Current Issue
Next Issue
Back Issues
Marxist Theory
Socialist History
Left Politics
Left Groups
New Interventions
Islamophobia Watch

The Communists and the Spanish Civil War

Luis Araquistáin

This article was originally published in three parts in the New York Times (19, 21 May and 4 June 1939), shortly after the Spanish Republic’s final defeat at the hands of Franco’s forces. The author was the Republic’s ambassador to France in 1936-7. As the leading theoretician of the left wing of the Spanish Socialist Party, Araquistáin was a close collaborator of Francisco Largo Caballero, whose dismissal as Prime Minister, engineered by the Communists, forms a central theme of this critique of the role of Stalinism in the Spanish Civil War.

SOON AFTER the beginning of the military insurrection against the Spanish Republic in July of 1938, the name of Francisco Largo Caballero, the most popular Socialist leader Spain, was being acclaimed in workers’ meetings and at the fronts with the addition of "the Spanish Lenin". The order to use this qualifying phrase came from Moscow.

The Communists needed a figurehead with prestige in Spain. In their own party there was not one outstanding intellectual, political or labor personality. The mental or moral level of its own best-known men and women – José Díaz, Jesús Hernández, Vincente Uribe, "La Pasionaria", Margarita Nelken – was too low. They aspired to be directors of the Spanish tragedy on the Republican side, while other men, of other parties, would be the visible actors.

The chief role in the cast was assigned to Señor Largo Caballero. They gave him a grand title: that of "the Spanish Lenin". That was the greatest honor they could bestow upon a man who was not a Communist.

A few months later, at the beginning of 1937, the Communists started to pull down the man they themselves has raised to the clouds. The idol they had manufactured was made of clay. The man they had chosen for his diamantine character, for his energy as a ruler, for his popularity as a leader of the masses, became exactly the opposite – a weak old man, vacillating, without roots in the working class.

Why this sudden change? Nothing could be simpler. "The Spanish Lenin" had turned out to be excessively Leninian, too personal and independent, a Spaniard who wanted to govern his country according to the spirit and interests of his fatherland and not to the dictates of a policy placed at the service of a foreign nation.

That and no other was the meaning of the May 1937 crisis, in which Dr Juan Negrín replaced Señor Largo Caballero in the Premiership. It meant the triumph of the Communist policy in Spain. But the day of that crisis was the day the war was lost for the Republic.

The Spanish war has been lost through the fault of the Communists. Did they really want to win it?

The first conflict between Señor Largo Caballero and the Communists hinged on the political commissars of the army. One day, Premier Largo Caballero learned that, without consulting him, though he was also Minister of War, the commissar-general, Julio Alvarez del Vayo, who was also Foreign Minister, had appointed hundreds of political commissars in the Republican Army. The idea of the political commissars had also been imported from Soviet Russia.

The Communists wanted to have a monopoly on commissars, not to educate and inflame the soldiers, but to compel them to enrol in the party, offering them advantages and promotions if they did and persecuting them by every means – including attempts against their lives – if they refused. From the first moment, the Communists were the most privileged part, the aristocracy, of the Republican Army. For that they made use of the political commissars and for that Señor Alvarez del Vayo appointed them.

Señor Largo Caballero canceled those appointments that had been made behind his back and in favor almost exclusively of the Communist party – that is to say, of Soviet policy in Spain. On that day the Socialist leader signed his death warrant as head of the government. The Communists wanted a "Spanish Lenin" not of flesh and blood but of straw.

It will surprise some that Señor Alvarez del Vayo, a Socialist, should lend himself to this policy of favoring communism. But for those of us who know him from long ago there is nothing surprising in it. Since much before the war his conduct was that of a perfect "libellatic". (In the early days of Christianity the word "libellatic" was applied to those who, being already Christians, displayed a "libel", or certificate, attesting that they worshipped the pagan idols.) That is, he was a Communist without officially having ceased to belong to the Socialist party. His body belonged to this party; his heart, to communism.

All of us who have had some contact with the Communists know this tactic of stimulating the ambitions and flattering those they want to seduce. When I was Ambassador in Paris a certain agent of the Comintern used to come every day to offer me I don’t know how many political and social kingdoms in Spain. Finally, one day, tiring of so much adulation, I ended by saying to him: "Don’t tire yourself. Neither am I Macbeth, nor do I believe in witches." Señor Alvarez del Vayo leant an ear to the witches of communism and offered himself as the Macbeth of the Spanish proletariat. He would sacrifice his own party and the Spanish people, if necessary, to serve Soviet Russia. He would be king of revolutionary Spain, the political and labor heir of Señor Largo Caballero, the supreme leader of the Spanish workers united in a single labor party controlled by the Communists.

This labor of unification – that is to say, of absorption of the Socialist proletariat by Communism – had its start in the youth groups. One had to unify the Socialist and the Communist youth.

The preparatory operations were conducted in the home of Señor Alvarez del Vayo. I lived in Madrid one floor above Señor Alvarez del Vayo and could witness the daily visits made to him by young Socialist leaders with the purpose of interviewing the Comintern agent then operating in Spain, one Codovila, who used the false name of Medina and spoke Spanish with a strong South American accent. There it was arranged to deliver the Socialist youth, the new working generation of Spain, to Soviet communism.

That happened during the first few months of 1936. Communism being the chief reason for the disaster of Republican Spain, the responsibility of Señor Alvarez del Vayo, instrument of the Communist party, is one of the greatest.


*  *  *  *


FROM MY vantage point of the Paris Embassy I could notice with surprise that already at the beginning of 1937 some liberal newspapers of London, which let themselves be inspired more or less by Communists or Communist sympathizers, began to print pictures and eulogies of Dr Juan Negrín, then Minister of the Treasury, without any visible reason. The hidden motive was that in Moscow he had been selected as successor to Spanish Premier Largo Caballero. Dr Negrín held the chair of physiology at the Madrid School of Medicine and belonged to the Socialist party. But, as he was neither politically nor scientifically known outside of Spain – and in Spain only within a very limited university circle – they had to prepare international opinion and manufacture quickly a statesman’s reputation for him. The Communists are masters in the art of artificially creating representative men.

Once it was proved that Señor Largo Caballero would not consent to be a docile instrument of Moscow’s policy in Spain, it became urgent to put him out of the way. The final proof of his independence was had by the Communists when , after the May 1937 insurrection in Barcelona, they invited him to dissolve the POUM (Workers’ party for Marxist Unification), accused of Trotskyism. "I won’t dissolve any workers’ party!" Señor Largo Caballero replied categorically.

There was another reason for throwing him overboard. For months Señor Largo Caballero had been preparing a military operation in Estremadura, in the west of Spain. The idea was to cut the line of communication of the rebel army with the south, whence it received constantly reinforcements of Italian and Moroccan troops.

The success of that operation, splitting the enemy into two unconnected parts and depriving him of the foreign troops and war material that entered through the ports near the Strait of Gibraltar, could have changed completely the course of the campaign. The north could have been saved, all Andalusia could have been recovered. In any event, General Franco’s victory could not have been so quick nor so decisive, and there would have been propitious circumstances to negotiate a diplomatic peace.

Everything was ready for the drive, scheduled for the middle of May. At the last moment some army resistance had to be overcome. General José Miaja, who was ordered to send some of the Madrid troops to the Estremadura sector, refused at first. His disobedience was inspired by the Communists, who were then General Miaja’s real chiefs and who made of him – an officer of very limited ability – a great international figure. In the end General Miaja had to desist of his undiscipline in the face of the energetic attitude taken by Señor Largo Caballero, and the required troops were provided.

But, suddenly, very shortly before the schedule for the offensive, in the midst of a Cabinet meeting, the Ministers of Agriculture, Communists both, submitted their resignations under some excuse or other. Señor Largo Caballero went to see President Mañuel Azaña and submitted the resignation of the whole Cabinet. At the same time he told him about the operation that was being prepared, lamenting the fact that the Communists provoked a crisis at such an inopportune moment.

President Azaña begged Señor Largo Caballero to continue at the head of the government until the operation was carried out, saying that if the Communists insisted on resigning the Cabinet would be reorganized without the help of the party. Señor Largo Caballero accepted, and returned to his office, resolved, like President Azaña, to eliminate the Communists from the government. If this plan had been successful, the fate of the war would have been changed entirely.

Having heard – perhaps through President Azaña himself, who used to be in constant communication with Indalecio Prieto, Socialist Minister of the Navy and the Air – about President Azaña’s conference with Señor Largo Caballero, a few hours later two Socialist Ministers presented themselves at the latter’s offices. Dr Negrín was one of them. They told him that, in view of the attitude of the Communist Ministers and bearing in mind that under the circumstances the government could not do without the Communist party, the two of them, and Señor Prieto also, were resigning.

The manoeuvre was clear. The three Centrist Ministers (that was Señor Prieto’s affiliation) were declaring their solidarity with the Communists for the purpose of eliminating Señor Largo Caballero. It was necessary to stop his Estremadura operation, lest it be successful. This state of mind was expressed by Simeon Vidarte, a Socialist Deputy who belonged to Señor Prieto’s group, with these candid words: "If Largo Caballero is successful in that offensive, nobody will be able to throw him out of the government." That is the way they thought they would win the war.

Señor Largo Caballero had no alternative but to resign definitively. Before that they proposed to him that he remain as President of the Council of Ministers, with the excuse that that post and the one of Minister of War were too much for one man. That this was a pretext was shown by the fact that later Dr Negrín accumulated in his hands the Presidency of the Cabinet, the Ministry of Defense (in which had been consolidated those of War, Navy and Air) and, practically, that of the treasury, nominally headed by an old functionary of that department.

The three Under-Secretaryships of defense (War, Navy and Air) were held by three Communists. Dr Negrín did not tolerate at his side any but insignificant men. On one occasion, when Julio Alvarez del Vayo again held the Foreign Relations portfolio, after a few months of estrangement, President Azaña, who had a very poor opinion of Dr Negrín’s intelligence, asked the latter why he had appointed Señor Alvarez del Vayo. Dr Negrín replied, "Because I haven’t found anyone dumber than he is." That was the way the war was conducted in Republican Spain.

Señor Largo Caballero understood that the idea was to make of him a figurehead for the Republican ship of state, a kind of Kalinin or Molotoff, and, as he is not a man for that sort of decorative role, he resolutely insisted on his resignation. Thereby was destroyed forever the kind of sacred union which, around Señor Largo Caballero and on his initiative, when organizing his Cabinet in September 1936, had been instituted by all the parties and labor organizations. The war was lost. Was that what the Communists wanted when they split the Republican forces through their frantic struggle for domination over the government and the army?

It may be asked: "How did the Spanish people, especially the working class, tolerate the fact that the man who had been president of the Socialist party and was still secretary of the formidable UGT (General Union of Workers), with over two million members; the idol for many years of Spanish workers, especially since 1933; the man with the best qualifications of intelligence, willpower and purity that there was in Spain for the conduct of the war – the granite and incorruptible Largo Caballero – was thrown out of the government like a disloyal domestic, without protest from anyone but a half-dozen friends?"

The explanation is twofold. On the one hand it was not possible to inform the people about what had transpired and about the tragedy toward which the Communists were dragging them, with the help of agents in other parties. Señor Largo Caballero spoke at a Madrid theatre in the Summer of 1937. His speech was the first of a series he planned to deliver throughout Republican Spain. But it was also the last. The Negrín government forbade him to continue his campaign and, one day, when he was on his way from Valencia to Alicante, Dr Negrín had him arrested and confined to his residence in Valencia.

The whole press was in the hands of the government, which is to say the Communists, or gagged by official censorship, a function also controlled by the Communists. We had a newspaper in Madrid, Claridad, founded by myself. It was expropriated at the suggestion of the Communists. We had another in Valencia; it was seized by the Minister of the Interior, the Socialist Zugazagoitia.

The most vital Ministries, from the point of view of the war, were dominated by the Communists. I have pointed out before how the Ministry of Defense, nominally headed by Dr Negrín, was in fact directed by the three Under-Secretaries of War, Navy and Air, all Communists. In the one of foreign relations, held apparently by Señor Alvarez del Vayo, the principal departments were directed by Communists.

In the Under-Secretariat of Propaganda, more than 90 per cent of the functionaries – and they were about 500, most of them hiding there to avoid serving at the front – were Communists. The propaganda carried out abroad only sang the praises of Dr Negrín, Señor Alvarez del Vayo and the Communists. The Chief of the Cypher Bureau was a Communist, so that all the secret communications received by the Republic from abroad were known sooner to the Russia Embassy than to the Spanish Government itself.

Communism was a State within a State, at the service, naturally – and that is the gravest part of it – of a foreign country.

Besides, if any labor group criticised those acts of dictatorship, it was silenced by telling it that, above all, "the war had to be won" and so all personal differences and all freedom of opinion had to be sacrificed. The Russian-help blackmail was constantly used. So that the Soviet Union would continue to send us war material, it was necessary to eliminate the men on whom the Communists placed their veto. In fact, in the last months of the Largo Caballero government, supplies arrived scantily and in bad condition.

Once the Negrín Cabinet was organized, Russia resumed her shipments with regularity. Months later this trick was used again to shake off Señor Prieto, the Defense Minister, who was thus repaid his services to communism during the crisis of May 1937. Señor Prieto is another of the great reasons for the defeat. In the last weeks of his office, Russian supplies also began to be scarce. As soon as he was fired – like a maid who talks back – in the Spring of 1938, Russian materials began coming in as usual.

But, really, the Soviet war material was never sufficient. Why? This is an enigma that only future historians will be able, perhaps, to clarify. Russia’s policy in Spain during the war was anything but clear. It can only be interpreted through conjectures.

One hypothesis, if correct, would confirm the suspicions that some of us Spaniards had as early as 1937, that Joseph Stalin did not want us to win the war because that would have exasperated Chancellor Hitler – otherwise his help would have been more copious and sufficient. Nor did he want is to lose it too soon, because, once the Spanish conflict was liquidated, Herr Hitler would have greater freedom of action to carry out his policy of aggression in Eastern Europe and even against the Soviet Union. Mr Stalin simply wanted to prolong our war sine die, to keep Premier Mussolini and Hitler busy and force the latter, in the end, to come to an understanding with the USSR. In the Spanish war he saw only a diversion.


*  *  *  *


THE PROBATIVE testimony concerning control by the Communist party – that is to say by the Soviet State – over the Spanish State during the civil war forms an immense mass of verbal and written matter.

At least 80 per cent of the Spanish Republicans can vouch for this fact, which was tolerated because of the cunning argument (really a form of blackmail) that, unless the policy favoured by Russia was adopted in Spain, Russia would cease selling war material to the Republic, as actually was done whenever Russia wished the dismissal of members of the government or military or civil officials in the bad graces of the Soviet Union.

This personal testimony has started to appear and will continue to appear in the press and in books, and the world will be amazed at the truth of what happened in Republican Spain.

On the other hand, documentary proofs of this policy of interference are still extremely scarce, and we shall have to wait for internal political changes and the pacifying action of historical time to permit the opening of the archives and a search for the truth more or less derived from diplomatic instruments and the confidences of special agents.

By good chance I have come into possession of two documents which clearly prove Soviet interference in Spanish affairs and which may be unique in their class, because their authors are distinguished by extreme caution in their dealings and relations with other countries. These documents are two letters signed by Joseph Stalin, Premier Vyacheslaff Molotoff and War Commissar Klementy Voroshiloff and sent by those gentlemen to the then President of the Spanish Cabinet, Franciso Largo Caballero. But their significance and transcendency would not be correctly understood without an explanation of the antecedents giving rise to these letters and the intimate sense of their wording.

The first letter, dated Moscow, Dec. 31, 1936, was brought to Spain by the Soviet Ambassador, Marcel Rosenberg, on his return from a journey he made to Russia, no doubt to inform his government of the political and military situation in Spain. The relations between the two countries were even then strained, precisely because of the interference, discovered more and more each day, by the Russian civil and military agents in the affairs of the Spanish government, especially where its head, Señor Largo Caballero, was concerned, in the conduct of the war and, to an even more marked extent, in the control of the army.

Señor Largo Caballero did not disguise his distaste for this importuning. On one occasion he was obliged to break off violently an interview with Mr Rosenberg and virtually to dismiss him for his impertinent insistence on the dismissal of General José Asensio.

Mr Rosenberg went to Moscow shortly before this scene, evidently to give an account of the tenseness of the situation. The spontaneous letter from Messrs Stalin, Molotoff and Voroshiloff was the reply to the information carried by Mr Rosenberg. The blunt question whether the Ambassador was or was not to continue to be persona non grata to the Spanish Government proves that Mr Rosenberg, or one of his numerous Soviet agents in Spain, had given the Russian rulers full details of the Spaniards’ discontent.

It is probable that Mr Rosenberg described Señor Largo Caballero as a man who, by his personality and character, would never lend himself as a docile tool of Russian policy. The former Soviet general, W.G. Krivitsky, relates in the Saturday Evening Post (April 13, 1939) that as early as December 1936 the Soviet authorities had agreed to dispense with Señor Largo Caballero. Shortly after his government had been formed in September 1936, the Russian Ambassador presented to it a serving Soviet general, stating that he was the military attaché of the embassy and offering his professional services.

Later on, fresh "auxiliaries" sprang up spontaneously, without being asked for, and introduced themselves motu proprio into the military staff and army corps, where they gave orders at will. This caused much disorganisation and discontent among the Spanish forces, not only because they were foreigners but because of their manifest and immense incompetence.

The authors of the letter state that the categorical orders received by the Soviet soldiers who had gone to Spain were to act simply as advisers to the Spanish forces, and nothing more. It is doubtful, to say the least, whether such orders existed. In view of the iron discipline of the Russian soldiers, they would have obeyed implicitly, instead of behaving, as they di, in constant and open insubordination and independence, not only toward the Spanish military leaders, but even toward the highest authorities of the Republic, throughout the war.

The air forces, directed by the Russians, operated when and where they pleased, without any coordination with the land and sea forces. The Navy and Air Minister, Indalecio Prieto, cynical and humble, made fun of his office to anyone who visited him, declaring he was not Minister of anything, because he received no obedience from the air force. The real Minister for Air was the Russian General Duglas.

Many operations of disastrous consequences, like those of Brunete, Teruel and others, were carried out through the imposition of the Russian "advisers" against the opinion of the more competent Spanish soldiers. And when the Spanish Government prepared an operation that was not to the liking of these advisers, or which they claimed conflicted with their interests, they boycotted it, as happened in the case of the action planned at Merida.

Because he would not agree to use in this action units commanded by Communists, Señor Largo Caballero, then Minister of War, was unable to obtain the dispatch of the brigades that he desired by General José Miaja, who at the time was a Communist and obeyed only the orders of the Russian staff. The air force, entirely under the control of the Russians, likewise refused him its cooperation. Thus the Soviet soldiers obeyed Moscow’s "instructions" both before and after December 1936.

As a last resource they threatened to abandon Spain. I have here the unchallengeable testimony of Señor Largo Caballero himself, related in a book as yet unpublished:

"The Spanish Government", he writes, "and, in particular, the Minister responsible for the conduct of operations, as well as the general staff, particularly at headquarters, were not able to proceed with absolute independence because they were obliged to submit, against their will, to irresponsible outside interference, without being able to free themselves from it under pain of jeopardizing the assistance that Russia was giving us through the sale of war material.

"On some occasions, on the pretext that their orders were not being carried out with punctuality that they desired, the Russian Embassy and generals permitted themselves to acquaint me with their displeasure, declaring that if we did not consider their cooperation necessary we should tell them so plainly, so that they could notify their government and take their departure."

This threat was also implied in Mr Stalin’s first letter. The letter is knowingly misleading: the soldiers that arrived from Moscow were not obliging advisers, but despotic dictators – plus, as already stated, an astounding incompetence. Such mental war equipment was not the most suitable for winning the war, or even for prolonging it for long.

But all the blame must not be thrown on the Russian soldiers. Behind them were the innumerable political agents who were disguised as commercial agents and were in real control of the Spanish politics. Nothing is said of them in the letter, and their presence was also not requested by any government in Spain. They came alone, and few Spaniards were aware of their existence and if their operations in the dark.

They directed the Russian soldiers, the Communist party, and Mr Rosenberg himself, who in reality was only an ambassador of straw. The real ambassadors were these mysterious men working under direct orders from the Kremlin and from the Russian police.

Señor Largo Caballero was able to advise a change of scene for Mr Rosenberg; but it was these men, the pseudonymous agents of Mr Stalin, who prepared the downfall of Señor Largo Caballero and his replacement by a man more amenable to the advice expressed in the letter and much other tacit advice, or to counsels conveyed in other circumstances and through other channels. This man of destiny was Juan Negrín.

At the very beginning of the letter Señor Largo Caballero is addressed on the policy that Spain is to follow. The Spanish revolution must not imitate the Russian; it must be parliamentarian.

Then follow the four counsels, likewise not requested by anybody: attract the peasants, whom nobody was driving away; attract the small and middle-class bourgeois, avoiding confiscations and not following Russia’s example on this point; pacify the Republican leaders in order to collaborate in the government and to make it impossible to say that Spain is a Communist republic; appease foreign capital. To sum up: a policy of the Popular Front; an apparently democratic policy controlled by a dictatorship, more or less effective or concealed, by the Communist party.

The second letter, dated Feb. 4, 1937, is more reserved, for the reason stated in it: because the Spanish Ambassador in Moscow, Marcelino Pascua, offered to take to Señor Largo Caballero particulars of his conversation with the Russian leaders for the purpose of a reply by the head of the Spanish Government to the first letter. I am inclined to believe it was these leaders who ordered him to make the journey to Spain, in order to avoid the risks of indiscretion and loss of a fresh letter. Consequently the Spanish Government did not recall him, so Señor Largo Caballero told me, his journey was made on Mr Stalin’s instructions.

Señor Pascua went to Spain mainly to discuss with Señor Largo Caballero the questions of gold and of the unification of the Socialist and Communist parties. The Russian plan, passionately adhered to throughout the war, was to fuse the two parties. The new party would be called the United Socialist party, as was done in Catalonia; but, in reality, it would be a Communist party, controlled and directed by the Communist International and by the Soviet authorities. The name would deceive the Spanish workers, and it was hoped that it would not alarm the Western powers.

Mr Stalin fervently desired Señor Largo Caballero, in view of his power and his enormous authority in the Socialist party, to bring about the absorption of the latter by the Communist party. Señor Largo Caballero replied that he did not think the moment had come for unification, owing to the proselytic efforts of the Communists, which were so troublesome to the Socialists. Señor Pascua carried this categorical reply to Moscow.

This was only one proof that Señor Largo Caballero did not suit the purposes of Moscow. The failure to unite the two parties rendered impossible the complete domination of Spain by the Communist party. That was the reason the Spanish people could be stirred up against the Negrín government in the last stages of the war, owing to the decisive intervention made in this movement of independence by the Socialist party of Madrid.

There were no more letter. What purpose could they serve? But those now published, together with the foregoing explanations, may give grounds for reflection to those who read them. For a long time to come the Spanish war will provide ample and invaluable instruction to those individuals who are not desirous of compromising the sovereignty, the blood and the wealth of their country.



Communications of Stalin and Aides to Spanish Premier

Following is a translation from the French – the language of diplomacy – of two letters signed by Joseph Stalin, Premier Vyacheslaff Molotoff and War Commissar Klementy Voroshiloff of Soviet Russia and addressed to Francisco Largo Caballero at the time he was Premier of Republican Spain:


To Comrade Largo Caballero


Dear Comrade:
Comrade Rosenberg, our representative plenipotentiary, has transmitted the expression of your fraternal feelings to us. He has told us, also, that you are always inspired by an unchangeable faith in victory. Allow us to thank you fraternally for the feelings you have expressed and to tell you that we share your faith in the victory of the Spanish people.

We have deemed and we shall always deem it our duty , within the measure of our possibilities, to go to the aid of the Spanish Government that is directing the struggle of all the workers, of the entire Spanish democracy, against the military and fascist clique, which is only an instrument of the international fascist forces.

The Spanish revolution plots its course, different from many viewpoints from the course followed by Russia. This is determined by the difference in social, historical and geographic conditions and by the needs of the international situation, different from those the Russian revolution had to contend with. It is very possible that the parliamentary way will show itself to be, in Spain, a more efficient means for revolutionary development than in Russia.

But, having said that, we believe that our experiences, especially the experience of our civil war, applied in accordance with the peculiar conditions of the Spanish revolutionary struggle, may have a certain importance for Spain. Following this premise, we have consented, on your repeated demands, which have been transmitted to us at various times by Comrade Rosenberg, to send a number of our military comrades, to be placed at your disposal. These comrades have received from us instructions to serve, through their advice in the military field, the Spanish military chiefs to whom you will send them to help.

They have been categorically ordered not to lose sight of fact that, despite all the consciousness of solidarity with which are imbued at the present time the people of Spain and the peoples of the USSR, a Soviet comrade, being a foreigner in Spain, can only be really useful if he limits himself strictly to the function of adviser, and only adviser.

We think that it is precisely in this manner you will enjoy our military comrades.

We beg you to inform us, as a friend, in what degree our military comrades fulfill with success the tasks that you entrust them with, because, of course, it is only if you judge their work favorably that it will be useful to let them continue their work in Spain.

We beg you also to communicate to us, directly and indirectly, your opinion of Comrade Rosenberg. Is the Spanish government satisfied with him, or is it necessary to replace him with another representative?

Here are four friendly pieces of advice that we submit to you:

1. It would be necessary to take into consideration the peasants, who have a great importance in an agrarian country like Spain. It would be well to issue decrees relative to the agrarian question and the question of taxes, which would further the interests of the peasants. It would be well also to attract peasants to the army, or to create detachments of followers at the rear of the fascist armies. Decrees issued in favor of the peasants could facilitate this.

2. It would be necessary to attract to the side of the government the small and middle bourgeoisie, or, in any event, to give them the possibility of taking a neutral position, favorable to the government, protecting them against attempts at confiscation and guaranteeing them, within possible limits, freedom of trade. Otherwise these groups will become fascist.

3. The chiefs of the Republican army should not be repulsed, but, on the contrary, they should be attracted to the side of the government and made to attach themselves to the common task of government. It is above all necessary that the government should be assured of the continuance of [President Manuel] Azaña and his group in power, doing everything to help them overcome their hesitations. This is necessary in order to prevent the enemies of Spain from considering her as a Communist republic, and to forestall thus their intervention, which constitutes the greatest danger for Republican Spain.

4. The occasion could be found to declare to the press that the government of Spain will not let anyone attempt against [porter atteinte à – "attack" would be a better translation] the property rights and legitimate interests of foreigners in Spain who are not citizens of nations not supporting the rebels.

Fraternal greetings.
Friends of Republican Spain.
K. Voroshiloff, V. Molotoff, J. Stalin Moscow Dec. 21, 1936



Later Communication

Moscow, Feb. 4, 1937

To: Comrade Largo Caballero, President of the Council of Ministers of the Spanish Republic, Valencia

Dear Comrade:
Comrade Pascua has delivered your letter to us. We have had a long talk with him about the questions that did not seem clear to us. We are not writing anything about the nature and the results of this conversation, because Comrade Pascua has offered to go to see you at Valencia and to report to you personally.

We wish you and the Spanish people a complete victory over the external and internal enemies of the Spanish Republic.

We deem it our duty to continue to help you in the future, within the measure of our possibilities.

We shake your hand as your friends.
V. Molotoff, K. Voroshiloff, J. Stalin