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SPAIN: Sephardic Jews under Franco



Max Manuel Rodríguez Navarro said that Franco made good use of the Primo de Rivers decree granting Spanish citizenship to the descendents of Sephardic Jews. One of its beneficiaries was a Polish Jew (!), Koplowitz, who became one of the richest men in Spain. Some countries sold visas to Jews trying to escape from Nazi Europe. Was Spain involved in this practice? Was this the case here?

Christopher Jones says: "Basque novelist Pío Baroja's nephew, Julio Caro Baroja wrote a book about Jews in modern Spain, Los Judíos en la España Moderna. Pío Baroja also wrote a book called Comunistas, Judíos y Demas Ralea (Communists, Jews and other rabble. In an effort to deify the elder Baroja, this book has disappeared.) I think that if Franco's gesture was ever made to the Sephardic community (how many 10?), it was certainly only after an allied victory became clear, probably when he replaced Serrano Suñer with Jordana); it should appear in Julio Caro's more neutral book. As for Franco's racial tolerance, I can only point out that el Caudillo himself wrote the script for a movie called "RAZA" (like Hitler he was a film buff), which, as the name implies, glorified his own peculiar view of the Spaniards. His "Crusade" in 1936 was undertaken to save eternal Spain from -- communists, free-masons and ???? [Pío Baroja, whom I knew, was a miserable individual and a chaotic novelist whose works have been boosted by the Basques as proof that they have a great novelist. RH].

This comes from David Pike, the well-known authority on Mauthausen, where most of the Spanish deportees were interned: "David Sekler writes of the Jews in World War II who were saved by Franco, and it is well known that the Spanish Embassy in Budapest acquitted itself with honor; read the work of the Spanish historian Javier Rubio. The work of the "Italian Wallenberg" (the Spanish consul in Budapest Giorgio Perlasca) is especially well known, but the case of the Spanish Jews of Salonika has not yet been studied. They (and the Hungarian Jews) were the last to be deported, and they arrived in Mauthausen in 1944-45 speaking their 16th century Spanish (hambre is pronounced fambre), creating great surprise among the Spanish Republicans interned there. Whether Franco knew about their plight or not, there is nothing to be found in the documents of the Spanish consulate in Vienna that refers to the Spanish Jews of Salonika".

Ronald Hilton - 11/20/02


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