Eyewitness Report Of Spain's Tragedy
[The following account of the beginning of the Red Terror in Spain has been sent by an eyewitness. an Italian schoolteacher whose work, it will be seen, was rudely and unexpectedly interrupted at the commencement of operations. For personal reasons all proper names have been otuitted.—Editor.] In the afternoon of July 18 I was sitting, as usual, in the garden of the house where I was lodging, happy to be alive amidst so much beauty and at peace, because my pupils were doing their home work.
Suddenly there came the sound of shots and in a short time the atmosphere was completely disrupted.
Our telephone rang almost continuously. With field-glasses we could see many lorries pass with armed Reds. In the streets men with rifles and revolvers; women with loose hair hanging about distorted faces; they went about like hyenas, gripping daggers, butchers' knives. All of a sudden on many houses appeared the letters U.H.P. with hammer and sickle smeared on house fronts and on tramcars.
The Rule of Anarchy
Now began a time where one forgot all about days and dates.
Hunted men and women, also some soldiers, halted at our little house one morning to ask for a drink of water, and then silently went to hide inthe hills. The number of the Reds increased continuously, soon we heard that — was entirely in their hands.
One morning I went into town, dressed as a peasant woman. A few tramcars were still running, smeared profusely with the Soviet emblems and the letters U.H.P.
On leaving the cottage I saw nothing but destruction. All the villas which only the day before had been standing were nothing now but a heap of ruins. The families who had lived there were dead or had fled.
turned into the main street, which had been the finest part of the town; now one house after another nothing remained but the outer walls. The frightful explosions of the large benzine canisters which the Reds had placed inside each blazing building had destroyed them entirely : no doors, no roof, no windows were left.
Horror stared out from all these empty houses; to the left, to the right, wherever you looked, nothing but destruction. An old gardener was watering the flower-beds before a ruined house (from life-long custom).
As a foreigner 1 had become a menace to the safety of the people with whom I had been living, so I got into touch with the Italian Consul who took me into his house.
He and the other Consuls did tremendous work and saved many members of the Spanish nobility and clergy.
Young Spanish Nationalists were brought to the house by the most adventurous means, over the roofs, often in disguise. I myself guided two young men who had been hiding in huts on the beach for ten days. I had known them before and admired their beautiful home. Now they stood before me in rags, dirty and unkempt
Our telephone was being tapped, so we invented quite a harmless conversation by which we were able to make known to the relatives of our guests that they were safe and advise them about the plans of escape.
The Scarlet Pimpernel
There was much excitement those days; English, German, Italian boats arrived in the harbour. This meant that the Consul would try by all possible means to get some of the fugitives on board. He did not always succeed. Sometimes these poor people were shot down two yards from the foreign tender that would have meant salvation. A well-known Spaniard who was dressed as a nursemaid carrying the Consul's son in his arms was recognised and shot down on the quay. 'Planes droned daily overhead.
Every day people in hiding were successfully taken on board foreign boats by the Consul, who was known as the Scarlet Pimpernel.
Murder and Torture
We heard, all the time, of the most abominable cruelties perpetrated by the Reds. The director of the cement factory was dragged from his house to the houses of each of his workmen and these were told to have a good look at him as they were seeing their director for the last time. Then, after fiendish tortures he was finally shot. In another case a father and son, highly esteemed people, were taken from their house at night. They were murdered.
Old and young women, priests, nuns, were led by force out of their houses and convents and taken for " a little walk," tortured and finally murdered.
On August 12, the Italian Consul received an order from his Government to leave at once with the rest of the Italian colony. He left the following morning on an Italian warship and landed after a few hours at --. We fugitives were most cordially welcomed and taken to the Italian schools.