The Paradox of the Spanish Civil War and the “Moslems” in Nazi Concentration Camps
Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski|Saturday, December 25, 2010
In “The Spanish Civil War 1936-9″the author Donald MacKinnon wrote that …. We ignore the ghastly paradox of a war to make the world democratic. The book on the origins of the Spanish Civil War by Nigel Thomson: “The Crisis of Democracy in Spain” … confronts the greatest paradox of the Second Republic: why did the most popular and historic party of the republican movement play the key role in the Republic’s destruction? Why did it let itself be subverted by Stalin’s NKVD, and accepted by far more weapons from the Soviets than the nationalist received from Hitler and Mussolini.
During WWII one of the most dreaded commands of the SS-guards in Nazi concentration camps was: “Ale Musulmaenners austreten” (“all Muslims step forwards.” The Nazi veterans of the Condor Legion in Spain, who later served as guards in concentration camps, brought with them Spanish curse words such as “carajo” (kahrakho) and the habit of calling “Muslims” most miserable and run down prisoners in Nazi camps. Apparently, the word “Muslim,” was first used as a term of contempt by Nazi soldiers in order to describe the Arabs from Morocco, who served in Franco’s colonial army. A few years later in Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin the “Muslims” were subjected to brutal “sport,” a procedure derived from Prussian dehumanizing routines used on recruits from over sixty percent of the population of the Kingdom of Prussia who, immediately after the partitions of Poland, did not know THE German language and spoke several Polish dialects. I did witness , and, two times personally, was exposed to the so called “sport,” that served to eliminate the “Muslims” or prisoners too weak to work. However, in reality the choice of victims was made by the men in charge of each barrack – usually criminals marked with green triangles and called in German “beruf verbrecher” (“professional criminals). During the “sport” the SS-men gave such orders as “hinlegen – auf – marsch – marsch;” they were making the prisoners jump like frogs and then roll on the ground until many vomited while being kicked and beaten by Nazi guards including veterans of the Condor Legion used by Hitler in Spain. In the Flossenburg concentration camp on April 9, 1945, took place macabre execution of the hanging twice of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris who was led to the gallows barefoot and naked. The hanging rope was cut and Adm. Canaris was hanged for the second time. Early in his intelligence work Adm. Canaris had an efficient spy-communication network in Spain, which had been developed over decades, beginning in 1914 and provided the only reliable communication network for the forces of General Franco during the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War. Admiral Canaris saw the failure of Hitler’s Anti-Comintern Pact, in protracted negotiations with Poland (from Aug. 5, 1935 to Jan. 26, 1939) trying to enlist Poland’s participation in the planned assault on the Soviet Union by Germany and Poland from the west and Japan from the east. No doubt Adm. Canaris knew that the long prepared attack on Russia could not succeed without Poland, which was crucial because Poland constituted a barrier blocking German access to the Soviet Union and especially to the Ukraine, which Hitler planned to annex in building his Reich for next thousand years from the Rhine River to the Dnepr River. The Nazi government saw only two choices for Poland: either to participate in the assault on the Soviet Union or be destroyed. The destruction of Poland could be done only with the participation of Russia because the Polish armed forces were too strong and would inflict too heavy losses on the German army if Germany were to face the hostility of Polish and Russian forces in the same campaign at the same time. However, the Nazi-Soviet pact meant betrayal of Nazi-Japanese pact of Nov. 25, 1936 and therefore the possible end of the Japanese Quantung Army from the hostilities against Russia which started in 1937 and by 1939 included the largest air battles in the history of warfare up to that time. It involved hundreds of Soviet and Japanese airplanes. By then Adm. Canaris realized that Germany might be on its way to lose the Second World War on worse terms than it lost the First World War. It is conclusively proven by documents of that time that Canaris was outraged by the atrocities he witnessed being bring committed by German forces in Poland and was determined to confront Hitler on this issue. He was stopped by General Keitel who informed him that these atrocities were a matter of policy decided by Hittler himself. As chief of the high command of the armed forces, since February 1938, Keitek was in a position to order his subordinate to desist and not bring up the matter to Hitler and to drop the issue. It was at this point that canaries began to cooperate with British intelligence through his Polish mistress, Halina, in Switzerland, who was an agent of MI6. For much of the war he would exchange information about Nazi actions for information from the British about strategic intelligence concerning the Soviets. The drama of Nazi agreission started on March 10, 1939 when Stalin’s speech to the 18th convention of the Soviet Communist Party was broadcast by Radio Moscow in which Stalin invited the cooperation between National Socialist Germany and the Soviet Union. See: “Jews In Poland: The Rise Of Jews As A Nation From Congressus Judaicus In Poland To The Knesset In Israel,” Hippocrene Books Inc, New York, 1998, page 95. Hitler’s acceptance of Stalin’s invitation resulted in the betrayal of the German treaty with Japan of Nov. 25, 1936 and lead to Japan’s withdrawal from the war against Russia on Sept. 16, 1939. On Sept. 17, 1939 the Red Army invaded Poland two weeks after the German attack of Sept.1, 1939, which caused France and Britain to declare war on Nazi Germany. This resulted in the eventual two-front war against Germany instead of the two-front war against Russia which Hitler had planned, Adm. Canaris was fully aware of the eventual catastrophic fiasco of Hitler’s war plans. ON August 11, 1939, Hitler said to Jacob Burkhardt, Commissioner of the League of Nations: “Everything I undertake is directed against Russia; if the West is too stupid and blind to grasp this, I shall be compelled to come to an agreement with the Russians, beat the West and then, after their defeat, turn against the Soviet Union with all my forces. I need the Ukraine so that they can not starve me out as happened in the last war.” (Roy Dennan “Missed Chances,” Indigo, London 1997, p. 65). Hitler talked about Russia being “German Africa” and Russians as “negros” to be used by the superior German race. When an envoy selected by Admiral Canaris was to deliver a letter from Hitler urging declaration of war by Franco’s government against Gr. Britain and France the admiral sent through the same envoy a verbal message to General Franco saying: “Germany WILL lose the war.” When Franco sent his Blue Division of nearly 50,000 man to fight the Soviet Union he agreed that the Spanish soldiers would swear personal allegiance to Hitler in the war against the Communists. At the time of his execution, Canaris had been decorated with the Iron Cross First and Second Class, the Silver German Cross, the Cross of Honor and the Wehrmacht Twelve and Twenty-Five Year Long-Service Ribbons. At about the same time, early in 1945, during changes in assignments of sleeping quarters for prisoners in Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp I met a 76 year old Spanish dignitary, who did not speak–or refused to– speak German. I was then A 23 year old veteran of five years of Gestapo prisons. Starting on August 10, 1940 I was imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg concentration camp near Berlin. The old Spaniard was assigned to sleep in a bunk bed above me. Noticing how hard it was for the old man to climb to his bunk bed, I wandered how such an old man could have survived in Sachsenhausen, as long as his number indicated. Eventually, I suspected that he was helped by the local Communist mafia. Nazi concentration camps were in general dominated by a mafia of criminals, however after the Nazi-Soviet pact in 1939 the German Communist mafia grew in strength and many Communists participated in the internal hierarchy of the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen. I offered the old Spaniard to change places with him and let him use the lower bunk. Soon I found out that he spoke French with A heavy Spanish accent. I had been learning French for some eight years in schools in Poland and I could speak French with a heavy Polish accent. The name of the old prisoner was Francisco Largo Caballero (15 October 1869 – 23 March 1946). He told me that during 1936 and 1937, served as the Prime Minister of the Second Spanish Republic. Then it became obvious to me that he must have been offered help by Communist mafia in Sachsenhausen. In fact in 1936, a few months into the civil war, Largo Caballero was designated Prime Minister and Minister of War. Earlier he served as Minister of Labor Relations between 1931 and 1933, in the first governments of the Second Spanish Republic. Largo Caballero abandoned his moderate positions, began to talk of “socialist revolution”, and became the leader of the revolutionary wing of the socialist party heavily influenced by the Soviet NKVD. He defended the pact of alliance with the other workers’ political parties and trade unions, such as the Partido Comunista de Espańa and the anarchist trade union Confederacion Nacional del Trabajio. His opponents declared, that “Largo Caballero shall be the second Lenin,” whose aim is the union of Iberian Soviet Republics. Largo Caballero then dismissed fears of a military coup, and predicted that, were it to happen, a general strike would defeat it, opening the door to the workers’ revolution. The coup attempt by the colonial army came on 17 July 1936. While not immediately successful, further actions by rebellious army units sparked the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), in which the republic was ultimately defeated and destroyed. On 4 September 1936, a few months into the civil war, Largo Caballero was designated the 134th Prime Minister and Minister of War. His particular focus, besides the obvious matter of the conducting the war itself, was to maintain military discipline and governmental authority within the Republican zone. Nonetheless, the May 3-8, 1937 revolt in Barcelona by the oppositional communist Workers Party and the anarchists following an attempt to seize the telephone exchange led to a governmental crisis, forcing Caballero’s resignation on 17 May leading to the Popular Front government of doctor Juan Negrin. Upon the defeat of the Republic in 1939, Caballero fled to France. Arrested during the German occupation of France, he spent most of World War II imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg concentration camp near Berlin where I met him. I later have learned that he died in exile in Paris in 1946 and his remains were returned to Madrid in 1978. After the war I learned that the Condor Legion was part of ”Operation Fire Magic,” The German military aid to the Spanish Nationalist rebels, which began after a request for assistance dispatched by Spanish General Francisco Franco. The request was received by Adolf Hitler on July 22, 1936, five days after the rebellion began on 17 July, 1936. Most of the Nazi “Spanienkaempfers” were from the Luftwaffe and many were later decorated with the “Spanienkreuz” (Spanish Cross). The campaign medal was awarded by the German authorities from April 14, 1939 on, when the Nazi intervention in Spain ended. Later, Hitler was disappointed when Franco refused to join the axis of Germany and Italy and criticized the joint Nazi-Soviet invasion of “Catholic Poland”. In 1940 Franco rejected Hitler’s request of crossing Spanish territory for the German attack on Gibraltar. While in Venezuela, during the late 1940′S I befriended Catholic Basque refugees who taught me Spanish and called general Franco “hijo predilecto de la Santa Iglesia Catolica” (“favorite son of the Holy Catholic Church”) mainly because he stopped the atrocities conducted by mobs armed by the Republican government and manipulated by the NKVD under Stalin’s orders. The Basque Nationalists entered into the Spanish Civil War on the side of the Republic, because of their demand for autonomy. As conservatives their natural political choice would have been to back Franco, but they disagreed with the centralist conservative Spanish authorities over local municipal autonomy. They were allied with the Catalans, who were leftist nationalists. The struggle between the Basques and Franco’s forces was a struggle between two groups of conservatives. A republican victory in Spain in reality would have meant A Soviet style government. The arming of the revolutionaries by the liberal politicians brought AN end to any hopes for democracy in Republican Spain, as is pointed out by professor M. J. Chodakiewicz of the Institute of World Politics in Washington in his book about “Communist lies about the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939,” (“Zagrabiona Pamięć: Wojna w Hiszpanii 1936-1939,” Fonda, Warszawa 2010, ISBN 978-83-62268-08-5.) The toll on Catholic Clergy in the course of the Red Terror in Spain was: 6,832 members of the Catholic clergy. TWENTY percent of the nation’s clergy, were killed. In Spain in 1936-39 murdered clergy included 4,172 diocesan priests, 2,364 monks and friars. For comparison, in Poland, in 1939-1945, six bishops, 2,030 priests, 127 seminarians, 173 lay brothers and 243 nuns were murdered by the Nazis alone, while similar crimes were committed on Polish Clergy by the Soviet terror apparatus. Some 5,400 Poles fought in Spain. The majority (3,800) were miners working in France, 300 were Polish-Americans, and several hundred were Poles living in various European countries. Only 800 came from Poland itself. The International Brigades in Spain often named its battalions and brigades using historical symbolism. The XIX century Polish nobleman, who became a nationalist revolutionary, general Jarosław Radwan Żądło Dąbrowski was an obvious choice. Dąbrowski was brought up in the tradition of the First Polish Republic which I have described in my book “The First Democracy in Modern Europe: Million Free Citizens Lived in Poland in 1600 AD” which fact happens to be a record in the world history of representative government. Every grown up citizen had the right to be a candidate for the throne of Poland in a free and general election. Every man and woman had the same rights to inherit property. The Polish indigenous legislative process shaped national culture of Poland in contradistinction to the rest of Europe, where at the same time national cultures were shaped by the royal court and towns. Jarosław Dąbrowski was involved in the January Uprising, in a plot against Tsar Alexander II and imprisoned. In 1865, he fled and escaped to France. In 1871, he was elected to the Paris Commune and took over the command of defense of Paris. He was killed AT the barricades, “fighting gallantly” for a foreign cause following the Polish traditional motto: “For your and our freedom.” Throughout the Spanish Civil War, the name Dabrowski was used in addition to the unit designation for units with a Polish connection or component. These include the Dabrowski Battalion and the XIII International Brigade (also known as the 13th Dabrowski Brigade) and the 150th International Brigade. Today, in Poland, Polish veterans of the Spanish Civil War are known as the “Dąbrowszczacy” a “proletarian” version of the proper word of “Dąbrowszczycy,” The very use of the name of Dąbrowski by Soviet propaganda is a part of typically Soviet twisting of history and truth. It is similar, for example, to Soviet use of the word “truth” or in Russian “pravda” as the title of the deceitful and full of lies Soviet official daily paper in Moscow. Military revolt against the government of Spain occurred after the 1936 elections which produced a Popular Front government supported mainly by left-wing parties. A military uprising began in garrison towns throughout Spain, led by the rebel Nationalists and supported by conservative elements in the clergy, military, and landowners as well as the fascist Falange. The ruling Republican government, led by the socialist premiers Francisco Largo Caballero and Juan Negrín (1894 – 1956) and the liberal president Manuel Azańa y Díaz, was supported by workers and many in the educated middle class as well as militant anarchists and communists manipulated by the Soviets. Government forces put down the uprising in most regions except parts of northwestern and southwestern Spain, where the Nationalists held control and named Francisco Franco head of state. Both sides repressed opposition; together, they executed or assassinated more than 50,000 suspected enemies to their respective causes. Seeking aid from abroad, the Nationalists received troops, tanks, and planes from Nazi Germany and Italy, which in reality used Spain as a testing ground for new methods of tank and air warfare. The Republicans called “loyalists” were sent weapons mainly by the Soviet Union, and the volunteer International Brigades also joined the Republicans. The two sides fought a war of attrition. The Nationalist side gradually gained territory and by April 1938 succeeded in splitting Spain from east to west, causing 250,000 Republican forces to flee into France, including Francisco Largo Caballero. In March 1939 the remaining Republican forces surrendered, and Madrid was in the midst of civil strife between communists and anticommunists and fell to the Nationalists on March 28. About 500,000 people died in the war. The war’s end brought a period of dictatorship that lasted until the mid-1970s. The American Abraham Lincoln Battalion (usually, but incorrectly, referred to as a brigade) in Spain, for example, was under the command of Robert Hale Merriman (1908 – 1938) who was a leftist American professor of economics at the University of California and he stayed in 1935 in Moscow for several months and naturally was under control of the Soviet terror apparatus especially the NKVD. He joined the Republican forces in Spain. Merriman was of poor origin and worked various odd jobs in order to make his way to the University of Nevada. To earn money while at school, he joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) where he received basic training with arms. He was chosen to lead the volunteers in Spain because he was a member of left-wing groups at the University of California and A friend of professor Robert Oppenheimer, the father of American atomic bomb, who, according to former NKVD general Pavel Sudoplatow’s book, with the foreword by Robert Conquest, “Special Tasks” (ISBN 0-316-77352-2 Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 94-75737) helped the Soviets to produce and test a DUPLICATE OF THE American atomic bomb. This was the fact that caused Oppenheimer to lose his security clearance. Merriman moved to Spain together with his wife early in 1937 and joined the International Brigades at their training camp in Albacete. As few volunteers had any military experience, Merriman’s ROTC experience meant that he took over the training of the 428-man strong Lincoln Battalion and, in late January, he became battalion commander. He held the rank of Captain of the Spanish Republic. The Lincoln Battalion first saw action at the Battle of Jarama (6-27 February). They were one of the four battalions comprising the XV International Brigade. Their role was to prevent Nationalist forces taking the main Madrid-Valencia road. The Lincolns took appalling casualties, particularly in the assault of Pingarrón, which became known as Suicide Hill. Merriman himself was seriously wounded and spent time as Chief of XV Brigade Staff. His place as battalion commander was taken by Martin Hourihan (a US Army veteran). The weakened Lincolns next went into action at the Battle of Brunete. Together with the depleted British Battalion, and an under-strength second American battalion (the George Washington Battalion, commanded by African-American Oliver Law), they formed one regiment of the XV International Brigade in which out of the 2,500 men who went into battle, only 1,000 effectives remained. According to reports: “The Americans … were cut to pieces. The Washington Battalion sustained fifty percent casualties and the Lincoln Battalion was heavily depleted as well. Of the eight hundred Americans in the Lincoln and Washington Battalions at the start of the Brunete offensive on 6 July, only five hundred effectives remained.” Merriman led the battalion again during the Battle of Teruel in Aragon. Under heavy attack by Nationalist tanks and aircraft, the battalion was forced to retreat to Catalonia and its boundary, the river Ebro – the only available direction, On April 2, 1938, around the vineyards of Corbera d’Ebre, near the key city of Gandesa, twenty kilometers before the river, Merriman and his lieutenant, Edgar James Cody, were killed in action, or possibly captured and executed some hours later. According to local tradition in Northwest Spain, Franco’s ancestors were Marranos, Spanish Jews who converted to Christianity during the Middle Ages under threat of death or persecution. Genaralissimo was criticized by the Zionists who wanted Jews to be forced to go to Palestine in order to create there a Jewish state. However according to a few quotations from the book by Jane & Burt Boyar (“Hitler Stopped By Franco,”) “general Franco shall occupy a special place in memory of the Jews who should honor and bless the memory of this great benefactor of the Jewish people…who neither sought nor reaped any benefit from what he did.” – From a four page obituary in The American Sephardi Journal of the Sephardic Studies Program of Yeshiva University, volume IX, 1978. James Michener in Iberia, 1968, page 547 STATES: “…Generalissimo Franco is highly regarded by Jews; during the worst days of World War II, when pressures from Hitler were at their heaviest, Franco refused to issue anti-Jewish edicts and instead provided a sanctuary, never violated, for Jews who managed to make it to Spain. Many thousands of Jews owe their lives to Franco, and this is not forgotten.” [About 200,000 Jews were saved according to some Jewish sources.] In Resolutions of the War Emergency Conference of the World Jewish Congress, Atlantic City, New Jersey, November 26-30, 1944, page 15: “The War Emergency Conference extends its gratitude to the Holy See and to the Governments of Sweden, Switzerland, and Spain… for the protection they offered under difficult conditions to the persecuted Jews of Hungary…” In the Congressional Record of January 24, 1950, Rep. Abraham Multer quotes a spokesman for the Joint Distribution Committee: “During the height of Hitler’s blood baths, upwards of 60,000 Jews had been saved by the generosity of Spanish authorities.” Newsweek, March 2, 1970: “…a respected U.S. rabbi has come forward with surprising evidence that tens of thousands of Jews were saved from Nazi ovens by the personal intervention of an unlikely protector. Spain’s Generalissimo Franco, in so many other respects a wartime collaborator of Adolf Hitler. “I have absolute proof that Franco saved more than 60,000 Jews during World War II,” says Rabbi Chaim Lipscitz of Brooklyn’s Torah Vodaath and Mesitva rabbinical seminary. One should remember that after winning the Spanish Civil War, the “Nacionales” had established a single party authoritarian state under the leadership of general Franco. World War II started shortly afterwards, and though Spain was officially neutral, it did send a special Division of troops [47,000 men] to Russia to aid the Germans. Friendship with Hitler and Mussolini during the Civil War led Spain to be isolated after the collapse of the Axis powers. This changed with the new Cold War between USA and the Soviets and Franco’s strong anti-Communism made Spain into an ally of the United States.. When the Spanish State was declared a monarchy in 1947 – but no king was designated – Franco reserved for himself the right to name the person to be king, and deliberately delayed the selection due to his political considerations. In 1969, Generalissimo Franco designated Juan Carlos de Borbón as his official successor. Six years later, with the death of Generalissimo Franco on 20 November 1975, Juan Carlos became the “absolute King of Spain” who immediately began transition to democracy, which made Spain a constitutional monarchy ruled as A parliamentary democracy. Spanish monarchy was made possible thanks to Franco’s victory against Soviet efforts to force a Communist takeover in the Spanish Civil War in 1936-1939. The article ‘The Paradox of the Spanish Civil War “ and the “Moslems” in Nazi Concentration Camps includes comments of the author who was a war-time political prisoner in Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp bearing number 28865 and red markings of a political prisoner.