Juan Negrín

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Juan Negrín
Juan negrin.gif
67th Prime Minister of Spain
In office
17 May 1937 – 1 April 1939
Preceded by Francisco Largo Caballero
Succeeded by Francisco Franco
As (Caudillo)
Personal details
Born (1892-02-03)3 February 1892
Las Palmas, Gran Canaria
Died 12 November 1956(1956-11-12) (aged 64)
Paris, France
Political party Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE)

Juan Negrín y López (3 February 1892 – 12 November 1956) was a Spanish politician and physician. He was a leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) and served as finance minister. He was the last Loyalist premier of Spain (1937-39), and presided over the defeat of the Republican forces by the Nationalists under General Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War. He collaborated with the Communists until the last minute; he died in exile.

Early years[edit]

Born in Las Palmas, Negrín came from a religious middle-class family.[1] He was a pupil of the Nobel Prize of Medicine winner, Santiago Ramón y Cajal,[2] qualified as a doctor in Germany and later he became a professor of physiology[3] at the Complutense University of Madrid at the age of 29.[4] Negrín spoke English, French, German[1] and a little Russian, besides his native Spanish.[5]

Monument in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria

On 21 July 1914 he married María Fidelman y Brodsky and had Juan Negrín y Fidelman, married to Rosita Díaz y Gimeno, Rómulo Negrín y Fidelman (Madrid, 1917 – 30 July 2004), married to Jeanne Fetter and father of Juan Román Negrín y Fetter (born Mexico City, 20 September 1945), and Miguel Negrín y Fidelman, married to Anne Negrín.[6]

Negrín joined the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) in 1929.[7] He belonged to the Indalecio Prieto faction, opposed to that led by Francisco Largo Caballero, left-wing extremists.[8] In 1931 he was elected deputy for Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.[7] Negrín helped many people to escape from the revolutionary checas in July and August 1936.[2] His personal courage in pursuit of this was attested to by a friend who recounted that he "made every effort, at considerable risk to himself... to save people in Madrid."[9] As a result, Negrin was nearly killed by anarchists but was saved by the intervention of finance ministry security staff.[10]

Minister of Finance[edit]

He was named Minister of Finance in September 1936 in the government of Francisco Largo Caballero.[11] As the finance minister, he built up the carabineros (custom guards), a force of 20,000 men[12] which was later nicknamed the "Hundred Thousand Sons of Negrín"[13] (an allusion to the Hundred Thousand Sons of Saint Louis), in order to recover the control of the French frontier posts, which had been seized by the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT).[14][15] He took the controversial decision to transfer the Spanish gold reserves to the Soviet Union in return for arms to continue the war (October 1936).[16] Worth $500 million at the time[17] (another $240 million had been sent to France in July),[18] critics argued that this action put the Republican government under the control of Joseph Stalin.[19]

Prime minister[edit]

On 17 May 1937, Manuel Azaña (after Largo was dismissed) named Negrín the 135th Prime Minister of Spain.[20] Negrín's government included Indalecio Prieto named minister of War, Navy and Air, Julián Zugazagoitia as minister of interior (both socialists), the communists Jesús Hernández Tomás as minister of education and Vicente Uribe as minister of agriculture, the republicans José Giral as foreign minister and Bernardo Giner de los Ríos as public works minister, the Basque Manuel Irujo as minister of justice and the Catalan Nationalist Jaime Ayguadé Miró as minister of labour.[21]

Goals[edit]

His main objectives were to fortify the central government,[22] to reorganize and fortify the Republican army[7] and to impose the law and order in the Republican-held area,[23][24] against largely independent armed militias of the labor unions (CNT) and parties, thus curtailing the revolution inside the Republic. He also wanted to break the international isolation of the Republic in order to get the arms embargo lifted,[25] and from 1938 to search an international mediation in order to finish the war.[26] He also wished to normalize the position of the Catholic Church inside the Republic.[27] All this was intended to connect the Spanish conflict with World War II, which he believed to be imminent, although the Munich Agreement definitively made all hope of outside aid vanish.[28]

Military situation[edit]

On the military level, along 1937 he launched a series of offensives in June (Huesca& Segovia), July, Brunete and August, Belchite, in order to halt the Nationalist offensive in the North, but all failed and by October the Nationalists had occupied all of the Northern territory. Beginning December, he launched an offensive in order to free Teruel, but by February his Republican Army had to retreat after suffering heavy losses and the Nationalists launched a counter-offensive in Aragon, cutting in half the Republican-held zone. On July 1938 Negrín launched an offensive in order to cross the Ebro River and reconnect the two Republican-held zones. The Republican army managed to cross the Ebro, but by November had to retire after it suffered heavy casualties and lost most of its material. Finally, on February 1939, he ordered to launch an offensive in Extremadura to stop the Nationalists advancement in their offensive against Catalonia, but was halted after a few days and Catalonia fell.

PCE's support[edit]

Although Negrín had always been a centrist in the PSOE, he maintained links with the Spanish Communist Party (PCE), whose policies at that point were in favor of a Popular Front alignment. One of the most controversial aspects of Negrín's government was its deep infiltration by the PCE,[citation needed] leading his critics[who?] – on both the Spanish left and right – to accuse him of being a puppet for the eventual establishment of a Stalinist communist state.[citation needed] The collapse of his government against the military golpe of Franco's forces destroyed any future development of the Spanish Republic. Negrín relied on the Communists to curtail the Anarchist wing of the Spanish Left, and was forced to rely on the Soviet Union, then led by Joseph Stalin, for weapons and armament, because of the arms embargo imposed by the Non-Intervention Committee.[29] Soviet activities in Spain seemed to be focused as much or more on NKVD-directed purges of real or alleged Trotskyists and anarchists within the republican zone as on winning the war against the Phalange.[citation needed]

Peace negotiations[edit]

The military situation of the Spanish Republic deteriorated steadily under Negrín's government, largely because of the superior quality of the opposing generals and officers many of whom were veterans of the Rif War, and by 1938 the overwhelming advantage of the Nationalists in terms of men (20%), aircraft and artillery provided by Germany and Italy.[30] On May 1938, Negrín issued the "Thirteen Points" (Trece Puntos), a program for peace negotiations, including absolute independence of Spain, liberty of conscience, protection of the regional liberties, universal suffrage, an amnesty for all Spaniards and agrarian reform, but Franco rejected any peace deal.[31][32] Before the fall of Catalonia he proposed, in the meeting of the Cortes in Figueres, capitulation with the sole condition of respecting the lives of the vanquished and the holding of a plebiscite so the Spanish people could decide the form of government, but Franco rejected the new peace deal.[33] On 9 February 1939, he moved to the Central Zone (30% of the Spanish territory) with the intention of defending the remaining territory of the republic until the start of the general European conflict,[34] and organize the evacuation of those most at risk.[35] Negrín thought that there was no other course but resistance, because the Nationalists rejected to negotiate any peace deal.[36]

To fight on because there was no other choice, even if winning was not possible, then to salvage what we could – and at the very end our self respect... Why go on resisting? Quite simply because we knew what capitulacion would mean.[37]

Casado's coup[edit]

Commemorative plaque, 78 bis, avenue Henri-Martin, 16th arr., Paris

However, Colonel Segismundo Casado, joined by José Miaja, Julian Besteiro (the leader of the PSOE right-wing faction) and Cipriano Mera, tired of fighting, which they regarded then as hopeless. Seeking better surrender terms, they seized power in Madrid on 5 March 1939, created a military Junta, the Consejo Nacional de Defensa, and deposed Negrín.[38] On March 6, Negrín fled to France.[39] Although the troops led by the PCE rejected the coup on Madrid they were defeated by the Cipriano Mera's troops.[40] The Junta tried to negotiate a peace deal with the nationalists, but Franco only accepted an unconditional surrender of the Republic.[41] Finally all the members of the Junta (except Besteiro) fled, and by 31 of March 1939 the Nationalists seized all the Spanish territory.[42]

Exile and death[edit]

Unlike Spanish President Manuel Azaña, Negrín remained in Spain until the final collapse of the Republican front and his fall from office in March 1939.[43] He organized the S.E.R.E. (Servicio de Evacuación de Refugiados Españoles)[44] to help Republican exiles. He remained prime minister of the Spanish Republican government in Exile between 1939 and 1945 (although ignored by most of the exiled political forces)[45] and died in Paris in 1956.[46]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. 2003. p. 647
  2. ^ a b Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. 2003. p. 646
  3. ^ Graham Helen. The Spanish Civil War. A very short introduction. Oxford University Press. New York. 2005. p. 95
  4. ^ Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain. The Spanish civil war. Penguin Books. 2006. London. p. 272
  5. ^ Jackson, Gabriel. The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931–1939. Princeton University Press. Princeton. 1967. p. 393
  6. ^ http://www.geneall.net/H/per_page.php?id=467828
  7. ^ a b c Preston, Paul. The Spanish Civil War. Reaction, revolution & revenge. Harper Perennial. 2006. London. p. 260
  8. ^ Jackson, Gabriel. The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931–1939. Princeton University Press. Princeton. 1967. pp. 208–209
  9. ^ Preston, Paul. "The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain. W.W. Norton, 2012. p 291.
  10. ^ Preston & 2012 292.
  11. ^ Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain. The Spanish civil war. Penguin Books. 2006. London. p. 147
  12. ^ Jackson, Gabriel. The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931–1939. Princeton University Press. Princeton. 1967. p. 339
  13. ^ Beevor, Antony. The Spanish Civil War. p. 229. ISBN 0-911745-11-4
  14. ^ Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain. The Spanish civil war. Penguin Books. 2006. London. p. 263
  15. ^ Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. 2003. pp. 647–648
  16. ^ Jackson, Gabriel. The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931–1939. Princeton University Press. Princeton. 1967. pp. 317–318
  17. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. 2003. p. 435
  18. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. 2003. pp. 434–437
  19. ^ Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain. The Spanish civil war. Penguin Books. 2006. London. p. 303
  20. ^ Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain. The Spanish civil war. Penguin Books. 2006. London. p. 271
  21. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. 2003. p. 651
  22. ^ Jackson, Gabriel. The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931–1939. Princeton University Press. Princeton. 1967. p. 405
  23. ^ Preston, Paul. The Spanish Civil War. Reaction, revolution & revenge. Harper Perennial. 2006. London. p. 259
  24. ^ Jackson, Gabriel. The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931–1939. Princeton University Press. Princeton. 1967. p. 402
  25. ^ Graham Helen. The Spanish Civil War. A very short introduction. Oxford University Press. New York. 2005. p. 95
  26. ^ Graham, Helen. The Spanish Civil War. A very short introduction. Oxford University Press. New York. 2005. p. 100
  27. ^ Graham Helen. The Spanish Civil War. A very short introduction. Oxford University Press. New York. 2005. pp. 104–105
  28. ^ Graham Helen. The Spanish Civil War. A very short introduction. Oxford University Press. New York. 2005. pp. 110–111
  29. ^ Preston, Paul. The Spanish Civil War. Reaction, revolution & revenge. Harper Perennial. 2006. London. pp. 190–191
  30. ^ Graham Helen. The Spanish Civil War. A very short introduction. Oxford University Press. New York. 2005. p. 96
  31. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. 2003. p. 798
  32. ^ Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain. The Spanish civil war. Penguin Books. 2006. London. pp. 338–339
  33. ^ Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain. The Spanish civil war. Penguin Books. 2006. London. pp. 380–381
  34. ^ Preston, Paul. The Spanish Civil War. Reaction, revolution & revenge. Harper Perennial. 2006. London. pp. 295–296
  35. ^ Graham Helen. The Spanish Civil War. A very short introduction. Oxford University Press. New York. 2005. p. 111
  36. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. 2003. p. 867
  37. ^ Graham Helen. The Spanish Civil War. A very short introduction. Oxford University Press. New York. 2005. p. 87
  38. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. 2003. pp. 876–879
  39. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. 2003. pp. 879–882
  40. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. 2003. pp. 883–884
  41. ^ Preston, Paul. The Spanish Civil War. Reaction, revolution & revenge. Harper Perennial. 2006. London. p. 298
  42. ^ Preston, Paul. The Spanish Civil War. Reaction, revolution & revenge. Harper Perennial. 2006. London. pp. 298–299
  43. ^ Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain. The Spanish civil war. Penguin Books. 2006. London. p. 393
  44. ^ Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain. The Spanish civil war. Penguin Books. 2006. London. p. 413
  45. ^ Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain. The Spanish civil war. Penguin Books. 2006. London. p. 423
  46. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. 2003. p. 923

Further reading[edit]

  • Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain. The Spanish civil war. Penguin Books. 2006. London. ISBN 0-14-303765-X.
  • Graham, Helen. "The Spanish Socialist Party in Power and the Government of Juan Negrín, 1937-9," European History Quarterly (1988) 18#2 pp 175-206. online
  • Graham Helen. The Spanish Civil War. A very short introduction. Oxford University Press. New York. 2005. ISBN 978-0-19-280377-1
  • Jackson, Gabriel. The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931–1939. Princeton University Press. Princeton. 1967. ISBN 0-691-00757-8
  • Preston, Paul. The Spanish Civil War. Reaction, revolution & revenge. Harper Perennial. 2006. London. ISBN 978-0-00-723207-9 ISBN 0-00-723207-1
  • Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. 2003. ISBN 978-0-14-101161-5

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Francisco Largo Caballero
Prime Minister of Spain
1937–1939
Succeeded by
Francisco Franco