Economic apologies for Francoist repression, 1937 and 2017

During a research trip to Madrid in April this year, a Spanish friend poked fun at my MA research on Nationalist propagandists in Seville during the Civil War (1936-1939). ‘In Spain,’ he said, ‘the Second Republic [1931-1939] and everything that comes after is still practically journalism’.

His tongue-in-cheek comment referred to what Helen Graham has called Spain’s ‘memory wars’.[i] During the transition to democracy following Franco’s death in 1975, Spanish politicians of all stripes preferred to engage in a ‘pact of forgetting’ or ‘pact of silence’ rather than to pursue a collective reckoning with the crimes of Francoism. Subsequent moves towards such a reckoning have been viewed with suspicion if not outright hostility by some on the Spanish right. The result is that the historical meaning of the Second Republic, the Civil War and the Franco dictatorship is still intensely and very publicly contested.

This summer again saw ‘historical memory’ dominate the headlines, courtesy of the revelation in July that the Fundación Nacional Francisco Franco – an organisation whose ‘primary objective is to promote the memory and works’ of the dictator, to quote its Twitter profile – had been managing visits to the Pazo de Meirás, formerly Franco’s summer residence in his native region of Galicia. The house is owned by the dictator’s descendants but has been designated a ‘site of cultural interest’, obliging the owners to accommodate public visits on at least four days per month.

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The Pazo de Meirás. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

If the controversy caused by this revelation was not enough, on 31 July the Fundación stated that managing the visits would be ‘an excellent opportunity to show the general public the greatness of … Franco’. These comments in turn led to a fractious interview with the Fundación’s spokesman Jaime Alonso on Thursday 3 August’s edition of the current affairs talk show Al Rojo Vivo. (Excerpts from the interview can be viewed here and here, and includes violent footage).

While Alonso’s bizarre claim that ‘Franco didn’t shoot people’ – based on the specious reasoning that he merely acceded to death sentences passed by the courts—[ii] is refuted by a large and ever-growing body of historical research,[iii] another point which caught my attention was his challenge to the presenter, Cristina Pardo. Alonso demanded of the presenter, ‘Who instituted social security? Who created the public health service? Who … industrialised the country? and made state pensions and paid holidays possible?’

It is not uncommon for Franco’s apologists to make such arguments. A very limited welfare state did exist in Spain before the outbreak of the Civil War, but it is true that – as throughout Western Europe – this expanded somewhat during the decades following the Second World War. None of this is to say that a liberal-democratic regime in Spain would not have presided over economic prosperity and expanded welfare provision, a point which those making arguments similar to Alonso’s conveniently tend to overlook.

Although my MA dissertation did not address the post-war era to which Alonso was referring, this use of social policy and economic prosperity to obscure or minimise the use of terror and physical repression was only too familiar. Nationalist propagandists in Seville often used these themes in apparent attempts to appeal to the city’s generally left-leaning workers. These attempts were, however, so deeply inscribed with the logic of terror and authoritarianism that it is often difficult to separate them.

One of the major social-policy initiatives in Seville at the time was the construction of affordable homes, intended especially for the families of Nationalist soldiers killed or wounded at the front, or families with numerous children and only modest means to support them. These projects allowed Nationalist propagandists to claim to be helping working-class sevillanos, yet the provision of affordable housing specifically to these two groups also shows how social provisions cannot be neatly separated from the authorities’ ideological concerns.

The local Nationalist commander, General Gonzalo Queipo de Llano, opined that ‘hygienic housing’ would allow workers to ‘fulfil their duties as citizens and as patriots’.[iv] These duties, as defined by Franco’s supporters, implied a stark loss of political agency. Paternalistic social policy pursued, by different means, similar aims to physical repression: the demobilisation of political opposition, and the definition of an apolitical class identity through which Spanish workers could be integrated into the nascent regime in a subordinate position.

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General Gonzalo Quiepo de Llano (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Another policy which the Nationalist authorities in Seville used to appeal to the interests of the city’s workers was imposition of price controls on staple foods. Regulating food markets in this way was, of course, a sensible wartime policy. Yet Nationalist propagandists – including Queipo, in his infamous radio broadcasts – repeatedly asserted that this was indicative of the alleged ‘normality’ of life in the Nationalist zone, which protected ordinary Spaniards’ access to food and general prosperity. The frequent publication in the local press of lists of business owners fined for violating these controls was not only a deterrent to others who may be tempted to do the same; they were also intended to demonstrate that the authorities were taking action to defend Seville’s workers.[v]

Of course, stable food prices were only one aspect of Nationalist ‘normality’ which affected working-class Spaniards’ lives. One of the key measures through which the military rebels hoped to impose their vision of economic ‘normality’ at the start of the conflict was an ‘absolute prohibition’ on strike action. Unlike price-hiking merchants, the leaders of striking unions would not be liable for a fine; they could expect to be condemned to death by a summary court martial.[vi] Although Nationalist propagandists during the Civil War claimed – disingenuously –[vii] that their management of the economy prevented working-class sevillanos from being negatively affected by the economic costs of war, this disparity in punishment is demonstrative of how measures such as price controls functioned within a wider discursive framework in which ‘normality’ meant brutal and often deadly repression for many of these workers.

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‘Happiness of wheat, hope for tomorrow’. The Nationalist press often carried stories purporting to show that food was abundant under Franco. F.E., 18/7/1937 (special edition), n.p Held at the Hemeroteca Municipal de Madrid.

These are just two examples of wartime propaganda which pursued the same goal as Alonso’s comments on Al Rojo Vivo: to justify Francoism in terms of the economic wellbeing of Spain and its people. Yet economic and social policy in Civil-War Seville was comprehensively intertwined with the repressive discourse and practices which underpinned the birth of Franco’s dictatorship. This should not be forgotten, whether in reference to the Civil War or to later Francoism.

Joel Baker is a first-year PhD student at the University of Sheffield’s Department of History. His research is funded by the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities, and examines social housing and infrastructure projects under Spain’s Primo de Rivera dictatorship (1923-1930) as expressions of the regime’s ‘anti-political’ populism. You can find him on Twitter at @joelrbaker.

References:

[i] Helen Graham, ‘Coming to Terms with the Past: Spain’s Memory Wars’, History Today 54.5 (2004), pp. 29-31.

[ii] In the immediate post-war period, these were often summary courts martial which tried and found guilty multiple defendants on flimsy evidence in proceedings sometimes lasting mere minutes. Defence lawyers were usually junior military officers who were given little time to prepare by their superiors, who sat as judges. See Peter Anderson, The Francoist Military Trials: Terror and Complicity, 1939-1945 (London, 2010); ‘In the Interests of Justice? Grass-Roots Prosecution and Collaboration in Francoist Military Trials, 1939-1945’, Contemporary European History 18.1 (2009), pp.25-44; ‘Singling Out Victims: Denunciation and Collusion in Post-Civil War Francoist Repression in Spain, 1939-1945’, European History Quarterly 39 (2009), pp. 7-26.

[iii] For a relatively recent synthesis of this research, see Paul Preston, The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain (London, 2012).

[iv] F.E., 16/3/1937, p. 11.

[v] See, e.g., F.E., 1/2/1938, p. 6.

[vi] See Queipo de Llano’s bando de guerra (declaration of martial law) of 18 July 1936. Auditoría de Guerra de la Segunda División Orgánica y del Ejército del Sur, Bandos y órdenes dictados por el Excmo. Sr. D. Gonzalo Queipo de Llano y Sierra, General Jefe de la 2.a División Orgánica y del Ejército del Sur (Seville, 1937), pp. 5-6.

[vii] In fact, ordinary citizens throughout Spain saw their living standards decline drastically during the Civil War as a result of ‘economic repression’, and during the 1940s because the regime’s rationing and autarky policies forced many to accept inflated black-market prices for staple goods in order to survive. See Miguel Ángel del Arco Blanco, ‘Hunger and the Consolidation of the Francoist Regime (1939-1951), European History Quarterly 40.3 (2010), pp. 458-483; Hambre de Siglos: Mundo rural y apoyos sociales del franquismo en Andalucía oriental, 1936-1951 (Granada, 2007); Rúben Serém, A Laboratory of Terror. Conspiracy, Coup d’ état and Civil War in Seville, 1936-1939: History and Myth in Francoist Spain (Brighton / Portland / Toronto, 2017), pp. 147-189.

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Redefining the national community during the Spanish Civil War: Queipo de Llano’s radio propaganda broadcasts

by Joel Baker

On 18 July 1936, the army in mainland Spain followed the colonial troops in Morocco and rebelled against the government of the Second Spanish Republic. The coup was only partially successful, and the resulting division of the country marked the start of the Spanish Civil War.

The leader of the uprising in Seville was General Gonzalo Queipo de Llano, commander of the Carabineros (border guards). Queipo’s success in Seville was key to the Nationalists’ rapid advances in the early stages of the war – providing a base for the airlift of Franco’s Army of Africa from Morocco – and is notable for the horrendous scale of violence unleashed in the city and the areas of southern Spain under Queipo’s command.[i]

Queipo is also noted for his vulgar propaganda broadcasts from Radio Sevilla – a nightly occurrence until Franco forced him off air in February 1938. While few recordings of these speeches survive, they were reproduced every day in newspapers published in Seville and elsewhere in the Nationalist zone.

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Queipo de Llano (centre) during commemorations in Seville’s Plaza de Triunfo marking the first anniversary of the Nationalist rebellion, 18 July 1937 (Source: GGnaomi, Wikicommons)

Aptly, certain fragments from these speeches have often been used to demonstrate the brutality of the Nationalist war effort and repression. However, their regularity and wide coverage in the press, as well as the fact that the Seville transmitter was capable of broadcasting to most of mainland Spain, mean we should see them as an important part of wartime culture and discourse in the Nationalist zone.[ii]

Indeed, one junior Nationalist officer, Domingo Pérez Morán, refers on a number of occasions in his memoirs to troops regularly listening to and discussing the General’s broadcasts. At one point, Pérez Morán refers to Queipo de Llano as ‘Don Gonzalo’; despite the honorific title Don, this reflects a feeling of familiarity one would not necessarily expect for a junior officer referring to a senior commander, suggesting that Queipo’s broadcasts made him a figure with whom the rank-and-file felt they could identify.[iii]

Queipo’s broadcasts can therefore be considered an important element in the formation of a Francoist discourse during the civil war, and so are clearly worthy of more detailed study. This reveals broader themes within them, beyond the familiar and frequent incitements to gratuitous violence. One way in which we can see Queipo’s broadcasts fitting into the broader development of a Francoist discourse is in the redefinition of what Spanish nationality and identity meant.

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One of Queipo’s charlas, reproduced in the local press. (Source: La Union (Seville), 21/1/1938, held by the Hemeroteca Municipal de Madrid)

In one particularly notable instance, Queipo praised the foreign legionaries and Moroccan regular troops fighting among the Nationalist forces, telling his listeners that ‘despite their being foreigners, they have much more love for Spain than all the Marxist scum, and they’d give their lives for us rather than defect to that rabble.’[iv] His rhetoric later elevated the general population of Morocco to a higher level of ‘Spanishness’ than the Nationalists’ opponents:

Very many of them are more Spanish at heart than all the Marxist scum put together … They are incapable of betraying Spain and … if we wanted to remove even the last soldier from Morocco, they would guard it themselves, with exemplary fidelity.[v]

Leaving aside the implausibility of this final claim – it was only ten years since the Spanish and French armies had concluded a bloody and unpopular counterinsurgency campaign in the Protectorate – these examples demonstrate an attempt to reframe Spanish national identity as being determined by one’s politics above all else. In Queipo de Llano’s view, left-wing Spaniards lost any right to claim that national identity, while foreigners who shared the military rebels’ values could consider themselves Spanish.

This logic for excluding political enemies from the national community had been forming in right-wing Spanish circles for some time. During the 1934 Asturias rebellion, the Falangist leader José Antonio Primo de Rivera wrote to General Franco that ‘a socialist victory constitutes a foreign invasion … because the essence of socialism, from top to bottom, contradicts the permanent spirit of Spain.’[vi]

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Queipo de Llano during a visit to Berlin in 1939 (Source: Wikicommons)

The broadcasting of such opinions to a mass audience during the civil war was an attempt to legitimise Nationalist violence by excluding its victims from a shared identity with its perpetrators. Similar notions can be seen in later Francoist legislation, particularly the February 1939 ‘Law of Political Responsibilities’ (Ley de Responsabilidades Políticas).

This statute provided the pseudo-legal basis for Francoist post-war repression by retroactively criminalising membership of the Popular Front parties as far back as 1 October 1934. The law carried through the logic evidenced in the examples above by establishing penalties for those who fell foul of it, including not only the forfeiture of property but also of Spanish citizenship.

Another attempt by Queipo to impose his understanding of Spanish identity can be seen in one broadcast in which he ‘apologised’ for having previously suggested that Catalans were all cowards. ‘If I said that’, explained the General, ‘it was in reference to the cowards who serve Marxism in Catalonia’. He insisted that ‘I cannot call the Catalans cowards, because they are Spaniards, and no Spaniard worthy of the name can be a coward.’[vii]

Queipo’s logic here is less circular than labyrinthine, but what is perhaps most striking about it is the unambiguous claim that ‘Catalans … are Spaniards’. Given the Nationalists’ implacable hostility to any kind of regional nationalism within Spain, this can be read as an attempt to impose a national identity which some Catalans may not have wanted – alongside an implication that those who refused it were Marxists, and thus beyond the national community.

Queipo’s speeches were thus part of a wider Nationalist effort to redefine the Spanish nation at the same time as building a new state. They also demonstrate a function of wartime propaganda that is, perhaps, specific to civil wars. Whereas propaganda in a war between two nation states may focus on promoting the essential justice of the relevant party’s cause,[viii] a deeply political civil conflict like the Spanish Civil War can also lead to attempts to cast the enemy rhetorically beyond the pale of the national community in order to legitimise, in this case, a military rebellion and shocking violence behind the lines. Nationalist propaganda such as Queipo’s, which arrogated the right to define Spanish identity, helped lay the ideological foundations for exclusionary and repressive practices for decades to come.

Joel Baker is currently studying an MA in Historical Research at the University of Sheffield, where he will be conducting PhD research on public works and welfarism in Spain under the Primo de Rivera dictatorship (1923-1930) from September 2017. He previously graduated with a BA in Modern Languages (Spanish, Dutch, French) from the same University in 2014, and has also worked as a translator at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. He tweets on and off at @joelrbaker.

[i] See Paul Preston, The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain (London, 2012), pp. 131-178.

[ii] Alan Davies, ‘The First Radio War: Broadcasting in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939’, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 19.4 (1999), p. 474.

[iii] Domingo Pérez Morán, ¡A estos, que los fusilen al amanecer! (Madrid, 1973), pp. 36, 45, 47, 163-164, 189-190.

[iv] ‘… no obstante su condición de extranjeros, tienen mucho más amor a España que toda la canalla marxista, y dan su vida por nosotros antes de pasarse a esa chusma.’ La Unión de Sevilla, 25/08/1936, pp. 9-10. Translations are my own.

[v] ‘… muchísimos de ellos son mucho más españoles a corazón que toda la canalla marxista junta; […] son incapaces de hacer traición a España, y […] si quisiéramos sacar de Marruecos hasta el último soldado, lo guardarían ellos solos, con ejemplar fidelidad.’ La Unión de Sevilla, 28/08/1936, pp. 9-10.

[vi] ‘Una victoria socialista tiene el valor de invasión extranjera […] porque las esencias del socialismo, de arriba abajo, contradicen el espíritu permanente de España.’ Quoted in Sheelagh Ellwood, Historia de Falange Española, trans. Antonio Desmonts (Barcelona, 2001). p. 57.

[vii] ‘Yo no puedo llamar cobardes a los catalanes, porque son españoles, y todo español digno no puede ser cobarde. Conste, pues, que si eso dije, era refiriéndome a los cobardes que en Cataluña sirven al marxismo …’ La Unión de Sevilla, 24/08/1936, pp. 5-7.

[viii] See, for example, David Welch and Jo Fox (eds), Justifying War: Propaganda, Politics and the Modern Age (New York, 2012).

A Bulwark Made of Words: the Francoist Press during the Second World War

By Miguel Rivas Venegas

In the opinion of Sir Samuel Hoare, British Ambassador in Spain, the Spanish press from the 1940s was a toy in the hands of the Third Reich’s Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels. Newspapers were full of terminology described by the researcher Luis Veres as the ‘lexical arsenals’ of authoritarian regimes, and were as Hoare underlined, ‘literally illegible’.[1] The American ambassador, Alexander Weddel, who would accuse the Home Minister, Ramón Serrano Suñer, of organizing a propaganda campaign coordinated by Nazi agitators, shared the opinion of the British diplomat in Spain.

According to Weddel, the German Press Attaché was indeed behind many of the articles and editorials of the Falangist newspaper Arriba, which were ‘clearly translated from another language’. Stanley Payne also discussed translations in reference to the early fascist newspaper El Fascio,[2] promoted by the J.O.N.S member,[3] José María Alfaro, close collaborator of the German Press Attaché Hans Lazar.[4]  Research on Jonsist language reveals possible translations and adaptations of the ‘Lingua Tertii Imperii’ within the language and rhetoric of Spanish Jonsists, Falangists and Francoist propagandists of the late 1930s and 1940s.[5]

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Report in Spanish newspaper, ABC, on Hitler’s activities in Berlin. Source: ABC (Sevilla), 9/4/1943

The enormous power of journalists and Spanish correspondents in Germany under the command of Hans Lazar, as well as the influence of the media in general should not be underestimated. As Weddel would claim, a systematic, coordinated press could be enough to drag the exhausted masses of Spain into a ‘new battle of the same war’ –asserted Franco– against the enemies of the Fatherland.

Spain was represented by the Spanish Caudillo, German propaganda, and General Moscardó (who was in charge of the Deutsch-Spanische Geschellschaft),[6] as the first front of the crusade against bolshevism and its ‘allies’. The press should be, as Home Secretary Serrano Suñer claimed in 1940, ‘Military column, militia, and fundamental backup to the State’.[7] As stated in one Diario Norte article signed by the National-Socialist press agency Arco-SPES, the journalist should become a soldier,[8] and get rid of his civilian clothes. Discipline under a strict chain of command included linguistic discipline:[9] dilettantes or propagandistic improvisation could be more dangerous than enemy counter-propaganda. Arsenals of words, or, ‘purr’ and ‘snarl words’, as Hayakawa would categorize certain political vocabulary,[10] should be cautiously and meticulously chosen.

The so-called ‘New Spain’ needed its journalists on the front lines of combat. Germany would be the best example of the strong power of persuasion of media under a rigid, sophisticated and, according to General Director of Propaganda Dionisio Ridruejo, ‘perverse’ control of the State.[11] Spanish news correspondents were positioned in many European countries, another one of the Generals’ weapons since the First World War.[12]

At first glance, Spanish newspapers showed not only a non-belligerent attitude towards the political and imperialistic aspirations of the Axis, but clear support of their propaganda and propagandistic language. Information relating to Japanese expansionism presented to Spanish readers in the newspaper ABC was similar to the allusions that appeared in Arriba or Levante, in which German imperialism and the offensive against Poland was described as a ‘vital necessity’, clearly supporting the hitlerian principle of Lebensraum. According to these newspapers, the egoism, incompetence, and lack of empathy of the so-called decadent democracies provoked the German reaction and made any pacific solution to the conflict impossible. The newspaper El Norte de Castilla would affirm that German troops were obligated to penetrate the Polish territory, as the Poles rejected any pacific alternative.[13]

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The Falangist daily, Arriba, delivers Hitler’s speeches to a Spanish audience. Source: Arriba, 31/1/1941

Germany was pictured as a proud nation reacting to the constant provocations and warlike offenses of those ‘false democracies’ that according to Franco ‘did not want peace in Spain’. [14] Salvador Merino, Head of the Falangist Trade Unions, would talk about an ‘obliged war’, a defensive war, of Germany against its offenders. The opinion of the prominent Falangist appears in the Pueblo newspaper right after one of his ‘formative trips’ to National-Socialist Germany.[15] According to his own description of these visits, he contacted prominent Nazi leaders and studied (and in many senses reproduced) the structure of the German Labour Front.

The same subjective, laconic, imprecise and propagandistic description can be found in El Alcázar referring to the German offensive in Norway.[16] The position of certain Catholic newspapers towards Nazi racial measures in occupied territories can be easily perceived in the pages of El correo de Andalucía. They exhale the same anti-Semitism found in the pages of Onesimo Redondo´s Libertad:

‘When going down Nawrek Street the citizen formation decreases and changes, turning, degenerating into filthy residences corresponding to the Jewish suburbs. Even the three-floor buildings look nauseating and disgusting. The “doroskas” stroll around streets full of dirty and ragged kids. The Jewish caftan stands out over any other clothing and the beards are legion as the fear of an epidemic disease’.[17]

The Spanish press commonly pointed towards ‘British egoism’, which was described constantly in ABC. The origin of the Japanese occupations was, according to this newspaper, an ‘obliged’ defence against the British manoeuvres:

The fight of Japan against the Anglo-Saxon powers is a transposition of the social war on the international scene (…) the Japanese archipelago is too small for it’s almost one hundred million inhabitants (…) if the Anglo-Saxons would have understood the vital necessities of the Japanese people, the actual conflict could have been avoided.[18]

The first Press Office Director and member of the Office of Press and Propaganda, journalist, and correspondent Luis Antonio Bolín considered, at the beginning of the conflict, that the war should be won by force of arms. Maybe his early contacts with non-Spanish journalists and propagandists in Salamanca changed his mind. Propaganda and the press were, as Bernays claimed in 1928,[19] a fundamental tool in modern times. Weapons were not enough. A bulwark of words, also serving the propagandistic goals of National-socialist propaganda in Spain, was successfully built in the newly-born ‘España Nacional’.

Miguel Rivas Venegas is a second year PhD student in the deparment of Art History and Theory of the Autónoma University (UAM) in Madrid, where he forms part of the research group  ‘Artistic and Audiovisual Cultures in the Contemporary World’. Miguel currently lives in Berlin, where he has spent time as a scholar at the Humboldt University. His PhD research investigates the similarities and differences between the totalitarian language of Nazi Germany, and that of Francoist Spain. 

[1] Ingrid Schulze Schneider, ‘Éxitos y fracasos de la propaganda alemana en España: 1939-1944’. Melanges de la Casa de Velázquez 31-3, (1995), pp. 197-217.

[2] Stanley Payne, Falange. A History of Spanish Fascism (Stanford University Press, 1961), p. 31.

[3] The Juntas Ofensivas Nacional Sindicalistas was the first relevant political movement in Spain.

[4] Schulze Schneider, ‘Éxitos y fracasos’, p. 200.

[5] The German philologist Viktor Klemperer defined the particular use of language and rhetoric of the Third Reich as “Lingua Tertii Imperii”. See Viktor Klemperer, LTI. Notizbuch eines Philologen (Berlin, Aufbau,1947).

[6] Speech by General Moscardó, president of the German-Spanish Society- Quoted in El Alcázar, 6 August 1941.

[7] Speech by Serrano Suñer to the journalists of Valencia. As quoted in Informaciones, 24th April,1940.

[8] ‘La prensa en la guerra’ Norte. Diario de Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las J.O.N.S., 27th February 1940.

[9] The propagandistic possibilities of the press, particularly during armed conflicts, had been obvious to German propagandists since the First World War. For more information, see Almut Lindner-Wirsching,‘Patrioten im Pool. Deutsche und französische Kriegsberichtestatter im Ersten Weltkrieg‘ in Ute, D. (Ed.) Augenzeugen. Kriegsberichterstattung von 18. Zum 21. Jahrhundert (Göttingen, 2006).

[10] S. I. Hayakawa, Language in thought and action (Orlando, A Harvest/ HBJ Original, 1990 [1939]).

[11] Francisco Sevillano Calero, ‘La estructura de la prensa diaria en España durante el franquismo” Investigaciones históricas: Época moderna y contemporánea, ISSN 0210-9425, Nº 17, 1997, p. 316.

[12] Reinhard Stauber, ‘War and public Sphere. European examples from the Seven Years´ War to the World War I.’ in Seethaler, J., Karmasin, M., et al., Selling war. The role of Mass Media in Hostile Conflicts. From World War I to the “War on Terror”. p. 28.

[13] Appeared in the newspaper El Norte de Castilla. Quoted in Virginia Martín Jiménez, ‘La prensa vallisoletana ante el final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial’, in Pena, Alberto (ed.), Comunicación y guerra en la historia, pp. 343-344.

[14] Paul Preston, Franco (1995), p. 415.

[15] ‘La estancia del Delegado Nacional de Sindicatos en Alemania’. Appeared in Pueblo. Diario del trabajo nacional. 5th of May,1941.

[16] The Carlist newspaper would briefly refer to that 1 September ‘in which the democratic powers declared war on the Third Reich (…) on the triumphal Germany (…) that possessed the moral of victory’. In ‘En vísperas de las grandes batallas’, El Alcázar, 10 May 1940.

[17] ‘La paz  no depende de Alemania’, El correo de Andalucía, 11 October 1939.

[18] ‘Los japoneses han ocupado la capital de Tailandia.’ ABC, 10 December 1941.

[19] Edward Bernays, Propaganda. (Brooklyn, 2005 [1928]), p. 54.

The Language of Authoritarian Internationalism

by David Brydan

The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries witnessed a rapid increase in international cooperation between scientists, experts, intellectuals, activists and other groups. These developments were prompted both by improvements to travel and communication technologies, and by the belief that international cooperation was required to deal with the political and technical challenges posed by an increasingly interconnected world.

The language of ‘internationalism’ quickly became associated with liberal idealists, or with the emerging socialist and communist movements, envisaging either a world united by free trade and political liberty, or by working class solidarity. International cooperation, however, was not confined to liberals and socialists.

Many experts involved in international technical cooperation belonged to the authoritarian right. Radical nationalists and fascist movements aped their political opponents by promoting international cooperation between authoritarian movements and states. Mussolini’s Italy aimed to forge an international fascist movement under the umbrella of the CAUR (Comitati d’Azione per l’Universalita di Roma). Nazi Germany later took up a similar initiative, attempting to unite Axis and Axis-aligned states during the Second World War within the Anti-Comintern Pact and the ‘New Europe’.[1]

These efforts, however, faced a common problem: how to talk about international cooperation without adopting the language of liberal or socialist internationalism, particularly without recourse to the familiar internationalist language of peace, freedom, tolerance and equality?

During my own research into the international activities of doctors and medical scientists in Franco’s Spain, I found almost no cases of Francoist experts using the terms ‘internationalism’ or ‘internationalist’. This was due to the unacceptable political connotations of such terms, despite the fact that many of those experts worked with organisations such as the League of Nations, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the WHO.

How, then, did Francoists talk about international cooperation? For Spain, during the early years of the Second World War, the ‘international’ primarily meant Nazi Germany and its allies within the ‘New Europe’.

Francoist scientists, intellectuals and politicians were involved in a wide range of events, networks and organisations convened by Nazi Germany, in fields ranging from health and youth politics, to literature and folk dancing. Many of these initiatives were labelled as ‘international’, such as the International Women’s Meeting held in 1942.[2] Other initiatives, perhaps more accurately, were described as ‘European’, as with the European Writers’ Union formed in the same year.[3] This reflected Nazi efforts to promote the war as a defence of a shared ‘European civilization’ against the threat of Bolshevism.

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Leaders of the Wartime International Association Against Tuberculosis

Like their liberal counterparts, fascist internationalists justified the need for international cooperation on practical grounds. Speaking at the first meeting of the International Association Against Tuberculosis in 1941, Reich Health Minister Leonardo Conti argued that, because the increasing levels of cross-border movement caused by the war were helping to spread the disease, it ‘also has to be countered with international measures.’[4]

Though he admitted that ‘international cooperation is not easy’, he argued that the countries in attendance formed a ‘bloc with a unified destiny’ forged by their experience of the war.[5] His arguments were reflected in many of the other international events held under the auspices of the ‘New Europe’, whose participants were keen to distinguish themselves from pre-war ‘Anglo-American’ forms of internationalism.

Instead of the ineffective pre-war international cooperation which had undermined national sovereignty and national identity, they saw themselves as the founders of a new, more dynamic and modern form of cooperation between nationally-conscious individuals and groups, more aligned to the political realities of the ‘totalitarian’ era.[6]

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El Instituto de Cultura Hispánica

This vision had lost much of its credibility long before the final Nazi defeat in 1945. After the war, Franco’s Spain was excluded from the newly-constructed UN system, and Francoists therefore had to search for new international networks and patterns of international cooperation. Many turned their attention towards Latin America, hoping to position Spain at the head of an informal community of nations bound by ties of Hispanidad, or what was often referred to as ‘Hispano-American brotherhood’. As with the ‘New Europe’, this vision rejected the theoretical universalism of liberal and socialist internationalism.

The outlook, ideology and discourse of the Franco regime rested heavily on its claim to represent Spain’s imperial past and lost ‘Golden Age’. The idea of Hispanidad thus represented an attempt to build modern structures of international cooperation rooted in a hierarchical imperial mythology. This model of neo-imperial internationalism, however, depended on vastly overoptimistic assumptions about the willingness of Latin American states to align themselves with Franco’s Spain.

It was Spain’s Catholic intellectuals and politicians who were most willing to engage with the post-war international system emerging around the UN. Some went so far as to participate in debates about post-war internationalism and human rights with their counterparts abroad, although they did not do so uncritically. The majority, however, saw liberal internationalism as both a pale imitation and a corruption of Catholic ‘universalism’.

As the Basque intellectual Carlos Santamaría argued, it was the world’s Catholics who were

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Carlos Santamaría

‘best prepared for international collaboration’, and it was their duty not just to participate in the work of secular international organisations, but to unite within Catholic international bodies to provide a counterpoint to the materialism which dominated the modern world.[7]

Spanish Catholics thus built strong ties with international Catholic organisations and networks during Spain’s period of post-war diplomatic isolation, but struggled to reconcile the authoritarian clericalism of the Franco regime with the post-war Christian Democracy which came to dominate western Europe.

Yet even among Catholics there remained a sense that international cooperation was not a desirable goal in itself, but a necessary response to scientific developments and international ideological threats. The Chilean nurse, Veronica de la Fuente, told a gathering of Spanish Catholic nurses in 1950:

‘Evil is uniting to build its forces and to triumph. We live in the century of ‘Popular Fronts’, of Syndicates, Cooperativism, Leagues, Federations, etc. … In the face of this global spectacle, what do Christians do?… Beneath the standard of the faith and the flag of the ecclesiastical hierarchy we must unite in societies, groups, brotherhoods or whatever we wish to call them; but to band together, never alone nor dispersed, because that way we lose both time and strength.’[8]

It was this sense of global threat which underpinned the internationalism of mid-twentieth century nationalists, both in Spain and abroad. Cooperation between fascists and the authoritarian right was necessary precisely to counter the threat posed by the internationalism of their ideological enemies. Theirs was thus an ‘anti-’ internationalism: anti-communist, anti-liberal, and anti-cosmopolitan. The contradictions, tensions and linguistic contortions which surrounded such efforts reflected a fundamental ambivalence about the idea of international cooperation in and of itself.

David Brydan is a researcher at Birkbeck and a member of the Reluctant Internationalists project. He recently completed a PhD on the history of international health in Franco’s Spain. Find him on twitter at @davidbrydan.

References

[1] Arnd Bauerkämper, ‘Interwar Fascism in Europe and Beyond: Toward a Transnational Radical Right’, in Martin Durham and Margaret Power (eds.), New Perspectives on the Transnational Right (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 39-66.

[2] Elizabeth Harvey, ‘International Networks and Cross-Border Cooperation: National Socialist Women and the Vision of a ‘New Order’in Europe’, Politics, Religion & Ideology, 13 (2012), 141-58.

[3] Benjamin George Martin, ‘”European Literature” in the Nazi New Order: The Cultural Politics of the European Writer’s Union, 1942-3’, Journal of Contemporary History, 48 (2013), 486-508.

[4] ‘La fondazione dell’Associazione Internazionale contro la Tubercolosi’, Lotta Contro La Tubercuolosi , anno XIII, 3 (1942), 240-241.

[5] Ibid.

[6] David Brydan, ‘Axis Internationalism: Spanish Health Experts and the Nazi ‘New Europe’, 1939-1945′, Contemporary European History, 25 (2016), 291-311.

[7] Carlos Santamaría, ‘Notas para un dialogo’, Documentos: Conversaciones Católicas Internacionales, vol. 3 (1949), 90.

[8] Cuarta Asamblea de la Hermandad de Enfermeras y Asistencia Medico-Social “Salus Infirmorum” (Madrid: Publicaciones “Al Servicio de España y del Niño Español”, 1950), 29-30.

Full Image Attributions

Image 1: ‘La fondazione dell’Associazione Internazionale contro la Tubercolosi’, Lotta Contro La Tubercuolosi , anno XIII, 3 (1942), 238.

Image 2: El Instituto de Cultura Hispánica: Al Servicio de Iberoamerica (Madrid: Instituto de Cultura Hispanica, 1953)

Image 3: Archives of the Asociación Católica de Propagandistas

The regulation of identity through names and naming in Twentieth Century Spain

By James Chetwood

Un estancia Español

I’m going to confess from the get-go that I’m not a historian of Francoist Spain. I’m not even a modernist. And I’m barely even a historian. I’m actually doing a PhD in medieval English naming patterns (yes, that’s a thing you can do). So why am I writing a blog about Spanish personal names in the twentieth century?

To be honest it’s a fairly unlikely and uninteresting chain of events that I won’t bore you with here. But, the main reason is that, in the period I’m studying, the personal naming system changed from one where very few people bore the same name, to one where a few, very popular names were borne by the majority of the population.

Some scholars have suggested that this was caused by downward pressure from an increasingly dominant and dominating aristocratic élite. I’m sceptical about just how much this could have been the case: medieval lords were powerful, but I doubt they cared a huge amount about what the peasants who worked their lands chose as names for their children. There was no legislation restricting the names people could choose – and there were no officials registering names who could enact such laws, had they existed at all.[1]

So, I started to think about where it might be possible to see if a concerted effort to regulate the names of a population had any discernible impact on naming patterns; which is how I ended up looking at twentieth century Spain.

 

Names and identity

While names are intrinsically linked to individual identity, they also play an important role in defining and creating group membership. Every group or society has its own set of names and naming customs. By adhering to these customs, and choosing a name that other members recognise and accept, parents demonstrate that their child is part of that group or society.

Conversely, choosing a name that doesn’t fit in with these norms can mark a child and a family out as being different. We see this in Spain at the turn of the twentieth century, when a number of radical and revolutionary groups gave their children names which highlighted their political beliefs.

Jaures
Source: Arquivo Nacional, Rio de Janeiro*

Socialist, communist and anarchist parents chose names that personified their own ideals and demonstrated their belonging to a political group, such as Germinal, Palmiro and Jaurés – and it doesn’t take much guessing to work out the political beliefs of the parents of Carlos Marx Longinos Alonso Rogdriguez.

 

However, following the Spanish Civil War, the Francoist regime was intent on creating a new and centralised Spanish identity, which placed God and Spain at the forefront. New-born children were to bear names taken only from the Calendar of Roman Catholic Saints, or traditional Spanish names.

These names were only to be registered in Castilian, excluding the other regional languages of Spain, as well as anyone who may have wanted to choose a non-Spanish name, whether that be for political reasons or personal ones. There would be no more Germinals, Palmiras and certainly no more Carlos Marxes.

 

Measuring the impact

But did this legislation, and the oppressive social environment, have an impact on wider naming patterns? In some ways, yes.[2] One clear change is the use of double names, which seems to coincide closely with the period of the Francoist dictatorship. These double names were absent from the top 10 lists in the 1930s, but dominated by the 1960s, and then had disappeared by the 1990s.

Another immediately noticeable about the majority of double names is their overwhelmingly religious nature. The continuous presence of certain names such as Maria, José, and Jesús in double names is overwhelming. For women, names dedicated to Marian shrines were the norm, such as Maria del Pilar and Maria de los Dolores. Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the saints, were, quite literally everywhere.

So, on the face of it, it seems like the measures taken by the Spanish state did succeed in its goal of homogenising the names of its citizens, and creating an exclusively Spanish, Christian national identity. These are, clearly, names dedicated very much to God and to Spain.

Yet there are some exceptions, which indicate that some aspects of regional identities persisted. In Bizkaia, both Begoña and Maria-Begoña were present in the top 10 girls’ names throughout the dictatorship. Begoña is the name of a region of Bilbão, in which the shrine of Our Lady of Begoña is situated. The name was clearly Christian, so allowed in the Civil Register. But by using it, people were able to assert a small part of their Basque identity.

The return to democracy in 1975 allowed people to assert these previously suppressed identities to a much greater extent. In Bizkaia, for example, the removal of restrictions enabled the expression of distinct, regional and linguistic identities through personal names. The 1970s saw an almost complete replacement of the top 10 male and female names – 18 out of 20 were completely new. Many were distinctly Basque, including Unai, Aitor and Iker for men, and Iratxe, Naiara and Ainhoa for women.

 

Effects on concentration

So did the imposition of strict rules on the choice of personal names cause an increase in naming homogeneity? The reduction in possible name choices, the frequent repetition of a small number of common Christian names, as well as the immediate outburst of naming creativity across Spain following the return to democracy, all seem to suggest so.

Yet, this isn’t the case. In fact, the proportion of men represented by the top 10 names dropped from around 40 percent in the 1930s to under 20 percent in the 1980s. Amongst women, this dropped from nearly 30 percent to around 15 percent. And, perhaps counterintuitively, from the 1970s, when restrictions were removed and people able to choose whatever names they wanted, naming concentration actually increased, both in Spain as a whole, and its individual regions.

Naming Concentration Spain
Statistics based on data from the Instituto Nacional de Estadística

 

So, top down pressure from the state in the Francoist period did not, ultimately, effect the downward trend in naming concentration, which was caused by wider systemic changes to Spanish society, instigated by the rapid industrialisation and modernisation that Spain underwent in the same period.

However, following 1975, the people of Spain seem to have, intentionally or otherwise, used names to reassert old, or perhaps assert completely new, community identities – identities to which they held greater attachment than the centralised, Catholic, Castilian identity that had been enforced for so long.

 

Notes:

[1] I think that the increase in naming concentration was caused by a change in how people lived and interacted, as they were brought together to live in the typical nuclear villages and small towns we associate with most of Europe from the late-medieval period through to modernity, and the intensely norm-enforcing social networks that went along with them. It’s not until the twentieth century, when the forces of industrialisation, urbanisation and modernisation again transformed communities and reshaped social networks, that we see this tendency towards high naming concentration reversed, and a trend towards greater individualisation of personal names.

[2] Statistics have been based on data from the Instituto Nacional de Estadística.

* Full image citation: “Brasil, Cartões de Imigração, 1900-1965,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22434-7844-98?cc=1932363 : 10 November 2014), Group 8 > 004914239 > image 154 of 203; Arquivo Nacional, Rio de Janeiro (National Archives, Rio de Janeiro).

James Chetwood is a Wolfson Postgraduate Scholar in the Department of History at the University of Sheffield. He is currently researching personal naming patterns in medieval England. You can find James on twitter @chegchenko.

Me avergüenzo de ser británico: Como ciudadano británico y ciudadano de la Unión Europea (aún) me avergüenza escribir esto

Written by Matthew Kerry, this post originally appeared on ctxt.es on June 24, 2016, reproduced with Matt’s permission.

Polling_Station_Brexit
Way in? (Image found on WikiCommons)

 

A mis amigos españoles,

Como ciudadano británico y ciudadano de la Unión Europea (aún) me avergüenza escribir esto. Me avergüenzo de ser británico.

Ante todo, quiero enviar mi solidaridad, dolor y disculpas a todxs lxs trabajadorxs europexs que, por las islas británicas, curran en los hospitales, fábricas, hoteles y el campo por mencionar unos pocos –muchas veces en condiciones pésimas– para levantar este país y que contribuyen muchísimo más al Estado de lo que reciben. Muchos de ellos condenados al exilio económico forzado de sus propios países.

La clave de este referéndum ha sido la inmigración. El 52% de votantes ha votado a favor del Brexit. Circulaba durante la campaña en Twitter un lema que rezaba “no todos los de Brexit son racistas, pero los racistas votarán al Brexit”. Creo que tiene algo de verdad esta frase, pero me niego a pensar que más de la mitad de la población británica es racista. Votar para salir de la UE fue votar en contra del statu quo. La política migratoria ha logrado focalizar ansiedades de diversa índole en las antiguas zonas industriales azotadas por el neoliberalismo, las costas y regiones rurales en declive económico y sin salidas laborales desde hace años, y también debidas a los recortes, las políticas de la austeridad y los efectos de la globalización y un mundo que está evolucionando cada vez más rápido. Las fronteras abiertas se han convertido en un símbolo de la falta de control. De allí el Brexit, y el poderoso mensaje de take back control.

El horizonte es negro pero pienso que los británicos somos mejores que esto. Yo soy del 48%, pero también soy del 99%.

En solidaridad, amor y respeto,

Matthew

Matthew Kerry has a PhD from the University of Sheffield on  radical politics in the Spanish Second Republic. You can find him on Twitter at @guajeingles

Language and the Logic of Stalinism in the International Brigades

by Fraser Raeburn

There is an old and not necessarily edifying debate that has surrounded the International Brigades almost since their inception. Were the 35,000 men and women who travelled to Spain to defend the Spanish Republic during the bitter civil war of 1936-9 dupes of Stalin? Part of a grand plan to export communism to Western Europe and make Spain a Soviet satellite? Or should we no longer take at face value the volunteers’ own claims that they went to Spain to defend democracy against a fascist threat?

This debate was framed by the Cold War climate in which many early histories of the International Brigades were written; yet it has lingered long past the fall of the Berlin Wall. A middle ground, attempting to understand what it meant to be a communist in the context of 1930s Europe, alongside an appreciation of the implications of Soviet involvement and control of the enterprise, is only just emerging.

14581068741_2324522c42_z-2
Some attempts are more successful than others (Source)

Lisa Kirschenbaum’s recent book opens up a fruitful avenue in discussing the cultures of the Communist International, the Soviet agency that directed and enabled the International Brigades.[1]

Teasing apart the logic, formulation and meanings of Stalinist discourse, the book unpacks the way in which it influenced the hodgepodge group of Communist functionaries from around the world that formed the link between Spain and the Soviet Union during the conflict, and for whom Spain represented an inspiring mission against the troubling backdrop of heightened internal tensions in the Soviet Union.

My own research on the International Brigades themselves further demonstrates the pervasive influence of Stalinist discourse. Most of the volunteers were Communists before Spain, and lived their lives in social and political spheres dominated by the Party and its language and expressions. While many engaged with Party discourse in a critical manner, their way of expressing themselves and understanding the world was still inexorably shaped by Stalinist logics.

This influence expressed itself in Spain in a myriad of ways, most obviously in the way that Spain’s political context was understood. Their enemies were fascists – there was no ambiguity there. Yet it was their internal opponents amongst the Spanish left who became most defined by Stalinism. Trotskyism became a label through which ideological opponents could be simultaneously identified and targeted, in a way that was readily understood by volunteers from Canada to China. This language seeped out of official communiques and into everyday conversation and correspondence.

The language of paranoia, sabotage and enemies within influenced how volunteers saw each other. Indeed, fluency in the international language of antifascism could act as a shibboleth once in Spain. Scottish-Canadian volunteer John Dunlop recalled meeting a German who failed this test in the heady days of his arrival into the multinational environment of the International Brigades staging camp:

‘We thought that he this man was really not one of us. That was the feeling that we had about him, because he did not seem to talk the same kind of language as ourselves. The whole atmosphere about him was different… The German was taken away and we never heard of or saw him again… We assumed, and I think rightly, that the man was a spy.’[2]

This obsession with the language of Stalinism was reflected in the political surveillance of the volunteers. Terms such as ‘saboteur’, ‘provocateur’ and ‘trotskyist’ became convenient and relatively common labels for a range of ‘suspect’ individuals, which could lead to penalties ranging from ostracisation to indefinite incarceration. Real and perceived treachery was punished, although the extent of harsh political repression in the International Brigades is often overstated – reform was generally preferred to severe punishment.

More broadly, Communist discourse informed the way the International Brigades were run in a day-to-day sense. Problems in morale and discipline were understood as political problems; each set back was met by calls for more intensive political work and organisation amongst the volunteers. Late in the war, ‘training’ was almost as likely to consist of a lecture on the political meaning of the conflict, as on the practicalities of modern warfare.

It would be a mistake, however, to allow the volunteers no room for their own agency in how they accepted and critiqued the discourse of the day. Some grew disillusioned and came up with their own narratives, either during the conflict or on their return. Many more came to terms with the mindset and justified it for their own reasons, and such decisions should not be treated with contempt born of hindsight of Stalin’s crimes at home.

There was also a great deal of space between outright rejection and wholehearted acceptance, and as ever individuals managed to express themselves in a variety of ways. My favourite such instance was in the satirical pages of a training camp newspaper. While ostensibly building on the frequent complaints about poor food, one author managed to slip in a clever critique of Stalinist norms, poking fun at the habit of ‘objective self-criticism’ as well as the use of poor ‘political understanding’ as a catch-all explanation for military and personal failings:

‘The writer would like to call to Capt. Johnson’s attention the following criticisms:
  • During march, when rear patrol, sent out by American company, raided vineyard near kilometre-stone 14, they failed to bring up grapes for the main body (due probably to low level of political understanding, and lack of proper liaison.
  • Re: the lunch: The coffee should have sugar, cream and coffee in it.
  • Milk and graham crackers (tea and biscuits for the Englishmen) should have been served after every 15 minutes of marching.
  • Instead of marching, the battalion should have advanced in lunch-wagons.[3]

This example should not be taken as outright subversion or hostility to the latent Stalinism of the International Brigades. Yet it, along with many other examples, shows that to understand the influence of Stalinism in Spain it is necessary to view it not as a completely top-down totalitarian imposition on the minds and bodies of powerless individuals. Rather, it was a negotiation, which afforded the volunteers the chance to defy, question, critique or accept the logic of Stalinism on their own terms.

Fraser Raeburn is in the second year of his PhD at the University of Edinburgh, researching Scottish participation in the Spanish Civil War (1936-9). Alongside his research, he helps edit the Pubs and Publications blogging project on the PhD experience, and is the co-founder of the Scottish History Network. You can theoretically learn more about his research on Twitter, or more realistically on academia.edu.

References

[1] Lisa A. Kirshenbaum, International Communism and the Spanish Civil War (Cambridge, 2015).

[2] John Dunlop in Iain MacDougall (ed.), Voices from the Spanish Civil War, (Edinburgh, 1986), p. 128.

[3] RGASPI f.545 op.2 d.266 l. 128. Full source available online.

Letters to a dictator: ‘speaking Francoist’ in 1940s Spain

Cartas

by Stephanie Wright

Those who have never had the (dis)pleasure of working with the remnants of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco’s monstrous state bureaucracy will be unfamiliar with the relentlessly formulaic nature of its documentation.

On my first encounter with Francoist bureaucracy while researching the experiences of disabled veterans of the Spanish Civil War, I had hoped to find reams of letters detailing the personal experiences of wounded soldiers. Unfortunately, the longed-for letters seemed, initially, pretty dull. Confined to a bureaucratic straitjacket of rigid sentence constructions and set phrases, they appeared to tell me nothing at all about the individuality of my subjects.

It was, in fact, in the Francoist state’s interests to prescribe the way in which citizens communicated with it. By adopting the language of Francoism, letter writers acknowledged the regime’s legitimacy and values, and manifested their awareness of their place within the new order. Letters to Franco typically began with ‘His Excellency Generalísimo Franco’ and more often than not signed off with a ‘May God protect you many years’.

In his new compilation of letters written to Franco by ‘ordinary’ citizens, Antonio Sanchez Cazorla offers numerous examples of citizens ‘speaking Francoist’.[1] Ambrosio A., a soldier who accidentally shot his mother while cleaning his rifle, wrote to the

Official_Francisco_Franco
Francisco Franco ruled Spain until his death of natural causes in 1975

Caudillo in November 1938 asking to be sent back to work in his hometown in order to be close to his sister. In doing so, he took care to address Franco as ‘Generalísimo and saviour of our National Spain’ and to sign off with a ‘raised arm and an Arriba España.’[2]

Such highly politicised formulations were very common in letters to Franco and the state more generally, and the readiness with which individuals adopted these phrases is perhaps unsurprising given the repressive climate of Francoist Spain, particularly in its early years.[3]

However, such letters raise questions about the nature of the relationship between the state and its subjects. Although Ambrosio A. clearly adhered to the linguistic expectations of the regime, his insistence that his request be dealt with as quickly as possible, which was repeated in a follow-up letter (in which he also asked for a recommendation letter to include in his appeal to the Ministry of Defence), demonstrated the soldier’s underlying assertiveness.

Assertiveness was not uncommon in the letters sent to Franco or other representatives of the bureaucratic administration. One of the most striking examples of this I have encountered so far is the case of A.C., an ex-soldier whose duties during the war involved relaying messages between different military authorities on his motorbike.[4] In 1938, A.C. sustained an injury to his foot, which led him to apply to join the disabled veterans’ Corps, the succinctly-named ‘Honourable Corps of the Mutilated in the War for the Fatherland’.

The Francoist regime’s policy towards injured veterans aimed to reward those wounded heroically in battle. Therefore, veterans who had sustained wounds in other ways during their period of active service were placed in an uncertain position. This was particularly the case before 1940, after which a decree recognised those injured through accidents during the war (although the nominal distinction between them and the battle wounded was maintained).

The precise origins of A.C.’s foot injury in 1938 are unclear: according to his own testimony in his application to join the Honourable Corps, A.C. had been wounded by ‘enemy shrapnel’, while his superior officer insisted that the injury had in fact occurred as a result of a motorcycle accident.

Plaque_generalisimo

There are clear motives as to why a soldier might try to obfuscate the true origins of his injury; entry into the Honourable Corps could guarantee the survival of a wounded veteran and his family in the difficult Francoist post-war years. The fact, however, that A.C. was willing to do so in writing is indicative of his awareness of both the state’s expectations of its citizens – most notably, bravery in battle –, and also his confidence in the space for negotiation within the regime’s bureaucratic processes, as long as one understood how to play the game.

In this sense, the dry, bureaucratic language of most citizens’ letters to the state are by no means evidence of a robotic obedience to the Francoist regime. Rather, such letters tell us of the pragmatism of many Spaniards who learnt how to engage with the system in order to meet their own individual needs.

Correspondences such as these also offer an insight into the practical realities of running a state based on rigid understandings of the ideal Francoist male. Both A.C.’s roadside wounding and Ambrosio A.’s tragically incompetent shooting of his own mother contravened the Francoist regime’s rhetorical emphasis on honour and brave sacrifice in battle. Yet that the state dealt with their cases regardless is indicative of a certain flexibility on the part of the regime to incorporate those who perhaps did not fully conform to its propagandistic ideals.

Indeed, from 1940 soldiers who had been injured through accidents during their time in the army were also granted entry into the Honourable Corps. In this way, although one must not forget the regime’s brutal repression of its Republican enemies, its somewhat flexible approach to its own supporters can perhaps offer a helpful perspective on the long-term survival of Francoism until the 1970s.

Stephanie Wright is currently in her second year of a WRoCAH-funded PhD looking at ‘Nationalist’ disabled veterans of the Spanish Civil War and perceptions of masculinity in Franco’s Spain. Find her on twitter @Estefwright.

[1] Stephen Kotkin coined the term ‘Speaking Bolshevik’ in his work on the Soviet Union in the 1930s. This concept referred to the process by which Russian citizens learnt what the state expected of them as individuals, and suggested that it was the population’s willingness to meet such expectations that enabled the Soviet regime to maintain a degree of stability. See Stephen Kotkin, Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization (London, 1995).

[2] Antonio Sanchez Cazorla, Cartas a Franco de los españoles de a pie (1936-1945) (Barcelona, 2016), p. 38.

[3] Michael Richards’ offers a valuable insight into the dark post-war years in Francoist Spain in his book A Time of Silence (Cambridge, 1998).

[4] Archivo General Militar de Guadalajara, 162-3758, A.C.

The header image is the author’s own.

Image of Franco: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46339117

Image of sign: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=527666

History Matters: ‘On the Language of “Authoritarian” Regimes’

Written by Hannah Parker, this post originally appeared on the University of Sheffield’s History Matters blog on February 25, 2016

On February 12 2016, Steph Wright (who works on disabled veterans of the Spanish Civil War) and I held a conference on ‘The Language of Authoritarian Regimes’. The day aimed to explore the creation, dissemination and reception of discourse in regimes commonly considered to be ‘authoritarian’ from an interdisciplinary perspective; to discuss how to effectively analyse discourse through a range of different sources; and to understand any broad parallels that can be drawn between different regimes. 1

The speakers addressed a fascinating range of topics, covering Soviet literacy campaigns and the texts of Soviet citizens; the ‘emancipation’ of Tunisian women to create a modernised national identity; personal naming and mental health discourse in Franco’s Spain; music and ballet in the Soviet Union; Nazi language in the context of historical discourse analysis; and the translation of foreign texts for Soviet citizens.

Though there was clearly much ideological variation between the different regimes discussed, many of the processes occurring within these societies were in fact very similar, and so I’ve taken the liberty of articulating some of my own, quite general observations. The workshop originated in an interest Steph and I share in the ways citizens negotiated and shaped the discourses of gender and citizenship they were presented in our respective research fields. I was aware, based upon my own research into Russian women’s self-perceptions and social roles, of the degree of ‘negotiation’ of authoritarian government and discourse in the Soviet Union, but after listening to the other papers delivered, I was struck by the extent to which this process of negotiation was a key feature of authoritarian societies more generally.

Zhenshchina na rabotye

Due to these processes of negotiation, a common feature of the running of ‘authoritarian’ regimes is risk management. Inherent to the nature of all the regimes and societies discussed at the workshop was the task of balancing policies geared – often very sincerely – towards politically ‘emancipating’ a population, and managing this sense of ‘emancipation’ so as to maintain the acquiescence of the people.

Within this process, literacy, language, arts, and practices of personal naming were all key strategies for interaction with the discourse of a regime, through which citizens could express identity, dissent or compliance. These strategies also presented the regimes with a significant problem: how to manage these interactions, and the risks posed by the ways in which they contributed to a sense of discursive heterogeneity which coexisted uncomfortably with the idea that there should be a ‘homogenous’ character to state, society and the arts.

International LiteratureSamantha Sherry’s paper on the translation of foreign literature in the Soviet Union, and its inherent challenges, encapsulated this risk management problem precisely. Officials feared ‘opening the floodgates’, so to speak, to Western influences and so they censored foreign texts by removing not just whole passages or texts, but manipulating the entire ideological premises to ‘complement’ the broader principles and finer details of Soviet ideology.

The interdisciplinary element of the event worked really well, and definitely broadened my perspective on discursive matters within and between authoritarian regimes. In particular, the papers given on the development of Soviet ballet, and the use of time in the choral music of Veljo Tormis, highlighted the importance of conceptions of time, movement, and space as a ‘language’ to negotiate dominant discourse.

The concept of monumental time as the time of oppressed people, discussed by Claire McGinn in her paper on the music of Veljo Tormis, highlighted the dichotomy of time in application to both state and society. All of the societies in question sought to ‘modernise’ or ‘mechanise’ their populations in some way: a future-driven linear historical time characterises state discourse and understandings of ‘progress’ in authoritarian (and ostensibly many other twentieth-century) regimes.

Oppressed people on the other hand belong to monumental time – devoid of the linear regularisation of historical time – which is something the Tunisian state arguably sought to address in its framing of the 1956 personal status code, attempting to link the modernisation of the Tunisian state to concepts of kinship to create.

To some extent this is also reflected in the development of ballet in the early Soviet Union: the use of folk dance, the reworking of old narratives, as well as the evocation of non-verbal discourse all functioned as a means of negotiating life under such severe creative restrictions. And this speaks directly to the problem of ‘risk management’ with which policy makers – and censors – in these states sought to grapple.

The papers delivered on the day have brought me closer to an integrated understanding of ‘authoritarianism’ as a social and discursive phenomenon, and have added invaluable insight to my own research on the reception of Soviet gender ideology by ordinary women. Steph and I were also delighted with the variety and cohesiveness of the programme overall, for which our guest speakers are entirely responsible.

Based on the success of the day, we will be starting a blog based on the same theme. Any relevant contributions would be much appreciated, so please send any expressions of interest to hparker2@sheffield.ac.uk or smwright1@sheffield.ac.uk!

Hannah Parker is an AHRC-funded PhD student at the University of Sheffield. Her research focuses on the reception of gender ideology by women in early Soviet Russia. Steph Wright is a WRoCAH-funded PhD student at the University of Sheffield. She’s researching disabled nationalist veterans and perceptions of masculinity in Franco’s Spain. You can find them both on twitter @_hnnhprkr and @EstefWright. A full list of speakers and their papers can be found in the conference programme.

Header image: Language of Authoritarian Regimes poster, courtesy of Guy Parker.

In-text image 1: Women at work in a large textile factory. Picture extracted from the article ‘Woman at Work’, from “Женский журнал” (Women’s Journal), 1928.

In-text image 2: Internatsional’naia literature (International Literature) No. 1.