Non-Intervention Committee
During the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

, several countries followed a principle of non-intervention, which would result in the signing of the Non-Intervention Agreement in August 1936 and the setting up of the Non-Intervention Committee, which first met in September. Primarily arranged by the French
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

 and British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 governments, important members of the committee also included the USSR, Italy
Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)
The Kingdom of Italy was a state forged in 1861 by the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was its legal predecessor state...

 and Germany. Ultimately, the committee had the support of 24 nations.

A plan to control materials coming into the country was put forward in early 1937, but was troubled by German and Italian withdrawals from sea patrols. The subject of volunteers was also much discussed, with little result; although agreements were signed late on the war, these were made outside the Committee. Efforts to stem the flow of war materials to Spain were largely unsuccessful, with foreign involvement in the Spanish Civil War
Foreign involvement in the Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil War had large numbers of non-Spanish citizens participating in combat and advisory positions. Foreign governments contributed varying amounts of financial assistance and military aid to Nationalist forces led by Generalísimo Francisco Franco and those fighting on behalf of the...

 proving instrumental to its outcome. The Soviet Union, Italy, and Germany consistently broke the agreement they had signed, France occasionally so. Britain remained faithful to it.

Non-Intervention Agreement

Non-intervention, and with it the Non-Intervention Agreement, had been proposed in a joint diplomatic initiative by the governments of France and the United Kingdom. It was part of a policy of appeasement
The term appeasement is commonly understood to refer to a diplomatic policy aimed at avoiding war by making concessions to another power. Historian Paul Kennedy defines it as "the policy of settling international quarrels by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and...

, aimed at preventing a proxy war
Proxy war
A proxy war or proxy warfare is a war that results when opposing powers use third parties as substitutes for fighting each other directly. While powers have sometimes used governments as proxies, violent non-state actors, mercenaries, or other third parties are more often employed...

 – with Italy and Nazi Germany supporting Franco's Nationalist Coalition
National Faction (Spanish Civil War)
The National faction also known as Nationalists or Nationals , was a major faction in the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939. It was composed of a variety of political groups opposed to the Second Spanish Republic, including the Falange, the CEDA, and two rival monarchist claimants: the Alfonsists...

 on one side and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 supporting the Republican faction
Republican Faction (Spanish Civil War)
The Republican faction also known as the Republicans was the side in the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939 that supported the Second Spanish Republic against the National faction.-Popular Front:-CNT/FAI:-People's Republican Army:...

 on the other – from escalating into a major pan-European conflict.

On 3 August 1936, Charles de Chambrun, French ambassador to Italy, presented the French government's non-intervention plan; Galeazzo Ciano
Galeazzo Ciano
Gian Galeazzo Ciano, 2nd Count of Cortellazzo and Buccari was an Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Benito Mussolini's son-in-law. In early 1944 Count Ciano was shot by firing squad at the behest of his father-in-law, Mussolini under pressure from Nazi Germany.-Early life:Ciano was born in...

 promised to study it. The British, however, accepted the plan in principle immediately. The following day, it was put to Konstantin von Neurath
Konstantin von Neurath
Konstantin Freiherr von Neurath was a German diplomat remembered mostly for having served as Foreign minister of Germany between 1932 and 1938...

, the foreign minister of Nazi Germany by André François-Poncet
André François-Poncet
André François-Poncet was a French politician and diplomat whose post as ambassador to Germany allowed him to witness first-hand the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, and the Nazi regime's preparations for war.François-Poncet was the son of a counselor of the Court of Appeals in...

. The German position was that such a declaration was not needed, but discussions could be held on preventing the spread of the war to the rest of Europe, so long as the USSR was present. It was mentioned at the meeting of the French with Neurath that both countries were already supplying the parties in the war, France the Republicans
Republican Faction (Spanish Civil War)
The Republican faction also known as the Republicans was the side in the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939 that supported the Second Spanish Republic against the National faction.-Popular Front:-CNT/FAI:-People's Republican Army:...

 and Germany the Nationalists. A similar approach was made by the French to the Soviet Union. On 6 August, Ciano confirmed Italian support in principle. Despite a Pravda
Pravda was a leading newspaper of the Soviet Union and an official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party between 1912 and 1991....

claim that 12,145,000 rouble
Russian ruble
The ruble or rouble is the currency of the Russian Federation and the two partially recognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Formerly, the ruble was also the currency of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union prior to their breakups. Belarus and Transnistria also use currencies with...

s had already been sent by Russian workers to Spain, the Soviet government similarly agreed in principle, so long as Portugal was included, and so long as Germany and Italy stopped aid immediately.

On 7 August, France unilaterally declared non-intervention. Draft declarations had been put to the German and Italian governments. Such a declaration had already been accepted by the United Kingdom, Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

 and the Soviet Union, which renounced all traffic in war material, direct or indirect. The Portuguese
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 Foreign Minister, Armindo Monteiro
Armindo Monteiro
Armindo Rodrigues de Sttau Monteiro , known as Armindo Monteiro, was a Portuguese university professor, businessman, diplomat and politician who exercised important functions during the Estado Novo period...

, was also asked to accept, but held his hand. An ultimatum was put to Yvon Delbos
Yvon Delbos
Yvon Delbos was a French Radical-Socialist Party politician and minister.Delbos was born in Thonac, Dordogne, Aquitaine, entered a career as a journalist, and became a member of the Radical-Socialist Party...

 by the British: halt French exports to Spain, or Britain would not be obliged to act under the Treaty of Locarno if Germany invaded; on 9 August, exports were duly suspended. However, collections for food, clothing and medical supplies to the Spanish Republicans continued. On 9 August, the Germans informed the British that 'no war materials had been sent from Germany and none will', which was blatantly false.See also: German involvement in the Spanish Civil War
German involvement in the Spanish Civil War
German involvement in the Spanish Civil War was made up of the various ways in which Nazi Germany tried to influence the war. It lasted from the war's beginning in July 1936 until 1939 and in the most part attempted to secure a victory for the National faction.Some arms sales were made to the...

One German Junkers
Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke AG , more commonly Junkers, was a major German aircraft manufacturer. It produced some of the world's most innovative and best-known airplanes over the course of its fifty-plus year history in Dessau, Germany. It was founded there in 1895 by Hugo Junkers,...

 was captured when it came down in Republican territory, and explained as 'merely a transport aircraft'. Its release would be required before Germany signed the Non-Intervention Pact. Portugal accepted the pact on 13 August, unless her border was threatened by the war.

There was popular support in both countries for the plan, although whilst in the United Kingdom the socialist Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 was strongly in favour,Alpert (1998) p.65 notes that rank-and-file members of the Labour Party may have been opposed. the political left in France wanted to directly aid the Republicans. The Labour Party would reject non-intervention in October 1937. The British Trades Union Congress
Trades Union Congress
The Trades Union Congress is a national trade union centre, a federation of trade unions in the United Kingdom, representing the majority of trade unions...

 was split. A report called the 'Commission of Inquiry into Alleged Breaches of the Non-Intervention Agreement in Spain' was drawn up in London, sponsored by Comintern
The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919...

, and headed by respectable figures. Both the British and French governments were aware of the First World War. France was reliant on British support in general. Léon Blum
Léon Blum
André Léon Blum was a French politician, usually identified with the moderate left, and three times the Prime Minister of France.-First political experiences:...

, the French prime minister, believed that support for the Republic would have led to a fascist takeover in France and ultimately no change in Spain.

On 5 August, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 had made it known that it would follow a policy of non-intervention, but did not announce it officially. This isolationism
Isolationism is the policy or doctrine of isolating one's country from the affairs of other nations by declining to enter into alliances, foreign economic commitments, international agreements, etc., seeking to devote the entire efforts of one's country to its own advancement and remain at peace by...

 on the Spanish war would later be identified as disastrous by Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles
Sumner Welles
Benjamin Sumner Welles was an American government official and diplomat in the Foreign Service. He was a major foreign policy adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and served as Under Secretary of State from 1937 to 1943, during FDR's presidency.-Early life:Benjamin Sumner Welles was born in...

. Five days later, the Glenn L. Martin Company
Glenn L. Martin Company
The Glenn L. Martin Company was an American aircraft and aerospace manufacturing company that was founded by the aviation pioneer Glenn L. Martin. The Martin Company produced many important aircraft for the defense of the United States and its allies, especially during World War II and the Cold War...

 enquired whether the government would allow the sale of eight bombers to the Republicans; the response was negative. It also confirmed it would not take part in several mediation attempts, including one by the Organization of American States
Organization of American States
The Organization of American States is a regional international organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States...

. Mexico soon became the first nation to openly support the Republicans. On 15 August, the United Kingdom banned exports of war material to Spain. Neurath also agreed to the pact, and suggested that volunteers (many of whom would eventually form the International Brigades
International Brigades
The International Brigades were military units made up of volunteers from different countries, who traveled to Spain to defend the Second Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1939....

) be included. Italy similarly agreed, signing on 21 August after a determined diplomatic offensive by Britain and France. Although a surprising reversal of views, it has been put down to the growing belief that countries could not abide by the agreement anyway. Admiral Raeder
Erich Raeder
Erich Johann Albert Raeder was a naval leader in Germany before and during World War II. Raeder attained the highest possible naval rank—that of Großadmiral — in 1939, becoming the first person to hold that rank since Alfred von Tirpitz...

 urged the German government either to back the Nationalists more completely, and bring Europe to the brink of war, or to abandon them. On the 24th, Germany signed.

The Soviet Union was keen not to be left out. On 23 August, it agreed to the Non-Intervention Agreement, and this was followed by a decree from Stalin banning exports of war material to Spain, thereby bringing the USSR into line with the Western Powers. Soviet foreign policy considered collective security against German fascism a priority and the Comintern
The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919...

 had agreed a similar approach in 1934. It walked a thin line between pleasing France and not being seen to hinder the World revolution
World revolution
World revolution is the Marxist concept of overthrowing capitalism in all countries through the conscious revolutionary action of the organized working class...

 and communist ideals. This was also the time of the first significant trials of the Old Bolsheviks in Russia. Soviet press and opposition groups were entirely against non-intervention; Soviet actions could hardly have been further from the goal of spreading the revolution.

It was at this point that the Non-Intervention Committee was created to uphold the agreement, but the double-dealing of the USSR and Germany had already become apparent. It also removed the need for a declaration of neutrality (which would have granted the Nationalists and Republicans control over neutrals in the areas they controlled), and had little legal standing. In Britain, part of the reasoning was based on an exaggerated belief in Germany's and Italy's preparedness for war.

Non-Intervention Committee

The ostensible purpose of the Non-Intervention Committee (1936–1939) was to prevent personnel and matériel
Materiel is a term used in English to refer to the equipment and supplies in military and commercial supply chain management....

 reaching the warring parties of the Spanish Civil War, as with the Non-Intervention Agreement.

The Committee first met in London on 9 September 1936 and was attended by representatives of solely European countries, and did not include Switzerland (whose policy of neutrality
Neutrality (international relations)
A neutral power in a particular war is a sovereign state which declares itself to be neutral towards the belligerents. A non-belligerent state does not need to be neutral. The rights and duties of a neutral power are defined in Sections 5 and 13 of the Hague Convention of 1907...

 prohibited even inter-governmental action).Involved were: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Romania, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. (Thomas (1961). p. 277.) It was chaired by the British W. S. Morrison
William Morrison, 1st Viscount Dunrossil
William Shepherd Morrison, 1st Viscount Dunrossil, GCMG, MC, KStJ, PC, QC , the 14th Governor-General of Australia, was born in Scotland and educated at George Watson's College and the University of Edinburgh. He joined the British Army in the First World War and served with an artillery regiment...

. The meeting was concerned mostly with procedure only. Charles Corbin
Charles Corbin
Charles Corbin was a French diplomat who served as ambassador to Britain before and during the early part of the Second World War, from 1933 to 27 June 1940.- Life and career :...

 represented the French, Italy by Dino Grandi
Dino Grandi
Dino Grandi , Conte di Mordano, was an Italian Fascist politician, minister of justice, minister of foreign affairs and president of parliament.- Early life :...

, and the Soviets by Ivan Maisky. Germany was represented by Ribbentrop (with Otto Christian Archibald von Bismarck as deputy) but left the running to Grandi, although they found working with him difficult; Portugal, whose presence had been a Soviet requirement, was not represented. There was little hope in the committee, since the British and French would have been aware of the continued shipment of arms to the Nationalists from Italy and Germany. Britain protested twice to the Italians, once in response to Italian aircraft landing in Majorca, the other pre-emptively over any significant change in the Mediterranean. Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, KG, PC was a British Conservative politician, who dominated the government in his country between the two world wars...

, British prime minister, and Blum attempted to halt global exports to Spain, believing it in Europe's best interests. Soviet aid to the Republic was threatened in the Committee. It began once it was clear the Non-Intervention Agreement was not preventing Italian and German aid to the Nationalists.

The second meeting took place on 14 September. It established a subcommittee to be attended by representatives of Belgium, Britain, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Italy, the Soviet Union and Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, to deal with the day-to-day running of non-intervention. Among them, though, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy dominated, perhaps worryingly so. Soviet non-military aid was revived, but not military aid. Meanwhile, the 1936 meeting of the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 began, beset not only with the Spanish problem, but also with the review of the Abyssinia Crisis
Abyssinia Crisis
The Abyssinia Crisis was a diplomatic crisis during the interwar period originating in the "Walwal incident." This incident resulted from the ongoing conflict between the Kingdom of Italy and the Empire of Ethiopia...

. It was much weakened, but still spoke out in favour of worldwide peace. There, Anthony Eden
Anthony Eden
Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon, KG, MC, PC was a British Conservative politician, who was Prime Minister from 1955 to 1957...

 convinced Monteiro to have Portugal join the Non-Intervention Committee. Álvarez del Vayo spoke out against the Non-Intervention Agreement, claiming it put the rebel Nationalists on the same footing as the Republican government; that as the official government, the Republic had the right to buy arms. On 28 September, Portugal was represented on the Committee for the first time; the Earl of Plymouth
Ivor Windsor-Clive, 2nd Earl of Plymouth
Ivor Miles Windsor-Clive, 2nd Earl of Plymouth PC was an English nobleman and Conservative politician....

 replaced W.S. Morrison as British representative. Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

, he often adjourned meetings – to the benefit of the Italians and Germans – and the Committee was accused of an anti-Soviet bias. In Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

, Maxim Litvinov
Maxim Litvinov
Maxim Maximovich Litvinov was a Russian revolutionary and prominent Soviet diplomat.- Early life and first exile :...

 once again confirmed Soviet support, based on the suggestion it would avoid war. However, the Soviet government remained hostile to the idea, and supported Álvarez's view that non-intervention was illegal.

On 12 November, significant changes were put in place to the functioning of the committee, with the ratification of plans to post observers to Spanish frontiers and ports to prevent breaches of the agreement. This had been delays by Italian and German demands that air transport be included, which was perhaps a delaying tactic given the impossibility to doing so effectively. Russian military aid now being transported to Spain did not go unnoticed. France and Britain became split on whether to recognise Franco's forces as a belligerent
A belligerent is an individual, group, country or other entity which acts in a hostile manner, such as engaging in combat. Belligerent comes from Latin, literally meaning "to wage war"...

 as the British wanted, or to fail to do as the French wanted. On 18 November, this was subsumed by the news that the Italian and German governments had recognised the Nationalists as the true government of Spain. A British bill preventing exports of arms to Spain by British ships from anywhere was signed. Yvon Delbos requested mediation; at the same time, the Republic appealed to the Council of the League of Nations for assistance. Franklin Roosevelt, also approached, ruled out US interference with the words '[there should be] no expectation that the United States would ever again send troops or warships or floods of munitions and money to Europe'. On 4 December, France and Britain approached Italy, Germany, Russia and Portugal to request mediation.The abdication crisis broke in the UK on 3 December; this occupied the minds of the British public. (Thomas (1961). p. 335.) An armistice would be called, a commission sent to Spain, and, after a plebiscite, a government featuring those uninvolved in the war (such as Salvador de Madariaga
Salvador de Madariaga
Salvador de Madariaga y Rojo was a Spanish diplomat, writer, historian and pacifist. He had two daughters....

) would be established. The considerable number of German soldiers in Spain
German involvement in the Spanish Civil War
German involvement in the Spanish Civil War was made up of the various ways in which Nazi Germany tried to influence the war. It lasted from the war's beginning in July 1936 until 1939 and in the most part attempted to secure a victory for the National faction.Some arms sales were made to the...

 – at least 5,000 – was now clear, but Italy and Germany were opposed to isolated discussion of the matter.

On 10 December, Álvarez put the Republic's case to the League of Nations, further demanding that the League condemn Italy's and Germany's decision to recognise the Nationalists. He pointed to the risk of the Spanish war spreading, and suggested that the Non-Intervention Committee was ineffective. This charge was denied by Robert Gascoyne-Cecil
Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury
Robert Arthur James Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury, KG, PC , known as Viscount Cranborne from 1903 to 1947, was a British Conservative politician.-Background:...

 and Édouard Viénot
Edouard Vienot
Édouard Viénot was a successful society portrait painter with a studio at 92 rue de la Victoire, Paris.He was born in Fontainebleau on 13 September 1804...

, the British and French representatives, who appealed to the League to endorse the mediation plan. The League condemned intervention, urged its council's members to support non-intervention, and commended mediation. It then closed discussion on Spain, leaving it to the Committee. The mediation plan, however, was soon dropped. Britain and France continued to consider, and put forward, plans to prevent foreign volunteers, outside of the Committee.

On 6 January, the first opportunity after the winter break, both houses of Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 in the United States passed a resolution banning the export of arms to Spain.It passed by 81 to 0 in the Senate and 406 to 1 in the House of Representatives. (Thomas (1961). p. 338.) Those in opposition to the bill, including American socialists, communists and many liberals, suggested that the export of arms to Germany and Italy should be halted also under the Neutrality Act of 1935, since foreign intervention constituted a state of war in Spain. Cordell Hull
Cordell Hull
Cordell Hull was an American politician from the U.S. state of Tennessee. He is best known as the longest-serving Secretary of State, holding the position for 11 years in the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during much of World War II...

, continued to doubt the extent of German and Italian operations, despite evidence to the contrary. The Soviets met the request to ban volunteers on 27 December, Portugal on 5 January, and Germany and Italy on 7 January. Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 authored the German declaration. On 10 January, a further request that volunteering be made a crime was made by Britain and France to Germany. There continued Germany uneasiness about the scale, limitations and outcomes of intervention in Spain. On 20 January, Italy put a moratorium
Moratorium (law)
A moratorium is a delay or suspension of an activity or a law. In a legal context, it may refer to the temporary suspension of a law to allow a legal challenge to be carried out....

 on volunteers, and on the 25th Germany and Italy agreed to support limitations to prevent volunteers, believing that supplies to the Nationalists were now sufficient. In that meeting, both the Germans and Italian spoke as if their men in Spain were genuine volunteers. Soviet war aid continued to reach Spain through the Mediterranean. However, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia continued to believe a European war was not in their best interests; non-intervention, however, would have left both sides with the possibility of defeat, which Germany, Italy and Russia in particular were keen to avoid.

Control plan

Observers were posted to Spanish ports and borders, and both Ribbentrop and Grandi were told to agree to the plan, significant shipments already having taken place. Portugal would not accept observers, although it did agree to personnel attached to the British Embassy in Lisbon. The cost of the scheme was put at £898,000; Britain, France, Germany Italy and Russia would each pay 16%; the other 20% would be met by the other 22 countries. Zones of patrol were assigned to each of the four nations; an International Board was set up to administer the scheme. The setting up of the scheme took until April. For the Republicans, this seemed like adding insult to injury – the wholesale transfer of arms to the Nationalists would now be policed by the very countries supplying them. Despite accusations that 60,000 Italians were now in Spain, and Grandi's announcement that he hoped no Italian volunteer would leave until the war was over, the German delegation appears to have hoped the control plan was effective. There were Italian assurances that Italy would not break up non-intervention.

In May, the Committee noted two attacks on the patrol's ships in the Balearic islands
Balearic Islands
The Balearic Islands are an archipelago of Spain in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.The four largest islands are: Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. The archipelago forms an autonomous community and a province of Spain with Palma as the capital...

 by Republican aircraft, the first on the Italian cruiser
A cruiser is a type of warship. The term has been in use for several hundreds of years, and has had different meanings throughout this period...

 Barletta and the second on German pocket battleship
Deutschland class cruiser
The Deutschland class was a series of three panzerschiffe , a form of heavily armed cruiser, built by the Reichsmarine officially in accordance with restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles...

 Deutschland. It iterated calls for the withdrawal of volunteers from Spain, condemned the bombing of open towns, and showed approval of humanitarian work. Germany and Italy said they would withdrawn from the Committee, and from the patrols, unless it could be guaranteed there would be no further attacks. Early June saw the return of Germany and Italy to the committee and patrols. Italian reticence of operations in Spain, however, was dropped. By contrast, it continued to be a crime in Germany to mention German operations. Following attacks (attributed to Republicans by Germany, but denied) on the German cruiser Leipzig
German cruiser Leipzig
The German light cruiser Leipzig was the lead ship of her class . She was the fourth German warship to carry the name of the city of Leipzig.-History:...

on 15 and 18 June, Germany and Italy once again withdrew from patrols, but not from the Committee. This prompted the Portuguese government to remove British observers on the Spain–Portugal border.

Discussions about patrols remained complicated. Britain and France offered to replace Germany and Italy in patrols of their sections, but the latter powers believed these patrols would be too partial. Germany and Italy requested that land controls be kept, and belligerent rights be given to the Nationalists, so that rights of search
Search and seizure
Search and seizure is a legal procedure used in many civil law and common law legal systems whereby police or other authorities and their agents, who suspect that a crime has been committed, do a search of a person's property and confiscate any relevant evidence to the crime.Some countries have...

 could be used by both the Republicans and Nationalists to replace naval patrols. The French considered abandoning border controls, or perhaps leaving non-intervention. However, the French were reliant on the British, who wished to continue with patrols. Britain and France thus continued to labour over non-intervention; whilst they judged it effective, some 42 ships were estimated to have escaped inspection between April and the end of July. The air route had not been covered. The Nationalists' debt to Germany reached 150 million Reichmarks. On 9 July, the Dutch Ambassador suggested that Britain draft a compromise. Lord Plymouth did, called the 'compromise plan for the control of non-intervention'. Naval patrols would be replaced by observers in ports and ships, land control measures would be resumed. Belligerent rights would only be granted when substantial progress was made on volunteer withdrawal. The French were furious, considering that Britain was moving towards Germany and Italy. Grandi demanded the discussion of belligerent rights before volunteer rights; Maisky insisted that volunteers be discussed first.

Conference of Nyon and onwards

It culminated in a period during 1937 when all the powers where prepared to give up on non-intervention. Ciano complained to his government that Italian forces in Italy were ready but not being used; the Soviet Union was not prepared to discuss belligerent rights; Delbos was considering proposing mediation by Roosevelt and the Pope, whilst simultaneously preparing French war plans; Britain's new Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain
Arthur Neville Chamberlain FRS was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the...

, saw securing a friendship with the Italian Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 as a top priority. Eden confided he wished Franco to win, so Italian and Germany involvement would be scaled back; Chamberlain considered Spain a troublesome complication to be forgotten. By the end of July, the Committee was in deadlock, and the aims of a successful outcome to the Spanish Civil War was looking unlikely. Unrestricted Italian submarine warfare began on 12 August. The British Admiralty believed that a significant control effort was the best solution, of four which were put forward, in response to attacks on British shipping. On 27 August it was decided by the Committee that naval patrols did not justify their expense and would be replaced, as planned, with observers at ports.
The Conference of Nyon was arranged for all parties with a Mediterranean coastline by the British, despite appeals by Italy and Germany that the Committee handle the piracy and other issues the conference was to discuss. It decided that French
French Navy
The French Navy, officially the Marine nationale and often called La Royale is the maritime arm of the French military. It includes a full range of fighting vessels, from patrol boats to a nuclear powered aircraft carrier and 10 nuclear-powered submarines, four of which are capable of launching...

 and British fleets patrol the areas of sea west of Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

, and attack any suspicious submarines. Warships that attacked neutral shipping would be attacked. On 18 September, Juan Negrín
Juan Negrín
Juan Negrín y López was a Spanish politician and physician.-Early years:Born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Negrín came from a religious middle-class family...

 requested that the League of Nations' Political Committee examine Spain. He also demanded an end to non intervention. Eden claimed that non-intervention had stopped European war. The League did report on the Spanish situation, noting the 'failure of non-intervention'. On 6 November, the Committee met once again, with the plan to recognise the Nationalists as belligerents once significant progress had been made was finally accepted, down in part to Eden's patience. The Nationalists accepted on 20 November, the Republicans on 1 December. The former suggested 3,000 would be a reasonable number; this was, in reality the number of sick and unreliable Italians Franco wished to withdraw. This was countered by British suggestions fifteen or twenty thousand might be enough. These talks were subsumed by bilateral Anglo-Italian discussions. In trying to protect non-intervention in the Anglo-Italian meetings, which he grudgingly did, Eden would end up resigning from his post in the Foreign Office. On 17 March 1938, France reopened the border to arms traffic to the now weakened Republic. Between mid-April and mid-June, 21 British seamen were killed by attacks on British shipping in Spanish waters, as well as several Non-Intervention Committee observers.

On 27 June, Maisky agreed to the sending of two commissions to Spain, to enumerate foreign volunteer forces, and to bring about their withdraw. It was estimated to cost £1,750,000 to £2,250,000, borne by member countries of the Committee. The Nationalists wished to prevent the fall of the favourable Chamberlain government in the United Kingdom, and so were seen to accept the plan. With much bemoaning, the Republicans also accepted the plan. The Nationalists demanded belligerent rights first, then withdrawals of 10,000 from each side after, which amounted to a rejection of the plan. Following the Munich Agreement
Munich Agreement
The Munich Pact was an agreement permitting the Nazi German annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. The Sudetenland were areas along Czech borders, mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans. The agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Munich, Germany, among the major powers of Europe without...

 – judged by Chamberlain to have been a success – Britain would host similar mediation in Spain. Negrín would propose the removal of the International Brigades
International Brigades
The International Brigades were military units made up of volunteers from different countries, who traveled to Spain to defend the Second Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1939....

, a majority of whom were now Spaniards, at the last meeting of the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

, thereby showing his contempt for the Non-Intervention Committee. Similarly, Italians would leave Spain under the Anglo-Italian agreement, not through the Committee.

Britain and France recognised the Nationalist government on 27 February. Clement Attlee
Clement Attlee
Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, KG, OM, CH, PC, FRS was a British Labour politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951, and as the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955...

criticised the way it had been agreed, calling it 'a gross betrayal... two and a half years of hypocritical pretence of non-intervention'.

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