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SPAIN: Luis Valls Taberner



Luis Valls has sent me information about his grandfather. the historian Fernando Valls Taberner, of which here is a summary. The story is interesting and important because it illustrates how liberals, disenchanted with the implementation of their ideals, become conservatives. It is a common phenomenon. The vitriolic anti-Communist Bertram Wolfe was in his earlier years a Communist organizer wanted by the FBI. My old mentor, Salvador de Madariaga, a leading liberal in his youth, disenchanted with the irresponsibility of the Second Republic, became in his English exile an arch-conservative who continued to denounce Franco even though his ideas in many ways were now identical with those of the Franco regime.

Fernando Valls Taberner was born in 1888-and died in 1942. We have described his work as an archivist and historian. In Madrid he was associated with the founding of the Residencia de Estudiantes, a famous liberal, non-clerical residence where I lived during the Second Republic. When it opened in 1911, among the first residents were Jorge Guillén (one of my tutors at Oxford), Fernando Valls Taberner, and another Catalan, the famous archeologist Pedro Bosch Gimpera , whom I frequently saw later in Mexico, where he was living in exile. Another well-known figure in the Residencia was Emilia Pardo-Bazán, about whom I have written extensively, although she died before I was there. She and Fernando VallsTaberner could be described as Catholic socialists. The Catholic theme runs through the career of Fernando Valls Taberner. He was exiled by the dictator Primo de Rivera, but with the republic he returned to Barcelona and became active in politics.

It was the violent anti-clericalism which broke out in the republic which enraged him. He took refuge in Italy, then governed by Mussolini, and, after Franco's "Uprising" or "liberation crusade", he cooperated with the new regime intellectually. He was a leading member of the Opus Dei in Barcelona, as were many members of his family. See Jesus Ynfante, La prodigiosa aventura del Opus Dei, génesis y desarrollo de la Santa Mafia (Ruedo Ibérico, París 1970.) He was also very active in the major research organization organized during the Franco regime, the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, which took over the Residencia during the Civil War. It published an obituary of him (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. Memoria de la Secretaría General. Año 1942, Madrid 1943, págs. 63-64, Necrologías.) The development of his political ideas may be seen in Palabras del momento (1930), En las horas confusas (1934), and Reafirmación espiritual de España (1939) in which he justified Franco¡'s uprising. When Franco's troops entered Barcelona, he wrote "La Falsa Ruta". La Vanguardia. (February 15, 1939).

Most Spanish intellectuals opposed Franco and later went into exile. Those who stayed or returned were a mixed crowd. Pío Baroja and Pérez de Ayala were opportunists. Fernando Valls Taberner was not; he was consistent In his Catholic faith, and was disillusioned by the barbarous anti-Catholicism which developed under the republic. I remember that at the time Professor Allison Peers of Liverpool University was one of the very few foreign academics who spoke out about this. This whole subject of the intellectuals under Franco deserves a comprehensive study.

Ronald Hilton - 7/31/02


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