Spain: Memories of Spanish Civil War

Seven deades later, the passions aroused by the Spanish Civil War live on. Christopher Jones writes: I don't think we have yet mentioned that the removal of the statues was apparently announced by the current prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero at the "surprise" event honoring the murderer of Paracuellos.  We live a strange world: somehow, there are still some who praise the bearded tyrant in Havana, Che Guevara and Santiago Carrillo. [Hollywood is filled with them] By contrast, I am one of those who think that more statues in honor of Franco and José Antonio should be erected; whatever the caudillo's shortcomings he saved Spain from the likes of Santiago Carrillo. [RH: I doubt that Hollywood is full if admirers of Santiago Carrillo.  I wonder if the film world even knows who he is.]

Adriana Pena writes: One detail about the Paracuellos massacres. They ended as soon as Santiago Carrillo was replaced by the anarchist Melchor Rodriguez, who had no problem finding out what was going on, nor putting a stop to it. Carmen Negrín, the grand daughter pf the last Republican prime minister of Spain, writes: If the communists and socialists started pressing defamation charges, my family for one and quite a few others with us would be millionaires! Up to now my attitude has been, as they say in French: "la bave du crapaud n'atteind pas la semelle du sage"! But perhaps I should start thinking about it and pressing my first charges against Christopher  Jones! The other charges would certainly leave less money for the intellectual descendants of the Spanish fascists to keep on promoting lies such as the last new one: the video on 11M, which former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar launched and which the more moderate members of the Partido Popular don't even support!

Caroline Armeros writes: Christopher Jones’ remarks come to me like a breath of fresh air, used as I am to a widespread Anglo-American tendency to portray the communists of the Spanish civil war as angelic freedom-fighters, sacrificial friends of democracy inhumanly butchered on the altars of authoritarianism. The version of Dr Jones’ quotation of La Pasionaria which I have heard was addressed directly to Calvo-Sotelo after his last, incredibly violent speech in the Cortes: ‘Su Señoría morirá con las botas puestas’, ‘Your Lordship will die with his boots on’—a colloquial expression supposedly referring to the violent nature of his imminent death. I can also add what a prominent republican reportedly said at the time of the burning of the convents (which included the murder of monks and nuns), that ‘Todos los conventos de España no valen la vida de un republicano’ (‘All the convents of Spain are not worth the life of one republican’). These quotations have admittedly been handed down to me by oral tradition, and would require checking against primary written sources to establish how literal they are. Regardless of their precision, however, they seem to illustrate well the spirit of the Spanish republican left in the 1930s.

What is more, quotations are merely words and do not count the random gunning expeditions carried out by ‘loyal republicans’ in cars around the wealthier central neighbourhoods of Madrid before the outbreak of the war. Again, I have known witnesses who were spared either because they threw themselves onto the floors or because they were simply lucky; and who related their experiences to me personally. RH: On the Castellana I was stopped by a car full of these executioners and was searched: I might have been killed. My friend, the Marqués de Silvela, a liberal self-made man to whom I had bid farewell, was not so lucky.  He was taken out of his house and shot.

Christopher Jones said:
The removal of the statues of FrancO and José Antonio was apparently announced by the current prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero at the "surprise" event honoring Santiago Carrillo. Carmen Negríon counters: The announcement was made long before the dinner. Perhaps Christopher Jones, who is not even sure of what he advances ("was apparently announced") had read about it long before, when the government announced that all the signs of the dictatorship should go. He would remember that he was "worried" about what would happen to the Valle de los Caidos, and he even announced an uproar. What some people conveniently overlook when defending the extreme right wing in Spain, is that a lot of the riots were the result of an orchestrated provocation started before the war (similar to what Aznar is trying to set up now, with the help of the Church), and that the war started with a coup against a democratically elected government. One can also wonder why the Church and the wealthy people were taken as target. One could also go back in time and look at the distribution of wealth in the country at the time( a look at "Las Hurdes" of Buñuel might help). One can also wonder why so many people left Spain, after the war was over, during the 40 years of "peace" (and "order") that followed the war, perhaps looking for jobs or just fresh air... I too have family members that were brutally killed by the Franquistas. What else can one expect from a war? Flowers? yes, on tombs, and only when you have a tomb to put them on!

RH: Carmen speaks of "a democratically elected government".  She is referring to the elections of February 16, 1936, of which Hugh Thomas has a long account.  I witnessed them, since a polling station was set up outside the Residencia de Estudiantes.  The Left won, but it was not a simple affair.  Hugh Thomas says (p.5): "The Popular  Front had gained the day in February 1936 though, by the quiurks of the Spanish electoral law, their majority of seats in the Cortes was much greater than their total of votes cast would have strictly entitled them", While there was a widespread feeling that the election results were unfair, the left went on a rampage.  Driving in the countryside around Madrid was a risky business. 


Christopher Jones writes: Carmen Negrin is again trying to falsify history in order to rehabilitate the more than tarnished image of her grandfather.  The Spanish Civil War really began on October 6, 1934 when Catalonia unsuccessfully seceded from Spain and a revolution broke out in Asturias.  To "save democracy" from an imaginary "fascist threat," the marxist left so dear to Carmen Negrín attempted to install a "proletarian dictatorship."  The "Alzamiento Nacional" on July 18, was the long overdue response to these events and an extraordinary wave of  bolshevik terrorism which had gripped the country.  For anyone who cherishes impartiality, it is perfectly clear that the left in Spain was out to exterminate entire sections of society.  [Ref: historian César Vidal 's Checas de Madrid, las Cárceles Republicanas al Descubierto (Editorial Belacqua de Ediciones]  Paul Preston wrote how the nationalists destroyed the institutions of the state, [" the military coup destroyed the structures of law and order and before the Republican government could rebuild them"]  Nothing could be further from reality, it was the nationalists who restored law and order that had disappeared under the republic.  Regarding Carmen's comments about the statues of Franco and José Antonio; Zapatero announced the removal of the statues at the event honoring the assassin of Paracuellos. 

Ronald Hilton 2005


last updated: June 11, 2005