The Charlotte News
SUNDAY, APRIL 25, 1937
Failure For Fascism:
Fuehrer And Duce Stumped
--By W. J. Cash
Site ed. note: Unfortunately for Spain, this was one of a small number of instances where Cash's predictions did not come to be; Franco did win in Spain over the democratic revolutionaries albeit without the direct intervention of either Germany or Italy. The country remained under his fascist control until his death in 1975. His hand-picked successor, grandson to Alfonso XIII, Juan Carlos de Borbón (Juan Carlos I), succeeded Franco and still rules Spain; but contrary to Franco's wishes, Juan Carlos has instituted gradual democratic reforms and adopted a popularly elected constitution.
See also "Spanish Blood", August 23, 1936, "Blessing and Blood", September 20, 1936, and "Blockade in Boston", July 24, 1938 for further commentary by Cash on the Spanish civil war.
The game is about up for Señor Franco, the big blood-and-iron man who set out last summer to carry Spain willy-nilly back into the middle ages. For as Dorothy Thompson was pointing out in The News' "On the Record" last Wednesday, he can't possibly win now unless Italy and Germany are prepared to throw off the mask and enter openly upon conquest.
And I am prepared to bet my hat that Italy and Germany are not going to do anything so stupid. They were entirely up to it before this embroglio began, had they judged it necessary, and even though they knew that it meant that England would inevitably act with France to block them. But not now. As La Thompson was also pointing out, this fight in Spain has already blown their whole notion of making a war so terrible that the foe would be brought to his knees within a few days--has already blown the whole notion to bits. The war was certainly made terrible. At Pamplona on the third day of the revolution, General Mola shot every tenth man of the whole population known to be in sympathy with the government. At Badajoz Franco executed in cold blood some 2,000 men, women, and children suspected of having tried to defend their town against him. For weeks helpless Madrid was pounded by bombs from the air, its buildings wrecked, and its streets turned into slaughter-pens. And all it netted was an invincible resolution that Franco should not win and should not rule.
BUT THEY RAN
But that is not all. Signor Mussolini has before his eyes now the gloomy fact that the crack troops of his boasted army (and they were crack troops, despite recent efforts of Italian sources to make them out mere pick and shovel men) ran away when they had to stand up before something a little more dangerous than a poor nigger with a spear in the hills of Africa.1 And both Hitler and Mussolini have before their eyes the still gloomier fact that, since last December, loyalist planes have shot down exactly eleven insurgent planes for every two they have lost--that planes built in France and Russia and (whisper it softly) England, and manned mainly by Frenchmen and Russians, have proved in practice to be about five times as good as planes built in Germany and Italy, and manned entirely by German and Italian army officers.
No, the strong men of Italy and Germany are no longer so eager to risk conclusions with the guns of Britain and France, backed up by those of Russia, and probably in the long run those of the western republic. Franco will get no open help. And so the chances are that before the year is out he will be stood up before a firing squad, as he has had so many simple and unoffending men stood up, and shot.
I am frankly delighted. I am delighted at seeing the pretensions of Fascism destroyed--and seeing it set back for a major loss, as it undoubtedly is. I sincerely hope that the defeat may be the spark that will set off the revolt now merrily brewing in both Germany and Italy, send Hitler and Mussolini before firing squads, and restore the German and Italian peoples, both as essentially decent as any other at bottom, to the ranks of civilized nations.
But I am pleased for Spain, too. I am pleased that she has been saved from the schemes of one of the nastiest traitors who has ever appeared in history in a long time--for that is what Franco is. La Thompson says she has private information from authentic sources in Berlin that the German government was in on the plot for months before the coup came, and as she says also, it is obvious that Germany was in on the game from the first; so was Italy. And just now the Paris newspapers are full of the story that Alfonso XIII was so completely in on the game that he furnished 2,000,000 pounds sterling to Franco as early as 1931. What was plainly in view was a puppet kingdom, with Alfonso and Franco ostensibly holding the reins, but with Hitler and Mussolini actually doing the ruling.
THE FINAL END
The exposure and failure of this scheme will mean the final end of any hope on the parts of the Bourbons of returning to the throne, and that is an excellent thing. Alfonso is not a bad man as Kings go, but, like every man of his race, he is a stupid one, incapable of learning--and so long as he might rule, the reform of intolerable conditions in Spain was impossible. But it not only means an end for the Bourbon hopes, it also means the exile and elimination of those members of the old privileged orders who, in order to hold on to their unjust "rights," were willing to make war on their countrymen with foreign mercenaries--and the elimination, too, of those false champions of religion, who, in order to maintain their unjust power, were willing to war on their countrymen with the infidel Moor--a thing just about equivalent to a white Southerner warring on the white South with an army of Negroes.
NO, NOT COMMUNISTIC
And with all these out of the picture, the outlook for Spain's solving her problems and escaping from the medievalism that has so long shackled her are excellent. But she might go Communistic? Nonsense. The Spanish government was not and is not red in any sense. Its most radical programs have at no time been more radical than those of the Roosevelt regime in the United States. And there is not the slightest reason to think it will go Communistic. There is overwhelming reason, indeed, in the known character of the Spanish people, to be sure that it will not.
I have argued this here before, and by now it ought to be plain to everybody who has kept up with the struggle. But if it isn't plain to you, let me suggest the reading of any of a dozen good books on the war and its background which have appeared in the last three or four months. One of the best is "Revolt in Spain" by the English journalist, John Langdon-Davis.
1 Referring to Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia in 1935-36. Note that Cash's use of phraseology here is meant only in sympathy with the plight of the Ethiopians and is interchangeable with "unarmed peasants" in this context. It simply sounds less than polite today. But not to readers in 1937. Also, note the psychology used by Cash here and in the third to last paragraph. In order to ingratiate the reader to disdain of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and fascism in general, (the aims of which were not well understood by even the most astute in 1937), Cash uses analogies and terms, by design, to pull the average white Southern mind of that time immediately to the point.
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