(Page 2 of 3)
IT WOULD BE ABSURD to say the Nationalists were uniformly angelic. They carried out wholesale executions, and one of their leaders reputedly blamed the whole trouble on the fact that giving the lower classes plumbing had also given them unseemly notions of democracy. However, Carroll writes that in many cases they attempted moderation and some mercy in a merciless war, and in the face of a pitiless totalitarian ideology that gave no quarter. The fact that, in a desperate situation, they accepted some fascist help (no democratic governments offered help) did not make them fascists. Like the Republican side, the Nationalists were a coalition of disparate forces (The Republicans were not the only ones to attract idealistic volunteers from other countries, either. One of a number of foreign volunteers who fought for Franco was the British/South African poet Roy Campbell, who possibly influenced the conception of Aragorn in The Lord of The Rings).p>Carroll also highlights the qualities of some of the military leaders of the Nationalist side, like the fanatically brave and patriotic Millan Astray, who created the Spanish Foreign Legion, who by the time of the Spanish Civil War had already lost an arm, a leg, an eye and much of his jaw campaigning in Africa and who knew how to both upset intellectuals and enthuse his own soldiers even late in the war-weary day, or Colonel Jose Moscardo, commandant of the makeshift garrison of the Alcazar at Toledo which held out for months against a siege not by the siege-weapons of medieval times but by tanks, heavy artillery and aircraft as well as immeasurably superior ground forces. When the Republicans captured Moscardo’s son and put him on the telephone to his father, promising to kill him if the Alcazar did not surrender, Moscardo’s words were: “Commend your soul to God, shout ‘Viva Espana!’ and die like a hero, my son.” The son replied: “Don’t worry about me!” and asked for a last kiss. Professor Carroll comments: br> /p>
In the otherwise completely restored Alcazar at Toledo today, the room where Colonel Moscardo received that telephone call is preserved exactly as it was. On its scored and battered walls hang translations of that conversation in most of the principal languages of the world. A contemporary Socialist government, no longer revolutionary but hardly sympathetic, has removed all the most vivid and shocking memories of the great siege — all but this, which they have not dared to touch.And there was Franco himself, the odd, reluctant, unglamorous dictator, who as the eventual victor kept Spain at peace and oversaw its long, slow transition into a prosperous and free democracy under a fine and noble constitutional monarch. The story told here of how Franco returned to Spain from the Canary Islands to lead the Nationalist uprising reads like something from sensational fiction. p>Few can be unmoved to read how, in a gesture veritably worthy of Don Quixote, Franco turned aside from the advance on Madrid to relieve the Alcazar, now a heap of ruins, its haggard, starving but indomitable defenders literally their last gasp: br> /p>
General Franco came to the Alcazar, saluted the gold and red flag tied to the girder, and was greeted by Moscardo, who told him: “You will find the Alcazar destroyed but its honor intact.” Franco embraced him, pinned of his chest the Cross of San Fernando, Spain’s highest decoration for valour; promoted him on the spot to General and declared him worthy to stand among the greatest heroes of Spanish history.On May 30 1939, Franco attended a Te Deum service in the church of Santa Barbara in liberated Madrid, offering a prayer of thanks for the vanquishing of “the enemy of truth in this century.” It was a penetrating choice of words from a man without intellectual pretensions. He then laid his sword before the high altar with the solemn promise to God and man never to draw it again save in defense of his country against invasion. It was a promise he kept, as Hitler would discover. p>Carroll is judicious about the Nationalists’ general conduct and does not seek to minimize the darker part of their record, but his attempt to put this in perspective is legitimate. Of Franco he writes: br> /p>
It remains to consider the issue of the deaths for which Franco and his government were responsible. In considering this vexed question, it is first necessary to set aside all deaths which were directly or indirectly the result of the war, whose justification or lack of it comes under the heading of whether this was a just war, and not Franco’s personal policy. It is also necessary, in fairness, to set aside those executions which were ordered by others without Franco’s knowledge or consent, especially in the first two months after the rising before Franco was named Generalissimo and Head of State. During the war Franco repeatedly pledged to bring to justice all persons whom he could find, whom there was good reason to believe guilty of committing, aiding or abetting the criminal horrors of 1936. He never granted any amnesty to such people, and continued relentlessly to pursue them until 1959.
Whatever one may conclude about the wisdom or desirability of such a pursuit, it is not necessarily contrary to the Christian teaching of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a personal response to the soul of an offender, justice is a state responsibility to find, convict and punish the guilty … an immense number of the most terrible crimes imaginable had been committed in the in the Spanish Republic during the Civil War, mostly in the last six months of 1936.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?