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3. The Spanish Republic's Diplomatic Mission to Moscow


The Spanish legation to the USSR has received far less scholarly attention than has the Soviet embassy in Spain. 1 Whatever the reason for this oversight, it cannot be justified for reasons of absolute significance. In the same way that the activities of the Soviet embassy in the Spanish Republic are instructive of Moscow's tactics and broader strategies, the Republic's Moscow embassy reveals much about the evolution of Soviet-Spanish relations over the course of the civil war.

While the Soviet embassy to the Spanish Republic was remarkable for its frequent personnel turnover and audacious incursions into politics, the Republican mission to Moscow was characterized by an entirely different set of idiosyncrasies, albeit still counter-productive to the needs of war and diplomacy. By many accounts, even that of Stalin, the Soviet embassy was far too brazen in its involvement in Spanish affairs. The Republic, on the other hand, erred in the opposite direction, initially undervaluing, then emasculating, and finally starving its Moscow mission.

I. Ambassador Pascua


As with nearly every other attempt at rapprochement between the two countries, it was the Soviets in summer 1936 who seized the initiative in formalizing diplomatic ties with Spain. 2 This explains their rapid dispatch of personnel, who, as discussed above, arrived before the end of August. Marcelino Pascua Though the Giral government welcomed the Soviet contingent, it was the successor cabinet led by Largo Caballero that finally saw to the appointment of a Spanish ambassador to the USSR. On September 16, Caballero approved the creation of a Moscow embassy, and on September 21 he named Marcelino Pascua ambassador. 3

Thus it fell to Pascua, a moderate socialist and professor of medicine, to establish the first Spanish embassy to Russia since the fall of the Romanovs. Marcelino Pascua Born in 1897, Pascua had no experience in diplomacy when the civil war began in the summer of 1936. A rising star in Spanish science, he had earlier pursued post-graduate studies in the United States and Britain, was the recipient of a Rockefeller Fellowship, and had led a scientific survey to South America. 4 In 1932, Pascua had visited the Soviet Union to observe the state of Soviet public health. 5

Pascua's c.v.The logical question at this juncture is the following: Did Pascua's modest combination of international experience, a familiarity with basic Russian, and affiliation with the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) merit an appointment to one of the most important diplomatic posts in the Republic's foreign service? One of the few voices to entertain this question was that of the anti-communist Luis Araquistain, himself ambassador to France in 1936-1937. Araquistain asserts that Pascua was an "obscure licensed doctor" chosen to represent the Republic on account of pressure exerted by Juan Negrín. He also suggests that the appointee would be "an efficient collaborator" in the Russian plot to replace Caballero with Negrín. 6

Admittedly, Pascua was far better known to Negrín than to Caballero. Negrín, like Pascua, was a medical doctor—indeed, he served as the supervising professor for the latter's M.D. examinations. 7 That aside, it is a stretch to allege that as early as September 1936 Pascua could have been selected to later facilitate Negrín's rise. In fact, Pascua's Russian language skills made him a rare commodity in diplomatic circles; during the abortive attempt to exchange ambassadors in 1933, his name was already high on the list of potential choices. Nonetheless, whether or not he was considered simply an obscure doctor, Pascua was no diplomat, seasoned or otherwise, and his assignment to the critical post of ambassador to the USSR must be considered from the outset a curious and potentially counterproductive selection.

Given the Republic's worsening military situation, the dispatch of Pascua's mission led to considerable hope and expectation, both among government officials and the military. Two days prior to Pascua's departure, the socialist journalist Julian Zugazagoitia attended a dinner party hosted by the newly appointed ambassador. According to Zugazagoitia, the atmosphere in Madrid at that moment was pessimistic but, in Pascua's mission, those present had their eyes "fixed on the aid that might come to us from the other end of Europe." Pascua, his friend believed, "as soon as he arrives, must send us victory, certified and urgent, in the form of immense shipments that will replenish, in the blink of an eye, all our civil and military needs." 8

These sentiments were not limited only to Pascua's wine-drunk dinner guests. To anyone closely following Loyalist fortunes, Pascua's appointment to the USSR held the greatest possible promise for turning the tide of the war. This belief was certainly foremost in the mind of Prime Minister Largo Caballero, to whom Pascua paid a final visit shortly before leaving for his new post. Meeting in the prime minister's office in the Palacio de Buenavista, Pascua asked Caballero for his specific instructions. The latter's colloquial and candid response, preserved in Pascua's notes of the meeting, is worth quoting at length: 8

Well now, you know the political and military situation. You've got to convince them to help us immediately with military equipment. Above all with aviation—not only aircraft but also pilots, since we have none and there we cannot improvise.... The equipment we had is depleted and we've lost plenty. See if you can't get in good with the Soviet government so they'll help us very soon. At the same time we have Rosenberg here and we'll try with him. Good luck. 9

The potential salvation Pascua's mission offered to the beleaguered Republic made for a highly charged send-off when, on the last day of September, the new ambassador began the long journey to the Russian capital. Madrid to Moscow Accompanied to the Atocha station by nearly all of his neighbors on the Calle Velázquez, Pascua found a formidable array of well-wishers and officials of the Madrid government, including a personal representative of Caballero. Much of the staff of the Soviet embassy, led by Rosenberg, was also on hand. 10

With no regular air transit existing between Moscow and Western Europe, Pascua completed his journey in stages: from Atocha he went overland through Barcelona to FAI-controlled Port Bou, continuing on to Paris by rail. From there, he flew over Germany to Copenhagen, then to Stockholm, where he again boarded a train, now traveling to Helsinki, where he met briefly with the Soviet ambassador to Finland, and finally on to Leningrad. 11

Pascua arrived in Baltic Russia on 6 October, where he was surprised to find that the authorities had organized a generous and enthusiastic welcome on his behalf. He was received by not only the civil and military leadership, but also by a sizable number of Soviet civilians. He continued on the next day to Moscow, arriving on 7 October. The pomp and circumstance at the Finland Station was now repeated in the capital, though doubled or trebled in size. An enormous crowd gathered to meet Pascua, led by a group of functionaries from the NKID and members of the press. With Litvinov absent, the highest official present was the Commissariat's number two man, Krestinskii, soon to be a victim of the purges. After a speech by the Soviet official, Pascua obliged the crowd by speaking about his pleasure at representing the Spanish Republic in the Soviet Union and his sincere gratitude to the Soviet people for their support of the Loyalist cause. 12 The ambassador's speech, delivered in both Spanish and Russian, was broadcast by Soviet national radio throughout the union. 13 The press, for its part, gave unprecedented coverage to Pascua's arrival, granting the activities of the Spaniard front-page coverage for the better part of a week. 14

On 9 October, Pascua presented his credentials to A. C. Cherviyakov, president of Byelorussia and chairman of the Central Executive Committee, a substitute for the vacationing Kalinin. In accordance with Soviet custom, the meeting was brief and simple, and entirely devoid of protocol, ceremony, or symbolic rites. It was during the course of Pascua's informal conversation with Cherviyakov that he first became aware of the full extent of Soviet sympathies toward the Republic's cause. Writing the Foreign Ministry the same evening, Pascua described the "extraordinary and profound interest with which all modes of communication in the USSR are following current developments in Spain...." He reported that a solidarity movement throughout the Soviet republics had been organized, and public demonstrations and collections in favor of the Spanish Republic were occurring on a daily basis. 15 That Pascua's treatment was not at all typical for foreign diplomats in the Soviet capital may be illustrated through the experience of the new Italian ambassador, Rosso, who arrived the same day as the Spaniard. Despite having given the Soviet authorities advance notice, the Italian found himself alone on the station platform, a small welcoming committee arriving a quarter-hour late. 16

Pascua's unprecedented red carpet reception did not soon abate. On 10 October, only three days after arriving, he was invited to a private Kremlin luncheon with Molotov, Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars. 17 The same evening, the ambassador was the guest of honor at a reception and formal dinner. 18 In the days that followed, Pascua would receive special invitations to attend functions all over Moscow. He was fêted by the Commissariats for Foreign Trade (NKVT) and Education (NKP), and the Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries (VOKS). 19 Pascua also attended a gala performance at the Vakhtangov Theater, at the end of which he was given a rousing ovation and encouraged to deliver a short speech. 20 Indeed, over the course of his first week in Moscow, representing a country that had been one of the last to recognize the Soviet regime, Pascua met many of the leading Soviet political and cultural figures and gained access to key state institutions. The NKID even presented as a gift to Pascua a large car to facilitate the conduct of state business in sprawling Moscow. 21 It is doubtful that during the decade of the 1930s any foreign visitor was accorded the range of privileges and honors that Marcelino Pascua received in October 1936. 22

Nowhere is Pascua's preferential standing more in evidence than in the Republic's search for diplomatic lodgings. The hasty organization of Pascua's mission to Moscow and the absence of earlier relations precluded any advance acquisition of rental property for use by the Spanish delegation. Once in Moscow, the new ambassador wrote his superiors at the Madrid Foreign Ministry, bemoaning the daunting prospect of finding a suitable permanent edifice. The city, Pascua reported, faced "a formidable housing shortage." 23

As Moscow's celebrity du jour, however, the Spanish ambassador would not be permitted to endure the hardships that beset most new diplomats, to say nothing of the general populace. Even as Pascua's train approached Moscow, the Soviet regime was taking steps to ensure a smooth settling in. The Commissariat for Foreign Trade (NKVT) cleared a suite of rooms in the National Hotel for the Spanish delegation's temporary quarters. The welcoming festivities at the station completed, Pascua was whisked off to this imposing 1903 landmark—Moscow's finest pre-revolutionary hotel, and the most prestigious address for visiting officials and delegates. 24 In both his personal notes and dispatches to Madrid, Pascua excitedly described his posh accommodations:

Pascua's first home The embassy has been established ... in a generous suite in the National, an old hotel but very comfortable, located right in the center, on Gorki 11/17, in front of the State Museum of History, looking southeast to Red Square, close to the Bolshoi Theater and Pushkin Square, with views overlooking the Kremlin; it has rapid service of the highest class, and is very commodious.... 25

The National served the short-term needs of the Republic's embassy, but a permanent solution was still required. The comforts of the address aside, Pascua recognized that for reasons of discretion and security a free-standing house was required. Here, too, Pascua found the Soviet authorities surprisingly munificent. Due to Uruguay's recent cancellation of plans to establish an embassy, the building they had rented was now offered to the Spaniards. But Pascua was lukewarm to the proposal, claiming the structure in question was too small for the Republic's needs. It would thus appear that Pascua expected the rapid expansion of the Loyalist entourage, at the time consisting solely of the ambassador himself. 26

Soviet officials noted Pascua's reservations about the size of the Uruguayan house, and the matter was passed up the chain of command. On 23 October, the Spaniard's housing search was taken up by no less a body than the Central Committee. By decree, the Politburo gave the Spanish delegation the detached residence at number 18, Malaia Nikitskaia. 27 This location, eight blocks from the Kremlin and equidistant between Tverskaia and Arbat, is by any reckoning a prize slice of real estate. The two-story house featured eight bedrooms, four baths, two kitchens, two salons, a large dining room, and a courtyard garden. 28 It should be noted that in situating Pascua on Malaia Nikitskaia, the Politburo uprooted the structure's then-current occupants: the entire Byelorussian mission, including, ironically, Cherviyakov, the man to whom Pascua had earlier presented his credentials. The Byelorussian delegation was ordered, on five days' notice, to take up residence in a more distant structure, at the time inhabited by the delegation from Turkmenistan; these, too, the authorities dislodged, though whence the archival records do not indicate. Before the end of October, scarcely three weeks after arriving, Pascua had installed his embassy on Malaia Nikitskaia.

Before discussing in detail the activities and effectiveness of the Republic's Moscow embassy, it may be useful to first summarize chronologically the personnel changes within the mission. Though Pascua was the only regular ambassador to represent the Republic during the civil war, his tenure ended early and was marked by extended absences. In August 1937, he traveled to Valencia to consult with his government. In December of the same year he again left Moscow, returning several months later, only to leave almost immediately, in March 1938, for a second extended trip home. During consultations with his government he was reassigned to Spain's embassy in France, a post he immediately took up. 29

Pascua's frequent absences from his post require at least a cursory explanation, for several factors contributed to this atypical and arguably counter-productive state of affairs. First, as will soon become evident, Pascua appears to have borne the challenges of his assignment only with great difficulty. He frequently complained of his isolation, his lack of contact with the Republican government, and lamented both the arduous, somber winters and his halting progress with the Russian language. Second, Pascua's family from the beginning of the war was caught in the Nationalist zone. While in Russia, the ambassador was unable to learn any news of their condition, and much of his time away was spent attempting to communicate with them. Third, and most importantly, the communications crisis that existed between the embassy and the home government (described below) required occasional face-to-face conferences to discuss matters of high sensitivity. Given the lack of competent adjutants assigned to Pascua, the ambassador had no choice but to personally travel to the Republican zone for these consultations.

While Pascua was away in 1937 and the early months of 1938, the Spanish mission was overseen by Vicente Polo. In July 1938, del Vayo appointed Manuel Martínez Pedroso as the new commercial attaché to Moscow. 30 Pedroso, like Pascua, had a reputation as pro-Soviet. He was one of the Bolsheviks' most vocal Spanish supporters in the immediate aftermath of the Revolution, going so far as to defend the CPUSSR's campaign of terror in the Russian Civil War. 31 Since June 1937, Pedroso had held the same post in the Warsaw embassy. Given the Polish government's support for the Nationalists, the position was especially challenging and unrewarding. 32 Neither Polo nor Pedroso, it should be noted, were ever elevated to the status of ambassador. Altogether, the ambassador, Marcelino Pascua, was resident in Moscow for little more than a year—a striking observation when one considers that the Soviet Union was the Republic's only major ally through the thirty-two-month war.

Pascua's instructions in Madrid had been very simple: he was to cement close ties with the Soviet leadership and win the Republic much-needed military assistance. Pascua was unaware that the same week he arrived in Moscow, Soviet ships were ferrying the first shipments of arms to Spain. Such was the clandestine nature of the Soviets' aid to Spain—outlined below in Part II—that the Republic's principal liaison in Moscow was still in the dark regarding the extent of Moscow's intervention. 33 At any rate, Pascua found the Soviet authorities highly sympathetic to the Republican cause. In the beginning, then, it seemed his mission might fulfill the hope that so many had placed in him on the Atocha platform in Madrid.

In terms of gaining access to the highest Soviet officials, Pascua could scarcely have fared better. In stark contrast to much of the diplomatic corps resident in Moscow—some of whom often went years without winning a personal audience with the Soviet leadership—Pascua enjoyed relatively unfettered contact. In the first months of his sojourn, the ambassador's requests for interviews were almost always greeted favorably. In addition to being an invited guest to many state functions and commemorations, Pascua was a frequent visitor to the offices of Foreign Affairs Commissar Litvinov, his Vice-Commissar Potemkin, Defense Commissar Voroshilov, Finance Commissar Grinko, and Foreign Commerce Commissar Soudine. On at least two occasions, Pascua held extended talks with the imposing trio of Stalin, Molotov, and Voroshilov. 34 Indeed, a measure of Pascua's proximity to those occupying high offices is indicated in a letter to Stalin dated 19 October 1937:

My dear and respected Comrade Stalin:
On the occasion of my last visit to the Kremlin, you were kind enough to accept my invitation to sample at my home several old Spanish wines. This would be a pleasure and an honor both for me and the office I hold as representative of Republican Spain. If you are in agreement, perhaps you would be so kind as to indicate what date would be convenient, and whether you prefer lunch or dinner. With your approval, the other invitees should be Comrades Molotov, Voroshilov, Kaganovich and the other persons who have helped us. 35

In Pascua's personal archive there is no evidence that Stalin made good on his interest in drinking Spanish wine with the ambassador in the Malaia Nikitskaia embassy. Nonetheless, this and other letters reveal a familiarity between the ambassador and Stalin that was highly unusual in late-1930s Moscow.

II. Stagnation and Decline of the Pascua Mission


As we have seen, Pascua enjoyed unrivaled access to the highest corridors of Soviet power, and he represented a cause in which Moscow took a keen and sincere interest. But the high-water mark for Pascua's prestige in the Russian capital came and went in the first few months of his tenure. By the end of his first year in Moscow, roughly fall 1937, the excitement that had surrounded Pascua's arrival the previous October had long since faded, and the ambassador's mission became increasingly ineffective. The reasons for this are complex, but a review of them can tell us much about the evolving Soviet-Loyalist relationship.

The most intractable problem facing Pascua's mission to Moscow was general neglect by the Republic's Foreign Ministry. As will become evident, this negligence was comprehensive, and no aspect of the embassy's operation—workload, personnel, operating funds, or modes of communication—was adequately supported. Throughout the war, the Republican government maintained a bare-bones Moscow operation, which never exceeded the absolute minimum level of subsistence. Furthermore, a careful examination of documentation regarding the embassy reveals that the deficiencies were not a matter of the Republic's Foreign Ministry gradually becoming disillusioned with Soviet military support and slowly scaling back its staff in Moscow. Rather, from the moment Republican Spain resumed normal diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union in August 1936—a time, it should be added, when the Republic had everything to gain from large-scale and well-orchestrated lobbying of Stalin's regime—its commitment to the Moscow mission was curiously weak.

More than anyone else, Pascua was in the best position to appreciate the shortcomings of Spain's support for its Soviet embassy. Indeed, even before leaving on his assignment, the ambassador was given a sober preview of the obstacles he faced at the hands of the Foreign Ministry. In late September 1936, for example, he attempted to convince his superiors of the need to name an aviation attaché to the Moscow office. At the time, the Nationalists enjoyed unchallenged control of the skies, and Pascua believed that a leading Spanish aviator—a pilot named Mellado—could do much in the Soviet Union to ensure that the Republican air force received the necessary training and equipment. Prieto refused to authorize the request for Mellado to visit the USSR. The day prior to Pascua's departure, Mellado was lost over enemy territory. 36

Despite the high stakes involved in the Republic's new relations with the USSR—stakes which, as we have seen, were recognized by more than a few observers in Madrid—the Foreign Ministry dispatched Pascua to his post without a single assistant. This predicament naturally put the new ambassador, who was eager to make a good impression and rapidly assess Soviet attitudes towards the Republican cause, at a considerable disadvantage. In his first telegram to the ministry, sent the day of his arrival in the Russian capital, Pascua implored his government to relieve him of this early handicap:

Arrived today in Moscow received cordially as in Leningrad. Request the immediate incorporation of embassy staff which for the moment you may limit to a secretary and a commercial attaché. Would appreciate the rapid dispatch of four copies of the white book. Greetings, address National Hotel. 37

In response, the Foreign Ministry immediately cabled back that four copies of the white book—that is, the code books—would be dispatched at once. Curiously, the ministry's telegram does not mention the embassy staff. 38 Two days hence, still having heard nothing from Madrid regarding embassy appointments, Pascua sent a more urgent and detailed request for the completion of his staff:

In view of immediate necessities I should like to suggest to you ... the following composition for this delegation: a secretary general of the embassy, a commercial and economic attaché and a military attaché. The first of these might also serve as consul general for this city.... At the same time it is advisable to establish a consul on the Black Sea, preferably in Batum or Odessa, as accords with the future development of our commerce with the USSR. I beseech your grace to immediately send this delegation. The conditions in which I am currently forced to work—without a single compatriot and with the Spanish-less interpreter whom the Commissariat has lent me—are extremely harmful. 39

Indeed, so overwhelmed and short-handed was Pascua in his first days in Moscow that the commissariat lent him, in addition to the interpreter, a small staff of secretaries and assistants. 40 In this way the new ambassador was able to carry out the necessary formalities involved in establishing an embassy, such as distributing and receiving communications from the diplomatic community and arranging interviews with Soviet officials.

Neither Pascua's frequent entreaties to the Foreign Ministry nor the unconventional and risky practice of borrowing NKID functionaries to carry out official Spanish business succeeded in rousing Republican officials to assign adequate personnel to the Moscow embassy. Three months after arriving in Russia, the ministry had given Pascua only one staff member—in the ambassador's words, "a second-class secretary with no experience whatsoever, young and amateurish, who cannot even take shorthand or type." 41 Writing to Asúa, he expressed incomprehension at the lack of support.

I am very concerned with the continuous lack of information from the Ministry to this embassy, and despite my petitions. There is no excuse for this absence of both materials and staff ... and it is translating into very difficult situations for me. 42

Throughout 1937, the conditions Pascua faced did not improve. On the occasion of the one-year mark of his tenure, the ambassador sent the new prime minister, Juan Negrín, a scathing rumination on twelve months of seclusion:

The embassy of the Republic in the USSR, whose transcendent importance at the present moment ... I need not remind you, possesses a staff consisting of a second-class secretary ... and the ambassador.... I would not be carrying out my assigned duties were I not to reiterate to you that this situation, and above all its prolongation without resolution, is a complete and absolute disgrace.... 43

The letter closes with Pascua's offer to resign if for some reason the government no longer has faith in him. The response from Valencia, arriving a month later, was a perfunctory reassurance and the promise to send two additional secretaries to Moscow. 44

In the event, however, a pair of added staff members could not repair the serious damage to the Spanish Republic's diplomatic prestige in the Russian capital. Pascua's spirits, moreover, plummeted as his isolation grew more acute. Writing to Zugazagoitia in late November 1937, the ambassador was exasperated and livid:

Let me assure you that I am undergoing a period of tremendous difficulty and my patience is buoyed only by the fundamental consideration of what the USSR can do for us in certain areas at this time. Apart from those coming by diplomatic pouch, my correspondence has been almost completely suppressed; without apparent reason, I've hardly received any letters for the last several weeks.

Greatly contributing to my desolate state is the almost criminal fact that I have no staff in the embassy, that is, advisors, secretaries, attachés, etc., despite repeated and anguished requests.... But the sabotage by my ministerial superiors—who themselves offer me no sign of life—continues. The embassy at the moment is composed of the ambassador, a commercial attaché—who in view of these shameful conditions is required to assist me wherever he is able, in areas quite apart from his commission—Maria [the cook] and the Russian servants, all carrying the instructions that you might suspect.... I don't want to describe to you the other embassies' initial bewilderment and then commiseration upon learning that our state of affairs seems to be unchangeable. Nor can I tell you the poor impression that this must produce in the Soviet government, contemplating the importance assigned to this in Spain, and after 14 months....

None of the numerous gestures made to the Minister of State and the General Secretary have had any result; they are absorbed in the business of sending their friends to various destinations where life is easier, but [who will be] of no use to the Spanish state. Exhausted, I recently advised Negrín that when he considers it opportune ... I will hand him my resignation, for it is impossible to tolerate ... this denigrating and harmful state ... much longer. The many accumulated small humiliations and the isolation have unnerved me so thoroughly that I often find myself in a state incapable of reacting.

With respect to the Soviet government, and given its positive attitude in various areas of our problem—and the consequences thereof—it is obvious that the objectives which I've been assigned in my mission are very poor. 45

When Pascua departed permanently for his French reassignment in March 1938, the Spanish neglect of their Moscow embassy was only heightened. His successors, the commercial attaché Polo and later the chargé d'affaires Pedroso, each found themselves increasingly cut off from the Republic and alienated from the Soviet regime. Indeed, in the last year of the war the Spanish mission in Moscow was a wholly ineffective embassy, incapable of carrying out any serious responsibilities related to government business or the war effort. As critical problems continued to arise in Soviet-Loyalist relations, the mission's failure became more conspicuous.

III. The Impoverished Republican Embassy


Though the personnel crisis neither improved nor worsened after spring 1938, Pascua's departure had the effect of accelerating the impoverishment of the Moscow mission. In part, this was a straightforward issue of financing. As mentioned above, once Pascua was reassigned to Paris, the Foreign Ministry never appointed a new ambassador to Moscow. The most immediate result of the ministry's inaction was a precipitous drop in the funds available to sustain the Moscow mission. As ambassador to Moscow, Pascua was paid a standard salary of 12,856 French francs per month. In addition, he was also provided with an expense allowance of 43,712 francs, out of which he was responsible for paying the various and sundry costs associated with his office: food, supplies, receptions, fuel, heating, transportation, pouch and courier expenses, etc. 46 When Pascua left the embassy in spring 1938, the commercial attaché Polo assumed all of his duties. Yet Polo's salary remained what it had been when he was subordinate to Pascua: a regular income of 2600 francs plus a niggardly expense budget of 6241 francs. Put another way, for the last year of the Republic's existence, the Foreign Ministry had reduced its budget for the Moscow embassy by almost 85 percent, from a total of 56,568 francs a month under Pascua to Polo's combined 8841 francs. 47

The lack of funds led to real and immediate problems in the embassy's day-to-day operations. Quite apart from the frequent shortages of this or that necessity which one might expect during any long stay in Soviet Russia—such as the lack of writing paper in the embassy during the summer of 1938 48 —Pascua's successors faced pecuniary straits that threatened to shut down the entire mission. On 14 April 1938, for example, Polo was instructed to hold a reception at the embassy to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the declaration of the Second Spanish Republic. Invitations went out to members of the Spanish colony resident in and around Moscow, including the teachers working with the evacuated children and the four families of the Bank of Spain. 49 Ten days after the event, a distraught Polo alerted Pascua that he had paid for the entire affair out of his own pocket, even though his salary remained unchanged and the ministry had not given him an operating budget. "I am now in a situation where I genuinely lack sufficient money," Polo wrote, "because my Ministry has paid me only part of my salary and not even every month...." 50 In his response, Pascua expressed little surprise:

It seems to me that they [the Foreign Ministry] paid no mind whatsoever to any money owed me for my last two or three trips from here to Valencia ... and as for other [expenses] for which I've never been reimbursed, just imagine how many thousands of francs they must owe me. 51

When Polo's impoverishment did not abate, Pascua attempted to send him the equivalent of $400 of his own money. Polo refused the charity. 52

From July 1938 until the end of the war, the Moscow embassy's financial problems steadily increased. The de facto head who now bore the brunt of this financial crisis was Manuel Pedroso, Polo's successor and the Foreign Ministry's third and final front man in its Moscow mission. As was the case during Polo's tenure, Pedroso found himself financially cut off from his home government, and his entreaties for prompt payment of salary and expenses often elicited no response whatsoever.

With the war drawing to a close, Pedroso faced new responsibilities that required both regular funding and close collaboration with his advisors. The most important of these duties included his attempts to repatriate the three thousand Spanish children and their teachers who had been evacuated to the USSR earlier in the war. In addition, he was also obliged to see to the proper disposal of the embassy contents, most notably the archive.

As with Polo before, Pascua intervened when he could from Paris, sending the Moscow mission small amounts of cash via diplomatic pouch. 53 These donations kept the embassy afloat through the winter of 1938-39, but as the end neared, the futility of Pedroso's frustrated efforts became apparent. By early March 1939, the chargé d'affaires reported that, "apart from a handful of rubles and a few British pounds, I am out of money." 54 The embassy, he continued, had received no money from the government in either January or February. Most egregiously, the ministry had ordered Pedroso to return to Barcelona the sum of 5,000 pounds, funds that had earlier been set aside to eventually evacuate the Moscow mission. 55 Pascua, when he learned that Pedroso had obeyed the order, was furious: "It was an enormous error on your part to send back the 5,000.... Imagine what that quantity of money would have allowed you to accomplish and the freedom of movement which it would have granted you." 56

IV. The Crisis of Communications


Exacerbating the problem of support and making matters considerably worse was a notoriously poor communications system between the Moscow embassy and the Foreign Ministry (which, after November 1936, was located in Valencia with the rest of the government). As with other aspects of the Spanish mission, the deficiency here lay only partially in technological shortcomings, but chiefly in the Republic's poorly placed priorities and unwillingness to collaborate with the Soviets. When Pascua arrived in Russia in October 1936, the Soviets had already tested and established telephone and radio links between the Foreign Commissariat and its Madrid mission. 57 Naïvely, perhaps, Pascua believed that this same link would permit him to communicate with his own government. 58 In the event, neither Pascua nor any of his adjutants ever gained access to the direct line. Instead, to communicate with their superiors, staffers in the Moscow embassy were forced to rely on slow and insecure methods: through a courier, via rail and air to the Republic's French embassy (to be relayed from Paris to the Foreign Ministry in Spain), or through the NKID's own telegram service and diplomatic pouch. The first option was slow and vulnerable to breaches of security; the second choice was even less satisfactory, as it required full trust in the Soviets' confidentiality. "Needless to say," Pascua told his ministry upon receiving the Soviet offer to forward Loyalist mail, "until I receive your express authorization I will abstain from employing [the NKID] method." 59

Given the critical nature of Pascua's duties in Moscow—which included the procurement of arms and the management of the dispensation of the Republic's gold stocks, both discussed below—the ambassador understandably expected the communications problem to be promptly resolved. Yet his ministry ignored Pascua's pleas for the amelioration of the situation. Two months into his sojourn he complained to Luis Jiménez de Asúa, the ambassador to Prague, that "the current system of communication with the Ministry is completely unsatisfactory, both for receiving their opinions and providing them with my own." 60 Continuing in the same vein, Pascua added that at such a distance and with such slim information, he was at an enormous disadvantage in understanding either Spain's position internationally or changes in its domestic political scene. 61 Writing Asúa again four months later, Pascua had become exasperated. He claimed that a regular diplomatic pouch between his embassy and the Foreign Ministry "had been promised countless times but never realized." Somewhat resigned, Pascua added, "We must console ourselves that it will probably be functioning by 1940." 62

Compounding the communications crisis was the Spaniards' careless use of codes in diplomatic correspondence. The code system established to communicate with the embassies was by many accounts easily compromised, and Pascua was convinced of its vulnerability. In an October 1937 letter to Negrín, he informed the prime minister that the Soviets almost certainly possessed the Republic's codes. 63 On other occasions, Pascua confessed that a lack of confidence in the security of his dispatches prevented him from speaking his mind. 64 By early 1938, the ambassador's fears for the vulnerability of his dispatches led him to develop, together with the chargé d'affaires Polo, a private code for their personal correspondence. 65

It is a measure both of the Republic's inattention to the ongoing communications crisis and the Russians' code-cracking prowess that on several occasions Soviet officials demanded that their Spanish allies rectify the problem. In a February conference with Pascua, Stalin gave the ambassador a stern and three-pronged message: 1.) The Loyalist codes are too easy to read; 2.) Codes must be changed daily; and 3.) It is always preferable to send a personal courier over a coded telegram. 66 This advice was clearly not heeded, for eight months later, in October, Voroshilov felt compelled to again rebuke Pascua for using insecure communications methods. On this occasion, the defense commissar urged the ambassador to use a diplomatic pouch rather than telegrams or regular mails. 67 Paradoxically, however, while the Kremlin lectured the Republic's representative on issues of secrecy, in Spain the Soviet advisors were incapable of doing any better. The Soviet military attaché Vladimir Gorev had reported to Voroshilov in October 1936 that one advisor was discussing sensitive matters over the telephone. 68 Meanwhile, the naval attaché Kuznetsov admitted in his memoirs that it was his habit to report the arrival of new Russian hardware over insecure lines, and with the most unsophisticated coded language. 69

One consequence of the embassy's neglect and the poor communications between the Republic's Foreign Ministry and Moscow was a tendency toward serious breakdowns in the relay of specific orders. When letters to the ministry could take up to a month to reach Spain, and the reply another several weeks, the result was a general paralysis of the Republic's Moscow outpost. 70 At times, Loyalist messages to the embassy were delayed on arriving, only to be held up further by the embassy's poor coordination with the Soviet leadership. In June 1938, for example, Polo learned from unreliable sources that a group of Spanish refugee children were to arrive in Leningrad within a week. As the highest official working in the embassy, he had a responsibility to tend to the children's welfare. "Officially," he wrote, "nothing on this matter has been communicated to me, neither through Soviet channels, nor, something even more unpardonable, through Spanish channels." 71 Were it not for the rumor mill, Polo would have been unaware of the refugees' impending arrival.

A more prominent example of the communication problem was brought to light during Pascua's February 1938 conference with Stalin, Molotov, and Voroshilov. The defense commissar loudly complained to the ambassador that the communication crisis between Valencia and Moscow had reached the point where he no longer knew the needs of the Popular Army. While the shamed Pascua looked on, Voroshilov bellowed furiously:

You have constantly been demanding bombers. As a result of our last conversation, we are now ready to send sixty-one bombers. Only now we are being told that you want thirty bombers and thirty fighters? 72

As if Voroshilov's tone and message were not adequately clear, Pascua's notes of the meeting record a brief comment written to himself regarding the commissar's harangue: "He says this in order to call attention to [our] disorientation and critical lack of information." 73

Despite the Soviets' inclination to reprimand the Spaniards' sloppy communications, the archival evidence suggests that the Russians themselves were part of the problem. Indeed, when a diplomatic pouch was finally established in early 1938—in this case a link to Western Europe through Helsinki—the Soviets frequently prevented it from functioning smoothly. In his correspondence with an absent Pascua, the chargé d'affaires Polo rarely sent off a letter without a standard reference to the boundless Soviet restrictions of the mail system. 74

In addition to these problems, Pascua and his successors were forced to endure the numerous hardships suffered by all foreigners in Russia, not least the climate and language. Writing to Asúa in the midst of his first Moscow winter, Pascua reflected on the seasonal extremes of his temporary home:

The intense colds are occurring now more frequently. In addition, the shorter days tend to bring on a certain melancholy. Altogether it makes for a very difficult ambience. 75

At the same time, though Pascua had been nominated for his post in part on account of his knowledge of Russian, the ambassador had little confidence in his skill in the language. Several months after arriving, he expressed his frustration to Asúa:

This is the devil's tongue! Even though I've studied it somewhat ... making any progress at all is an uphill climb. This really is a difficult language for a Latino. In the end I can do nothing but keep chipping away at it. 76

The foregoing should make clear that, from the time of its founding in October 1936 until the end of the war in the spring of 1939, the Loyalist mission to Moscow was severely handicapped by numerous factors, the most important of which was the Republican government's refusal or inability to lend proper support. To gain a better sense of the extent of the neglect, one need only look at the mission Pascua took over in Paris in the spring of 1938. As of 22 January 1939, the Spanish Republic's embassy in France included some thirty-six Spanish nationals on the payroll. Paris embassy personnel Among them were five secretaries and seven separate attachés, including postings specific to the military, navy, agriculture, finance, commerce, as well as two floating "special" attachés. The embassy also had two full-time coders as well as a support staff including three chauffeurs, a diplomatic pouch courier, several doormen, and even a night porter. 77 By contrast, at no point did the Moscow embassy have more than two Spanish employees on staff; for the last year of the war, it had no ambassador.

Admittedly, certain factors temper this comparison. Given the long history of close Spanish diplomatic ties with France (one of only two states with which Spain shares a border), the Foreign Ministry had always provided strong support to its Parisian delegation. Meanwhile, the Moscow embassy staff had to be created from scratch, and was thus handicapped from the beginning. The Republic'sgovernment potentially had much to gain from its relations with the French, even if the Paris government had prohibited the sale of arms to the Loyalists and for the first year of the war refused to open its borders for the transit of weaponry. It should also be noted that the Republic's embassy in France performed other indirect functions vis-à-vis the Soviet Union. For example, a portion of Soviet assistance to the Republic was purchased in third countries, and paid for through the Banque Commerciale pour l'Europe du Nord (or Eurobank), located in Paris. 78 Second, but perhaps more significant, the Loyalist legation to France often presented the Republic's requests for military matériel directly to the Soviet embassy in Paris. 79

These considerations aside, the contrasting levels of support is still jarring, not least because, by fall 1936, Republican officials were well aware of the new ground rules established by the international community: the French were committed to non-intervention, while the Russians were willing to sell their best hardware, dispatch pilots and tank crews, and lend their top advisors. Given these factors, the Republic's poor upkeep of its Moscow embassy defies explanation.

V. Consequences of Neglect


The insufficient support given to the Moscow embassy had several major and unquestionably detrimental repercussions on the overall effectiveness of the Spanish mission. To begin, the nonexistence of any auxiliary personnel at the embassy forced Pascua—and later Polo and Pedroso—to carry out not only the major functions of ambassador or chargé d'affaires, but also the secondary tasks normally performed by attachés, assistants, or staff. The principal responsibility was, of course, initiating and maintaining high-level contacts with the Soviet leadership. Pascua's early celebrity status in Moscow made this goal quite unproblematic, and his interview schedule through the first year of the war indicates that he had unprecedented access to any commissariat in the city, and thus to the architects of Soviet policy. The Republican government, despite its inaction in processing Pascua's pleas for funds and staff, counted on their ambassador for the timely delivery of requests for military aid to the Soviet leadership. 80

Had Pascua or his successors only been responsible for conveying the Republic's military needs to the Defense Commissariat and lobbying Voroshilov for rapid action, theirs certainly would have been a daunting and challenging responsibility. Yet their attention was to a large degree diverted to the myriad minor obligations of diplomatic affairs that, for lack of any staff, fell on their shoulders. With no officer to coordinate counter-intelligence, Pascua was required to investigate reports of suspected fascist or Nationalist spies infiltrating Republican vessels. 81 As the embassy never received a military (much less aviation) attaché, first Pascua, then Polo and Pedroso filled the void. When in 1937 the Republic began sending pilot trainees to the USSR for instruction, the ambassador found himself overseeing the project, despite his conspicuous paucity of experience in military aviation. 82 Similarly, responsibility for the welfare of the three thousand refugee children evacuated to Russia and Ukraine was also assigned to the Moscow embassy. Here as elsewhere, the mission was in over its head, frequently pleading with the Republican government to send officials from the Education Ministry to ensure effective monitoring of the young evacuees. 83 Were all of this not enough, the lead man at the embassy invariably played the role of financial and commercial attaché, charged with arranging credit extensions, overseeing the gold transfer, keeping track of the four Bank of Spain families detained in Russia, and serving as trade negotiator in the burgeoning traffic of non-military goods between the USSR and the Republic. 84

After the problems generated by the overwork and over-extension of Pascua and his successors, the second consequence of Spanish neglect of the Moscow embassy was a clear and progressive deterioration of relations between the Soviet regime and the Republic's Moscow delegation. The reasons for this are doubtlessly complex, and only at the conclusion of this work will a more complete explanation be possible. On the diplomatic front, however, it is clear that the Soviets' heavy investment in and VIP treatment of the Republic's mission to Moscow was never reciprocated. Over time, the Loyalists' careless neglect of their Russian embassy began to alienate the Soviets and made them less willing to continue their collaboration. Official Soviet sources long denied any falling out between the two states, but this is not surprising, as the issue was doubtlessly an embarrassment to all involved. 85

It has been noted above that a little over a year after arriving, in late November 1937, Pascua had worried that his lack of staff and resources may leave a "poor impression" ("mala impresion") on the Soviet government. 86 A poorer impression still was left by the ambassador's own unceremonious departure in the spring of 1938. Pascua was rarely present in the last few months of his Moscow sojourn, and he received his Paris assignment while in Spain, a post which he immediately took up. He never formally took leave of the Soviet leadership in person, nor of the larger diplomatic community in Russia. Indeed, some weeks after arriving in Paris, Pascua instructed his adjutant Polo to send out apologies for this breach of protocol. 87 He himself, however, took care to personally notify the Soviet officials with whom he had worked most closely. Writing to Litvinov in English, Pascua was unusually contrite as he expressed regret and embarrassment over the course of events:

I must confess to you that I am very disturbed indeed by this forced alteration of what should be normal behavior and the more so remembering your continuous courtesies and kindnesses regarding me and the noble attitude of the Soviet Government in regard [sic] the Spanish Republic as well. 88

Apologies aside, with Pascua gone relations worsened in the late spring and summer of 1938. It became increasingly clear to any cogent observer that the Republic would not appoint a new ambassador in Pascua's place. Polo was keenly aware that Soviet leadership had interpreted Spain's attitude towards its Moscow mission as a major insult. Polo described his first days in charge of the embassy this way:

I now find myself totally neglected by all our "Russian friends" and all this time I have received from them not a single word of support nor the most minimal demonstration of interest.... In other areas I have also observed a deliberate withdrawal and coldness with respect to the Spanish question. 89

A week later, attending May Day celebrations in Red Square, Polo was shocked that in a long speech, Voroshilov—Voroshilov!—made only one passing allusion to the Spanish Civil War. 90 In a letter to Pascua, Polo offered an interpretation:

On the occasion of May 1 I sent a letter of congratulations to the Foreign Commissariat, which to this date has not responded. I continue to have the impression that something is amiss with respect to those of us in this embassy, and I can't help but conclude that it may be the result of our not having an ambassador. 91

Pascua's response confirmed that both men agreed on the problem of the embassy vis-à-vis the Republican government:

For my part, I urged the Ministry to resolve this abnormal situation which in fact could damage the relations between both countries. Given how sensitive the Russians can be, the prolongation of this irregular situation will produce some ill will. The first to be injured and bothered by this will be you. 92

Polo, of course, was neither the first nor the last. His replacement, Pedroso, who manned the helm until late March 1939, sent the Foreign Ministry a note on 25 July 1938 indicating that he had been "warmly received by Litvinov, Potemkin and Weinberg." 93 After this date, however, the new chargé d'affaires had virtually no contact whatsoever with any Soviet official of consequence. Several weeks before the end, he recounted his isolation to Pascua:

Recent events have produced absolutely no modification in our relations with the authorities, which continue to be as restrictive as ever. Not a single soul has approached me during these sad days. Not a word and not a single visit. 94

At no time was the embassy's low status and almost complete emasculation more painfully evident than during Ignacio Hidalgo de Cisneros' December 1938 emergency visit to Moscow. The Republican government had dispatched its air force chief to the Soviet capital in a desperate attempt to secure fresh military hardware from the Russians. It need hardly be underlined that the purpose of this mission might have easily been executed by a competent and operational embassy. Indeed, Cisneros' task was identical to that with which Pascua had earlier been charged. The Valencia government was evidently well aware of the cumulative damage it had inflicted on the Moscow operation. Thus Pedroso, though the official Loyalist representative in the USSR, played no role in the negotiations for increased aid. 95

If all of this sounds a bit gloomy, it is worth noting that those charged with the solitary task of manning the Republic's Moscow outpost had at least one consistent solace through the civil war. Early in his tenure, Pascua had acquired through his Russian cook a small lap dog whom he named Barbitas (Little Beard). Working with a lone adjutant and isolated from his own government, Pascua came to rely increasingly on this domestic pet for companionship. If the archival record is a true reflection of the mood at the time, for several years the psychological stability of the entire embassy rested squarely on the shoulders of little Barbitas. The few staffers in the embassy became inordinately attached to Pascua's dog.

After Pascua departed permanently for Paris, taking Barbitas with him, not a letter was sent on to him without extended and emotional entreaties to give the dog a beso, caricia especial, or achuchoncito. 96 So sorely missed was Barbitas that in his place Polo acquired two fox terriers, dogs who themselves soon became the chargé d'affaires' constant companions and the objects of intense affection. 97 But whereas the diminutive Barbitas easily served the emotional needs of all in the Malaia Nikitskaia edifice, Polo's two terriers were evidently insufficient to fully replace their famed predecessor. Thus the cook, Maria, felt compelled to take on a dog of her own, a large and unruly—and, it seems, unfixed—shepherd named Zaur. 98 By early spring 1938, the dog population of the embassy outnumbered the Spanish nationals by three to two.

Despite the new additions, Barbitas continued to hold a position of prominence that no other dog could usurp. When in April 1938 Barbitas, now in Paris with Pascua, began having sudden and uncontrollable seizures, all references to the other three dogs in the diplomats' correspondence vanished. While the Moscow staff waited anxiously for news, Pascua ferried Barbitas from one French vet to another. The diagnosis was finally relayed to Russia: not worms but nephritis. The attacks would continue, and death would likely follow. 99 The spirits of both embassies sank. In the annals of European diplomatic history, there may be no other dog that figured so prominently and at the same time in the life of both a Western and Eastern European embassy. So notorious was Pascua's relationship with Barbitas that even the Nationalists took note. In a radio broadcast in the summer of 1938, Franco's propagandist asserted that "the Red Ambassador in Paris has no confidence in anyone and is dismissive of all. The only one in whom he has faith is his dog." 100 Some time later, Barbitas passed away, devastating Pascua in Paris and casting the Moscow crew into collective grief. 101

At this point, it should be clear that, for the duration of the Spanish Civil War, the principal impediment to the effective functioning of the Republic's Moscow embassy was not an increasingly mistrustful Soviet regime, but an indifferent and neglectful home government. Pascua's initial objectives were daunting: first, establish high-level contact with the Soviet leadership, and second, solicit large-scale military and technical assistance. To his surprise, Pascua discovered on his arrival that the entire Soviet public had already been mobilized to support the Republican cause. More important, the regime was favorably disposed toward assisting the Spanish ambassador in all facets of his mission. Thus the question arises, given the potential benefits of the Soviets' positive attitude towards the Republic—best exemplified through the privileges bestowed on Pascua—why did the Loyalist government apparently starve its Moscow embassy? Two possible explanations may explain the rise and fall of Pascua's mission.

First, it is conceivable that the counterproductive treatment of the Moscow delegation was in fact no deliberate sabotage at all, but rather the result of the myriad logistical problems that Loyalist officials were ill equipped to handle. In this scenario, the Republic had every intention of exploiting Moscow's assistance to the fullest, but the exigencies of war did not permit greater support of and communication with its Moscow-based representatives. At the same time, it is possible that, once the Republican government ascertained that Russia could be counted on to supply the Popular Army, there was no further need to expend resources on the upkeep of its Soviet mission. In effect, Pascua's objectives had been accomplished for him, even before he arrived in the Russian capital.

On the other hand, some evidence suggests that the Republic's undermining of its Moscow mission was the direct result of factional disagreements within the governing coalition. Let us recall that among the numerous political struggles that shook the Loyalist government during the civil war was an ongoing attempt by the PSOE leadership, together with its moderate allies, to stem the rising influence of the PCE. The PCE had much to gain through expanded Republican relations with the Soviet Union; meanwhile, the PSOE—in particular, its successive leaders Caballero and Prieto—attempted to foil Communist attempts to dominate the political arena. It is not unreasonable to conclude that, while the Caballero government initially sent the Republic's legation to Moscow, the premier was not about to unnecessarily inflate that embassy's position or prestige, for such a move would ultimately strengthen the hand of the PCE. This interpretation is supported by Pascua's November 1937 letter to Zugazagoitia:

There must exist friction, explainable but also expected, between some of you [socialists]—I suppose specifically Prieto and you—and the communists, for my situation here has lately become very tense and difficult, and the experience has taught me that these ups and downs, a result of the coordination and rigidity of the elements at play, must be a reflection of the relations between the PC and my party's members, particularly Prieto. That, or the necessities of tactics. I believe this must be the reason because after much and repeated reflection I cannot conjure up a reason or objective motive—apart from psychopathic—for the nearly total isolation in which now find myself.... 102

To be sure, the strange case of the Spanish Republic's Moscow embassy, like the Soviet embassy and consulate in Spain, awaits additional investigations that might draw on archival materials unavailable to me. 103 To accurately assess the true implications of the Loyalist government's treatment of its Moscow mission, a comparative analysis of Republican missions in various European capitals is required. 104 To better understand the Soviet mission in Spain, Moscow's overall objectives not only in wartime Spain but in Western Europe generally must also be considered. For the moment, however, several conclusions regarding Soviet-Spanish diplomacy may be suggested.

One obvious characteristic shared by both the Soviet and Republican diplomatic missions is the general neglect and low regard they received from their home governments. Given the role of Soviet arms in allowing the Republic to continue the war effort—indeed, to survive the first six months of the conflict—one might have expected both Madrid and Moscow to place a far greater emphasis on the diplomatic trappings of the two states' new relationship and common purpose. Yet very nearly the opposite occurred. The Soviets kept high-level diplomats in Spain for only nine months after their initial arrival. The Republic, meanwhile, not only delayed in sending a representative to Moscow by nearly three months, but after refusing to provide proper support for some sixteen months re-appointed its ambassador elsewhere and left the Moscow post vacant. In sum, the Soviets and Republic devalued their official diplomatic ties, even as they increased their military, political, and cultural involvement.

An explanation of this trend may lie in Stalin's words to Pascua on 2 February 1937, when the Soviet dictator advised against a friendship treaty for fear that it would further alienate Britain and France. Stalin may have had no intention of disassociating himself from the Spanish struggle, but he seemed to believe in the efficacy of conveying that impression to the world. If this was a motivating factor in dictating the Kremlin's policy on the diplomatic front, it goes a long way towards explaining the Soviets' withdrawal of ambassador-level representatives from Spain, even as covert military and political advisers were multiplying their efforts.

It is impossible to rationalize the Republic's neglect of its embassy in Moscow along the same lines. There is no evidence that the Republic sought to downgrade its Moscow embassy with the hopes of winning eventual support from the West. From the very beginning of its relations with the Soviets, the relatively late appointment of a young doctor with no diplomatic experience to the post of ambassador already spoke volumes about the Republic's low regard for the mission. The subsequent and protracted neglect of that mission, about which the Republic's leadership was kept well informed, passed early on from careless disregard to something quite indistinguishable from sabotage. To conclude, then, one may safely assert that the Pascua archive brings to light a startling revelation: Whether or not the Soviet Union abandoned the Spanish Republic midway through the war—a historiographic debate that is joined elsewhere in this study—it cannot be denied that, where its embassy was concerned, the Republic effectively abandoned the Soviet Union. The implications of this development for broader Soviet-Spanish relations, and their impact on the Republic's fortunes in the civil war, will be taken up in later chapters.


Note 1: None of the principal studies of either the civil war in general nor even specialized studies of the internationalization of the war consider beyond a mere mention the republic's Moscow embassy. Among Western historians ignoring this important topic are Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War 3rd ed. rev. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986); Michael Alpert, A New International History of the Spanish Civil War (New York: St. Martin's, 1994); Pierre Broué, Staline et la révolution: le cas espagnol (Paris: Fayard, 1993); Burnett Bolloten, The Spanish Civil War: Revolution and Counterrevolution in Spain, 1936-1939 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991); David Cattell Communism and the Spanish Civil War (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1955); and Cattell, Soviet Diplomacy and the Spanish Civil War (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1957), to name only the most significant. The recent spate of post-Soviet Russian scholarship has also neglected the issue. No mention at all of the establishment of a Republican embassy in Moscow is made in M. V. Novikov, SSSR, Komintern i grazhdanskaia voina v Ispanii 1936-1939, 2 vols. (Iaroslav: Iaroslavskii gos. pedagogicheskii universitet, 1995); nor in Iurii E. Ribalkin, "Voennaia pomoshch' Sovetskogo Soiuza ispanskomu narodu v natsional'no-revoliutsionnoi voine 1936-1939," Ph.D. diss. (Institute of Military History, Moscow, 1992); nor in V.A Tolmachaev, "Sovetskii Soiuz i Ispaniia: Opyt i uroki internatsional'noi pomoshchi (1936-1939)," Ph.D. diss. (Leningrad, 1991).  Back.

Note 2: This is also the conclusion of Viñas in Manuel Tuñón de Lara, et al., La Guerra Civil Española: 50 años después (Barcelona: Editorial Labor, 1985), 147.  Back.

Note 3: Ibid., 147-148.  Back.

Note 4: AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 16, Exp. 3. The source document is Pascua's curriculum vita dating from 1939. The same file reveals much about Pascua's life after the war. In the spring of 1939, the ambassador emigrated to the United States, where he took a teaching post in public health at Johns Hopkins University. He ended his career in Geneva, as a public health official with the UN. Pascua died in 1977.  Back.

Note 5: Pascua wrote two favorable articles on Soviet medicine after returning from the USSR. See El Socialista, 11 and 12 Nov. 1932.  Back.

Note 6: Luis Araquistain, El comunismo y la guerra de España (San José, Costa Rica: [s.n] 1939), 28.  Back.

Note 7: AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, leg. 16, exp. 1.  Back.

Note 8: Julián Zugazagoitia, Guerra y vicisitudes de los Españoles, vol I (Paris: Librería Española, 1941), 170.  Back.

Note 9: AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 5, Exp. 7, 8. Passing through Paris, Pascua called briefly on fellow socialist Alvarez del Vayo, at the time both the republic's ambassador to France and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Del Vayo's advice, again according to Pascua's notes of the meeting, was the same as Caballero's. Wrote Pascua, "he advised me to establish the best possible relations with the Soviet government...." AHN-Madrid, Diversos, M. Pascua, Leg 5, Exp 7, 2.  Back.

Note 10: AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 5, Exp. 7, 1. The Atocha farewell is also discussed in Zugazagoitia, vol. I, Guerra y vicissitudes, 170. On the general difficulties at this time of reaching Moscow from Western Europe, see Luis Lavaur, "El viaje a la Rusia Soviética en los años treinta," Ayeres: Cuadernos de Historia 4:8 (Junio 1994): 35-45.  Back.

Note 11: AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 5, Exp. 7, 3.  Back.

Note 12: AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 5, Exp. 7, 3.  Back.

Note 13: Berlin Ost-Express, 8 Oct. 1936.  Back.

Note 14: See Izvestiia, 8, 10, 11, 14, and 15 Oct. 1936.  Back.

Note 15: Pascua to Foreign Ministry, Madrid, 9 Oct. 1936; AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 1, Exp. 19, 1-5. The subject of humanitarian aid is taken up in Chapters Four and Five.  Back.

Note 16: News of Rosso's humiliation quickly made the rounds in Moscow's diplomatic community. See Pascua to Foreign Ministry, Madrid, 9 Oct. 1936; AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 1, Exp. 19, 2; and Marina Casanova, La diplomacia española durante la guerra civil (Madrid: Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, 1996), 70.  Back.

Note 17: AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 5, Exp. 7, 6.  Back.

Note 18: Izvestiia, 11 Oct. 1936.  Back.

Note 19: Izvestiia, 14, 15, and 21 Oct. 1936.  Back.

Note 20: AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 1, Exp. 19, 2; Berlin Ost-Express, 10 Oct. 1936.  Back.

Note 21: Pascua to Polo, 9 May 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 10-3, 4.  Back.

Note 22: Indeed, according to del Vayo, who was a frequent visitor to Moscow, in 1935 even distinguished foreign visitors and diplomats were not guaranteed invitations to major events such as the Seventh Party Congress. See Julio Alvarez del Vayo, The Last Optimist (New York: Viking, 1950), 290.  Back.

Note 23: Pascua to Foreign Ministry, Madrid, 9 Oct. 1936. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 1, Exp. 19, 3.  Back.

Note 24: Lenin stayed in the National in March 1918 before moving into the Kremlin, as did John Reed the following year.  Back.

Note 25: AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 5, Exp. 7, 4.  Back.

Note 26: AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 1, Exp. 19, 3.  Back.

Note 27: Politburo Protocol 128, 23 Oct. 1936; RGASPI, f. 17, op. 3, d. 982. The Protocols list only the decisions of the Politburo, not the minutes of the meetings.  Back.

Note 28: AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 12, Exp. 6.  Back.

Note 29: On Pascua's December 1937 trip to Spain, see Zugazagoitia, Guerra y vicissitudes, vol. II, 75.  Back.

Note 30: Del Vayo to Pedroso, 3 July 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 12, 2.  Back.

Note 31: In an article printed in El Sol on 25 Jan. 1919, Pedroso asserted that, "las revoluciones no se hacen con guantes blancos y madrigales" ("Revolutions are not made with white gloves and madrigals").  Back.

Note 32: On Pedroso's appointment, see Alvarez del Vayo to Pedroso, 3 Jul. 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 12, 2. See also Casanova, Diplomacia española, 72.  Back.

Note 33: According to Pascua's personal notes, prior to leaving Madrid he met with the President of the Republic, Manuel Azaña. The two men discussed the arrival of Soviet ships at Cartagena, but neither man knew the contents of their cargo. See AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 5, Exp. 7, 9.  Back.

Note 34: Pascua's archive contains notes of many, though probably not all, of the meetings he held with the Soviet leadership. See, for example Leg. 2, Exp. 1; Leg. 2, Exp. 2-24; Leg. 2, Exp. 6; Leg. 2, Exp. 8; Leg. 2, Exp. 9.  Back.

Note 35: Pascua to Stalin, 19 Oct. 1937; AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 4, 6.  Back.

Note 36: Julián Zugazagoitia, Guerra y vicissitudes, vol. II, 170.  Back.

Note 37: Pascua to Foreign Ministry, 7 Oct. 1936. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 9. The "white book" was in all probability a protocol guide issued by the Foreign Ministry.  Back.

Note 38: Foreign Ministry to Pascua, 7 Oct. 1936. Archivo de Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores-Madrid (AMAE), Archivo de Barcelona, apt. 8, Caja R.E. 154, carp. 30.  Back.

Note 39: Pascua to Foreign Ministry, 9 Oct. 1936. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 1, Exp. 19, 4.  Back.

Note 40: AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 5, Exp. 7, 5.  Back.

Note 41: Pascua to Negrín, 27 Oct. 1937. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 2, 22.  Back.

Note 42: Pascua to Asúa, 6 Jan. 1937. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 13, 11.  Back.

Note 43: Pascua to Negrín, 27 Oct. 1937. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 2, 22.  Back.

Note 44: Giral to Pascua, 26 Nov. 1937. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 14, 6. Earlier, in February 1937, the republic had appointed a consul general to Odessa. See Negrín to Pascua, 7 Feb. 1938. Leg. 2, Exp. 2, 37.  Back.

Note 45: Pascua to Zugazagoitia, 28 Nov. 1937. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 13, 21.  Back.

Note 46: See the Moscow embassy's account statements provided by the Bank for Foreign Trade USSR. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 15, Exp. 1, 1-9.  Back.

Note 47: Ibid.  Back.

Note 48: Polo to Pascua, ? June 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 10-1, 15.  Back.

Note 49: Soviet officials were not invited to the function. Pedroso explained the reason why in a letter to the Foreign Ministry. According to the chargé d'affaires, since the ambassador was not in attendance, the occasion was not considered sufficiently formal to merit diplomatic invitations. See Pedroso to Foreign Ministry, 23 Apr. 1938. AMAE, Archivo de Barcelona, apt. 1, carp. 57, informe 2, 687-688.  Back.

Note 50: Polo to Pascua, 24 Apr. 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 10-3, 3.  Back.

Note 51: Pascua to Polo, 9 May 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 10-3, 5.  Back.

Note 52: Polo to Pascua, ? June 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 10-2, 15.  Back.

Note 53: Pedroso to Pascua, 6 Dec. 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 12, 12.  Back.

Note 54: Pedroso to Pascua, 3 Mar. 1939. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 12, 25.  Back.

Note 55: Ibid.  Back.

Note 56: Pascua to Pedroso, 12 Mar. 1939. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 12, 24.  Back.

Note 57: The direct line between Moscow and Madrid was no secret. On 16 Oct. 1936—a week after Pascua's arrival—Izvestiia touted the achievement on its front page. It should be noted, however, that Moscow's radio-telegraph link to Soviet and Comintern operatives in Spain was never entirely effective or reliable. According to the recent research of Tim Rees, the Spanish station link was situated atop a safe house in a working-class neighborhood of Madrid. The tower's unfortunate placement left it vulnerable to Nationalist artillery for much of the war. As a result of continuous bombardment, the radio link was often interrupted. Many messages apparently never arrived, leading to much confusion between Moscow and its men on the ground. See Tim Rees, "The highpoint of Comintern influence? The Communist Party and the Civil War in Spain," in International Communism and the Communist International, 1919-1943, eds. Tim Rees and Andrew Thorpe (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998), 150.  Back.

Note 58: Pascua to Foreign Ministry, 9 Oct. 1936. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 1, Exp. 19, 4.  Back.

Note 59: Ibid.  Back.

Note 60: Pascua to Asúa, 24 Dec. 1936. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 13, 8.  Back.

Note 61: Ibid.  Back.

Note 62: Pascua to Asúa, 7 Apr. 1937. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 13, 12.  Back.

Note 63: Pascua to Negrín, 29 Oct. 1937. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 2, 23.  Back.

Note 64: Pascua to Negrín, 28 Nov. 1937. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 2, 26. The relevant passage is worth quoting in full: "For some time I've considered sending you a report on Soviet international politics and their repercussion on Spain's domestic front. After much reflection I have opted not to for fear of its possible capture."  Back.

Note 65: Pascua to Polo, undated. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 2, 23.  Back.

Note 66: Conference with Stalin, Molotov, and Voroshilov, 2 Feb. 1937. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 6, 4.  Back.

Note 67: Conference with Molotov and Voroshilov, 21 Oct. 1937. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 7-1, 2. At the same meeting, another facet of the republic's code problem proved particularly embarrassing. Pascua had requested the interview in order to relay a recent and urgent request from his government for additional Soviet military shipments. Face to face with the ambassador, Voroshilov asked bluntly, "What material is needed most urgently?" Pascua replied that the coded telegram requesting the arms was indecipherable; Voroshilov would have to wait for his reply.  Back.

Note 68: Gorev to Voroshilov, 16 Oct. 1936. See Habeck and Radosh, Spain Betrayed, 69.  Back.

Note 69: According to the future admiral, the transfer of weaponry was relayed to the chief Soviet military advisor in the following way. Question: "¿Cuándo vas a venir a vernos a Valencia?"; response:"Mañana me pondré en camino." See Kuznetsov, "Con los marinos españoles en su guerra nacional-revolucionaria," in Bajo la bandera de la España republicana (Moscow: Progreso, 1967), 175.  Back.

Note 70: See, for example, Giral's letter to Pascua of 26 Nov. 1937.AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 14, 6. The letter is a reply to Pascua's note of 26 Oct. Giral apologizes for the late response, adding that he received it "only a few days ago."  Back.

Note 71: Polo to Pascua, 23 June 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 10-4, 1.  Back.

Note 72: Conference with Stalin, Molotov, and Voroshilov, 26 Feb. 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 6, 7.  Back.

Note 73: Ibid.  Back.

Note 74: See, for example, AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 10-2, 8; Exp. 10-1, 15.  Back.

Note 75: Pascua to Asúa, 6 Jan. 1937. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 13, 11-12.  Back.

Note 76: Pascua to Asúa, 24 Dec. 1936. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 13, 8.  Back.

Note 77: Pascua to Foreign Ministry, Barcelona, 22 Jan. 1937. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 14, 5.  Back.

Note 78: See Julio Alvarez del Vayo, The Last Optimist, 284-287; and Louis Fischer, Men and Politics, (London: Cape, 1941), 364-365.  Back.

Note 79: This was not always the case, as requests were sometimes made through Soviet representatives in Spain, or through the republic's embassy in Moscow. Generally, however, the inherent stability of the Loyalist and Soviet missions in Paris made them more reliable than negotiating such arrangements in the USSR or Spain. Incidentally, the fact that the arms traffic was being carried out through intermediaries in the French capital was a poorly guarded secret. In November 1936, German intelligence agents ascertained as much and alerted their superiors in Berlin. See Dumont to German Embassy in France, 11 Nov. 1936, Documents on German Foreign Policy, Series C, vol V, (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1957), 128.  Back.

Note 80: The archival record holds abundant examples, though the following coded telegram from the center urgently requesting the dispatch of more aircraft should illustrate the trend: "Reservado de Ministerio Defensa Nacional: Intensidad operaciones ofensiva iniciada en Madrid determina, como se ha visto en los primeros dias, un desgaste enorme material aviación. Por lo que ruego Vd. enardecidamente gestione ahí se nos envien más aviones pregunte maxima proporción y extraordinaria urgencia pués nos exponemos quedar exhaustos mientras enemigo cubre desgaste sus fuerzas aereas extraordinariamente superior a las nuestras, por continuos envios de Alemania [y] Italia." Giral to Pascua, 11 July 1937. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 2, 1.  Back.

Note 81: Captain of the Antonio de Satrustegui to Pascua, 25 Dec. 1936. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 14, 8.  Back.

Note 82: See AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 8, 1-8; Leg. 12, Exp. 2, 1-3, 9, 12.  Back.

Note 83: See AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 10-1, 15; Leg. 2, Exp. 10-3, 6, 8; Leg. 2, Exp. 12, 25.  Back.

Note 84: See AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 14; Leg. 2, Exp. 3; Leg. 2, Exp. 12,5, 9. A brief digression is necessary to clarify the reference to the "four Bank of Spain families." Soviet military support to the Spanish Republic was paid for through the transfer of a large part of Madrid's gold stocks, housed until September 1936 in the Bank of Spain. When the gold was mobilized and shipped to the USSR, the Republic dispatched with it a group of bank officials and their dependants to ensure fair exchange. These families subsequently found themselves stranded in Moscow, and it fell to Pascua to provide for their well-being and oversee their repatriation.  Back.

Note 85: For example, the 1975 publication by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, International Solidarity with the Spanish Republic, 1936-1939, insists that "Soviet-Spanish relations remained invariably friendly until the end of the national-revolutionary war" (Moscow: Progreso, 1974), 312.  Back.

Note 86: Pascua to Zugazagoitia, 28 Nov. 1937. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 12, 21.  Back.

Note 87: Pascua to Polo, 22 Apr. 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 10-2, 14.  Back.

Note 88: Pascua to Litvinov, 5 Apr. 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 9-4, 20.  Back.

Note 89: Polo to Pascua, 24 Apr. 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 10-3, 1.  Back.

Note 90: Polo to Pascua, 12 May 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 10-3, 6. To balance this gloomy assessment, however, it must be pointed out that elsewhere the archival and press record makes clear enough that the Spanish question had not in fact disappeared from official pronouncements or public discourse. In July of the same year, VOKS organized an exhibition in Moscow devoted to the Spanish Republic's Quinto Regimento. See Pedroso to Foreign Ministry, Valencia, 31 July 1938. AMAE, Archivo de Barcelona, apt. 1, carp. 57, informe 6, 734-5. To cite one additional example, six months after Voroshilov's short-shrifting of the Republicans during his May Day remarks, the annual delegation of visiting Loyalists was per usual featured prominently in the festivities marking the twenty-first anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Their participation was even included in a widely disseminated Soyuzkinochronika newsreel.  Back.

Note 91: Polo to Pascua, 12 May 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 10-3, 6.  Back.

Note 92: Pascua to Polo, 23 May 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 10-2, 8.  Back.

Note 93: Pedroso to Foreign Ministry, Valencia, 25 July 1938. AMAE, Archivo de Barcelona, apt. 1, carp. 57, informe 2, 716.  Back.

Note 94: Pedroso to Pascua, 3 Mar. 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 12, 25.  Back.

Note 95: Further details of Cisneros' trip, and the historiographic debate surrounding it, will be discussed in Chapter Ten below.  Back.

Note 96: Polo to Pascua, 24 Apr. 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 10-3, 2.  Back.

Note 97: Polo to Pascua, undated, AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 10-1, 7.  Back.

Note 98: See Polo to Pascua, 12 May 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 10-3, 6.  Back.

Note 99: Pascua to Polo, 22 Apr. 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 10-3, 14.  Back.

Note 100: Quoted by Polo in his letter to Pascua, 23 June 1938. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 10-4, 1.  Back.

Note 101: Polo to Pascua, undated. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 10-2, 7.  Back.

Note 102: Pascua to Zugazagoitia, 28 Nov. 1937. AHN-Madrid. Diversos. M. Pascua, Leg. 2, Exp. 13, 21. The same sentiments are expressed in another letter, written the same day, to Negrín. Here Pascua asserts that the "shameful and demoralizing" treatment of the embassy is the result of sabotage, "by those who have other and opposite interests." Leg. 2, Exp. 2, 26.  Back.

Note 103: For example, the still largely unexploited archive of the Foreign Ministry in Madrid, as well as the papers of Luis Jiménez de Asúa in the Fundación Pablo Iglesias.  Back.

Note 104: Admittedly, Marina Casanova attempted just this in her Diplomacia española, but her omission of several key archival collections, such as the AHN's Pascua papers, greatly handicapped her overall conclusions.  Back.


Stalin and the Spanish Civil War