The Grand Camouflage: The Communist Conspiracy in the Spanish Civil War

By Burnett Bolloten | Go to book overview

8
Concealing the Revolution

FOR a time the Popular Front policy met with appreciable success. In the early months of 1936, both in France and Spain, the Communists participated in general elections on a broad basis and helped to bring liberal governments into office, uniting not only with the Socialists, but also with the moderate parties.

That Germany should have viewed with alarm the success of a policy designed to establish an anti-German front by reinforcing and extending Russia's political and military ties with Western Europe is natural, but not until the outbreak of the revolt in Spain in July, 1936, did an opportunity arise, by direct intervention on the side of the rebellion, to counter this threat to her own plans.1 In going to the aid

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1
Contrary to the opinion widely held, no promises of German military aid were given to the organizers of the revolt prior to the outbreak of hostilities. According to the documents relating to Spain in the archives of the German Foreign Ministry, published in Washington by the Department of State, 1950, Hitler did not promise assistance until several days after the outbreak of the rebellion, when General Franco sent a German businessman resident in Spanish Morocco and the local Nazi leader to Germany to request planes and other support. -- Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918-1945. III. Germany and the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939, pp. 1-2. This request, to be sure, was promptly acceded to, for according to Nazi sources German airplanes were active on the side of General Franco in the first weeks of the war either in transporting Moors and Foreign Legionaries from Spanish Morocco to the mainland or in bombing operations. -- See Werner Beumelburg, Kampf um Spanien, pp. 22-9; Wulf Bley , Das Buch der Spanienflieger, pp. 23-7, 31-2; Max Graf Hoyos, Pedros y Pablos, pp. 15-22; Otto Schempp, Das autoritäre Spanien, pp. 69-71; Rud. Stache , Armee mit geheimeim Auftrag, pp. 10-26; Hannes Trautloft, Alsjagdflieger in Spanien, p. 29; official account of German intervention published in the German Press (as reported in the Daily Telegraph, May 31, 1939); special number of Die Wehrmacht entitled Wir Kdmpften in Spanien, issued in May, 1939, by the German High Command. According to the official account published in the German Press referred to above, the first armoured car detachment was sent out in October, 1936. It consisted of staff, two companies, and a transport company, and, in addition to taking part in the fighting, formed a school of instruction for Spaniards in the use of armoured cars, guns, and flame-throwers. In November, according to the same account, a complete air force corps arrived in Spain, composed of combat, pursuit, and reconnaissance planes, as well as intelligence and anti-aircraft detachments. In an article published in the special number of Die Wehrmacht, mentioned above, General Sperrle stated that six thousand five hundred German "volunteers" reached Spain at the beginning of November, 1936.

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