In three parts, LD offers exclusively to the journalist and writer Pedro Corral unpublished testimony Manuel Jimenez-Alfaro and Alaminos on humanitarian action Felix Schlayer, a diplomat in the service of Norway in the early months of the Civil War, with whom he worked closely in populist Madrid. At that time, a retired artillery captain Jimenez-Alfaro, who survived the dangers of the conflict, is well known for a completely different circumstance: being the founder in 1951 of FASA-Renault factory in Valladolid.
“This prompted my wife to seek the help of Don Felix Schlaer, the head of the Norwegian mission, who among all those who were persecuted was spoken of as a savior and of unparalleled activity.”
So pray sworn testimony given before the victors in 1944 Manuel Jiménez-Alfaro y Alaminos (Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cadiz 1898 – Madrid 1992), retired artillery captain azan law in July 1931, taking advantage of the measures of the former Minister of War to reduce the number of officers in the army.
This is an unpublished testimony from populist Madrid of the man who was the right-hand man of Felix Schlaer (Rutling, 1873 – Torrelodones, 1950), a German-born diplomat in the service of Norway as honorary consul and chargé d’affaires. in Madrid, which stood out for its humanitarian work and condemnation of abuses by the militias, as well as sacking and massacres of right-wing prisoners by forces loyal to the republican government. Their collaboration was so close that Schlayer called it his own.”Scarlet Pimpernel“, according to Jiménez-Alfaro’s memoirs preserved by his family.
Manuel Jimenez-Alfaro, an African war veteran, was surprised by the start of the Civil War at his home in Chamartín de la Rosa (Madrid) as a captain retired under the Azaña law when he was about to go to Cáceres. start work on the water supply of the city.
The arrest of his son-in-law, artillery captain Federico Goma y Orduña, “passed” on September 26, 1936, prompted his wife, Maria Luisa Goma y Orduña, to seek help from Schlaer, who took the reins of power into his own hands. Norwegian diplomatic mission in the absence of a titular chargé d’affaires and who was already beginning to be known for his humanitarian work in favor of those persecuted by the Popular Front. Thanks to Schlaer, the Norwegian mission received 10% of the refugees who sought protection in foreign embassies in Madrid, numbering between 10,000 and 12,000 people.
When Schlayer learned that the husband of the woman who came to him for help was a retired soldier, “he ordered me to report immediately to the mission because the Casa de la Moneda had just happened,” according to Jiménez-Alfaro. An allusion to what happened at the Casa de la Moneda indicates trap set by the Ministry of Internal Affairs Republican October 8, 1936, through press advertising, to imprison the military in reserve or retirement, convening them in this body, and then to the Plaza de Colon, to supposedly decide on their pensions.
This is how Jiménez-Alfaro took refuge on October 10 in the Norwegian mission, on Calle de José Abascal 27, starting ten months of close cooperation with a diplomat in the service of Norway, who will soon appoint him as his right-hand man as Secretary General of the mission. He was joined two days later by his wife and five children, the oldest 12 and the youngest 4.
The post-war declaration of a retired captain, preserved by his family and kindly provided for this series of articles, provides extraordinarily unprecedented evidence of the humanitarian work of Felix Schlaer, the first diplomat to expose and verify on the spot, in Paracuellos and Torrejon de Ardoz, removal and killing of government prisoners forces on the orders of the government of the socialist Francisco Largo Caballero in the terrible autumn of 1936 in Madrid.
Schleyer himself left in his book Diplomat in red Madridpublished in 1938 in Germany but censored by the Nazis a year earlier, an impressive autobiographical account of the first months of the Civil War until his departure from Spain in July 1937. witness inexhaustible labor in favor of the persecuted diplomat of German origin, owner of a company for the production of agricultural machinery, settled in Spain since 1895 and living in Torrelodones (Madrid).
Hence the vivacity with which Jiménez-Alfaro described in his statement, for example, the situation of people under the protection of Schlaer:
“It is impossible to reflect what this life demanded: it is enough to imagine a house in which there are more than 800 people who cannot go outside or look out the window, who are all persecuted, and some are even convicted. to death and who, for the most part, lived in anxiety, fearing that their relatives would be outside, and also in a situation of danger.
Added to this was the daily uncertainty and tension about his fate before
“real dangers, always threatening, and imaginary fears that are born in these abnormal situations; the police are always hiding at the doorand the need to go in and out daily for groceries and all the attention that the lives of so many prisoners require; Policemen guarding the oversight and shooting at any crack of light from the windows.
Jiménez-Alfaro details the internal organization of the refugees at the Norwegian headquarters.
“with a supply of provisions brought by two wagons that traveled weekly through the towns for which Benito Flechoso Salvador, who was later arrested for the said reason, could buy.”
There was also an “Abroad Purchasing Service” and an “Internal Regime Department, numbering about ten people, for the discipline and care of refugees.” There was also “an infirmary with its own doctors and nurses on duty (all refugees)”.
at the diplomatic headquarters two children were born during the first year of imprisonment, baptized by refugee priests who also officiated at some protégé weddings. There were also deaths, and in some cases, such as the case of an elderly priest, he was admitted to the Red Cross hospital as if he were still alive to avoid the danger of Republican judicial authorities infiltrating the embassy. “We took him in the embassy car, he was sitting in a coat and take it,” says Schlaer’s second.
Jiménez-Alfaro’s statement detailed Schlaer’s humanitarian work:
“Notorious,” he writes, “are those actions so characteristic of Mr. Schlaer, when he “kidnapped” so many people from execution a few minutes before the execution: his negotiations with the red authorities, vigilant observation in the courts and constant visits and daily visits to prisons, to such an extent that we had to organize real negotiations in the mission with about 3,000 files, in which five refugees worked under the direction of the Rev. P. Utrera, today the rector of the Alcala de Henares Seminary “.
He later continues with his detailed description of Schlaer’s relentless actions in defense of the lives of those detained by the Republican government, and his denunciation to such figures as Santiago Carrillo or General Jose Miaja massacres committed by the forces of the Popular Front on the outskirts of Madrid:
“Mr. Schlayer personally confirmed the death of Paracuellos del Jarama and Torrejon, when the corpses were still half hidden in the ravine; he defended by escorting women in his car who were transferred from Toreno prison to San Rafael prison; removed Lieutenant Colonel Yonte from San Anton prison a few hours before he was shot, after a terrible altercation with Alvarez del Vayo and Galarza; he shouted about the courts; he “scolded” the commissars and agents; he cheated on the payment of 150,000 pesetas. that Mrs. Maria Teresa Allende y Allende had promised the FAI her release, which was confirmed without any sum, albeit with the FAI’s threat to the writer that “he would pay with his life”; we saved six Civil Guardsmen from certain execution that we had protection at the embassy, three of whom later joined the national ranks; he personally took the refugees out of the German embassy in his car when he was raided, etc.”
Jiménez-Alfaro also mentions visits he made with Schlaer “more than once” in Alcala de Henares Prison, San Anton and others. In the Alcala case, the retired captain confirmed that “we have seen files with the same judges many times to force them to activate some or stop others.” Also in Alcala, he claims to have made several visits to Falangist leader Raimundo Fernandez-Cuesta, whom he served as a liaison to various Falange local council leaders in hiding, such as “Manuel Weglison”, who was at the Chilean embassy; “Paniso”, located in Paraguay; and “Hipolito Fernandez Arces”, who was with them in Norway.
Jimenez-Alfaro claims that thanks to their efforts they were able to get Fernandez-Cuesta transferred to Madrid for trial in Las Salesas, with the idea that it would be easier to destroy all his records there. To this end, he and Schleyer once went to the Salesas police court to consult his court file. Seeing that there was a report on the last page that marked it as “General Secretary of the Falange“, Schleyer himself tore off the page, after which he hurried out of the courthouse.
The reckless act led, according to Jiménez-Alfaro, to the fact that they were forced to “open the doors of the mission in a few hours to Judge Soriano”, who was in charge of investigating the leader of the Falangists, “who had no choice but to either stop us or join us. The magistrate in question, most likely Francisco Soriano Carpena, attached to the jury trials of Madrid, was dismissed by the republican government on May 12, 1937, for “refusal of fate” (Gaceta de la República, n. 135). , May 15, 1937). Transferred to the national zone, in January 1939 he was appointed by the supporters of Franco as a justice of the peace in the provincial court of Lleida, but at the end of the war he was prosecuted and punished for his service to the “Reds”, after which he was again accepted into active service until his retirement in 1959.