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SPAIN: The Spanish Civil War and Paul Preston



History is full of ironies. The Escorial, the gaunt monastery palace in the mountains overlooking Madrid, was built by the "Devil of the South", Philip II. Franco built there the pantheon where he is buried, the Valle de los Caídos. He must be turning over in his grave, since El Escorial is now used for very secular purposes, including summer sessions where WAISer Paul Preston, the eminent historian of the Civil War, is teaching a course.

Pablo Saz Parkinson, who is now at Stanford's Linear Accelerator, calls our attention to an interview with Paul Preston in El Escorial: http://www.elpais.es/edigitales/todas_pasadas.html?i_encuentro=156&i_grupo=par. He is very hard on Franco, accusing him of a cat and mouse game, prolonging the Civil War by not taking Madrid and Barcelona when he could have done so in order to prolong the agony of the Republicans. My guess is that conservative Spaniards will disagree sharply. He views the monarchy as tainted as the heir of Franco, but despite that he defends it because it has followed a democratic course. This is interesting, since officially Spaniards prefer not to raise the issue of the monarchy since history might repeat itself if the monarchy fell.

There is a photograph of Paul. He is putting on weight. Cooking at the Escorial must be good. Oh yes Paul. You spent a year at the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid, where I lived before the Civil War, when it was a seedbed for republican intellectuals. I am trying to get a picture of it for my book on Spain in the 30s. Paul, can you find one and send it to me? It would be a very WAIS gesture.

Ronald Hilton - 7/7/01


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