Friday, May 30, 2008

Radio Moscow Crackling Late Into a Hot Spanish Night...

I was moved and very interested to see, thanks to Madrid Kid , that the 'Voice of Russia' the current successor to the old Radio Moscow has been reconnecting with some of its loyal listeners in Spain. This is a further example of a most welcome trend within Russia of acknowledging and embracing many diverse aspects of the Soviet times. Of course the important aspect of the Radio Moscow Spanish service was that it provided an important means by which the exiled anti-fascist and progressive forces could stay in direct contact with the Spanish people as Franco's oppressive regime ruthlessly squashed internal opposition to the fascist dictatorship. Voice of Russia came to Madrid on April 23 to pay recognition to a group of Spanish Civil War (1936-39) exiles who helped put together what would become the Spanish-language service at Radio Moscow. During an emotional ceremony that took place at Hotel Puerta de Toledo next to Madrid’s famous Toledo Gate, Leonard Kosichev, VOR’s deputy director for European programs, handed out medals issued by the Russian government. This was the first time that the Spaniards had been publicly honored for their contributions to Radio Moscow and their role in helping provide information to listeners in Spain during the Francisco Franco dictatorship. Among those distinguished were Eusebio Cimorra, depicted above , Pilar Villasante, Vicente Arana, and Agustin Masso, who all began working at Radio Moscow during the 1940s and 1950s. It is estimated that dozens of Spaniards found jobs at the Soviet shortwave radio station after fleeing the Franco regime.


Cimorra, who died in January at the age of 98, was perhaps the most popular Spanish announcer during his more than 30 years at Radio Moscow. Using the on-air pseudonym “Jorge Olivar,” Cimarro began working at the station in 1940. Before the Civil War, he was an influential publisher of the Spanish Communist Party’s newspaper Mundo Obrero. He returned to Spain after the transition to democracy in 1975 and had been recognized as one of the country’s leading "deans" of journalism. “My father always said that Radio Moscow gave him the opportunity to continue to fight against the dictatorship, a fight he began when he was a young journalist in Spain before the Civil War,” recalled Boris Cimorra who received the medal on behalf of his father from Kosichev (right, in photo above). “He decided to continue to fight for his ideals and principles because he was true to his faith. In the best of words, he was a communist who was an idealist, romanticist and intellectual,” said the son who also put in five years at Radio Moscow. Another earlier broadcaster on the Radio Moscow Spanish language service was Pilar Villasante, who also attended the gathering . Pilar came to Moscow as a child at the age of six. She was among the hundreds of Spanish children who were sent to the Soviet Union by their parents with the hope they would receive a better life there than in a fascist society. This massive evacuation began taking place toward the end of the Civil War when it became apparent the Republicans would be defeated. Although she was educated and grew up in Moscow, Villasante never forgot her mother language. She served as artistic director for the Spanish service at Radio Moscow, where she worked for 30 years before returning to Madrid in 1989. “I want to thank the Russian people, the Soviet people for taking us in, educating us and giving us the opportunity to work. I was especially lucky because I got to work for Radio Moscow,” she said.

Some readers of this blog will be delighted to know that they can relive those days of listening to Radio Moscow late into the night thanks to a series of recordings collected by Snithsonian/ Folkways. Perhaps the most evocative memory I have of listening to Radio Moscow was hearing its characteristic ‘Kremlin Bells’ chimes, on a freezing night in the bitter winter of 1981 / 1982 when I was working in Walsall in the West Midlands, I remember thinking that the amount of snow that was falling on us that particular January night was not dissimilar to what you might have expected in Russia. I also always found that Radio Moscow’s political line was so different from the BBC, at that time immersed in the jingoistic lunacy generated throughout Britain following the Falklands War. Furthermore it was actually almost a jolt to hear such anti-imperialist ideas pouring out of the radio from Moscow at this time, weirdly coming from an item of electrical equipment almost intrinsically linked with the drip-drip feed of pro-western and anti-Soviet propaganda, tuned as it was, and still is, normally to BBC Radio 4 , which I still have great time for since it does seem to have largely successfully resisted that vulgarization and dumbing down that characterizes so much of the media today .
Well done to the Voice of Russia for making that wonderful connection between the past and the present, and drawing attention to the role that radio can play in maintaining contact with ideas and information that may not easily be accessible otherwise.

46 comments:

StimmeDerDDR said...

Ahhh! The memories! For those of you who also listened to Radio Berlin International from the GDR; check out http://radioberlininternational.blog.co.uk .

Also look at http://www.tudou.com/home/oldradio/ where there are recording from DPRK radio, Radio Afganistan from 1982, and even the arch enemy Radio RSA

Anonymous said...

Among my many memories of Radio Moscow are of the station been tuned in at the little CPI bookshop in Cork city - they had the cheapest radio so reception was always very poor.
I also remember their "Irish Program" with it's amazingly bad intro music - I remember one Irish program from the time when Loyalist terrorists got weapons from South Africa. Radio Moscow's Iirsh Program had the story arse-about. They said it was the IRA who received them and this was conclusive proof "that the IRA were a fascistic nationalist group" (that's not a verbatim quote but they jist of what they said)
The stickies must have been in their ear at that stage.

www.wwdxc.de has details of current broadcasts from the socialist countries.

David Duff said...

"From the signing of Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact to German assault on the USSR on June 22, 1941, Spanish communists pursued neutralist policies with regards to Germany's aggression against Poland and France, regarding the war as imperialist and unjust. This position was changed immediately after Germany invaded the USSR.

From Wiki with my emphasis:
"A large part of the party membership was forced into exile. Some PCE members went to the Soviet Union and fought as volunteers for the Red Army during the Second World War, such as General Enrique Lister. **There were still others, though, who fell victim to Stalin's permanent purges**."

From http://easyweb.easynet.co.uk/~socappeal/newintro.html
"The Soviet archives in Moscow were opened and examined by Spanish journalists who discovered evidence that the GPU kidnapped and later murdered Andreu Nin, the leader of the POUM, in Alcala, just outside Madrid."

Same source:
"He [Carillo] continued: "If we didn't talk about it [socialist revolution], this was primarily because of the international context. We wanted to neutralise the bourgeois forces in the European democracies... It is obvious that during that period the Soviet Union was interested in an alliance with the parliamentary powers against fascism. In my opinion that policy was correct." It was this policy that strangled the revolution. The limited arms that arrived from the USSR came after three months delay, and came with a political price. Stalin wrote to Caballero directly urging him not to harm the interests of private property."

From http://www.independent.co.uk/news/europe/italian-communists-sent-comrades-to-die-in-the-gulag-444580.html
And it wasn't just the Spanish whom Stalin murdered: "Three hundred Italian Communists who fled to Russia to avoid persecution by the Fascists ended up in Stalin's Gulag, dying in front of Soviet firing squads, many of them falsely denounced by their Italian comrades as Trotskyites or worse."

From http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/Slavonic/Ss1Aczhist.htm
"September 1949: first Soviet advisers arrived [in Czechoslovakia]. Looking for class enemies within the communist party. Arrests in the highest echelons of the party. **Communists who had fought in the Spanish civil war**, members of the Yugoslav Partisan Units, those who had spent the war in the West, Jews."

So I suppose you could say that in more ways than one, fighting for teh communist cause in Spain was bad for your health!

Anonymous said...

David the piece was not meant to be some kind of apologia for the stalinist excesses and criminality, which are in any case dwarfed by Francos butchery in Spain.....According to military historian Antony Beevor, the figure for non-combatants and surrendered troops killed by Franco's Nationalists during the war "must exceed 100,000 and may be closer to 200,000."

Background: Spain becomes a republic in 14 April 1931 when King so XIII abdicates and goes into exile. However, the country is unable to maintain any political stability. A provisional administration is replaced first by a republican left government in October 1931 then a conservative government in November 1933 and finally by the Popular Front, a coalition of socialists and left republicans, in February 1936. Spanish conservatives become concerned that the Popular Front will turn the country into a communist state. The right-wing National Bloc openly appeals to the military to save Spain. The military acts in July 1936, sparking the Spanish Civil War.

Mini biography: Born on 4 December 1892 in El Ferrol in Galicia, northwestern Spain. His full name is Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo Franco y Bahamonde. Franco's father is a paymaster in the Spanish naval administrative corps. His mother is a pious and conservative upper middle-class Roman Catholic.

1907 - At the age of 14 Franco enters the Infantry Academy at Toledo, graduating three years later and receiving his first commission as second lieutenant.

1912 - He volunteers for active duty in the colonial campaigns against the Rif tribespeople in Spanish Morocco.

1913 - Franco is promoted to first lieutenant in an elite regiment of native Moroccan cavalry. He quickly wins a reputation for efficiency, dedication and concern for his troops' well-being. He also becomes known as a severe disciplinarian prepared to have men shot for minor infractions of regulations.

1915 - He becomes the youngest captain in the Spanish Army.

1916 - He is seriously wounded by a bullet in the abdomen and returns to Spain to recover.

1920 - Franco is appointed second in command of the newly organised Spanish Foreign Legion, succeeding to full command in 1923. The legion becomes notorious for the ruthlessness and brutality of its attacks on Moorish villages and plays a decisive role in bringing the Moroccan revolt to an end. Franco becomes a national hero.

1923 - Franco marries Carmen Polo. The couple will have a daughter.

1926 - He is promoted to brigadier-general, becoming the youngest soldier of this rank in the whole of Europe.

1928 - He is named director of the newly organised General Military Academy in Zaragoza.

1931 - The Spanish monarchy falls when King Alfonso XIII abdicates and goes into exile. Franco's career is halted when the leftist leaders of the new Spanish republic (known as the Second Republic) adopt a policy to reform the army. The General Military Academy is dissolved and Franco reassigned first as the head of the infantry garrison at La Coruna and then as commander of the Balearic Islands district.

The leaders of the Second Republic introduce numerous other reforms. Women are given the vote, the Catholic Church is excluded from the education system and divorce is legalised. Catalonia and the Basque provinces are given some political autonomy. Land reform measures seek to divide large estates in the south of the country among local peasants.

However, social conservatives view the reforms with alarm; while the Spanish economy stagnates and unemployment rises as the Great Depression grips the world.

1933 - Conservative parties led by the Spanish Confederation of the Autonomous Right (Confederación Espanola de Derechas Autónomas - CEDA) win control of the Republic in the general elections held in November and begin to dismantle the reforms initiated by their predecessors, sparking political unrest in urban and industrial centres, Catalonia and the Basque provinces - areas where support for the reform agenda is strongest.

The far right is spearheaded by a newly formed party called 'Falange' (phalanx). Falange advocates the fascist ideals of Germany's Adolf Hitler and Italy's Benito Mussolini.

1934 - Franco is promoted to major-general and placed in a position in the Ministry of War. When he suppresses an uprising by miners in the northern province of Asturias in October he once again comes into prominence. In May 1935 he is appointed as the army's chief-of-staff.

1936 - The conservative government is dissolved. At elections held in February the 'Popular Front' coalition of the left wins a narrow victory over the rightist 'National Bloc' and begins to restart the social reform program.

Spanish conservatives become concerned that the Popular Front, which has ties with the Soviet Union, will turn the country into a communist state. The tension soon boils over into open violence between rival groups on the left and right.

When the new government is unable to prevent the accelerating collapse of Spain's social and economic structure Franco calls on it to declare a state of emergency. His appeal is refused.

Suspected by the leftist government of being an antirepublic conspirator, Franco is removed from the general staff and demoted to military governor of the Canary Islands.

Meanwhile, rebels within the military conspire with civilian Nationalists in a plot to overthrow the Popular Front. Franco decides to join the rebellion just days before it is scheduled to begin.

The military rebellion is announced on the Canary Islands on 17 July and starts in earnest the following day. The Spanish Civil War has begun. On 18 July Franco flies to Morocco, taking control of the territory and the crack Army of Africa troops garrisoned there. The army is composed of elite Spanish Foreign Legion battalions and native Moroccan units commanded by Spanish officers. At the end of July Franco declares that he is prepared "to shoot half of Spain."

Franco secures the use of Germany and Italian aircraft to transport the troops to Spain. On 6 August he crosses to the mainland himself. A headquarters is established at Seville, in the south of the country, from where he coordinates the Nationalist forces marching on Madrid. However, the capital is successfully defended, depriving the Nationalists (Nacionales) of a quick victory.

A junta of generals forms a Nationalist government. Backed in Spain by the Catholic Church, the Falange and monarchists, the rebel government is promptly recognised by Germany and Italy. Franco is declared 'generalisimo', (commander-in-chief), and 'jefe de estado' (head of state) of the Nationalist regime on 29 September. He appeals to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini for help in the war effort. Both fascist leaders provide personnel, aircraft, tanks and artillery on favourable terms. Germany stipulates that its military aid should only go to the forces under Franco's command.

Soon after, Franco allows the Germans to organise under an independent command called the 'Condor Legion'. The size of the legion will vary between 5,000 and 10,000 men.

The Nationalists also receive substantial aid from Spanish multi-millionaire Juan March, former-King Alfonso and international businesses, including the Texas Oil Company, Standard Oil of New Jersey, Ford, Studebaker, General Motors, and Dupont of Nemours.

The Republican forces are composed of those military units that remained loyal to the government along with socialist, communist and anarchist militias.

On 26 August the leader of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin, decides to back the Republic. Beginning in October the Soviets provide a steady stream of support, including arms and advisers. Between 700 and 1,000 aircraft are purchased from the Soviet Union, along with about 1,200 armoured vehicles, about 1,500 field guns, four million shells, 15,000 machine guns and 500,000 rifles.

Mexico sells the Republic about 20,000 rifles, 30 field guns and provides supplies of ammunition and food.

Communist organisations from around the world enlist recruits for the 'International Brigades'. Independent volunteers also come to the Republic's aid. United States writer Ernest Hemingway will base his novel 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' on his experiences of the war. British writer George Orwell's book 'Homage to Catalonia' documents his time in one of the Republican militias.

However, the Republic is unable to secure the committed support of the major Western democracies, including Britain, France and the US. These countries, along with the League of Nations, adopt a non-interventionist policy and refuse to supply the Republic with arms.

The Republic is also shunned by the international business community, although it does control the country's 700 tonnes of gold which, at the time, is the fourth largest reserve in the world. In September and October 1936 about 70% of the gold is sent to the Soviet Union for safe-keeping and as collateral for Soviet supplies. The gold is never returned.

The war will last for just under three years. During this entire period the Republicans will win only one of the many major battles fought. Franco's Nationalists suffer some setbacks but finally succeed in encircling the Republican forces, executing tens of thousands as the noose tightens. Franco declares that the Nationalists have a list of two million "reds" who are to be punished for their "crimes". The Catholic Church openly supports the generalisimo.

In the course of the war the Republican forces also commit atrocities, targeting Catholic clergy and others who they believe are opposed to their ideals. At the end of the war the Nationalists will state that 7,937 religious personnel were killed by the Republicans.

1937 - In January Franco sets up a joint German-Italian general staff. Germany increases its contribution to the war effort.

Following the signing of a secret pact between Franco and Mussolini, Italy also increases it's military aid to the Nationalists. Italian infantry are grouped into a 'Corps of Volunteer Troops'. Italian air support, known as the 'Legionary Air Force', is boosted to 5,000 men.

On 19 April Franco restructures the Falange, merging it with the other Nationalist groups and making it the regime's official political arm. Franco is proclaimed chief of the new party. His brother-in-law is made the leader of the party executive. The party is later renamed the 'National Movement'. Labour groups are consolidated into one large organisation that is completely subordinated to the Falange.

In one the most notorious actions of the war, planes from the German Condor Legion bomb the Basque town of Guernica on 26 April. The attack lasts for about three hours. Guernica is destroyed, 1,654 of its occupants are killed and 889 are wounded. The Nationalist forces occupy what remains of the town two days later.

The Spanish-born artist Pablo Picasso later paints a masterpiece inspired by the bombing. The monochrome canvas is simply titled 'Guernica'.

On 28 August the Vatican officially recognises Franco's regime.

Meanwhile, the Republican forces begin to fight among themselves, with communist and anarchist factions battling over ideological differences and for control of strategic sites.

1938 - Following the signing of treaty between Britain and Italy in April, the prime minister of the Republican Government attempts to open negotiations with the Nationalists for a peace settlement. However, Franco will accept nothing other than total surrender.

When Germany, Italy, France and Britain sign the 'Munich Agreement' on 29 September ceding the Sudetenland, the German-speaking area in the north of Czechoslovakia, to Germany the Republic's hope that the outbreak of a general war in Europe will bring an end to the non-interventionist policy of the Western democracies and save it from defeat is dashed.

1939 - Britain and France officially recognise Franco's regime on 27 February.

On 28 March the Nationalists take Madrid. The Civil War ends on 1 April. Franco has won a complete and unconditional victory. Up to 500,000 people are estimated to have died during the conflict and much of Spain's infrastructure has been ruined. The population is further depleted as between 250,000 and 500,000 Republican refugees stream out of the country to find safety abroad.

The new regime faces massive debt, owing 400 million Reichsmarks to Germany and five billion lira to Italy alone.

Now commander-in-chief of the armed forces, head of state, and leader of the government, Franco quickly acts to impose order, suppressing all those who present a potential threat to the new regime. "The war is over," he declares, "But the enemy is not dead."

A state of martial law remains in effect until 1948. Hundreds of thousands of Republicans are imprisoned. Between 1939 and 1943 nearly 200,000 are summarily executed or killed.

Criticism is regarded as treason, political parties are outlawed, universal suffrage is eliminated and the Catholic Church is restored as the official religion of Spain. The National Movement is made the country's only legal political organisation and the parliament is turned into a puppet of the executive.

Civil marriage is banned, divorce and abortion are made illegal and the church regains complete control of the education system. Most of the reformist legislation introduced by the Republicans is revoked. Strikes are banned, the media is muzzled and the moves towards granting autonomy to Catalonia and the Basque provinces are reversed.

Spain becomes a cultural wilderness as artists and intellectuals are either forced into exile or silenced by censorship. Trade unions are destroyed and their funds and property confiscated. Former supporters of the Popular Front are banned from entering public life.

Franco introduces the 'Nuevo Estado' (New State), a system based on the fascist ideas of unquestioning loyalty, the denial of individual rights and freedoms, and state intervention in economic and social management. The Nuevo Estado is legitimised when it receives the support of the Catholic Church.

The Second World War begins in September. Though sympathetic to the fascist powers and prepared to provide them with assistance Franco keeps Spain out of direct involvement in the conflict, apart from sending a division of troops to fight alongside the Germans on the Eastern Front.

As the war shifts against the Axis block, Franco moves Spain towards a more neutral position, although at wars end Spain is still viewed as a pariah state by the rest of the world. Franco is seen as the "last surviving fascist dictator" of a country prepared to provide asylum to thousands of Nazi's fleeing justice.

Spain receives no aid from the Marshall Economic Recovery Program and is excluded from membership of the United Nations (UN) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Franco's attempts to implement a policy of economic self-sufficiency leads to further international isolation, as well as stagnation of the domestic economy.

But, as the Cold War bites, Franco begins to be seen as a potential anticommunist ally by the West and relations start to thaw.

1947 - Following a referendum, the monarchy is reinstated. Franco's position as head of state is confirmed. He is to be regent pending the choice of a king, a position he retains for the rest of his life.

1950 - The US resumes diplomatic relations with the Spanish Government and begins to provide financial aid. The UN also starts to normalise relations, retracting a call made in 1946 for its members to withdraw their ambassadors from the country.

1953 - An agreement is signed with the US granting aid in exchange for access to Spanish military and naval bases. Franco's image is further rehabilitated when he signs an agreement with the Vatican that entrenches Catholicism into the life and institutions of Spain.

1955 - Further respectability comes when Spain is admitted to the UN.

1957 - The government is reorganised to give a more professional approach to economic management, with military administrators being replaced by civilians with business expertise.

Meanwhile, Spain grants asylum to Ante Pavelic, the fascist dictator of the 'Independent State of Croatia' during the Second World War. Pavelic's reign was one of the bloodiest of the war, resulting in 600,000 to one million deaths.

1958 - Spain joins the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

1959 - Spain opens further to the world under an IMF stabilisation plan that requires the liberalisation of trade and capital flows, including direct foreign investment. This overturning of the earlier isolationist economic policies will result in a burst of growth and prosperity.

1960s - The Spanish economy grows spectacularly as industry is modernised and the country becomes a popular tourist destination, with gross domestic product rising by 40%. At the same time, popular discontent with the strictures of the regime starts to grow and become vocal. Franco responds by slightly loosening his control.

1965 - Workers are given the right to strike over non-political disputes. Media censorship is relaxed the following year.

1969 - A wave of strikes and rebellion in the universities causes Franco to proclaim a "state of exception" throughout Spain. The rights to freedom of expression and assembly are suspended. The state of exception if lifted in March. Franco designates 32-year-old prince Juan Carlos de Borbón, grandson of former King Alfonso XIII, as heir to the Spanish throne and his successor.

1973 - Franco resigns his position as leader of the government but remains head of state, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and head of the National Movement.

1974 - Opposition to the regime continues to mount. Strikes spread across the country. Universities are in turmoil. Increasing Basque terrorist activity sees the government place the Basque provinces under martial law in April 1975.

1975 - Franco dies on 20 November in Madrid. His body is entombed at the 'Valley of the Fallen', a giant necropolis to the south of Madrid built for Nationalist soldiers killed during the Civil War.

King Juan Carlos I begins to dismantle the authoritarian institutions of Franco's regime and encourages the revival of political parties. Within three years of Franco's death Spain has become a fully democratic constitutional monarchy.

Postscript

2001 - The Spanish parliament passes a motion that officially recognises the existence of victims of "repression of the Francoist dictatorship' and denounces "the violent imposition of ideologies".

2003 - On 1 December the Spanish parliament pays homage to the victims of the Franco regime. However, the governing People's Party boycotts the proceedings.

2004 - A government commission is created and provided with funding of about US$1.3 million to investigate ways to compensate victims of the Franco regime. The commission is likely to recommend that the government help finance the exhumation of mass graves from the Civil War and provide compensation payments for people wrongly convicted by the Franco regime.

The commission will extend the work of organisations like the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory. The association estimates there are 600 mass graves in Spain and says it has helped find the remains of just over 300 people.

2005 - The last publicly displayed statue of Franco remaining in Madrid is removed from the Plaza de Oriente on 18 March.

At the same time, the Spanish Government plans to convert the Franco-era mausoleum at the Valley of the Fallen to an education centre.

On 19 July Britain's 'Guardian' newspaper reports that Amnesty International has called on Spain to "provide justice for tens of thousands of people killed by General Franco's death squads during and after the Spanish Civil War."

"Instead of truth about crimes of the past, its place has been filled with silence and in some cases denial, in the absence of an exhaustive and impartial investigation," the newspaper quotes a report from Amnesty as saying.

According to the paper, Amnesty has "urged the creation of a truth commission or an equivalent body to investigate atrocities by both sides during the war."

Amnesty also calls for an end to the impunity extended to those guilty of crimes committed on behalf of the Franco dictatorship and the annulment of thousands of death sentences handed down by Franco's military courts.

Meanwhile, a poll run by the Cadena Ser radio station in November finds that 30% of Spaniards do not know that Franco overthrew a democratically elected government. Over half those polled believed that Franco's influence could still be felt. 63% believed that Franco's dictatorship was negative for Spain.

2006 - In July a survey by 'El Mundo' newspaper finds that a third of those polled believed that Franco was right to overthrow the republican government.

The same month the Spanish Government unveils a draft law dealing with some of the legacies of the Civil War and Franco era. Under the draft law assistance would be provided for the exhumation of mass graves; victims of the war and dictatorship would be compensated; the far right would be banned from holding rallies at Franco's grave; members of the International Brigades would be given the right to take on Spanish nationality; and funds would be set aside to sort out wartime and Franco period archives.

2007 - On 31 October the lower house of the Spanish Parliament passes a bill removing many of the last vestiges of the Franco era.

Under the bill, known as the Law on Historic Memory, the summary military trials of the Franco regime are declared illegitimate, along with their sentences. All statues, street names and other public symbols honouring Franco must be taken down. Political assemblies at the Valley of the Fallen are banned. The citizenship of Spaniards forced into exile by the dictatorship can be reinstated. The descendants of those exiles will be able to apply for citizenship. The program for the exhumation and identification of victims of the war is expanded.

Meanwhile, on 29 October, the Vatican beatifies 498 Spanish priests and nuns killed by Republicans during the Civil War.

Comment: Opinions tend to polarise when it comes to Franco and the Spanish Civil War. Creative geniuses like Hemingway and Picasso have ensured that the war remains, in the minds of many, as one of the most romantic yet tragic conflicts of the 20th Century, especially among those whose political beliefs tend to lean to the left. From this perspective Franco can take on the bearing of a monster.

Another view sees Franco as the saviour of a nation, sparing it from a communist takeover and the political inflexibility that would doom the Soviet Union and its Eastern Block satellites.

That may be, although the flexibility of the Franco regime was really just a reflection of the hollowness at its core. When ideological questions are no longer permitted matters of practicality come to the fore.

More information
Links are to external sites.

Spain - A Country Study (Library of Congress Country Studies Series)

History of Spain: Primary Documents

Spanish Civil War Archive

Anonymous said...

Only the Soviet Union under JV Stalin assisted the Spanish republicans against Franco.
Anglo-American imperialism cut a deal with Franco after the war and dictatorship remained in place.


All the Spanish communists today hold JV Stalin in the highest regard.

David Duff said...

Anon, thank you for the biography of Franco although you need not have bothered. I know little of him but I always assumed that he was a ruthless shit of the first order, although shrewd enough to keep his country out of WWII, rather like his Irish opposite number! The only point I was trying to make was in opposition to our host's panegyric on the lying voice of one of the greatest mass murderers in history who extended his homicidal tendencies to include Spanish communists.

I'm sorry if the truth hurts!

Madridkid said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog and the Voice of Russia.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

Of the most peripheral of faint relevances here, a long way back I had an exchange with Gabriel about the song Viva la Quince Brigada.

This was followed up on the folk-music site Mudcat.

I have now had a message from Geoff Lawes asking for further help.

I have therefore posted an update from last autumn’s doings.

Can anyone help Geoff Lawes in his search for the origins of this song?

Meanwhile, can I propose a modern (and -- I think -- valid) interpretation of the song by a radical-lefty duo from New York?

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