December 26, 2019

STALIN - LETTER TO AND FROM LARGO CABALLERO

Guerray Revolucion en Espana, ii, (Moscow, 1971), 96-97.

December 21, 1936
To Comrade Caballero

Our representative plenipotentiary, Comrade Rozenberg, has transmitted to us the expression of your fraternal feelings. He also told us about your unwavering faith in victory. May we express our fraternal thanks for your sentiments and assure you that we share your faith in the victory of the Spanish people.

We consider and shall always consider it our duty to come, within our possibilities, to the aid of the Spanish government which is leading the struggle of all toilers, of the whole Spanish democracy, against the Fascist-military clique, the agency of international Fascist forces.

The Spanish revolution is following a path in many respects different from that which Russia had followed. This is due to different social, historical and geographical conditions, and to the different international situation which Russia had to face. It is quite possible that in Spain the parliamentary way will prove more appropriate towards the revolutionary development than was the case in Russia.

We still think, however, that our experience, especially that of our civil war, may have a certain importance for Spain if one bears in mind the specificity of the conditions of the Spanish revolutionary struggle. This is why we have agreed, responding to your repeated demands transmitted to us at various times by Comrade Rozenberg, to put at your disposal a number of military instructors. Their task will be to advise and help in military matters those Spanish military leaders to whom they are assigned.

It has been categorically impressed on them that they must always remember that, notwithstanding the full awareness of solidarity which at the present time binds together the Spanish people and the peoples of the USSR, a Soviet comrade, being a foreigner in Spain, can be truly helpful only on condition that he adheres strictly to the role of an adviser, and an adviser only. We think that this is precisely the manner in which you will make use of our military comrades. As friends, we would ask you to inform us how effectively our military comrades fulfill the task you entrust them with; it is obvious that only if you judge their work positively would it be useful for them to continue.

We would also ask you to let us know, openly and frankly, your opinion about Comrade Rozenberg: is the Spanish government satisfied with him or should he be replaced by another representative?

And here are four pieces of friendly advice for your consideration:

1. One should pay attention to the peasantry, which, in such an agrarian country as Spain, is of great importance. It would be advisable to issue decrees relative to agrarian problems and to taxation which would be favourable to the peasantry. It would also be advisable to attract the peasants to the army or to organize partisan peasant detachments at the rear of the Fascist armies. This would be facilitated by decrees furthering the interests of the peasantry.

2. The petty and middle urban bourgeoisie should be attracted to the government side and be given at least the chance to occupy a neutral position, which would favour the government, by protecting it from attempts at confiscation and securing as far as possible the freedom of trade. 

Otherwise these strata will follow the Fascists.

3. The leaders of the Republican party should not be repulsed, but on the contrary, should be drawn in, brought nearer and associated with the common exercise of government. It is especially important that the government should secure the support of Azaiia and his group and that everything should be done to help them in overcoming their vacillation. This is necessary in order to prevent the enemies of Spain from regarding it as a communist republic and to forestall their intervention, which would constitute the greatest danger to the republic of Spain.

4. It would be advisable to find an opportunity to state in the press that the Spanish government will not condone any action against the property rights and the legitimate interests of those foreigners in Spain who are citizens of states which do not support the rebels.

December 21, 1936

Fraternal greetings

Friends of Republican Spain 
Stalin, Molotov, Voroshilov

*********

January 12, 1937
Letter from Largo Caballero to Stalin, Molotov and Voroshilov

Dear Comrades,

The letter which you were so good to send me through Comrade Rozenberg gave me a great deal of pleasure. Your fraternal greetings and your fervent faith in the victory of the Spanish people gave me profound satisfaction. I wish, on my part, to respond to your heartfelt greetings and to your fervent faith in our triumph by sending you the expression of my warmest sentiments.

The help you are providing to the Spanish people, and which you yourselves - considering it as your duty - have undertaken to provide, has been and continues to be greatly beneficial. You may rest assured that we rightly appreciate it. From the bottom of my heart, and in the name of Spain, and especially on behalf of the workers, we assure you of our gratitude. We trust that, as in the present, so also in the future your help and advice will continue to be available to us.

You are right in remarking that there are substantial differences between the developments which followed the Russian revolution and those which follow ours. In fact, as you yourselves note, the circumstances in which the two revolutions occurred differ: the historical conditions of each people, the geo­ graphical position, the economic situation, the social and cultural development and, above all, the degree of political and trade union maturity are not the same. But, in answer to your other remark, one should perhaps state that, whatever may be the future of the parliamentary form, it does not possess among us, or even among the republicans, enthusiastic defenders.

Those comrades who, responding to our call, came to our aid, are rendering us great services. Their vast experience is useful to us and contributes notably to the defence of Spain in her fight against Fascism. I can assure you that they are bringing to their task genuine enthusiasm and extraordinary courage. As to Comrade Rozenberg, I can say in all sincerity that we are satisfied with his behaviour and activity. He is liked by everybody here. He works hard, so hard that this affects his already undermined health.

I am very grateful to you for your friendly advice contained in the latter part of your letter. I regard it as a proof of your friendship and your concern with the successful outcome of our struggle.

The agrarian problem in Spain is, indeed, of exceptional importance. From the first, our government took it upon itself to protect the peasants by improving their living conditions enormously. 

Towards this end, important decrees were announced. Unfortunately, certain excesses in the countryside could not be avoided, but we earnestly hope that they will not be repeated. The same should be stated concerning the petty bourgeoisie, which we have respected by constantly proclaiming its right to exist and develop. By defending it against the attacks to which it might have been exposed at the beginning, we are trying to attract it to our side.

I completely agree with what you say about the republican political forces. We have, in all circumstances, associated them with the tasks of the government and with the struggle. They participate largely in all political and administrative bodies, local, provincial and national. What happens, however, is that they themselves do practically nothing to define their own political individuality. As to the property of foreigners established in Spain who are citizens of countries which do not help the rebels, their rights have been respected and interests safeguarded. That has been stated on several occasions, and we shall continue this policy. I shall certainly re-state this worldwide at the first opportunity which presents itself.

Valencia, January 12, 1937
Fraternal greetings
Francisco L. Caballero.


Source
The Comintern and Spanish Civil War, E.H. Carr