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

By Burnett Bolloten | Go to book overview

15
The Police

IT has already been shown early in this volume that the police power of the Republic crumbled under the impact of the military rebellion and the social revolution. The Civil Guard, the secret police, and the Assault Guards disintegrated as a result of wholesale desertions to the rebel cause and the taking over of police functions by militia units improvised by the left-wing organizations. These forces, declared Angel Galarza, Minister of the Interior in the Caballero government, "either well or badly, efficiently or inefficiently, some in absolute good faith, others driven by base ambitions and evil instincts, performed a function in the rear...," and "were the only forces that at one time could be used against the fascists in the towns and villages."1

With only the bare remnants of the Republican police corps at its disposal,2 the liberal government formed by José Giral on July 19, 1936, was impotent in face of the revolutionary terror exercised by the working-class organizations through their police squads and patrols, which carried out searches, arrests and summary executions.3 Nor

____________________
1
Speech reported in La Correspondencia de Valencia, August 5, 1937. "Fascism in the rear areas," wrote Politica ( September 18, 1936), the organ of the Left Republican Party, "has been put down principally as a result of the intelligent and skilful work of the militia."
2
See pp. 36-7, above.
3
In Madrid, according to Arturo Barea, a Socialist, each of the branches and groups of the trade unions and political parties set up "its own police, its own prison, its own executioners, and a special place for its executions." -- The Forging of a Rebel, p. 536. For testimony by opponents of the military rebellion on the excesses committed by the Left during this early period of revolutionary terror, see speech by Wenceslao Carrillo, La Correspondencia de Valencia, August 4, 1937; Juan José Domenichina in Hoy, November 30, 1940; Galíndez, Los vascos en el Madrid sitiado, pp. 15-19, 42-3, 67-9; Miguel Peydro in Correo de Asturias, January 25, 1941; Indalecio Prieto, ibid., August 15, 1942; Sánchez Roca , interview published in Solidaridad Obrera, September 17, 1937; Zugazagoitia , Historia de la guerra en España, pp. 111-12.

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