Testing Ground before the Second Great War


In the 1930s, Catholic Spain became testing ground for the looming conflict between the two totalitarian regimes, fascism and communism. Already in 1873, the Marxists managed to establish a short-lived First Republic in Spain but due to lack of public support and broad political legitimacy, the republican government quickly collapsed and the Bourbon monarchy was restored, with king Alfonso XII, proclaimed as a king. In 1906, his son, Alfonso XIII, married Princess Victoria Eugenie of the German House of Battenberg, granddaughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg and Gotha. This marriage brought Catholic Spain closer to the City of London and the House of Rothschilds. Since the 1900s, Great Britain had been the principle supplier of weapons and equipment to the Spanish navy. Many Spanish warships were based on British designs or had been designed in Britain. When the First World War broke out in 1914, Spanish King naturally supported Great Britain whilst the Spanish aristocracy, army and landowners supported the Central Powers. The Spaniards supplied both sides of war by exporting large quantities of food and creating shortage and high prices at home, which in turn provided a fertile ground for the rise of the socialist ideology, especially in southern parts of the country, the Province of Andalucia, where peasants toiled like slaves at the farms owned by the big landowners. In 1917, the Spanish workers’ movement undertook first attempt of the social revolution but the rebellion was quickly suppressed by the army which henceforth became a safeguard of the political status quo. In 1923, General Primo de Rivera backed by King Alfonso XIII and the army, seized power and established a military dictatorship. In the following years, the socialists, the republicans and the anarchists of all sorts continued to conspire in secrecy to pursue republican cause also inciting the Catalonians and the Basques to fight for autonomy.

On August 17, 1930, the conspirators including two Freemasons and future leaders of the Spanish Republic, Manuel Azaña and Niceto Zamora, met in San Sebastián, in the Basque Province, and signed a Pact in which they agreed to work together to overthrow the Spanish Monarchy.249 The same year, Miguel Primo de Rivera, after bringing the country into fiscal crisis, resigned as Prime Minister, discrediting the monarchy which backed his dictatorship. When the municipal elections of April 12, 1931 showed little support for pro-monarchy parties in the major cities, King Alfonso XIII left the country to avoid potential bloodshed. Spanish Republic was established on April 14, 1931 and in June the Socialist Party (PSOE) and other left wing parties won an overwhelming victory in general elections although its validity remained under question.250 Freemason, Niceto Zamora, became the first prime minister and Freemason Manuel Azaña, who succeeded him a year later, forced widespread liberal reforms in Spain, nationalizing the Church property, purging the army and enacting an agrarian reform program, which aimed to confiscate the large private landholdings and distribute them among the rural poor. Catalonia was also granted a degree of autonomy and henceforth became a key stronghold of Republican cause. These reforms were naturally opposed by the Church, the army and the landed aristocracy so the militants of the left organized strikes and riots burning down churches and engaging in violence. In January 1933, the anarchist trade union (CNT) called for Revolution but the subsequent revolts were repressed. As disturbances increased, a right-wing party under Alejandro Lerroux was elected in 1933 to restore order. The new government began to dismantle reforms and admitted to the cabinet Catholic-right party (CEDA) additionally supporting the formation of the Falange, a fascist party led by José Antonio Primo de Rivera, son of the former dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera. In response, Francisco Largo Caballero, who was nailed as “the Spanish Lenin”, and who became the leader of the Marxist wing of PSOE, and Spanish trade union affiliated with PSOE (UGT), called for the Revolution provoking armed uprisings by Asturian miners in the north. The riots were brutally quashed by General Francisco Franco on behalf of the right-wing government. By winter of 1935, the financial scandal discredited Premier Lerroux and the 1936 general elections were won, by a narrow margin, by the leftist coalition - the Popular Front - which term had been coined in Moscow at the 7th World Congress of the Third International (Comintern) in 1935. New leftist government, which was virtually a section of the Comintern, immediately got rid of the army generals who were likely to revolt. General Franco, chief-of-staff – was sent to the Canary Islands, General Goded to the Balearic Islands and General Mola to Pamplona in Navarra. Concurrently, the leftist militants organized strikes and flared violence setting hundreds of churches on fire. Political murders spread across the country.

Anticipating that the new government would give way to the Marxist revolution, General Franco and the army officers conspired to seize power. He and other generals were supported by the priests like Juan Tusquets Terrats, whose father was a descendant of Jewish bankers. He renounced his family and published in 1932 the best selling book, Origenes de la Revolución Espanola, whereby he claimed the Revolution was directed by Jews and Freemasons. Father Tusquets had great influence upon General Franco and became head of Judaeo-Masonic Section of the Military Information Service, responsible for listing and searching for all Jewish and masonic conspirators in Spain.251 In December 1933, General Mola, alarmed by the reports he had received from White Russians living in exile in France, reached similar conclusions about the role of the Jews and Freemasons in the communist revolution. In his book The Past, Azana and the Future he wrote as follows: “Decent nations are the favourite victims of parasitical international organisations, used in their turn by the Great Powers, taking advantage of the situation in weak nations, which is where such organisations have most success just as unhealthy organisms are the most fertile breeding ground of the virulent spread of pathological germs. It is significant that all such organisations are manipulated if not actually directed by the Jews....The Jews don't care about the destruction of a nation, or of ten, or of the entire world, because they, having the exceptional ability to derive benefit from the greatest catastrophes, are merely completing their programme. What has happened in Russia is a relevant example and one that is very much on Hitler's mind. The German Chancellor – fanatical nationalist – is convinced that his people cannot rise again as long as the Jews and the parasitical organisations that they control or influence remain embedded in the nation. That is why he persecutes them without quarter.”252

Thus Franco's Nationalists were determined to annihilate everything that the Republic signified.253 On July 18, 1936, the Spanish military officers in Spanish Morocco rose against the republican government and other Spanish garrisons revolted all across Spain. Before the war, the military coup plotters already had generous financial support from the Italian and Portuguese dictators, Benito Mussolini and António Salazar, from the wealthy financier and founder of Banca March, Juan March (who supplied both sides during the First World War), and the conservative politician Francisco Cambó, as well as from the regional government of Navarre, which used war taxes to help the Nationalist combatants.254 Not being able to transport his Army of Africa from Morocco into Spanish mainland, General Franco turned for assistance to Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany. The Germans who were interested in obtaining Spanish raw materials, such as iron-ore, copper and pyrites, for their armament production, began actively to assist Spanish nationalists within two weeks of the outbreak of the Civil War.255 The Nazi-Germans supplied the Spaniards with an abundance of planes, tanks, and arms. Within the next few months Franco' army gained control of much of the south seizing cities of Seville, Cordoba, and Granada, and much of the north of the country, establishing their capital at Burgos, a historic capital of Castile. In August 1936, the British and the French initiated the signing of the non-intervention agreement by the 27 states but most of its signatories, including Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union violated its terms permitting arms smuggling. In September 1936, the Soviets launched an Operation X ('The Transportation of Spacial Goods to Our Friends in “X”, “X” denoting Republican Spain), and began supplying the Republicans with arms mostly of western manufacturers like the British Vickers. The 58,183 rifles of Soviet origin delivered in 1936 to Spain were of at least eight different nationalities.256 The Soviets had also supplied T-26 tanks which was a development of the British Vickers 6-Ton Tank design. Apart from arms supplies, the Comintern had raised around 35,000 foreign volunteers who fought in the so-called International Brigades, often indoctrinated by the press and propaganda to believe they were fighting for democracy against the evil forces of fascism. The largest contingent was French (10,000) followed by German (5,000), Polish (5,000), Italian (3,350), American (3,300), British (over 2,500), Yugoslavian (1,500), Czech (1,500), Canadian (1,000), Hungarian (1,000) and Scandinavian (1,000). The volunteers were usually recruited among members of communist parties and communist organizations. Around 5000 Poles were recruited mainly from émigreé communities in Belgium and France, 3,300 American volunteers were recruited by the American Communist Party (CPUSA) and over 2,500 British volunteers was recruited by the Communist Party in Britain. Between 6,000 to 8,000 of the recruits to the International Brigades have been Jewish, including nearly half of the Poles, over one-third of the Americans, and around 20 per cent of the Britons.257 There were seven brigades in all, and each one was divided into battalions by nationality (e.g., the French-Belgian Commune de Paris Batallion, Polish Dabrowski Batallion, the American Abraham Lincoln Batalion, etc). Famous writers George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway were among those who supported the Republican cause.

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249 Paul Calderwood, Freemasonry and the Press in the Twentieth Century: A National Newspaper Study of England and Wales (London, New York: Routledge, 2013), p. 83 »

250 Henry Buckley, The Life and Death of the Spanish Republic: A Witness to the Spanish Civil War (London, New York: I.B. Tauris & Co, 2014), pp. 36-37; A Manchester journalist, Henry Buckley, recalled that following the elections, he was conducted into a dusty room of the Ministry of Interior, and a functionary showed him hundreds of brown paper bundles, which contained the final telegraphed returns of the elections, which had never been sorted out and counted. »

251 Paul Preston, The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain (London: Harper Press, 2012), p. 37 »

252 Ibid., p. 41 »

253 Preston, The Spanish Holocaust, p. 180 »

254 Tereixa Constenla, “How Franco Banked on Victory”, El País, 13 June 2012 »

255 Charles E. Harvey, “Politics and Pyrites during the Spanish Civil War”, The Economic History Review, New Series, Vol. 31, No. 1 (Feb., 1978), pp. 89-104 (16 pages) »

256 Gerald Howson, Arms for Spain: The Untold Story of the Spanish Civil War (London: John Murray (Publishers) Ltd, 1998), p. 138 »

257 Robert Philpot, 'The Jews of the Spanish Civil War: a Forgotten Story', The Jewish Chronicle, 13 July 2013 https://www.thejc.com/lifestyle/features/the-jews-of-the-spanish-civil-war-a-forgotten-story-1.60438 »