N the course of an interview, the publication of which in France / has been officially banned, General Franco has explained some of the reasons why he criticised the Non-Intervention Committee's plan for the withdrawal of volunteers.
The full text of the interview has unfortunately not yet been made available by the Nationalist Press Agency in London. The brief reports to hand state that the General emphasised the fact that the Committee had not sufficiently studied the nature of conditions in Spain. He objected strongly to confining the withdrawal to European volunteers, whereas it was known that over 12,000 of the Red volunteers had been recruited from the New World, a fact confirmed by the number of nonEuropeans among the killed and prisoners in recent fighting. Having re-asserted his belief that an equitable withdrawal of volunteers would he to the Nationalist advantage and disastrous to the Republicans, General Franco emphasised that there could be no compromise in this war. " The only possible solution is the absolute victory of pure and eternal principles over bastard anti-Spanish ideology. Supporters of mediation favour a divided, subjugated, impoverished and materialistic Spain. Peace today would mean another war tomorrow."
The practical rejection of the Plan by the Nationalists which Contrasts with its acceptance by the Reds has naturally been interpreted in this country as yet another sign that Franco is in the wrong and that he cannot do without his foreign auxiliaries. The rejection, moreover, is associated with the slowness of recent progress on the part of the Nationalists, and Liberal and Labour papers are freely asserting that, but for the Germans and Italians, the Reds would now be well on the way to victory.
A glance at the map of Spain is enough to dispose of this absurd interpretation. More than two-thirds of the country is being held, as numberless hostile as well as friendly witnesses confirm, with a minimum of military or police protection.
In other words the Spanish conflict has entered upon a really new stage. Franco is now facing the heart of the Left revolution and the centres of internationally stimulated and helped resistance. Not only must he conquer a military force equal to his own, but, having conquered, he is faced with the problem of maintaining a largely hostile population in order and gradually bringing it to see that he has something better to offer than its Left or Autonomist leaders. His inability to do this quickly was the cause of the recent Ebro counterattack which in turn has held up the advance on Valencia.
At a difficult (though not critical, since there is no reason to suppose that Nationalist Spain itself is in the slightest danger) stage like this he is very naturally chary of accepting a Volunteer Withdrawal plan which denies him belligerent rights, the necessity for which becomes greater as the war continues, and through the holes of which Red volunteers in plenty can escape.
But undoubtedly much more serious than the question of withdrawal of volunteers, one way or another, is the problem of how far the Nationalists can now make real headway. The Generalissimo has taken the opportunity to declare that there can be no question of mediation or compromise, as indeed is evident to all who understand the true nature of the Nationalist cause, but these are words until Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid can be conquered. And even when that is accomplished the real work of creating a united and loyal Spain will only have begun.
One must at least face the possibility that the Spanish conflict is no where near its end and that the nature of its ending is still in some doubt. Franco cannot be beaten, but he may not be able to complete his victory.
N the course of an interview, the publication of which in France /