Spain and Franco’s legacy

 

Sir, – I was disturbed by Frank Giles’s defence of the fascist Francisco Franco as a “statesman” (Letters, October 8th).

I grew up under the Franco regime and can assure him that the terror that regime inflicted on its citizens was immense and long lasting.

As a schoolchild, I was forced to give the fascist salute every day at assembly.

During my compulsory civilian-military training, I was taught that Hitler and Mussolini were great men who bravely stood up to an international conspiracy directed by Jewish socialists.

Citizens of the state were legally murdered (often by garrotting) by Franco’s executioners. In Franco’s police state, dissenters were regularly tortured (often to death), civil liberties were non-existent, and a grinding, joyless poverty was standard. Franco’s coup against a democratically elected government emboldened European fascism and was the first step towards the concentration camps and a world war. – Your, etc,

MARIA JIMÉNEZ FONT,

Dublin 8.

Sir, – Frank Giles writes of the “stability of the Franco regime” and the importance it played in Spain’s economic growth and eventual transition to democracy. In order to secure this “stability” during the dictatorship, it is important to highlight some of the measures taken to achieve it.

The regime was responsible for mass shootings all over the country. This was an attempt – which was successful in many cases – to wipe out opposing political ideology. Republicans and dissenters were sent to Nazi-controlled concentration camps, Mauthausen in Austria among them. The dictatorship also established labour camps of its own across the country where people opposing the regime were exploited through forced labour.

At least 30, 960 babies were taken from their families in order to re-educate children of republicans and instil the “values of new Spain”.

This, along with the imposition of a monarchy without the consultation of the people, is Franco’s real legacy.

Rather than brushing off the exhumation of Franco as a “cynical political move”, I would suggest Dr Giles watches the brilliant documentary The Silence of Others. It depicts the pain and anguish that still exists today among family members of victims of the dictatorship. This may help him understand why Spain needs to deal with its past first, before it can overcome the many challenges the country faces in the future. – Yours, etc,

PAUL SCANLON,

Santander,

Spain.