Jarama Part 4

After digging in the stalemate at Jarama became a monotonous existence in the damp olive groves. It was a life of rain filled trenches, congealed stew, occasional deaths from odd bursts of firing, and useless attempts to get rid of lice in the seams of clothes. The commissars attempted to keep up morale with organised political 'discussions', and by distributing pamphlets and Party newspapers. The lack of fighting at the front also brought the International Brigades such diverse and famous visitors as Stephen Spender, Errol Flynn and Ernest Hemingway.

The events of recent months, especially the fall of Malaga which the Nationalists had managed almost without a fight, led to a determined attack by the communists on the Republican under secretary of war, General Asensio Torrado. Earlier in the war they had tried to flatter him, but Torrado rejected their advances and took measures against them, trying to stop their infiltration of the asaltos and conducting inquiries into irregularities in the accounts of the elite communist 5th Regiment. The anarchist ministers did nothing to held Torrado as they felt he had consistently discriminated against their troops, the republicans and right socialists also disliked him because of the prime minister Largo Caballero's obsessive reaction to any criticism of his chosen subordinate. The general was finally removed on the 21st of February, and his place was filled by the socialist, Carlos de Baraibar, a close friend of Largo Caballero. The communists were disappointed not to have one of their own men appointed.

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