Britain Divided: The Effect of the Spanish Civil War on British Political Opinion

By K. W. Watkins | Go to book overview

3
Non-Intervention

The supreme farce of our time

Pandit Nehru1

THE third factor which contributed so much to the formation of British opinion, in addition to Britain's interests and the events in Spain, was the policy of non-intervention and the operation of the Non-Intervention Agreement.

On 2 August 1936 the French Cabinet proposed to the other Powers that a policy of non-intervention should be adopted towards the events in Spain. Under this agreement, the Powers would undertake not to supply arms, let alone men, to either of the contestants. The origin of the non-intervention policy and the extent to which different Powers individually contravened the Agreement, in violation of their solemn pledges, has been thoroughly documented by modern historians.2

The two aspects of non-intervention which are essential background material for a study of British opinion and the Spanish Civil War are: (1) What were the objective political factors from which such a policy could arise, and (2) the more complex one, why did Britain and France cling to the policy for the duration of the conflict when its bankruptcy was plain for all to see?


Background political factors

To those who lived through the Second World War and who today live under the shadow of the atom bomb, it is difficult to comprehend how both politicians and people who had lived

____________________
1
Pandit Nehru, Glimpses of World History ( London, 1942), p. 960.
2
Of particular interest are the works of Dr Cattell, the American historian, and Mr Hugh Thomas in Britain. These two historians have gone to the basic sources (e.g. the German Foreign Office Documents, the Carlist Archives, the United States Government Papers) and have fully analysed both the origins of non-intervention and the extent of its contravention by the individual Powers concerned. See Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War; D. T. Cattell, Communism and the Spanish Civil War and Soviet Diplomacy and the Spanish Civil War.

-71-

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Britain Divided: The Effect of the Spanish Civil War on British Political Opinion
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • I - British Interests and the Spanish Civil War 1
  • 2 - Image and Reality 13
  • 3 - Non-Intervention 71
  • 4 - The British Right 83
  • 5 - The British Left 141
  • 6 - Spain and the Second World War 196
  • 7 - 'Conflicts -- Resolved and Unresolved' 202
  • Conclusion 234
  • Postscript 237
  • Appendix A 239
  • Appendix B 245
  • Appendix C 246
  • Appendix D 248
  • Appendix E 249
  • Appendix F 252
  • Bibliography 255
  • Index 262
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