thebadPoll – Historical memory

I’ve just started reading The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution and Revenge by Paul Preston and I’m finding it to be an interesting, though terribly sad, piece of work. One of Preston’s main hypotheses seems to be that the way Spain suffered under dictatorship for so many years after the Civil War meant that it was very difficult for the Spanish people to ever truly reconcile themselves to what had happened, and what they and their neighbours had done.

Anyone living in Spain will have noticed that the Civil War and following dictatorship continue to be not just the cataclysmic events of Spain’s 20th century but also reference points which are sure to be mentioned sooner or later in almost any discussion about Spanish politics, culture, society or even geography. Only yesterday, I saw on the Catalan news that plans are still afoot to give and official pardon to Catalan president Lluis Companys, 68 years after he was executed at Montjuïc fort. And many families continue to struggle for the right to exhume the bodies of relatives left in mass graves throughout the country.

There seems to be both a political and a personal angle to the way the Civil War is so frequently conjured up, and I have little doubt that this experience is different in Catalonia than in other parts of Spain.

This week’s poll asks: What’s the best way to deal with Spain’s historical memory?

You can vote in the sidebar to the right, and of course, leave comments on this post in the traditional manner. With this poll, you may select up to two options, as they’re not all mutually exclusive.

7 thoughts on “thebadPoll – Historical memory

  1. I voted for 1 (forgive), but I would have also voted for 2 (not forgetting), but I thought your wording was tricky – ie doing justice to the victims. Of course I’m for justice, but it sounds like another politically charged argument. Both sides unfortunately are going to claim their victims, and they will each have a version of justice.

  2. Hi. I don’t think the wording is that tricky. I think it would be fair to say that most victims of republican crimes (both real and invented)received decent funerals and so on, whereas a large number of those who suffered at the hands of the nationalists did not. The imbalance of justice, as decided by the dictatorship, is in my opinion without doubt.

  3. The Spanish Civil War is merely a manifestation of an antagonism that predates the war and that still exists today floating in the air, even though it may not be entirely obvious. This is an unsettled issue for many people, even amongst generations that didn’t live the war nor Franco’s dictatorship. I think none of the actions proposed will make any difference.

  4. “Those who suffered at the hands of the nationalists”… you probably mean that godless scum whose carcasses were mercifully dumped in unmarked mass-graves by the roadside. They can still consider themselves very lucky their corpses were not harvested for gold teeth, skinned, boiled and ground into chicken feed. Elsewhere in Europe more practically-minded (final) solutions were being sought at the time in order to extract some kind of value out of otherwise ‘underserving of being alive’ (Nichtlebenswert) social outcasts.

    It’s really shocking to see how unforgiving their descendants are, though, why won’t they let go once and for all, sit back and enjoy the wonders that modern Spanish democracy has bestowed upon their country? They surely have seen their standard of living rise at the double, too.

  5. @”El Culito” – this is exactly Preston’s hypothesis, I think. Perhaps I should add another choice: radical change in Spanish society, dealing with centuries old divisions…?

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