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

By Burnett Bolloten | Go to book overview

22
Honeycombing the Army

I MPORTANT though the Fifth Regiment was to the Communist Party as an element of armed power, there were potent reasons of a political as well as of a military nature why it soon proposed that the independent party and trade union militia should be incorporated into a government-controlled force. Not only did it hold that the war could not be carried through to victory without a single command that could decide on the disposition and manner of employment of all the fighting forces-in default of which there could be neither an organized army nor any planned strategy-but it knew that as long as the parties and trade unions possessed their own militia under the control of their own leaders, that as long as these forces had not been fused into a regular army consolidated by the power of discipline and authority, an army of whose levers of command it aimed to secure control, it could never be the ruling force in the anti-Franco zone, determining, behind the curtain of democratic institutions, its domestic and foreign policies.

During the life of the Giral Cabinet, it will be recalled, the Communists had refrained from calling for the merging of the militia into a government-controlled army because of the Caballero Socialists' distrust of that Cabinet's intentions,1 but once Largo Caballero himself was at the helm they could do so without equivocation.2 Indeed, it was in no small degree due to the insistence of the Communist minister and the Soviet military advisers who, in urging their demands, made full use of the succession of defeats on the central front -- highlighted on September 27 by the capture of Toledo, fifty-one miles from the capital-that measures were promulgated providing for the militarization of the militia and the creation of a military force, or People's Army, as it was called, on a conscripted basis and under the supreme

____________________
1
See p. 207, above.
2
See, for example, Mundo Obrero, September 17, 1936.

-226-

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