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Time does not cure everything

By Pedro Angosto

After the Allied victory in World War II, Europeans, especially Germans, French and Italian collaborators had to undergo a thorough process of introspection that led them to be aware of the horrors they had caused. The new democratic governments did not conceal their people’s history, the doors were opened wide to let everyone know just how far the barbarism had gone, and this barbaric history was included in the educational curriculum too.

In Spain this phenomenon, after thirty-five years of democracy, has not occurred. Why? Perhaps the genocidal died in bed, perhaps because the brutal repression that prevailed for forty years left, as well as victims, many executioners, perhaps because there are too many franquistas still holding leading positions in Spanish public life. Whatever the reasons, the fact is that we have not carried out this exercise in public health, and the ruling party refuses to roundly condemn the genocide perpetrated by Franco and his family during the dictatorship. Family stuff …

Between 1940 and 1948 Spain operated 188 concentration camps, of which 104 were permanent. Spanish concentration camps were built in the image and likeness of those built by the Germans, to the point that one of the first, that of Miranda de Ebro, was organized and led by a senior officer of the Gestapo and the SS, Paul Winzer. More than half a million Spanish  passed through these camps, and ten percent died, of a natural death or illness, according to official reports. These figures without doubt are an underestimate because there are thousands of disappeared, tortured and shot, the whereabouts of whose bones we still don’t know.

One of the chiefs of these physical and ideological extermination camps was the  Comandante-Psychiatrist Vallejo-Nájera, who, in the mould of the surgeons of death, had devised the theory of the red gene, a gene that must be extirpated by any means, including lobotomy. For Vallejo Nájera, the red gene had no cure and was highly contagious. If it was not removed in time, Spain would fall again under the grip of Communism and Freemasonry.

To prevent its spread, those sadistic criminals concocted a plan based on the slow and progressive physical weakening of inmates by providing  a very poor diet – a 150 gramme tin of sardine a day for every fifth captive – by abandoning the deceased in fields for their companions to see, by forced labor, through sacas [the mass emptying of cells, for what inmates would assume would be to face firing squads] torture and executions in the presence of all, induced insomnia due to constant terror, and the theft of their children to give to sterile ‘good families’. The perversion and horror of those camps, whose purpose was ideological extermination, was so extreme as to be brought to the attention, in a negative light, of Himmler, head of the Gestapo, and the Jewish- Slavic  extermination camps, and organizer of Franco’s armed police. Himmler even told Franco that he could not persecute the whole country, that he should be more selective in his repression.

In Alicante there were several concentration camps of which we know little because the survivors are more than 85 years old and nearly all refuse to talk ‘out of fear’, because the murderers did not leave any trace of them,  converting them into fields cereals or vegetables, and because during the sixties many conscripts spent the entire time in the army burning the existing documentation. Today little is known about the concentration camps of Albatera and Los Almendros, but we do know of their cruelty, of the atrocities carried out on those who were detained there, thanks to the testimony of a brave few who dared to write down their experiences.

Recently, they partially opened the military archives to researchers, but there are still many obstacles in accessing them. These archives have revealed the number of camps and prisoners – we will know much more when we are allowed to examine every last secretly guarded document  - and shown us that Franco’s camps were as cruel as Auschwitz or Manhausse, that after the civil war, the victors carried through systematically, without improvisations, a perfect political extermination plan, a genocide, with the support of the Nazis and with British and American consent.

However, despite the cruel, terrible, bleak, evidence, here the ruling party refuses to let the Spanish people know our history. It refuses to let us account for our past and to ensure that the Spanish who were involved or consented to these atrocities go through the same process as the Germans, Austrians, Italians or French did. This process is essential for true reconciliation, so we can be at peace with our history, and so we do not let the last witnesses of these crimes die without knowing all that happened.

nuevatribuna.es October 12, 2012

Translation by Revolting Europe

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or email [email protected]


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