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SPAIN: Sephardic Jews under Franco

David Seckler says: "What Hans Meyer Morgenthau told Tim Brown reminds me of an experience I had in Cordoba in 1972. A native of the city told me, out of the clear blue sky, that he was Jewish and that his family had retained their Jewish identity during the past 500 years. Even though he knew little of Jewish tradition, this identity was something he felt deeply. I wonder if there is any truth to the rumor I once read--totally without any substantiating evidence--that Francisco Franco descended from a Marrano family. Many Spaniards with very Catholic names (e.g., de los Santos) or names of cities are. But the name Franco doesn't fit either of these categories.

RH: Corominas devotes three and a half pages to "marrano"! He defines it as "new Christian", i.e. a Jewish or a Moorish convert. Since "marrano" means "pig" in Spanish, it is an insult, especially as they consider pork unclean. The word really comes from an Arab word meaning "forbidden thing". It was thought that Jewish converts were "judaiazantes", practicing Jewish rites in private, although publicly devout Catholics. One way of testing these converts was to ask them to eat pork. I don't know if this test would work anymore, since I have Jewish friends who love pork. As for family place names, the Mexican labor leader Lombardo Toledano had two Jewish names. I have heard that Francisco Franco had Jewish ancestry, and Franco can be a Jewish name.

Ronald Hilton - 11/27/02