FACTS AND FASCISM
CHAPTER V: WHO PAID FOR FRANCO'S WAR?
FASCISM in Spain was bought and paid for by numerous elements who would profit by the destruction of the democratic Republican Loyalist government. There were generals who wanted glory and others who wanted the easy graft money some of their predecessors had made. There was the established Church, and more especially the powerful Society of Jesus, which had suffered loss of property when King Alfonso was thrown out. There was the aristocracy, and there were other elements as there are in all fascist regimes, but more important than all these forces combined was the force of Money.
The Big Money conspired with General Sanjurjo and the Nazi government in early 1936 to establish a fascist regime which would not only protect profits but insure bigger profits at the expense of the majority and end the heavy fear that the masses preferred the benefits which even a weak republic could obtain for them.
Prominent among the owners of Spain and Fascism are:
1. The Duke of Alba. Of him it has been said that he could cross Spain from the French border at Irun to the outskirts of Gibraltar and never take his feet off his own land. True or not, it is a fact that he is one of the holders of vast lands, in a nation where thousands starve to death and millions pray for two or three acres.
2. Juan March. This multi-millionaire crook is typical of one element of all fascist regimes. In Italy Mussolini had his murderers and assorted gangsters whom he gave big graft jobs and made into millionaires as a reward for their aiding him before 1922. Matteoti's assassins are known. March has a penitentiary record as a common smuggler, and also a record as the holder of the state monopoly in tobacco. He is said to have put more millions into the Franco movement than any other man.
3. Rio Tinto. This is one of the biggest mining ventures in the world. Big British and Spanish capital is invested in it, and it is a truism that all big capital prefers a fascist regime, which it can own completely, to a democracy where elections change things -- and the tax rate. The British probably have the controlling interest in Rio Tinto. When Claude Bowers, American Ambassador to Spain, suggested to the British Ambassador that if Franco won, Britain would have Hitler at Gibraltar and perhaps lose the control of the Mediterranean, "the lifeline of empire," the British Ambassador answered that "private interests at home are stronger than national interests." He meant that Rio Tinto and other Spanish mine, electricity, railroad and other stockholders in Britain preferred Fascism and even Hitler in Spain to the safety of Britain itself.
In all agrarian countries -- notably Poland, Hungary, Spain, Roumania -- the big landowners are almost without exception fascists. The Duke of Alba, who put millions into the Franco investment, was joined by all the Spanish holders of estates who, with the Church, had owned the best and largest areas of fertile Spain.
There had been no large seizure of land under the Republic, but all the liberal parties were pledged to agrarian reform. Big pieces of land had been bought from the great landlords and parceled out -- in three or four acres and perhaps ten -- to several thousand landless. The Republic did accomplish something, but although it was not anything very big, it was enough to scare the multimillionaire estate owners. They therefore joined the conspiracy with Franco so that they could keep the land. It was as simple as all that.
Of course the people of Spain -- the vast majority, the farmers and workers -- wanted land and a decent living. Franco therefore did the usual fascist thing: he made big promises.
The Republic had divided several hundred thousand acres among the impoverished. Franco repeated the Republic's promises. Here, for example, is the rabidly fascist Coughlinite paper, The Tablet of Brooklyn, which (believe it or not) is also the official organ of the largest diocese in the world. Said the Tablet in 1937:
"GENERAL FRANCO STARTS LAND MOVEMENT
"Cordoba, May 26. -- General Quiepo de Llano, in Ecija, a small town in Andalucia, has formally settled 100 peasants on small parcels of land, the first of a series of such experiments by General Franco to interest the peasant in a small holding of his own. ... Franco has stated that all workers on outlying farms and haciendas must be given facilities to hear Mass every week."
It is indeed an amazing item. In 1936, about election time, when the fascists were beaten and thrown out of office, peasants in many parts of Spain thought the great day had arrived, and they helped themselves to land. In many districts there was violence as the Republic ejected the men who had seized the soil. The Republic promised the land-hungry peasants would get land-later -- and legally. Now the American fascists report Franco making an "experiment ... to interest the peasant in a small holding of his own." What corrupt irony!
In its issue of March 19, 1938, the native fascist Tablet reported that Franco (blessed by the Church and called a "child of God" although he had pinned the bleeding heart of Christ on the tunics of the bloodthirsty Moors, some 150,000 of whom had been imported to do most of the fighting) had given a total of 17,000 acres of land to the peasantry of Spain.
This appears to be something more than it is. Republican Spain from 1931 to 1936 had failed to satisfy the needs of the peasants -- thanks to sabotage by the wealthy -- and had succeeded in distributing only 13,000,000 hectares of land, which is some 30,000,000 acres. Thirty million was not enough, because the impoverished peasantry numbered many millions, and that figure would have allowed too few acres per family. However, it was something.
In the Twenty-Six Points of the Phalanx, the ruling Fascist Party of today -- all other parties have been abolished and Spain is totalitarian -- the nation was to be turned into "one gigantic syndicate of producers," so that there would be plenty for all, instead of superabundance for only the rich, as had been the case under both monarchy and fascist dictatorship; the banks were to be nationalized, land was to be irrigated, and those large estates which were found to be neglected were to be broken up.
What does the balance sheet today show of the Franco "experiment" of 100 parcels of land, the distribution of a glorious total of 17,000 acres in 1938, and the promise that at least neglected estates would be broken up? The writer-journalist Thomas J. Hamilton presents the latest and final report:
"The landed aristocrats of Spain ... had little real cause for complaint against the Franco regime which addressed itself to the work of undoing any damage to their interests that they had suffered from the Republic. This was not large. The grandees had been frightened by talk of breaking up the great estates, but they had managed to sabotage the Republic's first Agrarian Reform Law and the second was just getting into operation when the Civil War began. Only a few hundred thousand acres had actually been taken over, either in accordance with law or as a result of the movement among the peasants in the Spring of 1936 to seize the land without waiting for the slow operations of the government.
"The test of any Spanish regime was its attitude toward this fundamental question, and it may be supposed that some of the grandees had anxious moments when Franco adopted the Phalanx program with its demand for land reform. Carlists and moderate royalists together, however, proved more than strong enough to prevent the regime from harming the interests of the landowners. All land which had been occupied by the peasants, legally or otherwise, was returned to the owners, and soon there was no longer even any mention of breaking up the great estates. ...
"In general, the old nobility, fighting very much the same type of fight that it had under the Republic, managed to keep the Phalanx from hitting its pocketbook."
Mussolini's prediction, made years before the Global War broke out in September, 1939, that the entire world was lining up in two camps, Fascism and Democracy, and that it was "Either We or They," showed itself a matter of fact in the so-called civil war in Spain. It was actually a rebellion of the military leadership -- which committed wholesale treason by betraying the government to which it had taken an oath of allegiance -- armed and paid for by the vested interests. The "We" consisted of Fascists from all parts of the world, hundreds of thousands of soldiers from Germany, Italy and Portugal, all fascist lands, whereas the "They" of Democracy consisted of some 30,000 men of the International Brigade, not one a conscript soldier as were all on Franco's side, but every man a volunteer, a man of intelligence, a first fighter against Fascism. (Of the foreigners on the Loyalist side about 700 were Russians, mostly aviators and technicians, and not one infantry soldier. The press of America, Britain and other countries as usual lied about Russian aid and perpetuated the myth that the Loyalists were Communists.)
On Franco's march to Madrid he took not only the labor union leaders but a large percentage of the industrial workers of each town he captured, lined them up, and shot them down with machine guns. In Madrid the Fifth Column of Fascism killed as many of the working class as it could.
From Madrid early in 1937 this journalist wrote to the New York Post that Fascism had made it a class war in Spain; that Fascism was determined to kill off all leaders of the working class so it could enslave the workers, whereas the Loyalists had as their objective the redistribution of land and wealth.
The most enlightening proof of a class war was given in Madrid on the 7th and 8th of November, 1936, when the capital was given up as lost, when the censors in the Telefonica let the newspapermen send out the most pessimistic reports, and the Loyalist militiamen sat around waiting for Franco to arrive and murder them.
On the 8th there was considerable shooting in the streets. It was Franco's Fifth Column -- the hidden pro-fascist column which the fascist international has created in every country, and which still flourishes in the United States, and has its supporters in Congress. The Loyalists estimated the snipers at twenty or thirty thousand. Now, when Franco appeared about to enter the city, they boldly appeared in windows and on roofs and around street corners, and began their guerrilla warfare.
How did the Spanish Fascists know which Spaniards to murder?
Obviously every man in Loyalist uniform was a possible victim. But the Loyalists never had enough money to put all of their men in uniform, and tens of thousands fought the war in the blue overalls of their shops and factories.
The Fifth Column, hidden Fascists, were the people who had subsidized Franco. To them every working man was an anti-Fascist and therefore marked for death. And since the Loyalists in wartime did not wear white shirts, or white collars, or fine suits of clothes, or felt hats, or even neckties, the Fascists of the Fifth Column, fighting their guerrilla war in the streets of Madrid on November 8, 1936, spared every well-dressed wealthy-looking man as a possible ally, and murdered the men of the working class. Men in overalls were always shot by the Fascists.
An interesting footnote on the Spanish situation was published in the fascist press early in 1940. Said Voice of Spain:
"Apologists for the Nationalist Movement have gone to some trouble to point out that the Church in Spain is poor, and has been for some time. They have emphasized that nobody has yet produced concrete evidence of the holdings which the Church was known to have in commercial undertakings, that is to say, that nobody has been able to produce the share certificates and exhibit them publicly. We should like to have been able to do so for the information of the doubters, but now we do the next best thing. On page 172 will be found a facsimile from a page of ABC (Madrid Franco paper) of January 7, 1940, showing a list of Church shares which were confiscated by the Republican Government, and now claimed back by the Church. What we publish refers only to shares in the Telefonica. ... Do our readers consider that this evidence is good enough or, if not, what more do they want in the way of evidence?
"The fabulous wealth of the Church before July 19, 1936, is very well known, especially that held by the Company of Jesus, which is estimated at 6,000 million pesetas. The man with 'power of attorney' in all these holdings was Ruiz Senen, who was on the board of 40 important companies as agent of the Jesuits, and whose tentacles stretched out into all sorts of industrial undertakings."
The Telefonica of course is the American-owned I.T.&T. building and national telephone system. The advertisement reproduced lists the Metropolitan of Valencia owning hundreds of shares; the Casa Diocesana of the Archbishop of Lerida, 14 shares preferred stock; the rector of the College of San Jose of Valencia, of the Society of Jesus, the College of Maria the Immaculate, and several other Church organizations.
On January 24, 1940, ABC published a similar advertisement restoring preferred and common stocks and bonds to investors of the Compania Trasatlantica, the steamship line. Among the holders listed were: Rev. Pedro Pujol, the Archbishop of Madrid-Alcala, 50 shares numbered 91,101 to 91,150, the vicar general of the Congregation of Hermanas Descalzas de la Tercera Orden de la B.V.M. del Carmen of Tarragona, 9 shares.
On January 27, 1940, General Franco signed a decree formally restoring "the vast property holdings of the Society of Jesus which had been confiscated by the Republic in 1932," at the time the Jesuits were expelled. How vast this property is few persons know, as much of it was held in the names of individuals. M. Angel Margaud in "L'Espagne au XXe Siecle" quoted Aguilera as writing that "one can evaluate about one third of the national wealth, the goods, movable and immovable, owned by the Congregations. The North Railroad, the Transatlantic Co., the orange groves of Andalusia, the mines of the Basque provinces, and in the Rif, many factories in Barcelona, are under their open or occult direction. ..."
The Republic of 1931 had separated Church and State. The Church supported the Fascist side in 1936. In 1940 the Fascists restored all the confiscated wealth, including stocks and bonds, to the Church. Fascism paid off in this instance.
The final lesson from Spain, however, should not be lost by the thousands of American business men, big and little, who from 1922 on have been saying kind things about Mussolini and others who made trains run on time and seemed to insure bigger profits by outlawing unions, and the rights of the working people.
In Germany a million business men were ruined by Hitler, and only the upper thousand, the wealthiest and most powerful, profited by Nazi rule. As in Italy, so in Germany, the fascist regime had to rob not only the poor and reimpose serfdom on millions, but it also had to rob its own supporters to maintain a new bureaucracy, and a new army on whose bayonets the bureaucracy tried to build a permanent government. Fascism has to exploit either a foreign people or its own people; it has to have money, and if it must payoff the top subsidizers this means it has to destroy its millions of smaller helpers.
Hitler and Mussolini robbed and impoverished their own party members in order to feed the super-monopolists. In Spain the situation is similar. Hamilton writes:
"Spain was traditionally the land of special privilege. Franco's success in restoring these privileges therefore produced a singularly vicious combination: the rich stayed rich, if they did not get richer, and the poor were even hungrier than they had been in the worst days of the civil war. ... Suffering was increased immeasurably by the restoration of the old privileges; despite the steadily increasing misery of the poor, the wealthy managed to obtain virtually everything they needed. And a new class of parvenus, who had made their money by the special 'favours' obtained from the government officials in charge of operating the faltering economic machine, spent their profits with an abandon which was one failing that could not be charged against the old families.
"The Franco regime had, in fact, loaded still more privileged classes upon a suffering country. ..."
Big Business and the Landlords profited by the restoration of Fascism in Spain; so did the Church. Here is the proof: the ownership by the church in stocks of commercial enterprises.
British fascists most deeply involved in the Spanish war were the stockholders and directors of the Rio Tinto, the numerous light, power and street car companies of Madrid, Barcelona and other big cities.
In 1937 Franco sent the Duke of Alba to London to arrange for the financing of the fascist rebellion. Alba is also the British Duke of Berwick, a direct descendant of King James II. The founder of the Duchy of Berwick was an illegitimate son of the Duke of York (afterwards James II) and Arabella Churchill.
"The Duke began his mission with a well directed appeal to the Englishman's pocketbook," Frank R. Keeley cabled the New York Herald Tribune (January 9, 1938). "He declared in an interview: '... If there were no higher consideration, surely your markets and your invested capital in Spain should prompt you at least to be just to the Nationalist cause. ... We offer commercial freedom. ... You know that in the Republican zone great British concerns like, for example, Barcelona Traction, have been seized. ... Ask the Rio Tinto people, ask your sherry trade. ...' The Duke pointed out that England had a direct interest in Spain's mineral wealth."
Sir Oliver Lyttleton, member of the British Cabinet, chairman of the Board of Trade, was a director of Metallgesellschaft, of Frankfurt, Germany, which with Rio Tinto, Ltd., owns European Pyrites Co., Ltd. Other Rio Tinto directors are P.A. Cooper, director of the Bank of England and of CHADE, whose controlling stock was held by Von Gwinner of the Deutsches Bank of Berlin; F.D. Docker, vice-president of the Federation of British Industries -- equivalent to our NAM and Chamber of Commerce; Sir Edward Wildbore Smith, director of the Suez.
In his speech at Burgos on April 19, 1939, Franco announced a Nationalist Syndicalist state which would restore the status quo ante 1931 -- the time the Republic was overthrown. The New York Times headline was: "Franco Reassures owners of Capital."
DOCUMENTATION AND REFERENCES:
Thomas J. Hamilton, Appeasement's Child, Knopf, 1943.
Voice of Spain (Edited by Charles Duff), January 27, 1940.