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SPAIN: The Salamanca Blood Papers Declaration

Two well-known Hispanists comment on the Salamanca Blood Papers Declaration. Stanley Payne says:

"If I remember correctly, when the Catalanists first brought this up two or three years ago, there was a popular demonstration in Salamanca in support of the Spanish national archive there. Of course , the "fascist" government might well have claimed that it was confiscating material from "terrorists."

Before quoting the message from Paul Preston, I carefully did not say that all the members of the international brigade had a Stalinist agenda, but that it had a Stalinist agenda: "Leaving aside the fact that I dispute the view that all members of the International Brigades had a Stalinist agenda (unless you regard the defeat of fascism as a Stalinist agenda), I would like to express my support for the declaration. This is a matter which I have followed for many years. Vast quantities of documentation were captured by the Francoist forces as they took region after region of the country during the Spanish Civil War. The material was scoured for evidence of crimes that is to say membership of left-wing and liberal organisations, Masonic lodges or simply democratic convictions.

The failure of the Salamanca archive to return this documentation to its rightful owners is scandalous. The argument given to justify the retention is that it now constitutes a valuable archive. This seems to me a spurious argument. Without going into the problems about how the material is organised, it is as if there were no such things as photocopiers, scanners or microfilm. The originals could be returned and copies kept. Democracy returned to Spain in 1977. a lot of copying could have been done in the subsequent twenty one and a bit years".

My comment: there should be a central archive, and Salamanca is not an appropriate place. Copying the documents would be a good solution but a major task, and I fear it simply would not be done or completed.

Ronald Hilton - 3/3/02