Felix Morrow

Munich Plan for Spain

Barcelona Frame-Up Is Smokescreen to Conceal
Impending Betrayal of Anti-Fascist Spain

(October 1938)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 47, 29 October 1938, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

It is no accident that the Spanish Department of the G.P.U. finally permitted the opening of the P.O.U.M. trial only after the Munich conference. The Barcelona trial is Stalin’s way of covering up his complicity in the new drive that is now to be made by the Powers to smash the remaining anti-Fascist forces in Spain. That is why these seven leaders have been lying in jail without trial for 16 months!

Of the trial itself, one can already be sure that only the most widespread protest from the world labor movement can prevent a mechanical verdict of guilty. The press dispatches mention no jury, no defense attorneys; all previous promises by government officials of prior notice of the opening of trial so that observers from other countries could be present representing working class parties and defense organizations, promises of outside defense counsel, etc., have been violated at the behest of the G.P.U.

G.P.U. Procedure

We are to be treated simply to a Spanish imitation of the famous Moscow trials. The juridical procedure is that laid down by a special “law” precisely for these trials, establishing a “Tribunal for Espionage and High Treason”; meanwhile, the democratic Peoples Tribunals established in the revolutionary days of July, 1936 have been wiped out.

Rovira’s Fate Revealed

From the Stalinist press, we learn that the indictment named nine defendants, and that two of them, Andres Nin and Jose Rovira, are “missing.” We had already known what fate befell Nin, the outstanding leader of the P.O.U.M.: as even the New York Times was constrained to report, shortly after the outlawry of the P.O.U.M., Nin was incarcerated in one of the notorious “preventoriums” – private prisons of the G.P.U. – and taken out and executed by a G.P.U. murder squad. The Stalinists still have the effrontery to repeat that he “made his escape to fascist territory.”

A similiar Stalinist report about Rovira means that that gallant figure is dead at the hands of assassins. A man of little theoretical equipment, a supporter of the right wing in the party, he was, nevertheless, a fine example of a proletarian fighter. In the successful struggle to wipe out the fascist putsch in Catalonia, he, was in the forefront, and rose to be military commander of an army division after leading P.O.U.M. troops in the victorious assaults which wrested Monte Aragon and Estrecho Quinto from the fascists. Seized by the G.P.U. in July 1937 we know his terrible fate.

The section of the indictment which has been published indicates a typical Stalinist amalgam. That which the P.O.U.M. did – alas, only in words while in the main they attached themselves to the People’s Front, as in the entry of Nin in the Catalonian coalition cabinet of September 24 1936 – criticism of the government and the People’s Front, criticism of the Soviet Union’s policy, is “linked” to the utterly false assertion that P.O.U.M. collaborated with Hitler and Mussolini.

The main reason why the trial, is launched at this moment, is to muddy the waters of understanding of the process which led to the four-power move against antifascist Spain.

Like newborn innocents, the Stalinists report the four-power plan as if it were a veritable thunderbolt never suspected before. See, for example, the front-page story in the Daily Worker of October 8:

“London, Oct. 7 – Democracy’s hangman, Chamberlain, hopes to drag the Spanish Republic to the gallows after Czechoslovakia, it was learned here today.

“A diabolical scheme to blockade the Spanish Republic and foist a four-power dictatorship upon the Spanish people has been devised by Chamberlain’s pro-Nazi henchmen, it was learned here today.

“... This plan – already under discussion in Rome – provides for token withdrawal of 10,000 Italian infantrymen from Spain ... Then Franco – prompted by the four-powers – would show his ‘peaceful intention’ by proposing a ‘truce’ to the Spanish Government.

“This proposal for betrayal, in the British Tory view, would give the four-power line-up of Germany, Britain, and France an opportunity to ‘mediate’ and arrange a ‘settlement’ ...”

Fresh “Revelations”

The Stalinists pretend to be wide-eyed innocents, just discovering this monstrous business – “it was learned here today.” Far from being a new plan, however, this has been the scheme systematically propagated by the “great democracies,” England and France, since the very beginning of the Spanish civil war.

From the first the Socialist Appeal, and before that our former organ, Labor Action in California, raised the cry of warning against this impending betrayal by the “great democracies.”

The interested reader will find the relevant material, documented, in my Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Spain, which was completed in October 1937. Furthermore, our movement, both here and abroad, time and again put the question to the Stalinists, why they were silent on the preparations for the betrayal, why they did not even comment on the plain intimations appearing during the last two years in the capitalist press.

The Stalinists were silent, deliberately silent. They were silent because they were perfectly well-prepared to permit the suffocation of the anti-fascist cause in Spain, if in return there would remain some hope of securing for the Soviet Union a military alliance with France and England. Stalin’s Role

More than that, Stalin directly collaborated in the plans for this betrayal. The “non-intervention” apparatus, and the agreement for withdrawal by both sides of “foreign volunteers” were the necessary preconditions for the coming betrayal – what is to come is that an armistice will be imposed on the pretext that it is required in order to carry out the withdrawals of volunteers under the direction of the “non-intervention” committee. To all this Stalin agreed, as he was ready to agree to any infamy in return for a military alliance with England. At the time, in our published material on Spain, we pointed out the future consequences of this betrayal, and now, unfortunately, our predictions are coming true.

Only a few days ago the Stalinist hirelings in Spain were still dispatching to the Stalinist press everywhere cable dispatches bathed in faith in the “great democracies.” “If the world democracies answer this plea (for arms), Spain feels confident that it can prove to the world,” etc. etc. ... thus wrote the Daily Worker’s Barcelona correspondent (Daily Worker, September 27, 1938).

Pravda’s Admission

If anyone might still believe, in spite of the obvious evidence, that the Stalinists’ systematic propagation of faith in the “world democracies” was not conscious guile but honest obtuseness, then note what Pravda, Stalin’s personal organ, has to say on October 11:

“The old British plan of an ‘armistice’ between both sides in Spain has been taken out of the archives. Under pretext of organizing an armistice, it is intended to smuggle in recognition of Franco as a full-fledged belligerent power, to ‘legalize’ the existence of Franco’s puppet government.” (Daily Worker, October 12).

Between October 7, when “it was learned here today” what the British plan was, and October 11, the plan has become “the old British plan” which has now been “taken out of the archives.” The explanation for this contradiction is that the Stalinist press in the western world, aware of the difficulties of covering up the line of putting the fate of Spain into the hands of the “great democracies,” had to pretend naive surprise at the British .plan; while Pravda, writing for the bureaucrats in the U. S. S. R. and completely contemptuous of the Russian masses, cynically referred to the previous knowledge which the Russian bureaucracy and the Comintern apparatus had been in possession of all along concerning the Anglo-French-Italo-German plan.

This knowledge, criminally concealed while the workers of the world were taught by Stalin to put the fate of Spain and the fate of the world working class in the hands of the “great democracies,” Stalin now seeks to obscure, to muddy over, by organizing at this time the trial of the P.O.U.M. workers in Barcelona.

Last updated on 11 September 2014