Rebels’ Gains Laid to Foreigners’ Aid

Montreal Gazette/October 30, 1936

Uncensored Report Shows Italians, Germans and Moors Are Franco’s Mainstays

His Cause is Unpopular

Insurgent Command Has Launched New Terror Against Loyalist Opposition Behind the Lines

That General Francisco Franco is concentrating the main body of his troops south and west of Madrid and intends to launch an attack there soon, even if northern Escorial and Guadalajara do not fall, is indicated by the latest reports from the front.

But the insurgent army, which, step by step, is beating its way to the capital itself, is not the same as that which began the revolution. The backbone of General Franco’s army is now foreign: Italian, German and Moorish.

Italian and German planes numbering over 100; Italian tanks numbering over 40; and Moorish troops equipped with foreign bullets have been able to smash Madrid’s elaborately prepared defences while Italian offices in their own country’s uniforms are now to be seen in many parts of General Franco’s lines. That Madrid received French and Russian help is undoubted; but this aid has been neither as complete nor effective as that vouchsafed the insurgents by the others.

Arriving in London from the war area, it is possible for this writer for the first time to give information indicating the scope of foreign activities in Spain, which are scarcely realized abroad. It was impossible to send this from Spain or Portugal, which is as much a part of the war zone as Spain itself, with all news referring to the Spanish revolution censored and one American correspondent jailed nine days for getting around the rigid Portuguese control.

To indicate the number of airplanes General Franco has received from Germany and Italy, together with pilots, it is only necessary to cite the rebels themselves. The Corunna radio recently announced 160 insurgent planes flew over the capital. These figures speak for themselves when it is recalled that General Franco had 15 planes as a maximum when the revolution began.

Journalists Threatened

Actually, these planes now are to be seen in any part of the insurgent zone one may visit and their foreign pilots make no bones about their activities. Correspondents in Spain know certain arrest awaits them if they go into these details and those who it is feared may talk are arrested for some days, intimidated and then released.

Italian tanks of the Whippet type and Fiats capable of making high speed were brought in by way of Corunna and also Cadiz and by way of Seville to the front where the insurgents now permit correspondents to report on their activities but not whence they came or by whom they are manned. Bullets of the type needed for the special calibre insurgent rifles and new rifles and machine-guns have been shipped from the free port of Hamburg to Vigo and other ports, as many independent foreign observers can testify.

Meanwhile, so violent has been the sniping and guerrilla warfare back of General Franco’s lines that in the past ten days he has inaugurated a new reign of terror along the whole rebel line from Maqueda near Madrid through Talavera de la Reina to Badajoz. Detailed information of the approximate number of Leftists thus slaughtered is in the hands of at least one disinterested foreign government whose name it is impossible to reveal now.

What Italy and Germany hope to get out of this aid is by no means certain, but there is every reason for those who have been on the spot in Spain to believe that it has not been given merely to establish another friendly Fascist power in Europe. There is some basis for connecting General Hermann Goering’s statement about Germany’s need for colonies yesterday with the Spanish situation, although it is possible General Franco will not keep whatever pledges he has made.

Intrigue In Lisbon

In Lisbon for two weeks this writer was surrounded by Italian, British and other Secret Service agents and the whole atmosphere of the Portuguese capital was one of intense intrigue. There was little doubt among those watching activities that Portugal’s action in breaking diplomatic relations with Madrid represented a success of Italian and German pressure and a defeat for British diplomacy.

It is no longer necessary for the insurgents to ship war materials by way of Portugal and for some weeks none has been so transferred, but the Portuguese, despite official denials, still are permitting Spanish Rightists to come over the border into Elvas at night and seize Spanish Leftists who are dragged back into Spain for execution.

Every dispatch this writer sent from Portugal which referred to the Spanish situation was carefully censored and, in fact, the Portuguese were a good deal more stringent about such messages than those referring to their own country. The Portuguese secret police frequently telephone correspondents, asking them to delete words from messages and certain time in jail hangs over those who do not write carefully and with a pro-rebel bias.

Whatever the rights or wrongs of the Spanish situation may be, whether the Leftists indeed represent Communism, which is doubtful, an impartial observer is forced to the conclusion that General Franco’s movement is extremely unpopular with the bulk of the people, who regard it as an attempt by the privileged class to turn the clock back. Only foreign aid has made the rebel success to date possible.

(Source: Google News,,3699388)