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SPAIN: Sephardic Jews under Franco

David Seckler writes: "When Franco was in power: I've read that he gave sanctuary during World War II to Jews who claimed they were descended from Jews who were expelled from Spain during the Inquisition. One such account was published in Midstream magazine, a Jewish publication, back in the 1980's. Have you ever seen any reliable accounts that addressed this matter?" RH. There was considerable publicity about this at the time. There were two synagogues in Toledo. One was Santa María la Blanca, which stood in the middle of the Jewish quarter on the west side of the city. Around 1550 it was converted into a Christian church and given its present name. The other was then Sinagoga del Tránsito, part of the splendid palace commissioned in 1366 by Samuel Levi, treasurer of Pedro I of Castile. Following the expulsion of the Jews in in 1492, it was given to the Knights of Calatrava. Franco reportedly gave it back to the Sephardic Jews, and there is an adjoining Sephardic museum. I have seen no reliable report on all of this. At the time of the expulsion, the Jews who did not accept conversion fled to Africa, Salonika, Turkey the Netherlands, or America. My impression is that very few of their descendents accepted Franco's offer, but I would welcome more information. We have some Sephardic WAISers. Perhaps they can tell us.

Ronald Hilton - 11/16/02