Read We Saw Spain Die Online

Authors: Preston Paul

We Saw Spain Die





Constable & Robinson Ltd
55-56 Russell Square
London WC1B 4HP

First published in the UK by Constable, an imprint of Constable & Robinson, 2008

Copyright © Paul Preston, 2008, 2009

The right of Paul Preston to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

A copy of the British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-1-84529-946-0
eISBN: 978-1-78033-742-5

Printed and bound in the EU

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2



      List of Illustrations

Part One: Say that We Saw Spain Die

1   The Wound that Will Not Heal: Terror and Truth

2   The Capital of the World: The Correspondents and the Siege of Madrid

3   The Lost Generation Divided: Hemingway, Dos Passos and the Disappearance of José Robles

4   Love and Politics: The Correspondents in Valencia and Barcelona

5   The Rebel Zone: Intimidation in Salamanca and Burgos

Part Two: Beyond Journalism

6   Stalin’s Eyes and Ears in Madrid? The Rise and Fall of 203 Mikhail Koltsov

7   A Man of Influence: The Case of Louis Fischer

8   The Sentimental Adventurer: George Steer and the Quest for Lost Causes

9   Talking with Franco, Trouble with Hitler: Jay Allen

Part Three: After the War

10   The Humane Observer: Henry Buckley

11   A Lifetime’s Struggle: Herbert Rutledge Southworth and the Undermining of the Franco Regime

12   Epilogue: Buried Treasure

       Postscript: Love, Espionage and Treachery





To the Memory of Herbert Rutledge Southworth (1908–99)


I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have helped to make this book possible. In particular, I must thank those who generously helped me locate the diaries, letters and other papers on which the book is principally based: the Very Reverend Dean Michael Allen and his daughter Sarah Wilson, for giving me access to the papers of Jay Allen; Patrick and Ramón Buckley, for lending me materials relating to their father Henry Buckley; Charlotte Kurzke, for granting permission for me to use the invaluable unpublished memoirs of her parents Jan Kurzke and Kate Mangan; Carmen Negrín, for providing access to the papers and photographs held in the Archivo Juan Negrín, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria; Paul Quintanilla, for giving me access to the papers of Luis Quintanilla; and David Wurtzel, for providing me with the diary and other papers of Lester Ziffren.

I am also very happy to record the help of numerous librarians who helped me locate particular papers. For the good-humoured tolerance with which they dealt with my complicated requests regarding the papers of Tom Wintringham and Kitty Bowler, I am indebted to the Staff of the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King’s College London. Similarly, I am immensely grateful to Andrew Riley and Sandra Marsh of Churchill College Cambridge Archives Centre for their enthusiastic assistance in locating the correspondence between George Steer and Philip Noel-Baker. Gail Malmgreen has, for many years, been unfailingly helpful regarding requests and queries related to the ALBA Collection of the Tamiment Library, at New York University. Kelly Spring of the Sheridan Library, Johns Hopkins University, helped in the location of the Robles papers. Natalia Sciarini of the Beinecke
Library, Yale University, went the extra mile in helping find particular items relating to Josephine Herbst. Above all, I want to thank Helene van Rossum of Princeton University Library for help and perceptive advice above and beyond the call of duty regarding the voluminous papers of Louis Fischer.

I am fortunate in the specific help I received regarding particular chapters. This is especially true of the chapter on Mikhail Koltsov, for which I must express my immense debt to Frank Schauff, whose unstinting help with Russian sources was indispensable. Robert Service, Denis Smyth, Ángel Viñas and Boris Volodarsky all contributed with sage advice and saved me from many errors. René Wolf and Gunther Schmigalle provided invaluable assistance on the German dimension of Koltsov’s career. For the chapter on George Steer, I benefited from the generous help of Nick Rankin. I would also like to thank Christopher Holme of the
Glasgow Herald
for sending me material on his namesake who was with Steer in Guernica. For the chapter on José Robles, Will Watson generously shared his encyclopaedic knowledge of Hemingway in Spain, and José Nieto recounted his recollections of his conversations with John Dos Passos, Artur London and Luis Quintanilla. I was greatly stimulated by the enthusiastic response of Elinor Langer to my questions about Josephine Herbst. On the developments in the press office in Valencia, I benefited from the insights of Griffin Barry’s daughter, Harriet Ward. I was also helped by David Fernbach in relation to the role of Tom Wintringham and Kitty Bowler. In Madrid, the indefatigable Mariano Sanz González was as helpful as ever. Regarding matters connected with the International Brigades, I turned to Richard Baxell and was never disappointed. I am also indebted to Larry Hannant of the University of Victoria and Professor David Lethbridge at Okanagan College, British Columbia for their help in unearthing material about Kajsa Rothman.

Surviving protagonists are unfortunately now few. I was thus especially glad to be able to benefit from the memories of three people who were in Spain: the late Sir Geoffrey Cox, whose chronicles from besieged Madrid remain important historical sources; Adelina Kondratieva, who was an interpreter with the Russian delegation; and Sam Lessor, who fought with the International Brigades and, after
being wounded and invalided home, returned to Spain to work for the Republican propaganda services in Barcelona.

Four friends made a big difference. I ended up writing the book in the first place as a result of an invitation from Salvador Clotas to contribute to the catalogue of the splendid exhibition about foreign correspondents in Spain organized jointly by the Instituto Cervantes and the Fundación Pablo Iglesias. A trip to Lisbon to take part in the inauguration of the exhibition brought me into contact with its curator, Carlos García Santa Cecilia. To meet someone who shared my enthusiasm for the subject was an exhilarating experience and helped convince me that I was not engaged in a totally lunatic enterprise. Will Watson read several chapters with hawk-eyed precision. Lala Isla, as always, has been a fount of affectionate encouragement and I am immensely grateful for her close and sympathetic reading of all the chapters. The generous advice of Soledad Fox on sources and archives in the USA has been crucial. Without her unstinting encouragement and advice, this book would have been infinitely poorer.

It is with great pleasure that I also thank Andreas Campomar, my publisher and friend, for his faith in the project.

Finally, I want to thank the two people who have influenced this book the most. The first is my friend Herbert Southworth, who was a participant in much of what follows. Many years of conversations and correspondence with him taught me much about the Spanish Civil War in general and in particular about the correspondents with whom he had worked. The book is dedicated to him with deep gratitude for his friendship and his example. The other is my wife Gabrielle, who has always been my most lucid critic and reliable supporter. Her acute perceptions regarding the way in which unpalatable truths can be dismissed as bias have been an invaluable foundation for the book.


Every effort has been made to locate the rights holder to the pictures appearing in this book and to secure permission for usage from such persons. Any queries regarding the usage of such material should be addressed to the author c/o the publisher.

Henry Buckley and Louis Fischer in Barcelona, 1938.
Courtesy of the Buckley family.

Jay Allen.
Courtesy of the Reverend Michael Allen.

Lester Ziffren, Douglas Fairbanks and Juan Belmonte.
Courtesy of Didi Hunter.

Sefton Delmer in Madrid.
Courtesy of Felix Sefton Delmer.

Geoffrey Cox.
Courtesy of the late Sir Geoffrey Cox.

Louis Delaprée.
Courtesy of the Instituto Cervantes.

Arthur Koestler after his arrest in Málaga, February 1937.
Courtesy of El País

Mikhail Koltsov and Buenaventura Durruti on the Aragón front at Bujaraloz, August 1936.
Courtesy of EFE.

Ernest Hemingway, Communist General Enrique Líster, International Brigade Commander Hans Kahle and Vincent Sheean during the Battle of the Ebro.
Courtesy of the Buckley family.

Mikhail Koltsov and Roman Karmen at the front outside Madrid, October 1936.
Courtesy of the Instituto Cervantes.

Mikhail Koltsov and Maria Osten.
Courtesy of the Instituto Cervantes.

Herbert Matthews and Ernest Hemingway in ‘the Old Homestead’.

Herbert Matthews, Philip Jordan and Kajsa Rothman visit Alcalá de Henares.
© Vera Elkan Collection, Imperial War Museum
(HU 71630).

Josephine Herbst meets the villagers of Fuentidueña del Tajo, April 1937.
Courtesy of Elinor Langer.

Liston Oak watches the front with Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Cowles and Kajsa Rothman, April 1937. Photographed by Joan Worthington.

Claud Cockburn, founder of the satirical news-sheet,
The Week
and Comintern agent Vittorio Vidali.
© Vera Elkan Collection, Imperial War Museum
(HU 71569).

Virginia Cowles
of Harpers’ Bazaar,
autumn 1937.
© Angus McBean.

Kajsa Rothman with a Swedish International Brigader.
© Arbetarrörelsens Arkiv och Bibliotek, Stockholm.

George Lowther Steer with a group of French journalists, January 1937.
Courtesy of George Steer.

Guernica after the German rehearsal for Blitzkrieg.
Courtesy of Museo de la Paz, Guernica.

Jay Allen, Diana Sheean, Mrs Caspar Whitney, Juan Negrín, Muriel Draper and Louis Fischer discuss the display of Picasso’s
at the Paris Exhibition, summer 1937.
Courtesy of Carmen Negrín.

Louis Fischer with the Soviet and Spanish Foreign Ministers, Maxim Litvinov and Julio Álvarez del Vayo at the League of Nations, Geneva, December 1936.
Courtesy of Carmen Negrín.

Tom Wintringham, Commander of the British Battalion of the International Brigades, with Kitty Bowler.
Courtesy of Ben Wintringham.

Safe-conduct issued to Kitty Bowler by the Catalan government.
Courtesy of Ben Wintringham.

Kate Mangan and Jan Kurzke, in the hospital in Valencia.
Courtesy of Charlotte Kurzke.

Kate Mangan’s permission to attend a meeting of the Spanish parliament in Valencia on 30 September 1937.
Courtesy of Charlotte Kurzke.

Luis Bolín.
Courtesy of the Instituto Cervantes.

Clipping of

report of the murder of its correspondent, Guy de Traversay.
Courtesy of the Instituto Cervantes.

Harold Cardozo, Victor Console and Jean D’Hospital on the Madrid front, November 1936.
Courtesy of the Instituto Cervantes.

John Dos Passos, Sydney Franklyn, Joris Ivens and Ernest Hemingway in the Hotel Florida, April 1937.
© Corbis.

Kajsa Rothman fund-raising for the Republic in Stockholm.
© Arbetarrörelsens Arkiv och Bibliotek.

Juan Negrín and Louis Fischer at a meeting of the League of Nations, September 1937.
Courtesy of Carmen Negrín.

Gerda Grepp, Nordahl Grieg and Ludwig Renn.
Courtesy of Norges Kommunistiske Parti, Trondheim

Ernest Hemingway, Henry Buckley and Herbert Matthews surveying the Ebro, November 1938.
Courtesy of the Buckley family.

Other books

After The Wedding by Sandifer, L
When by Victoria Laurie
Forbidden Flowers by Nancy Friday
Train Wreck Girl by Sean Carswell
Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson
A Mortal Bane by Roberta Gellis
Midwife Cover - Cassie Miles by Intrigue Romance
Diving In by Galway, Gretchen Copyright 2016 - 2023