SPAIN: The Commuters

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Europe and the skies above were crisscrossed last week by notables commuting in & out of history. Into The Netherlands, just liberated by the surrender of all the occupying German forces, dropped Queen Wilhelmina (after five years' exile in Britain) and Princess Juliana (after five years' exile in Canada and the U.S.). Into Switzerland, en route to Belgium, rode King Leopold III, after five years of imprisonment in Germany.

Embarrassment by Bombers. But the most embarrassing commuter dropped down on the Barcelona airport in a Junkers bomber piloted by two Luftwaffe officers in mufti. From the plane onto neutral Spanish soil stepped French ex-Premier Pierre Laval in black felt hat and his invariable white tie. He was nervously puffing a cigaret. Behind him came his wife and two Vichy Ministers, Abel Bonnard (Education) and Maurice Gabolde (Justice). Laval's heavy baggage included expensive jewelry, a swatch of French banknotes, bundles of political documents.

Spanish hospitality was less than cordial. General Francisco Franco had undertaken to keep war criminals out of Spain, was in no mood to exasperate the Allies. Instead of going to the swanky Ritz Hotel, where a suite once occupied by the Duke of Windsor and Heinrich Himmler had been reserved for him, Laval was hustled into forbidding Montjuich, the stone fortress which looms over Barcelona. Into a massive cell (whose rigors were later softened by a spring bed and furniture from the Ritz) moved the unwelcome Frenchman. At his request a radio was installed. The first news he heard was a "Voice of America" program in French.

U.S. Ambassador Norman Armour at once demanded that Laval be turned out of Spain or interned. Laval chose internment. From Paris came word that the French Government had already begun extradition proceedings.

Hysteria from Moscow. Wanted as badly by the Spanish Government as Laval was wanted by France was a commuter who stepped off a plane in Paris last week. Plain, plump Dolores Ibarruri, 50, better known as La Pasionaria ("The Passion Flower") and Republican Spain's most uninhibited orator, was returning from Moscow for the first time since 1939. In Moscow she had been a member of the executive committee of the Communist International and heroine of a Soviet play, Salud España, which closed there because the leading lady "could only make Dolores interesting by making her hysterical."

Her presence in France might well make Francisco Franco hysterical. Far more than any other one person, La Pasionaria was the Spanish Communist Party; and her presence in France boded no good for Spain's pudgy dictator.