Franco dictatorship propaganda in Spanish armed forces

This video says about itself:

Spanish families unearth their civil war dead

24 January 2012

Seventeen women, relatives of people on the Republican side, were shot by the forces of Francisco Franco at the height of Spain’s civil war 1n 1937 and tipped straight into a mass grave. Now, 74 years on, their bodies are being exhumed so that their descendants can bury them properly.

By Alejandro López in Spain:

Spanish officer corps hears lecture justifying Franco coup and dictatorship

22 March 2016

On March 8, historian Stanley Payne gave a lecture at the Spanish Centre for National Defence Studies (Centro de Estudios para la Defensa Nacional—CESEDEN) legitimising the coup of General Francisco Franco in 1936 that sparked the Spanish Civil War and brought to power a 40-year fascist dictatorship.

Apart from senior Spanish officers, the audience included Pio Moa, a revisionist pseudo-historian who has justified the repression by the military during the Civil War and the dictatorship. Other attendants were Ignacio Cosidó, general director of police, Agustín Conde Bajón, a former parliamentarian of the right-wing Popular Party (PP), Fernando de Paz, an adamant defender of Franco and member of the ultra-right party VOX, and Hermann Tertsch, a right-wing journalist.

During the lecture “Towards the 18th of July”, Payne blamed the Popular Front government formed by social-democratic, Stalinist, anarchist, and centrist POUM forces in 1936 for the “destruction” of democracy. He claimed that the Republican government under Manuel Azaña “wanted a military uprising” and that the February 1936 elections that gave a majority in parliament to the Popular Front forces were a “democratic fraud.” They aimed, Payne asserted, to “create the conditions for imposing a monopoly of the left.”

Payne then praised General Franco as a “very prudent and professional” soldier, who rejected the coup until he understood there was no alternative.

He claimed the coup was a response to the climate generated by the Republican government, stating that “Those who do not want a counterrevolution, should not start a revolution.”

The CESEDEN, evidently fearing that an event airing the fascist sympathies of sections of the officer corps would provoke anger and concern across Spain, sought to block reporting of the event.

One journalist from La Marea described how the soldiers asked him, “Are you a journalist? You can’t come in. The Ministry of Defence has not authorised journalists to come in.” When the paper contacted the Communication Department of the Ministry of Defence, they stated that the “conference is public, but that they would not allow anyone to record the session.” In the end, the journalist was able to enter on the condition that he left behind his mobile and any other recording equipment. explained its journalist “was forbidden to take any photographs, and during the conference, a soldier confiscated the laptop until the end of the conference.”

This is not the place to review all of the historical lies involved in Payne’s presentation of the leader of a fascist coup as “prudent,” or of the Popular Front as carrying out a revolutionary policy. … Suffice it to say that the army’s attempt to block reporting of the event testifies to its own awareness that Payne’s pro-fascist arguments could [not] withstand a public historical debate.

The Payne lecture was not a scholarly but a propagandistic event. Payne spoke in the fourth month in which Spain has not had a government, since the December 20 elections produced a hung parliament. This political crisis is the outcome of years of escalating economic collapse and social misery, as unemployment affects 23 percent of the population (53 percent among youth), and more than a quarter of the population lives in poverty.

The glorification of a fascist coup, coming amid the rise of neo-fascistic tendencies across Europe, is a warning: layers within the army brass have begun contemplating, and seeking to fashion justifications for a military intervention into Spanish political life, should they deem it necessary.

Ominously, given his remarks supporting a fascist coup against the Popular Front, Payne recently spoke about today’s conditions, comparing the Popular Front of the 1930s to “the possible pact between the PSOE [Socialist Party] and Podemos, the two big parties of the left today.”

Nonetheless, under conditions where discontent in the working class with the entire political establishment is taking on explosive dimensions in Spain and across Europe, Payne’s pro-fascist remarks to the officer corps are a warning. Faced with an unprecedented crisis and unsure of what will occur, the army is preparing itself to use bloody and ruthless methods to defend the capitalist order.

Payne’s lecture is a qualitative development of a long series of previous attempts to rehabilitate Francoism. Payne, born in the US in 1934, is a member of the Royal Spanish Academy of History and a regular contributor to the right-wing daily ABC and El Mundo. He has written more than 20 books on Spanish history. His positions have shifted ever more to the right since the 1939-1978 Franco dictatorship, and particularly in recent years, when he publicly supported Pio Moa.

Such efforts have gone hand in hand with an offensive by PP-led governments to rewrite history. The PP has given a diploma of honour to representatives of the Brotherhood of Combatants of the Blue Division (Hermandad de Combatientes de la División Azul), which fought alongside the Nazi army on the Eastern Front during World War II, and the Ministry of Defence has actively been involved in the repatriation of the remains of these soldiers from Russian soil.

At the same time, it has scrapped the budget to uncover the remains of victims of the fascists during the civil war and refused UN recommendations to uncover the remains in mass graves. It also provided hundreds of thousands of euros to fund the Spanish Biographical Dictionary, a collection written by prominent revisionist historians who drafted many chapters rewriting the history of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship.

Five days before Payne’s lecture, the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (Asociación para la Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica—ARMH) published an open letter demanding the Ministry of Defence ensure that the lecture not take place.

The ARMH warnings went unheeded. Not one party raised a protest. El País, typically considered to be Spain’s newspaper of record, did not publish anything; the right-wing newspapers El Mundo, ABC, La Razón, and El Español remained silent, continuing their support for the Franco regime.

18 July marks 80 years since the coup d’état which led to the Spanish civil war and Franco’s 40-year dictatorship. Yet its survivors are still waiting to see their torturers on trial. Mira Galanova reports: here.

19 thoughts on “Franco dictatorship propaganda in Spanish armed forces

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  2. Saturday 8th
    posted by Morning Star in Features

    The Church and state in Spain do not want the truth known about Franco – even now. But campaigners are revealing the horror story, writes Carmela Negrete

    Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, of the Popular Party, did not have a word of condemnation for the 1936 military coup of Francisco Franco on July 18, its 80th anniversary.

    Madrid renounced a state commemorative event, but a mass for the dictator was said at Valencia Cathedral on the day.

    At least Catalonia organised a concert to commemorate “all the war victims,” at which the representatives of the Autonomous Community took part.

    Only the Popular Party (PP) found the remembrance inappropriate and sent no representative. All this stands for how today’s Spain deals with war and dictatorship.

    Against this backdrop, the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH) was founded in Madrid in December 2000 by the sociologist Emilio Silva.

    The occasion was the exhumation of 13 bodies of people shot by Falangists, members of the Franco party, in October 1936. Silva is the grandson of one of those murdered.

    The ARMH now has regional groups in many cities, which see it as their task to remind society of the approximately one million people who died between 1936 and 1939.

    It also calls for all streets and public squares bearing the names of Franco-fascists to be renamed. Since the citizens’ movement Ahora Madrid has governed the capital, corresponding plans have been developed and name-changes are fixed for 27 streets.

    But not all cities have such plans, although a law adopted in 2007 by the social-democratic PSOE government obliges all Spanish municipalities to do this.

    That’s not to mention the Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen) monument and basilica, where the mortal remains of Franco and the military dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera rest.

    The gigantic mausoleum near Madrid was built by the forced labour of political prisoners on Franco’s orders.

    The Church organises a kind of pilgrimage every year, which seems particularly cynical when hundreds of those buried there are corpses of republicans buried in mass graves — taken there after their assassination, to the greater glory of their hangman. For the survivors this is an impertinence which is ignored by the authorities.

    On July 17 journalist Jon Lee Anderson pleaded in a column on to demolish the structure: “For me it is an insult to the human conscience that this monument still exists and is even protected by the state.”

    The work of the association remains a volunteer affair, as in July in the City University of Madrid, where the battleships of the International Brigades were investigated by the media.

    According to official data, there are 2,382 mass graves in Spain dating since 1936 — more than in any other country.

    Since 2000, ARMH has opened about 350 of these graves and found the skeletal remains of more than 8,500 murdered.

    Probably the largest mass grave in Europe is located in the cemetery of San Rafael in Malaga. According to estimates, 4,500 people were executed and buried.

    The PP-run local authority has built a park over the site including a dog toilet over one of the places where bodies were dumped.

    Similarly, in Granada, the ARMH had to place a memorial plaque in a cemetery, pointing out that there were 4,000 people buried there, four times. Each time, the city administration had the board removed.

    Only recently has it become an official memorial site. The 2007 Act of Historical Memory allows for the financing of excavations.

    Whether they take place, however, depends on which party is in government. When Rajoy became prime minister in 2011, he stopped the flow of money. But there are private supporters of such projects.

    An important player is the Basque scientific society Aranzadi with its director, the forensician Francisco Etxeberria. Norwegian trade union EL og IT Forbundet offers support again and again. It has accumulated money for years to allow the opening up of mass graves in Spain, especially in the case of assassinated trade unionists.

    The Spanish parliament has never adopted a resolution against Franco’s putsch or his dictatorship. ARMH founder Silva believes this is because the elite of those days still rules in Spain.

    Above all, after the death of Franco, the Amnesty Law was passed in 1977 with the votes of socialists and communists. It pardons all the political crimes committed during the war and the Franco regime in the name of reconciliation. Since then, the Spanish judiciary has refrained from explaining the crimes of Francoism.

    The Communist Party (PCE) does not agree with this interpretation of the Amnesty Law, however. It said in 2013: “The Amnesty Law refers only to political crimes. There is no talk of crimes against humanity.” These, however, were subject to “international agreements which have power beyond the Amnesty Law.”

    They would therefore have to be investigated and brought to light. In 2008, jurist Baltasar Garzon set up an inquiry into the crimes. He wanted to determine the whereabouts of 114,000 political opponents of Franco and of 30,000 kidnapped children.

    He did not get far, and the investigation was soon suspended. There is only one court anywhere in the world — in Argentina — that tries to bring light into the dark. Specifically, Judge Maria Servini. She has already heard hundreds of witnesses in Spain and even went to see those who were no longer able to travel. “People are still afraid to testify today,” she has said.

    In July, the United Nations demanded the repeal of the Amnesty Law. The UN human rights committee said it was concerned that Spain would not investigate executions and the violent demise of thousands of people.

    Carmela Negrete is a journalist who lives and works in Berlin.


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