Friday, March 16, 2012
PAUL PRESTON - THE SPANISH HOLOCAUST at AYEWRITE
Franco killed more People proportionate to the population within national borders than did Hitler within Germany.Quite rightly Hitler is regarded as evil whilst there are many persons and institutions which are willing to give Franco credit , stick up for him in debates ,real and historical, and defend the years he was in power.
Part of the reason for this is that not only citizens were killed and oppressed by Franco and his supporters within and without Spain , but also the witnessing and historical record.Records documenting the crimes ( and unjustifiable crimes they have to seen to be) of the Republican side have been preserved , there are many monuments to the fallen on Francos side.But the crimes of the Franco side have literally been wiped from the face of the land and history , as well as the psyche through outright destruction of documents and , worse still , the shame attached to the degrading sub-human treatment of the victims which mean even their Families cannot recount what happened without humiliation and dishonour and abject shame being added to the deaths and desecration of their forebears.
It is no surprise that it is a non-Spaniard who can give the dignity back to the victims and their Families and Communities by recording the crimes of the past.For a Spaniard to take up this painful and deeply harrowing task would be seen as partisanship and factionalism as we have found with the galling case of Judge Garzon.An Academic would fare even worse.But Paul Preston can bring to bear the appropriate scholarly bearing of witness as he is seen as having no axe to grind one way or another.
This does not mean Preston is not partisan himself , he abides by a Historian version of the Hippocratic Oath which bounds the person to be Honest to his Sources;To do thorough deep research but on no accounts to be "balanced"in the discredited BBC sense of the concept.If Historians , and Journalists, according to Preston were to be balance in such a way then they would have to treat the torturer the same as the tortured;the murderer with the murdered;the rapist with the raped and in the case of Spain the colonialist with the colonised.Preston is very much on the side of the victims of Franco , though still regarded as impartial and Honest chronicler of the Spanish experience.
So mentally exhausting has been the harrowing brief of the Book Preston has just published that it took him 12 years to complete , he had to take many necessary hiatus to give himself the will to plough through one horrifying account after another.
The Book contains the word Holocaust to describe what happened under Franco , to some this may seem to strong a description but Preston easily justifies it when he tells the well thought out;systematic ; on-going plan of extermination of a enemy regarded as sub-Human which was the Franco policy.Out of some 600 reviews in Spain to the Books publishing in that country only about 20 have been hostile.Others have been appreciative that Preston has documented the final resting places of unknown victims , giving their Families much longed for closure.For many Families names of their loved ones appearing in Prestons Book is the only Gravestone they will have , for that reason alone , this Book is a vital contribution especially in a time when Francos make-over descendants have just taken over control in the recent Spanish Elections.
This excellent review by the Guardians Giles Tremlett gives a well rounded review of the Book.
Though in Spanish , the interview in the video below gives a good introduction to the Book and the context with which it should be taken from the Author himself