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SPAIN: The Civil War and historians



Carmen Negrin, the granddaughter of Juan Negrín, the last leader of the Spanish Republic, does not like the highly successful book by Pio Moa, justifying Franco. She writes: "I have gone through the book of Pio Moa, although I didn't buy it for obvious reasons! It is like reading the books published in the 50's and 60's in Spain, bringing back all the old myths created by Franco. There is again a strong governmental control of information in Spain through ownership by people close to the Partido Popular (PP). This control is less obvious than in Italy because it does not depend on just one person. Aznar was the "pupil" of Fraga and Fraga was close to Franco. The Opus Dei is also very present and a very powerful ally of the PP.

The younger generation is more curious than before about what really happened during the Spanish war (I prefer not using the term "civil"!), and a number of books have come out on the Spanish war and on the atrocities of the post war, unspoken of for so many years (the concentration camps, slave work, both by women and men, republican children being "adopted" by the franquistas, the "disappearances". The neofranquistas, who are still very present (with another label), had to reply. Moa's book is part of that reply, being publicized as though it revealed at long last the "unknown" information, which in fact it doesn't.

It is interesting to note that, if you go to popular stores like the Corte Inglés, books on Franco, the anniversary of the Opus Dei, Pio XI's biography, Pio Moa's book are in the front row, under Contemporary History or Politics, whereas books on the Spanish war (same period) with non official views, are usually in the back rows, in the History section, next to Carlos Quinto and the conquest of America! On the more historical side, Ricardo Millares has just published a book entitled Juan Negrin. La Republica en guerra, and in a few months there will be another one by José Medina, President of the Negrin Foundation".

RH: I have just received the Spanish edition of Stanley Payne's The Soviet Union, Communism and Revolution in Spain (1931-36). He mentions two volumes in the Moa series. Since Stanley has an unparalleled knowledge of the literature about the Spanish civil war, I would appreciate his opinion as to whether Moa brings new information. What Carmen says about the Spanish press fits in with our discussion of the concentration of press ownership. However, El País is liberal, and our Hispanists could provide more information on the Spanish press. As for the store El Corte Inglés, it began, as the name indicates, as a clothing store. I was surprised that it sold books. I remember that its ownership changed some time ago. Ar the new owners conservative? When I was in Madrid, Espasa Calpe on the Gran Vía was the leading bookstore. Is it still? Presumably in a serious bookstore the display of books would be more even-handed.

Ronald Hilton - 7/13/03


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