‘Digging up Franco’
Sir, – I agree with Paddy Woodworth (“Digging up Franco risks reopening old wounds”, Opinion & Analysis, October 7th) that the exhumation of Gen Franco is unwise and likely to reopen the still raw wounds of the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39, although I have to take issue with some of his points.
The Spanish Civil War is probably the only example in history where a conflict’s memory has been written by the losers.
Paddy Woodworth says that the Second Republic was “democratic” but most Republicans in that conflict were communists, anarchists, Trotskyites and militant regional separatists. Spain was not a healthy, normal democracy at the time. The army revolt in July 1936 was triggered by months of chronic violence by left-wing extremists following the February general election. Also it is a myth that Franco won the war only because he was backed by Hitler and Mussolini. The vast bulk of Franco’s 1.5 million troops were Spanish, and the Republic was only kept going because of massive military and propaganda backing from the Soviet Union. Terrible atrocities were committed on both sides, not just by Franco’s Nationalists.
It is also a bit absurd to compare Franco with Hitler and Mussolini, who reigned only a short time and left their countries in ruin. Franco in contrast ruled Spain for four decades and was one of the most successful statesmen of the 20th century. It may be controversial to say so but if it was not for the stability of his regime, and the economic growth it created in the 1960s, it is unlikely that Spain would have transitioned to democracy as smoothly as it did after his death. Besides, Franco’s main political legacy was restoration of the monarchy, which has been of huge benefit to Spain since 1975 in healing the country.
I fear this exhumation is a cynical political move by the Socialist government, to head off Podemos, regardless of the dangerous consequences for an already fragile country. – Yours, etc,
Dr FRANK GILES,