orphanages of most countries. The "Hogar Infantil de Vidalia," which the Provincial Secretary kindly took me to see, is a typical one. Originally the property of a wealthy separatist. it was requisitioned by the Nationalist authorities for a children's home. I was told that the former owner had expressed his approval at the good use to which his country house is being put. It is a large modern house set in the midst of beautiful Basque hills. Forty-one little girls greeted us with outstretched arms and hands. I should explain in passing that this salute is but the natural reaction to the clenched fist in all countries where the latter has threatened to hold sway. These children are the daughters of " Red " parents of the lowest type, from the region of
Estremadura. Most of them have lost their fathers. Their mothers are either dead or not fit to look after them. There they were, clean, healthy, and to all appearances, happy children. It was worth the visit to Vidalia to hear them all laughing merrily as they resumed their games in the garden.
In the dining-room their little tables had covers of different attractive colours, with napkins to match. The bathrooms were of the latest type. The dormitories, bare of all ornaments except a crucifix and a statue of Our Lady, were bright and airy. The " directora " told me that there were eleven women on the staff, including a teacher, two trained nurses and two Sisters of Charity, who keep watch at night.
Falange also runs an organisation known as " Asistencia a Frentes y Hospitales," which supplies care and comforts to soldiers at the front and in hospital. Finally, there is the " Hogar del Herido " which provides a centre in every town for wounded men on leave, where they can obtain free coffee, wine and cheery companionship.
It would be unjust to praise "Auxilio Social " without referring to Spain's other Social Aid organisations. These were, and still arc, chiefly charitable institutions and associations run by religious orders and by the laity, generally under the direction of the parish priest. If less has been heard of their splendid efforts, it is because the aim of those countless and indefatigable men and women is charity, and charity shuns all forms of self-advertisement. Moreover, the power and means at their disposal cannot be compared to those of the FET.
Falange prides itself on its Catholicity. The daily newspaper Unidad, which is published by the FET, on July 18 last, had a full-page article entitled "Catholicity of Falange." The following passage is worth quoting:
" Hitherto Totalitarian States have aroused fears as to the integrity of the Catholic Church. But from now onwards, the magnificent realisation of the Spanish Traditionalist Phalanx ' proves the perfect, enduring and ardent union of Church and State in the most just and affectionate harmony. In order to understand fully this Catholic Falange,' it is necessary to forget Italian Fascism and German National-Socialism." (Fermin Yzurdiaga Lorca, Unidad, July 18, 1938.)
In " Auxilio Social " the spirit of Falange is at its best.