The leftist coalition government in Spain has approved a draft bill titled the Democratic Memory Law, which would make it a criminal offence to express support for the late General Franco or his ideas, with breaches of it incurring a maximum fine of €150,000. The bill has yet to be voted on by parliament, after which it is likely to face challenge in the courts.
This legislation, an enlargement of the 2007 Law of Historical Memory, will outlaw the expression of sentiments favourable to the Nationalist cause during the civil war in the 1930s; it therefore attempts to silence any articulation of the views of at least one half (and probably more) of the population of Spain at that period, which are also the political heritage of their present-day descendants. What is “democratic” about that? Is the essence of democracy not tolerating free expression of views with which one strongly disagrees?
“This is the first law that expressly condemns and repudiates the coup of 1936 by Franco’s forces and the ensuing dictatorship which ushered in the darkest period of our contemporary history,” said Felix Bolaños, the Minister for Democratic Memory (sic). In fact, he is the Minister for Selective Memory, if he claims the Franco government was the darkest period in Spain’s modern history: that title properly belongs to the rule of the murderous Second Republic, which Franco ended, thus performing a signal service to civilisation.
It really is time, in the third decade of the 21st century, with the centenary of the Spanish Republic only a decade away, that British commentators abandoned the infantile adulation of one of the cruellest regimes even in the history of the 20th century, and came to terms with historical reality. The Second Republic was a Marxist dictatorship, dedicated to eliminating anything resembling democracy in Spain and annihilating Christianity. It was the client of Joseph Stalin and its preferred method of governance was mass murder.
Yet even today, clowns let loose on keyboards churn out ludicrous clichés about “the democratically elected government of Spain”, “Spanish loyalists”, “Franco’s fascists”, “inspirational land reform”, “fascist atrocities”, and all the other parrot cries of useful idiots commenting on Spain since 1931. Nowhere, even today, is there the most elementary presentation of the facts.
The “democratic” government of Spain, the Popular Front, at its peak in the 1936 general election, despite benefiting from intimidation of voters and ballot rigging on the evening of the election, won just 47.2 per cent of the vote; the Right won 45.7 per cent and the Centre 5.4 per cent. Since the president appointed Manuel Azaña head of the government on the basis of early results, the Popular Front was empowered to register its own victory at the polls, with leftist mobs ensuring seats were illegitimately credited to the left.
Since the Spanish electoral system gave a disproportionate advantage to the leading party, the outcome was a heavily weighted 267 seats in the Cortes for the Popular Front and only 132 for the Right, creating the illusion of a landslide vote for the Popular Front, which had actually failed to win a majority of votes. The leftists celebrated with an orgy of church burnings.
Thereafter, law and order ceased to exist in Spain. The most notable achievement of the “democratic” government was to have uniformed police take the leader of the parliamentary opposition, Calvo Sotelo, from his home at night, in violation of his immunity from arrest, as a deputy; before the police vehicle reached the end of the street the opposition leader was shot through the back of the neck, after which his body was dumped at the gates of a cemetery – the assassination that triggered civil war. Clearly, it was extremely reprehensible of Francisco Franco to terminate such classic democratic procedures and impose fascism.
Here a question arises: where did all Franco’s “fascists” come from? At the February 1936 election the Spanish fascist party, the Falange, gained a total of 6,800 votes, putting it at the bottom of the poll. So, how was this small cohort, presumably including women voters, able to put an army in the field five months later that eventually defeated the Republic? The answer, of course, is that it did not. The blanket term “fascist”, routinely applied to the Nationalist forces – actually a complex coalition of monarchists, Carlists, Catholics, assorted centrists and a majority of the Army – is testimony only to the political illiteracy of uninformed commentators who have swallowed the leftist propaganda narrative.
In the course of the civil war, the Falange grew enormously, many of its recruits being Anarchists in the Nationalist zone who exploited the proletarian pretensions of the Falange to save their skins by donning the blue shirt, nicknamed the “salvavidas” (lifejacket) by General Quiepo de Llano for that reason. Franco used the Falange, which he always kept totally under his control, to give an ideological flavour to the Nationalist cause, adopting the Roman salute as a riposte to the clenched fist of the left, since he wished to appear a “modern” ideologue, rather than an old-fashioned military dictator.
Yet that is what he was. His views were not fascist: his chief preoccupation was maintaining the unity of Spain against separatist movements. A dictator? Yes. A fascist? No. It does history no service to falsify the realities of the situation. There is much left/liberal agitation today about exposing alleged atrocities, exhuming mass graves and indulging in historical denunciation, as envisaged by the projected Law of Democratic Memory.
Yet to read commentaries on this, one would assume the Second Spanish Republic was an unblemished, democratic society, brutally attacked by fascists. In bringing historical memory to the top of the agenda, the leftist Spanish government is inviting the resurrection of memories it would prefer to forget.
Firstly, there is the murderous persecution of the Catholic Church, the worst in its 2000-year history. The Republicans butchered a total of 13 bishops and 6,832 clergy, including 4,184 diocesan priests, 2,365 members of religious orders and 283 nuns. Sometimes priests were castrated before being shot. Their exhumed bodies often showed bullet wounds to the right hand, having been shot while blessing their murderers. Canonisations are still flowing from this unique period of martyrdom. Lay Catholics were murdered in incalculable numbers.
The Spanish bishops, in the face of extreme barbarism, declared the war a Crusade. In their 1937 letter “to the whole world” they revealed that 20,000 churches out of the 42,000 in Spain had been destroyed. That was a grave cultural as well as spiritual loss. It is notable that, in all the news reports, articles and novels penned by Hemingway and the other writers based at the Hotel Florida in Madrid, whose writings influenced global opinion, there is not the least consideration given to the mass murder of Catholics. They were not even on the radar of those moral dyslexics, fatuously captivated by a Marxist regime’s catastrophic social experiments.
Catholics were unseen, irrelevant obstacles to progress, wholly dispensable and not regretted. The sole references were occasional clichéd allusions to the “obscene wealth of the Church”. What wealth? The Spanish Church had progressively been despoiled, since the reign of Charles III, through “desamortización” by confiscatory liberal/masonic 19th-century governments, to the 20th century when it had little or no land, but large buildings to maintain. At the start of the civil war there were 60 bishops in Spain, only four of whom owned a car and none of whom was paid as much as a quarter of the income of an English canon.
The wider crimes of the Republic included the mass murders of more than 8,000 people in Madrid’s prisons, driven in fleets of double-decker buses to Aravaca, Paracuellos de Jarama and other killing grounds where they were shot, on the orders of Santiago Carillo, Commissioner for Public Order, and later secretary general of the Spanish Communist Party. In Madrid and Barcelona “chekas”, prisons run by assorted militias, contained Orwellian torture chambers of fiendish ingenuity.
An eager participant in this mass murder was Margarita Nelken, the first woman deputy elected to the Cortes. Today she is held up by the Spanish left as a feminist icon, despite her opposition to votes for women because she thought them instinctively conservative. She urged the murder squads not to kill only men, but to extend their activities to women.
Nelken’s existence diminished humanity; yet today streets have been named after her in 20 Spanish cities and towns. At the peak of her murderous activity she was a deputy for the main partner in the coalition government, the PSOE. Today, the PSOE is again the leading party in a leftist coalition ruling Spain. Its history is murderous, yet it claims it wants to revive historical memory. In reality, it wants to falsify it, to cover its own shame by silencing anyone publicly addressing the crimes of the Red Republic it led.
The whole leftist myth of the Spanish Civil War is a mountain of lies: all the iconic trappings are bogus. Guernica was not a “peaceful market town”, it was a Republican divisional headquarters with a garrison and three arms factories; many Red divisions were about to retreat through it and the bridge was a military target. It was Luftwaffe incompetence that repeatedly missed the bridge and caused 300 civilian casualties (not the 1,600 claimed by the Reds). Picasso’s daub, which attracted no interest when first displayed, though it has since acquired the Emperor’s new clothes immunity from criticism, was paid for as part of a propaganda exercise mounted by Stalin’s NKVD.
Robert Capa’s photograph “The Falling Soldier” was staged 25 miles distant from its alleged location of Cerro Muriano, at Llano de Banda, near the village of Espejo, and the soldier is not, as claimed, Federico Borrell García. And Laurie Lee did not, as claimed in “A Moment of War”, kill a Nationalist soldier, who fell with “shocked, angry eyes” at Teruel. The International Brigades association has admitted Lee’s epilepsy meant he was kept away from the front and was never at Teruel.
The reaction to such exposed impostures is symptomatic of liberal delusion. Jan Morris, in the introduction to a new edition of “A Moment of War”, admitted the implausibility of Lee’s account, “but I accept its more profound reality as another sort of truth…” What sort of truth would that be? The kind we call falsehood. Similarly, with regard to the exposure of Capa’s fraud, a loyal commentator claimed: “Regardless of these accusations, certain elements of Capa’s iconic photo will always ring true.”
It is by such mystical charlatanry, assuming some kind of gnostic insight, that the left evades objective truth to perpetuate its own dishonest mythology, in contemporary terminology proclaiming “our truth”. Franco has been dead for 46 years, but the squalid PSOE is again ruling Spain and is now preparing to protect its pathetic myth, by fining anyone who dares to tell the truth about its past €150,000. Clearly, the transition to democracy has been a success.