Fullest Interview Yet Given
GENERAL FRANCO HAS JUST GIVEN THE FULLEST INTERVIEW SINCE THE WAR STARTED TO A FRENCH JOURNALIST, RAYMOND RECOULY.
In it he not only prophesies victory, but describes in detail the course of the conflict and its origins.
Franco's story, the greater part of which is given below, reveals the modest and sensible nature of the Nationalist leader whose statements, in their simple dignity, ring true.
Lest readers be incredulous, an extract is added from a recent article from The Times special correspondent in Avila describing the present state of Nationalist Spain, a description that echoes Franco's words.
Asked how the Nationalist movement started, General Franco said: " The beginnings were simple enough. You know the words of Scripture : A woman, when she is in labour, hath sor
row.' Well, our Spanish Republic was brought forth into the world without sorrow, but rather with ease . . . with joy. One fine day it fell from Heaven—if Heaven may be said to have had anything to do with it! We had a republic without true republicans. For six years. after the ups and downs, in our country less suited than any other for the Parliamentary rdgime, the Republic has not ceased to accumulate destruction and ruin.
" The situation, already very bad, hebecame disastrous, desperate, after the success of the Popular Front last year," he continued. " All that Spain stood for, both in the past and the present, the grandeur, the nobility, the moral and material force of Spain, was gradually eliminated.
" Of true government, as the term is understood in civilised nations, none existed among us. Communists and Anarchists imposed upon us their will and law. Spain was about to pass wholly and entirely under a completely Soviet regime, to become a mere annex of the Komintern.
• A Soldier's Sentiments
" Under such conditions what was there fess us soldiers to do—officers who have always had at heart the future and salvation of the country?
" To act—or to perish with her. We had no other choice.
" We knew from absolutely certain sources that the most extreme parties. the Communists and Anarchists, had been closely allied for the last elections and that they were preparing a coup d'etat to instal themselves in power, definitely and officially.
"At the beginning of July the shocking assassination of Calvo Sotelo, longed for by the Government, left us in no further doubt. That was meant to be the first act in the Communist conquest.
" It was then that we decided to intervene, certain that not only the whole of the army, but the great majority of the country, the best. the sanest elements, would join with us."
Reasons for Early Defeats
"Why, then," Franco was asked, " was your success delayed, and why did it vary in different parts?"
"The chief reason." he replied, " was the defection of the navy, whose sailors. undermined by a criminal propaganda that went deeper than anyone suspected. revolted and savagely bestially massacred their officers.
" Our communications with Morocco, when I was able with-out difficulty to obtain the enthusiastic adhesion of the whole army, I were cut off by this naval mutiny. We lived then hours and days of anguish.
" The Government did its best to destroy the army's morale and weaken its discipline, and in a thousand petty ways to annoy and thwart the best officers, and it promoted ex. elusively men whom it believed to be its supporters.
At the time of our rising," he went on, " several officers in important government posts did not show the energy and eagerness necessary to support our action. They hesitated, and several of them went over to the other side. That is why we did not have equal success everywhere.
" Yet we must not be unjust.
"The men guilty of these weaknesses were for the most part very severely punished. Several days—in some cases, several hours--later. the Reds shot them without pity or discrimination.
The Real Tragedy
" As for those fighting in the Bolshevist army, do not forget (we do not) that they were in a difficult and really tragic position.
" The Government cleverly misled them with a deluge of false news, by assuring them that their victory was overwhelming and that the rising had everywhere been crushed. They allowed themselves to be convinced. Since then they have been obliged to stay with the Reds, most of them very unwillingly; besides many of them had wives and children in the Red zone, and the Reds were getting ready to kill them. We can understand their suffering, and we know that most of them are longing to join us."
" Our check at Madrid and Barcelona was especially serious," he added. "The bulk of our army and the arsenals, arms and munitions belonging to us were here. At first I was forced to transport the best of our troops. regiment by regiment, in aeroplanes, with their guns and rifles, and sometimes even their mountain artillery.
" Everything had to be organised. An army had to be built, hit by bit, and we had to make Seville our base; the country around it was infested with revolutionaries and at first our cornnuinications were most insecure.
Tribute to Helpers
" All this was organised. thanks to the energy and faith of my colleagues. We cleaned out the Seville region, captured Huelva, one of its ports, regained contact with Grenada, and rescued Cordova from the Reds who held its outskirts.
" We needed guns and armaments. in the North, General Mola, who has done wonders, was obliged to defend, because he had not enough cartridges to attack.
" As soon as our position improved a little. we drove a wedge towards Merida, captured Badajoz, in spite of its thick walls, and established contact with the Northern army. We took Extremadura, Oviedo and San Sebastian, and broke the Reds' cornmunications with France. We raised the siege of Toledo, and reached Madrid.
" Several arm-chair military critics have blamed me for my direct attack on the
capital, instead of surrounding it. But how could I at that time have surrounded it? I should have needed the men and material which I now have so abundantly.
" What I could not do then, I will do now, as I like, and in my own time. Our victory will be complete; from now on it is certain, and. I may say, very near.
" To prove this all you need to do is to remember certain facts which cannot be contradicted. because they are true. Look at the plan of campaign for the last seven months. Every time we have met them, we have beaten our enemies, and never once have they had the advantage of us. We have captured towns, provinces, and key positions, while they have not been able to retake even the smallest part of the territory they have lost. Our super iority on land, in the air. and at sea for the last few months has been overwhelming.
Order and Discipline
" You have just driven through nearly the whole of Nationalist Spain. You have seen for yourself the state of the country. There is order, discipline, activity and peace everywhere.
" Everybody is working as hard as possible in the fields and the factories. There is abundant food. The whole country is inspired by a wave of confidence and enthusiasm which will sweep every obstacle out of its path."
When hr was told that other countries thought that when he had Madrid he would have great difficulty in Catalonia, and would have to accept a compromise, the General answered: " A compromise? Never! There can be no compromise with a so-called Government under the orders of Russia. Besides, why do people believe that I shall have more difficulty with Catalonia than with any other part of Spain? Many Catalans, not only employers, but workers too, who earn big salaries and have no desire to have their factories destroyed, will hail our arrival with joy. We found our most determined adversaries not in Catalonia, but in the Asturias, where the revolutionary doctrines have caused most damage; yet we won out."
M. Recouly then asked the General about the organisation of Spain after his final victory.
"We will not have a parliamentary system again at any price," said Franco. " I do not know whether this system is suc cessful in other countries. One thing is certain. It is absolutely useless in Spain. Its introduction into Spain marked the beginning and was the cause of all our sorrows and strife.
" We are going to try to introduce a corporate system. showing, with differences, some analogy with those in force in Italy and Portugal."