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Tango0117 Jan 2017 3:04 p.m. PST

…the ghosts of civil war.

Of possible interest?

link

Amicalement
Armand

Irish Marine Supporting Member of TMP17 Jan 2017 4:05 p.m. PST

A nice read but would the Commies have done anything different? I think not.

anleiher17 Jan 2017 6:03 p.m. PST

The Guardian……

Kevin C Supporting Member of TMP17 Jan 2017 7:51 p.m. PST

Why should the Spanish have an easy time confronting the ghosts of their Civil War, ours took place 150 years ago and it's still a topic that can stir up a fight. By their very nature, civil wars tend not be be very civil (except maybe in Switzerland): link


Kevin

Chouan Inactive Member18 Jan 2017 1:29 a.m. PST

Irish Marine, try reading link or link for views on the scale of murder by the two sides. Look at how the murders by the rebels began as soon as the rebellion itself began, also look at how those who became the rebels had already organised and carried out murders long before the rebellion. Also, look at the atrocities carried out by the Army of Africa in Morocco during the Rif War, which certainly paved the way for the atrocities carried out in Spain, especially given the racist antipathy that the ruling classes in Spain had towards the lower orders.

A friend of Quiepo do Llano stated that

"I had the opportunity of being a witness to the repression in both areas. In the Nationalist side it was planned, methodical, cold. As they did not trust the people the authorities imposed their will by means of terror, committing atrocities in order to achieve their aim. Atrocities also took place in the Popular Front zone; that was something which both areas had in common. But the main difference was that in the Republican zone the crimes were carried out by the populace in moments of passion, not by the authorities. The latter always tried to stop them. The assistance that I received from the Spanish Republican authorities in order to flee to safety, is only one of the many examples. But this was not the case in the Nationalist zone."

I assume that you're using "commies" as a short hand for the legitimate democratically elected government of Spain?

basileus6618 Jan 2017 4:35 a.m. PST

I assume that you're using "commies" as a short hand for the legitimate democratically elected government of Spain?

No, I think he uses it as a short hand for the illegitimate, militia controlled, undemocratic government that took control of the Republican Spain in September 1936.

Sorry to burst your romantic bubble but Democracy and Liberalism died in my poor country in July 1936. First in the Spain controlled by the Rebels; shortly after, in the Spain controlled by the Loyalists. Sure enough it was the military uprising which triggered the downfall of the democratic, elected government. Regardless, the weakness of the government was used by anti-democratic forces inside the "loyalist" side to upstage a "soft" coup-de-etat, destroying in the process the means to defeat the rebellion in its early stages, when it was more vulnerable.

basileus6618 Jan 2017 4:41 a.m. PST

And, please, Paul Preston? Really? He has been already proved wrong in most accounts. One of his favourites: to count twice the assassinations; imagine five people was imprisoned by the Fascists in Villanueva de la Serena (Badajoz), then they are moved to Don Benito (Badajoz) and there they are murdered. Preston doesn't count 5 murders, but 10, as if they were different people. He is not totally guilty, as he is following Francisco Espinosa, who is a fan of that kind of statistic "research".

Chouan Inactive Member18 Jan 2017 7:29 a.m. PST

"Sure enough it was the military uprising which triggered the downfall of the democratic, elected government."
Indeed. So in a sort of basic way, "They started it". Not only did they start it, they started it without the provocation that the Republican terrorists had. There were, of course, problems within Republican Spain, one of the problems being that the government didn't trust the workers' militias, or indeed the workers themselves. It is hardly a coincidence that where the workers got arms the rebels were defeated, and where the workers were not armed, the rebels won, with the atrocities that invariably followed. That the Republic was subverted by the hard left after the rebellion is, of course, true, but that made little difference. The essentially moderate, even conservative (with a small "c") government, was unable to defeat the rebels once the Army of Africa had crossed to the mainland, especially when the western democracies imposed restrictions on the Republic's ability to arm itself. Democracy and liberalism did indeed die in Spain after 1936, and didn't re-emerge until decades later, and has left a toxic legacy of denial. Too many people accepted, and even welcomed Franco's regime, for too long for the reality of the horror to be fully accepted. Whilst the atrocities of the Nazis, and even those of Mussolini, have been acknowledged, and accepted, by Germany and Italy, those of Franco's supporters have not. Franco's regime lasted too long and was supported by too many in Spain for the legacy to be accepted. The right in Spain has long rejected and denied the truth of the repression. For so long has Spain been in denial that even now the realities are still denied, or down played. Rather like holocaust deniers, or global warming deniers, occasional errors or exaggerations are used to discredit the whole argument, so that the scale of Francoist repression becomes portrayed as an opinion of the left, rather than as a fact. Even when mass graves of the victims of the repression are discovered, the right is still in denial.

Chouan Inactive Member18 Jan 2017 7:36 a.m. PST

"And, please, Paul Preston? Really? He has been already proved wrong in most accounts"

Indeed, Paul Preston. He has hardly been discredited, and has hardly been proved wrong on "most counts". I am fully aware of the work of Espinosa-Maestre link I am also fully aware of the desperate attempts of the right to discredit him and his work. It must be quite uncomfortable, after all, to live in a country where such horrors were allowed to happen, and where the people who committed such horrors were either praised, promoted, or, at worst/best, ignored. I suppose that knowing that the perpetrators of such horrors were never condemned or punished is uncomfortable for those in Spain who are aware of them; so much easier to play it down, or even easier, to deny it. Not that Britain would have been any different, I would imagine. The recent referendum shows that the sentiments that led to the rise of Franco exist in Britain even now. Read the Daily Mail and it is clear to see!

Zargon Inactive Member18 Jan 2017 8:46 a.m. PST

And whoosh there it is. Can we have another one? I'm sure there are enough opponents to start it, there are at least two commenting above. By the way any use of the word 'commie' is going to be derogatory and apt for a failed 'isim'. 'Civil' wars by their nature are always going to be evil and bloody even when its about the cost of butter, its humanity at its humblest best frankly.

basileus6618 Jan 2017 11:18 a.m. PST

Chouan

If you intent to be insulting with the comment

It must be quite uncomfortable, after all, to live in a country where such horrors were allowed to happen, and where the people who committed such horrors were either praised, promoted, or, at worst/best, ignored. I suppose that knowing that the perpetrators of such horrors were never condemned or punished is uncomfortable for those in Spain who are aware of them;

I can assure you that your efforts are totally wasted.

And no, I am not a "denialist". I don't deny neither the political murders commited by the Rebels, nor those by the Loyalists. What I dispute is that the killings in the Loyalist side were less intense, less murderous or more "spontaneous" than in the Rebel side. I also dispute the notion that there was a democratic government after those crimes but a undemocratic government that replaced under the threat of violence the legitimate government.

So, Chouan, keep your moralist Bleeped text to yourself, thank you very much.

George Spiggott Inactive Member18 Jan 2017 1:04 p.m. PST

"A nice read but would the Commies have done anything different? I think not."

Communism had a tiny following in Spain before the Coup attempt.

"Loyalist side were less intense, less murderous or more "spontaneous" than in the Rebel side."

Do you have anything to support that? The historical consensus is that unlike the Loyalist leaders the Rebel leaders were openly proud of the murder committed for their cause. It's the key difference between the murders committed by the two sides. That and the massive disparity of numbers.

basileus6618 Jan 2017 1:29 p.m. PST

"Communism had a tiny following in Spain before the Coup attempt."

Somewhat bigger than what Falangists had. It's odd that both got that massive following after the shooting started, don't you think?

As for the massive disparity of numbers:

Using the highest number for the Rebels and the lowest for the Loyalists:

150,000 murders between 1936 and 1945 = 16,666 murders per year (25,000 if you count the period of maximum murderous paroxism, i.e. between 1936 and 1942)

50,000 murders between 1936 and 1939 = 16,666 murders per year

Where is the disparity? Only in the amount of time allowed to kill, not in the ability or the brutality.

Do you have anything to support that?

Yep. I do. You can start with Julius Ruiz seminal study on the murders in Madrid: "The 'Red Terror' and the Spanish Civil War: Revolutionary Violence in Madrid". Cambridge UP, 2015.

He proves the responsability of the political parties that controlled the government AND the militias that committed most of the crimes. There wasn't spontaneous outbursts of popular anger, as propaganda wanted to make believe, what caused the Terror in Madrid. It wasn't "the People". It was a campaign of terror orchestrated by militias. In Madrid, the worst were Communists and Socialists. In Barcelona, Anarchists, particularly in religiously motivated crimes.

The difference between the Loyalists and the Rebels was those didn't give crap about what the world could think of them. They were brutal and flaunted their brutality. The former, on the other hand, knew that the legitimacy and popularity of the Republican cause would be hurt if the crimes were made public.

I have told it here before: my family has suffered the effects of the murderous politics before, from both sides. I don't believe that any of those moralistic bastards that tear their clothes in public has any interest whatsoever in the past and in justice. The only thing they want is to justify their paychecks and to promote their political ambitions.

George Spiggott Inactive Member18 Jan 2017 2:52 p.m. PST

What is odd about it? What is key is that the Rebels set themselves against a phantom enemy. The pre-coup Government contained no Communists or Anarchists. The number of Fascist Falangists is irrelevant since the Rebels (nor Franco's later regime) were never truly Fascist (merely extreme conservatives).

Using an extended time frame for the Nationalist figures to suggest parity makes for a somewhat disingenuous argument. Simply comparing like for like gives a much more stark contrast, but I'll respectfully avoid a statistical blame/comparison game if you don't mind suffice to rhetorically ask what the figures would have been if there had been no coup?

We shall see if a book published in 2014 goes on to be seminal shall we? I think you may be over selling Ruiz's argument somewhat with "proves the responsibility" and that he actually argues for Government culpability by inaction both of actual ‘spontaneous' murders and deliberate acts by mid-level civil authorities. Even then the primary focus is on Madrid not the whole Republican movement. Also it should be noted that the work has been questioned for its heavy use of a single Francoist source and failure to fully contextualise the subject (personally I find the latter argument against the book a little fatuous).

I understand the difference between how each side
presented murder, this is clearly connected to the kind of international assistance each side sought. The Rebels looked to economic support from Germany and Italy and the Government to Britain and France. Neither side got the support it asked for.

Chouan Inactive Member19 Jan 2017 1:24 a.m. PST

Indeed Ruiz's book is reviewed here link where the reviewer comments on his reliance on a single Francoist source.
On the other hand, if one looks at political violence prior to the rebellion, one can see that the vast majority of murders were carried out by people who subsequently sided with the rebellion, and that political violence and terror, whether by individuals, political organisations, or the police, was by far the work of the right. Nobody has denied that murders were carried out by the left, but those of the right, before during and after the Civil War were part of a deliberate policy of terror, which continued long after the apparent threat of the "reds" had gone.
Nobody is denying that political violence was carried out by the left, what is being argued is that the suggestion the "the commies" would have been as bad is based on misconceptions and prejudice.

Chouan Inactive Member19 Jan 2017 1:36 a.m. PST

Basileus66, I made no remark that was pointed at you personally, but a general comment about how uncomfortable it must be to be a native of Spain knowing the horrors that occurred there, and that some respond with denial. On the other hand, feel free to accept the comment as being apposite to you if you feel it appropriate.

Chouan Inactive Member19 Jan 2017 1:42 a.m. PST

The big difference Kevin C, is that in the American Civil War there weren't (apart from in Kansas/Missouri I suppose) the large scale massacres of civilians and those perceived as political enemies, nor were there concentration camps that continued in use for decades after the war, nor were there prisons full of political prisoners for decades, nor were there continued judicial murders for 30+ years after the war ended. Can you imagine there being supporters of the political ideals of the Confederacy being executed for sedition or treason in 1900? That is the time scale of the Francoist repression which only ceased on his death in 1975. He was still signing death warrants for political "crimes" on his death bed, being encouraged to do so by such cultural luminaries as Salvador Dali.

basileus6619 Jan 2017 3:10 a.m. PST

where the reviewer comments on his reliance on a single Francoist source

The reviewer is wrong, either deliberately or unconsciously so. The list of archive sources used by Ruiz:

Archivo Historico Nacional, Fondos Contemporáneos:

Causa General (the so called "Francoist" source)
Audiencia Territorial de Madrid

Archivo General de la Administración:

Interior, Dirección General de Seguridad, Archivo General
Justicia, Responsabilidades políticas.

Archivo General de la Guerra Civil Española (Salamanca):

Sección Político-Social Madrid
Tribunal Especial para la Represión de la Masonería y Comunismo

Fundación Pablo Iglesias (Alcalá de Henares):

Actas de la Agrupación Socialista Madrileña, 1889-1939
Actas de la Unión General de Trabajadores, 1888-1939
Archivo de la Comisión Ejecutiva del PSOE, 1931-1940
Archivo de la Comisión Ejecutiva de la UGT, 1936-1939

Internationaal Institut voor Sociale Geschiedenis (Amsterdam)

Archivo CNT

The National Archives

Foreign Office (FO 332. 337, 425)
Government Communications Headquarters (HW)

Aberdeen University

Personal Papers, George Ogilvie-Forbes.

Those are just the archival sources used by Ruiz. And it is not that Ruiz isn't aware of the problems posed by some of the sources used. He is very conscious and thorough. Also the criticism that he analyzes the problem decontextualized is simply false. Actually, he tooks a lot of pains in explaining the connection between fear to a Fifth Column operating inside Madrid and the most murderous paroxisms of political violence. What he also proves beyond doubt is that the murders were: a) politically motivated, and b) committed by forces under the supervision of the government, i.e. it wasn't "uncontrolled" violence by angry mobs.

basileus6619 Jan 2017 3:20 a.m. PST

That is the time scale of the Francoist repression which only ceased on his death in 1975.

The death sentences from the late 40s up to the death of Franco hadn't anything to do with the Civil War. They were death sentences passed by civilian courts for common crimes, or by military courts by crimes of terrorism (Burgos, 1975).

basileus6619 Jan 2017 3:24 a.m. PST

Why the Bleeped text do I care? Honestly, I don't know. It is pointless. To try to convince a Leftist that murder is murder, regardless of political ideology, is like trying to convince a lion to become a vegetarian. To kill a rightist is, for a Leftist, less of a crime than for a rightist to kill a leftist.

Chouan Inactive Member19 Jan 2017 3:44 a.m. PST

What was the Francoist definition of terrorism?

Dschebe Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2017 3:54 a.m. PST

Hi, basileus66,

I know by heart that many 'Leftist' know 'murder is murder', whoever is killed. So do many 'Rightish', by the way.

You are free of defending any point of view, and I respect and thank the information you have provided us. But I think you passed the thin line of rudeness a long ago.

Chouan: ETA is a terrorist organization NOW and THEN.

basileus6619 Jan 2017 3:54 a.m. PST

To assassinate a policeman with a bullet in the back of his head while was drinking a cup of coffee for instance? To ambush a Guardia Civil that was accompanied by his 15 year old daughter, killing both? To put a bomb in a car and kill five people? What do you think? Terrorism enough for you?

basileus6619 Jan 2017 3:56 a.m. PST

You are free of defending any point of view, and I respect and thank the information you have provided us. But I think you passed the thin line of rudeness a long ago.

Report me to Bill and get me dawghoused, if you think that's true.

PS: Saved you the trouble. I've reported it myself. I do stand by what I said, though.

Chouan Inactive Member19 Jan 2017 8:14 a.m. PST

I'm fully aware of what ETA is, and I'm fully aware that the Franco regime defined any organisation that opposed his regime as a terrorist organisation, whatever the members actually did.
Was Salvador Puig Antich a terrorist? Were Oriol Sole Sugranyes, Josep Lluis Pons Llobet and Santi Soler terrorists? Or were they resistants to Franco's regime? Was FRAP originally a terrorist organisation? Franco's regime thought so, which led to some of the executions in question, which, of course meant that it became a real terrorist organisation!
Antony Beevor, hardly a historian of the left, asserted that "Spain was an open prison for all those who opposed the dictatorship", even a strike by workers was classed as military mutiny as was treated as such by military courts.
An article in "History Today", hardly an organ of the left, argued
"Like many repressive dictatorships, the Franco regime publicly denied the existence of those it had killed – both the extrajudicially murdered and the executed consigned to the anonymity of common graves. The intention was not so much to destroy their memory as to relocate collective memory elsewhere, to the personal and private family sphere where the fears and nightmares could go on doing their work, thus stifling any opposition.

The defeated cast no reflection. No public space was theirs. The Francoist dead had war memorials and their names carved on churches: 'caidos por Dios y por Espana' ('those who fell for God and Spain'); but the Republican dead could not even be publicly mourned. The defeated were obliged to be complicit in this denial: women concealed the violent deaths of husbands and fathers from their children in order to protect them physically and psychologically; sisters mentally mapped the location of their murdered brothers, but never spoke of these things. The silent knowledge of unquiet graves necessarily produced a devastating schism between public and private memory in Spain.

The longevity of Franco's regime massively exacerbated this schism. Spanish society changed dramatically in the 1960s. Industrialisation and urbanisation occurred at a dizzying pace, but the civil war was still portrayed as a war of liberation or religious crusade fought against the hordes of anti-Spain; a war of morality against depravity.

Even with the death of Franco in November 1975 and the beginnings of superstructural political change, in important respects the long 'postwar' was still continuing. The return of democracy was agreed by the Francoist elites in return for a de facto political amnesty, based on the 'pact of silence'. No one would be called to account judicially, nor would there be any equivalent of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Fear of the army and the considerable residual firepower of the civilian extreme right made the Franco regime's democratic interlocutors accept this as the lesser of the available evils. But the 'pact of silence' was also the inevitable result of the complicity of ordinary Spaniards in the repression. There was a widespread fear of reopening old wounds that the Franco regime had, for so long, expressly and explicitly prevented from healing. Those who had been obliged to be silent for nearly forty years were once again required to accept that there would not be public recognition of their past lives or memories."

George Spiggott Inactive Member19 Jan 2017 8:46 a.m. PST

Ruiz's book is criticised for being "highly dependant" upon one source, not for only using a single source. Simply listing his sources proves nothing. Nothing has been 'proved beyond doubt' and such hyperbole does little to enhance your argument.

basileus6619 Jan 2017 12:36 p.m. PST

Apparently, you haven't bother even to read the review. Alas, what else can be expected?

basileus6619 Jan 2017 12:43 p.m. PST

Was Salvador Puig Antich a terrorist? Were Oriol Sole Sugranyes, Josep Lluis Pons Llobet and Santi Soler terrorists? Or were they resistants to Franco's regime?

Was al-Zawahiri a terrorist? Or was he resistant to US occupiers of Iraq? I know what he -and those other- was, do you?

As for the article of History Today is a big load of crap.

Dschebe Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2017 2:22 p.m. PST

Hi Chouan,

Yours is a good picture of Spain in 1975, 1976… 2017.

Up to this moment, people still can't bury their dead. No fear for the military (it is a democratic institution since long ago, and so generally perceived), but the silence pact is in fact still aplying to this subject (graves).

A matter of basic and plain humanity. Not so easy in Spain.

Chouan Inactive Member20 Jan 2017 1:34 a.m. PST

basileus66, you appear to imagine that people opposed to a repressive right wing regime that had murdered hundreds of thousands are, by definition, terrorists. That three of the people that I listed were guilty only of organising demonstrations opposing Franco's regime hardly suggests that they were terrorists! Nevertheless they were beaten and tortured and murdered by the police, the upholders of "law and order" in Franco's Spain. That you think them terrorists, and seem to think that all opponents of Franco were terrorists, speaks volumes of your viewpoint.

Chouan Inactive Member20 Jan 2017 1:40 a.m. PST

Although ETA is classed as a terrorist organisation, and have carried out acts of terror, the view of terrorism is subjective. The IRA are a terrorist organisation, yet many in Ireland, and in the US, think of them as freedom fighters. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter…….

1ngram20 Jan 2017 6:11 a.m. PST

Was the French Resistance in WW2 terrorist? Terrorism is a useless definition and should just be abandoned. Certainly talk about violence and murder – but terrorism? It just lets people get away with facile arguments.

Chouan Inactive Member20 Jan 2017 6:56 a.m. PST

Indeed.
Is an Irishman who shoots an armed British soldier from ambush a terrorist?
Is a Palestinian who attacks armed Israeli soldiers with a knife a terrorist?
Is an armed policeman who shoots and kills an unarmed civilian a terrorist?
Just because a regime defines their opponents as terrorists does not mean that they are.
The current government in Turkey has defined those who oppose the government as terrorists, you know those dreadfully dangerous teachers, journalists, civil servants and judges……

George Spiggott Inactive Member20 Jan 2017 1:09 p.m. PST

Apparently, you haven't bother even to read the review. Alas, what else can be expected?

Are you just trolling now?

From the review, with the key text in bold

Furthermore, this book is highly dependent on the Causa General archive (the Franco Regime's official investigation of Red crimes that was carried out during and after the civil war). Though noting the very problematic nature and Nationalist triumphalism of this cache of documents, Ruiz defends the use of Causa General because it contains a great number of Republican documents that might have been otherwise destroyed. Still, while he asserts it cannot be "uncritically utilized" and that he has used Causa General in conjunction with other sources

Chouan Inactive Member26 Jan 2017 8:56 a.m. PST

In any case, the Civil War was caused by the rebellion against the legitimate, democratically elected government. The rebels began by murdering all army and navy officers who did not join them, in effect, those who stood by their oath of loyalty (on a Bible) to the Republic, which all officers had taken. So, well before the government took any action at all, the rebels had begun their murders. Mola argued from the beginning that "It was necessary to spread an atmosphere of terror." and the insurgents did that, in spades.

As far as Basileus' comment "I also dispute the notion that there was a democratic government after those crimes but a undemocratic government that replaced under the threat of violence the legitimate government." the legitimate government was indeed replaced, but only after it had failed to crush the rebellion. One can hardly blame the atrocities on the side that didn't begin the violence!

Blutarski26 Jan 2017 6:20 p.m. PST

A more measured view -

The Spanish Civil War, the Soviet Union, and Communism (review)

Sean McMeekin


From: Journal of Cold War Studies
Volume 10, Number 1, Winter 2008
pp. 125-127

Here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviewed by Sean McMeekin


Stanley G. Payne, The Spanish Civil War, the Soviet Union, and Communism. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004. 400 pp.


For many decades after the Spanish Civil War, it remained difficult to write a balanced account of the conflict. Most wars produce winners and losers, and the perspective of the latter is inevitably slighted in the historiography. But in the case of Spain, the last century saw the curious spectacle of history biased mainly in favor of the losers. This was, in part, because the principal international backers of Francisco Franco's victorious forces—Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler—themselves lost the next war, and a great deal of their pariah status rubbed off on Franco. Documents from German and Italian archives that became available after World War II exposed, irrefutably, Franco's dependence on foreign fascist support. The principal backer of the losing side, the Soviet Union under Josif Stalin, by contrast, emerged victorious from the Second World War with all the prestige of a superpower. Although memoirs of participants, most famously George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, provided small glimpses of Soviet activities on the Republican side, precious little documentation about these activities was available until after 1991.

The time is ripe for a reevaluation, and Stanley Payne's The Spanish Civil War, the Soviet Union, and Communism does not disappoint. Payne, a leading authority on fascism and Franco, masterfully synthesizes a burgeoning secondary literature on the Soviet side of the conflict, along with newly available documents from the archives of the Communist International (Comintern) in Moscow, to flesh out a story he already knows well. Payne's book should stand as the definitive account of the Soviet intervention for years to come.

One of Payne's finer achievements here is to make sense of the political chaos of the Spanish left. To non-specialists, the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War has always been difficult to decipher, a kind of funhouse mirror refracting the ideological and political pretensions of the twentieth century into a grotesque mosaic of acronyms: PSOE, PCE, UGT, CNT, POUM, PCC, BPA, BOC, FCC, FCI. Payne breaks through the ideological fog to explain what these groups stood for, what relations (if any) they had with Moscow, how much popular support they enjoyed, and how and why they quarreled. The one thing on which all the leftist factions agreed, Payne dryly remarks, was how to label their rivals: "by 1933 everyone in Republican Spain was calling his opponents fascists" (p. 36).

Payne clearly has little patience for the traditional Spanish Civil War myth about a heroic defense of democracy against fascist aggression. The center-right government that preceded the Popular Front, Payne shows, was in fact quite lenient toward those on the left who had participated in the bloody insurrection of October 1934. Rather than excessive repression, the center-right's "failure to punish the revolutionaries" (p. 58) was the real problem. Payne demonstrates that no "strong fascist movement" existed in Spain. The elections of February 1936, he writes, were really a kind of [End Page 125] "plebiscite on the insurrection" that had begun in Asturias in 1934 when the triumphant Popular Front side construed its victory as a mandate for violent revolution (pp. 83–84). Had the government of Manuel Azaña instead sought to uphold the constitution and "enforce the law," Payne suggests, "it might have managed to avoid the conflagration" (pp. 290–291).

Payne also demolishes what might be called the counter-myth of the right—the notion that the Republicans were simple naifs manipulated by an all-powerful Stalin. Far from being innocents, the Popular Front coalition partners all broadly cooperated in what Payne calls a "Red Terror" of "organized mass executions" (p. 117). Stalin and his agents certainly exploited the Republican cause to gain more than $500 USD million worth of gold as well as access to "a windfall of foreign passports," especially from American volunteers for the International Brigades, which "would make an important contribution to the success of Soviet espionage" (p. 146). But Payne argues that previous historians, such as Hugh Thomas, have greatly exaggerated the degree of Stalin's control over the Republican…

B

Chouan Inactive Member27 Jan 2017 2:03 a.m. PST

Indeed, as far as the role of the USSR in the civil war is concerned this may be true. However, another reviewer suggests that despite Payne's use of USSR archives and other new sources of evidence, "the broad lines of the familiar picture are not substantially changed.".From this https://muse.jhu.edu/article/232537/pdf
Whether one thinks that the government in 1934 was lenient towards the Asturian miners isn't really of any consequence, by the time that the Civil Guard and the Army, and the mine owners, of course, had finished with the Asturias, there was nobody left to be lenient to. There is much about Franco's attitudes in "Unearthing Franco's Legacy" more here undpress.nd.edu/books/P01373 Franco said in 1934 "this war is a frontier war and its fronts are socialism, communism and whatever attacks civilization in order to replace it with barbarism." clearly setting the scene for the atrocities that followed the military rebellion against the legitimate democratically elected government in 1936.
Interesting that you describe Payne's view as a "more measured view", even though it essentially says the same as Paul Preston's work, and only really addresses the relationships between the various parties of the Left. It certainly doesn't challenge the view that terror was a deliberate pre-planned part of the rebels' plans, and that mass murder of anybody even vaguely considered as being potential opponents of the rebellion, were intended from the very start, and that the whole cycle of murder and repression continued for years after the victory of Franco. Neither does it challenge the view that "Red terror" was not planned by the democratically elected government, nor was it condoned, and that attempts were made to stop it. Despite Payne's assertion of "organised mass executions" he is really stretching a point to suggest that all of the parties of the Left "broadly cooperated" in their organisation.
As far as leniency to insurrection is concerned, compare how those involved in Sanjurjo's military insurrection of 1932 were treated, with how the Asturian miners were treated. No executions, despite death sentences passed, and then they were all pardoned, all ready to lead the next rebellion!
Although Payne is an expert of Fascism, it isn't really of any moment that he argues that Franco wasn't a fascist, or that the rebels weren't fascist. Even Antonio Primo de Rivera argued that his movement wasn't fascist YouTube link but was something unique to Spain.

Chouan Inactive Member27 Jan 2017 2:04 a.m. PST

I rather liked this review of Payne's oevre:
"Sick of hearing about those ghastly landless Spanish peasant labourers who lived on starvation wages and suffered brutalising oppression at the hands of army elites, church priests and local landlords? Bored by the complex story of the tragic breakdown of a fragile democratic order between the irreconcilable goals of an expanding urban cosmopolitan culture and an authoritarian and traditionalist rural and imperial culture? Absolutely fed up with barmy historians who think that fascism and right-wing dictators were a catastrophe for their people and for those they brutally surpressed and murdered?

If so, then any of Stanley Payne's books on the Spanish Civil War are exactly what you have been waiting for. Stanley has no time for those silly complexities regarding the breakdown of political democracy or the aspirations of millions to allow themselves and their children to live without fear of brutalisation or starvation.

In Stanley Payne we have a historian brave enough to reveal the true victims of the Civil War: the Church, the army, the monarchists and the right wing forces of law and order. That's right, the Republic and its pesky democratic reforms and egalitarian policies were responsible for driving these moderate and reasonable citizens of law and order into doing the only reasonable thing: staging a perfectly reasonable and bloody military coup against the democratically elected government; reasonably sieging and bombing tens of thousands of civilians in every major city; committing numerous reasonable massacres of occupied villages and towns; allying with reasonable people like Hitler and Mussolini to supress your own population; setting up a reasonable military dictatorship that continued its atrocities many decades into the post-war era; and doing everything to remove any reasonable historical trace of your victims and political opponents.

Thank you Professor Payne. Before reading your book I was misinformed in thinking that General Franco's coup that led to the deaths of more than 500,000 people and several decades of oppressive dictatorship was a terrible tragedy. Now I know that he was not entirely a fascist… because fascism is actually about anti-capitalism. I learned that Spain had some fairly decent economic years in the post-war era under Franco (that witnessed an economic boom in almost every Western European country). I was pleased to hear that Franco was really just a reasonable man who thought it best to take a very long and cautious route towards Western capitalist democracy. Ok, it did over four decades of meticulous dictatorial preparation, but democracy came in the end… Yeah, ok… after Franco died… But it was still really thanks to Franco… and not those republicans and democrats who spent their lives fighting against him."

Chouan Inactive Member27 Jan 2017 2:11 a.m. PST

This one is also, although brief, quite apposite.
"He has masterfully established the truth about the Spanish Civil War, that Stalin had his own agenda in the war, and that it had little or nothing to do with either Spanish history, the ideals of Spanish people, or democracy as we understand it"
Quite. What does his view say that hasn't been said before? It is exactly what Hugh Thomas wrote all those years ago, only Payne has more references to back the theory up. He certainly doesn't change or challenge the arguments that I presented earlier.
My own view, for what it is worth, of the people who could be described as Francoists and those who supported him and the other generals, like Mola and Yague, and indeed Franco, Mola and Yague etc is that they weren't Fascists or anything like fascists. Their political views were those espoused by the Daily Mail and its readership today, only with a murderous fanaticism, and a racist edge.

Blutarski27 Jan 2017 7:55 a.m. PST

Well, everyone is entitled to their opinions, Chouan. My opinion is that the history of the Spanish Civil War and its underlying causes has been so thoroughly enwrapped in propaganda, dissimulation, distortion, self-serving selective memory and ideologically driven "scholarship" that the objective truth will never be known with any degree of certainty. The only clear fact visible to me is what started as a struggle between left and right for political control spiraled into an openly violent campaign by extremists on the left to entirely erase the existing social order of Spain. It is hardly surprising that this provoked a strong reaction on the right, which ultimately prevailed. Neither side wore a white mantle in pursuit of their aims.

Was Franco a fascist, or a nationalist? My opinion is that he was simply a nationalist. Fascism, in strict political terms, dwells on the left side of the political spectrum. Both Hitler and Mussolini were self-avowed leaders of socialist political movements; the term Fascism derives from Mussolini's party symbol. One writer I read some years ago (sorry, can't recall the name) acerbically pointed out that in the 30s the term "fascist" was at one time or another freely employed by nearly every Spanish leftist organization to denigrate any other leftist organization with whom they happened to disagree at the moment. Nowadays, of course, the term "fascist" has evolved into a now threadbare street corner propaganda pejorative to attack any political opponent regardless of political persuasion.

B

Chouan Inactive Member29 Jan 2017 12:43 p.m. PST

Indeed? A series of democratically elected centre-left governments began to try to restore some sense of social justice to Spanish society. Rejecting the nineteenth century standards of social control of the land and factory owners, who'd been using the police and pistoleros to keep the workers, both agricultural and industrial, under their firm control. Once the centre-left governments of the Republic started to change the system of hegemony of the wealthy land and factory owners, the "right", for want of a better word, fought back, with the usual application of violence and repression, controlling as they did the police and the army. There was no revolution in Spain until the rising of the Army, representing the right, the landowners and the factory owners, and the church, of course. The openly violent campaign, to use your words, started with the Right. They are the ones who rebelled against the democratically elected legitimate government, and who began their revolt in 1936 by killing those of their own, army officers, who stood by the oath that they taken to be loyal to the legitimate, democratically elected government. The serious violence started with the rebels, who were proud of their policy of extermination of those they perceived as political opponents.
Your assertion "The only clear fact visible to me is what started as a struggle between left and right for political control spiraled into an openly violent campaign by extremists on the left to entirely erase the existing social order of Spain" is an interesting one. Please show me, and anybody else interested, how the Left sought, through violence, to erase the existing social order. Leaving aside, of course, the necessity for the existing social order to be changed.

Blutarski29 Jan 2017 3:53 p.m. PST

Chouan – Try reading "The Spanish Civil War" by Stanley Payne. Your comic book emotionalism does not in any way correspond to a mature considered approach to the history. The Republican Liberal-Left coalition that won the 1931 election was purged of the Liberal faction by the Left, which then proceeded to lose the 1933 election. The Left, not liking the result then boycotted the new government. In the following election the Loyalists actually won the national popular vote but the Left held a ONE vote advantage in the Cortes (national legislative body). Hardly a popular mandate, wouldn't you say??? What did the Left do with its thin one vote margin in the Cortes? They attempted to rig the system (a la Cesar Chavez in Venezuela) to entrench themselves in power, including an attempt to seize control of the military. No rational person can possibly be surprised that there was a strong reaction on the part of the Right (which by that time also in included substantial numbers of disillusioned Liberals who had been thrown to the political wayside by an over-confident extremist Left.

Then there was the Anarchist campaign of national violence throughout that period of time – the organized burning of churches and convents across Spain, assassinations, culminating in the Red Terror.

- – -

You wrote – "The only clear fact visible to me is what started as a struggle between left and right for political control spiraled into an openly violent campaign by extremists on the left to entirely erase the existing social order of Spain" is an interesting one. Please show me, and anybody else interested, how the Left sought, through violence, to erase the existing social order.

Are you really serious??? Well ….. for a start, go here -

link

- There is a great deal more on this topic IF you actually choose to look for it.


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Personal logo flooglestreet Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member29 Jan 2017 5:10 p.m. PST

"Cesar Chavez in Venezuela"
?

Blutarski29 Jan 2017 7:32 p.m. PST

LOL – Read HUGO there!

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Chouan Inactive Member30 Jan 2017 1:35 a.m. PST

"Are you really serious??? Well ….. for a start, go here -

link

- There is a great deal more on this topic IF you actually choose to look for it."

Please note that the, so called, "Red Terror", that you've linked me to was the response to the military rising against the legitimate democratically elected government. If you read Hugh Thomas or Beevor or Preston or Ronald Fraser, they all describe the campaign of assassinations carried out by the right throughout the period of the Republic, as well as the lethal violence meted out to workers who dared to unionise or strike or complain against their oppression. Of course there are still those who think that unions and workers who carry out strikes are somehow unpatriotic or even traitors, or are dangerous enemies to be crushed. No doubt such people would still think that the crushing of those striving for workers' rights was somehow a good thing.
In any case, even if I accept what seems to be your argument that the Left were somehow responsible for the uprising, where is your evidence for your assertion that "the left" sought to erase the existing social order? Are you really suggesting that re-distributing uncultivated land, allowing unions to operate, allowing divorce, giving political and civil rights to all, including women, is tantamount to erasing the existing social order? That the left attacked the violently oppressive hegemonic, hierarchical, deferential, and racist, social order in Spain is true, but are you really arguing that this was an attempt to erase the existing social order?

Chouan Inactive Member30 Jan 2017 3:45 a.m. PST

That political parties in a democratic system seek to gain and hold power is quite true. That parties form, and break, coalitions is also true. That governments think themselves entitled to control the forces of the state is both true and as it should be. Whatever the Tory majority was in the last general election in the UK, 12 seats I think, they were entitled to govern and were entitled to control the forces of the state. The army, constitutionally, has no right to oppose the policies of the elected government, no matter what their views might be. The army in Spain was in the same situation. The elected government controlled the army. No matter how small the majority of the democratically elected government, that government has the right to rule, to make laws, and to enforce those laws. What laws did that particular government pass that were so abhorrent to the army, or at least to the officers of the army that they were justified in their bloody uprising?
In any case, the results of the election fully justified the mandate of the Popular Front.
"the Popular Front won 267 deputies and the Right only 132, and the imbalance caused by the nature of Spain's electoral system since the 1932 election law came into force. The same system had benefited the political right in 1933."
One could argue that the system may have been such that parties or groups might have gained disproportionate numbers of seats, but even so, the popular vote makes it clear that the Popular Front were clear winners in terms of votes cast. More than messers Cameron or Trump could claim.
"Popular Front 4,700,000 votes, the Right around 4,000,000 and the centre 450,000."
The figures are from Brenan's "The Spanish Labyrinth" here: link
I would suggest that the right, those representing the land and business owning classes, didn't like the threat to their traditional stranglehold on the lower orders, and used the army, officered by representatives of those same socio-economic groups to prevent the reforms that Spain was in desperate need of, and, of course, in the process, rid Spain of those dreadful troublemakers; trade union members and people like that. They were supported by most of the Church as well, whose wealth and power were maintained by those same classes, who used the church to maintain their control of the lesser peoples.

There are people, even now, however, who still think that the wealthy have some kind of moral and political entitlement to maintain their wealth and power, and to control those not as wealthy as they. One can find that attitude displayed on a nearly daily basis in such newspapers as The Sun and the Daily Heil, which continue to peddle their message of hate and fear to the lower orders in order to keep them under the control of their "natural" leaders.

CampyF30 Jan 2017 6:07 a.m. PST

People go to great lengths to post miniatures game images. Hardly anyone replies. Start a BS political argument, people come out of the woodwork.

Chouan Inactive Member30 Jan 2017 12:20 p.m. PST

"Start a BS political argument,….."
In your opinion.
If you think it BS, why comment?
Besides, if people want to comment on pictures of other people playing with toy soldiers, they will do so.

Blutarski30 Jan 2017 6:34 p.m. PST

With all due respect to those who like to post wargaming stuff, this is my last comment on the point.

Chouan – Had you bothered to pay attention to my earlier post, you would have noted that I made NO judgment as the political virtue of either side. IIRC, my comment was that "neither side wore a white mantle". The Left's campaign of organized intimidation and terror began well before the 1936 timeline that you fixate upon. The tracts and manifestos of the extreme Left were explicit in defining their respective goals as the toppling of the existing social order and neither the Anarchists nor the various Communist factions were terribly delicate about the methods to be employed. The reciprocally bloodthirsty response from the Right could hardly have been a surprise to any rational observer. A good analog to the Spanish struggle and associated atrocities can be seen in the contemporaneous Cristeros War in Mexico, wherein the bloody campaign of the Leftist/communist government to erase the Catholic Church aroused vigorous and widespread armed opposition on the part of the rural population.
The problem with the Spanish Left (Popular Front) IMO was that it was never a unified political entity with a coherent view of the future for Spain; it was ever a political Frankenstein creature assembled for momentary electoral advantage from a variety of internally squabbling political body parts which largely despised each other as much as they did the Spanish Right ….. to the point that they physically fought and killed each other in the streets. It was a political front that could be organized to win an election, but was incapable of governing. There were clearly legitimate issues in Spain over-ripe for reform (keeping in mind that part of the economic suffering in Spain during the 30s stemmed from the Great Depression), but the Left never displayed any of the political acumen or sense of strategic compromise necessary to rally the nation as a whole. The extremist Left wanted to seize everything right away, took extremist measures to do so and ultimately lit the fuze that ignited the Spanish Civil War.

As for the 1936 election results, it is useful and interesting to note three factors: (1) the Popular Front did NOT win a majority of the national popular vote; (2) the individual party winning the most Cortes seats was in fact CEDA –a member of the National Front; (3) the Falangist/Fascist party (supposed boogeyman of the right) won no seats whatsoever.

Like the New Left journalists I used to read in the 60s here in the USA. Endless political tracts have been spewed out over the years, re-writing history to sanctify the Spanish Republican cause, erase their mistakes and misdeeds and concomitantly vilify the Nationalists as the sole source of all evil. The fact of the matter is IMO that there was plenty of blame to go around for both parties; neither side was blameless.

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Chouan Inactive Member31 Jan 2017 3:04 a.m. PST

"Had you bothered to pay attention to my earlier post, you would have noted that I made NO judgment as the political virtue of either side. IIRC, my comment was that "neither side wore a white mantle". The Left's campaign of organized intimidation and terror began well before the 1936 timeline that you fixate upon."

That I fixate on. Yes, because that is when the army rose up against the legitimately elected government, starting by killing all officers who didn't join them, ie. those who stayed loyal to their oath of allegiance to the constitution. You may care to note that nobody has suggested that acts of violence weren't carried out by the left. What has been consistently argued is that the level of organised violence by the right, from the start of the 20th century right up the the rebellion was far larger in scale, and far worse. One would imagine, from your fixation on the violence of the anarchists in the 1930's (the communists were so insignificant until 1936 that they're hardly worth mentioning) that you believe that a few desperate anarchists killing armed policemen is far worse than armed policemen, soldiers and the paid thugs of the factory and landowners (usually referred to as "pistoleros"), killing striking workers, demonstrators, and their family members. That armed policemen and pistoleros assassinating union members, and union organisers, simply for being union officials and members, is somehow acceptable in comparison? That anarchists, or peasants, killing armed policemen who have fired into unarmed demonstrators is somehow worse than armed soldiers and policemen, the upholders of law and order, beating to death Asturian miners, then raping and murdering their wives? Why the fixation on the violence from the left, which nobody has denied?

"The tracts and manifestos of the extreme Left were explicit in defining their respective goals as the toppling of the existing social order and neither the Anarchists nor the various Communist factions were terribly delicate about the methods to be employed."

Of course they were, that is what anarchists believed in. However, anarchists were writing similar stuff in the UK and in France, and the US, without much ever happening. Certainly the existence of such tracts didn't lead to the right, or the army, planning a rebellion, with lists of those to be exterminated! You appear to be arguing that the mere existence of anarchist tracts justified military rebellion with pre-planned mass murder of liberals and the extermination of Free Masons, amongst others. Is this really your view?

The church in Spain certainly shared what appears to be your view. Priests in Badajoz, for example, sought to console a Portuguese journalist who saw the aftermath of the executions there (over 4000) most of the victims of which were on lists of liberals and those whose views are not our own, who hadn't done anything, by saying, in effect: "They deserved it".

"The problem with the Spanish Left (Popular Front) IMO was that it was never a unified political entity with a coherent view of the future for Spain;"

Indeed. It was a coalition of several disparate parties of the left. Why is that a problem? The previous government of the UK to the current one was a coalition of the right and centre-right, who had different views.

"It was a political front that could be organized to win an election, but was incapable of governing. "

It never got the chance, did it! As soon as the Popular Front won the election the militarists completed their conspiracy!

"There were clearly legitimate issues in Spain over-ripe for reform"

Indeed, especially the scandal of rural poverty in the South, that the wealthy landowners wished to continue in order to maintain their positions of power. They left thousands of acres uncultivated, refused to allow irrigation, kept the peasants at starvation level, and fearing for their existence. Not for the good of the country, but to benefit themselves.

"but the Left never displayed any of the political acumen or sense of strategic compromise necessary to rally the nation as a whole."

Why would they have done, given the blatant self-interest of the wealthy, whose sole interest was keeping themselves in control, and in keeping the poor underfoot? How was the attitude of the latifundaists good for the country?

"The extremist Left wanted to seize everything right away"

Yes, only they couldn't, and didn't, because they were part of a coalition, the Popular Front, and weren't in a position to do so. The extreme measures, the "revolution" that you describe followed the military rebellion; it neither preceded it nor caused it. The only "extreme measures" carried out pre-rebellion were the occupations of some uncultivated land by landless labourers in Andalucia.

"As for the 1936 election results, it is useful and interesting to note three factors: (1) the Popular Front did NOT win a majority of the national popular vote;"

One of the anomalies of democratic systems is that this can happen. Not only did David Cameron not win the majority of the national popular vote, he won significantly less than the other parties. Nevertheless, the electoral system meant that his, the party with the largest number of MPs, formed the government. In the last general election, the Tories had to form a coalition with the Liberals to form a government. It was still a legitimate, constitutionally correct government. So the Popular Front not winning the majority of the popular vote isn't really of any moment. I believe that current President of the US didn't win the majority of the popular vote either, Clinton winning, I understand, about 2000000 more votes than him overall. However, the US voting system means that he is the legitimate president.

"2) the individual party winning the most Cortes seats was in fact CEDA –a member of the National Front;"

Which, as I pointed out, is irrelevant if the CEDA weren't able to build a coalition to control the Cortes.

"(3) the Falangist/Fascist party (supposed boogeyman of the right) won no seats whatsoever."

Indeed, which surprised nobody. Most of the militarist rebels despised the Falange.

"Endless political tracts have been spewed out over the years, re-writing history to sanctify the Spanish Republican cause, erase their mistakes and misdeeds and concomitantly vilify the Nationalists as the sole source of all evil."

Indeed, as the evil that people do serves to justify the impression that they created. The Nationalists caused the war with their intransigence and opposition to all and any reform in Spain. They started the war with their rebellion, the right having lost the legitimate elections. They started the murders with their premeditated and pre-planned use of terror, already having their lists drawn up of those who were to die. In effect, anybody who didn't support them, beginning with their comrades in the army. I can't think of many conflicts where the lines between good and evil are so easy to draw.

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