The Guardian on the reign in Spain

[AP] Today (July 29) in History : In 1900, Italian King Humbert I was assassinated by an anarchist; he was succeeded by his son, Victor Emmanuel III.


‘Spain finally attempts to lay ghosts of the Franco era’
Giles Tremlett in Madrid
Saturday July 29, 2006
The Guardian

Two points.


Anarchist and communist groups killed tens of thousands of people during the civil war, including more than 6,000 bishops, priests, monks and nuns. Franco’s regime did its best to imprison or execute those involved in leftwing repression.

Ah yes… as George Orwell remarked: “The Spanish war has probably produced a richer crop of lies than any event since the Great War of 1914-18, but I honestly doubt, in spite of all those hecatombs of nuns who have been raped and crucified before the eyes of Daily Mail reporters, whether it is the pro-Fascist newspapers that have done the most harm. It is the left-wing papers, the News Chronicle and the Daily Worker, with their far subtler methods of distortion, that have prevented the British public from grasping the real nature of the struggle.”

And if The Guardian may (arguably) be considered a left-wing paper, then the article by Giles Tremlett in Madrid stands in a long and dishonourable tradition. Only in this case “all those hecatombs of nuns who have been raped and crucified before the eyes of Daily Mail reporters” have been substituted for the ridiculous claim that un-named ‘anarchist and communist groups’ murdered “more than 6,000 bishops, priests, monks and nuns”.

I can find few sources online regarding this figure. A review by a right-wing Catholic blogger of Warren Carroll‘s book The Last Crusade (Christendom Press, 1996) cites the following figures —

Total number of Catholic priests and religious martyred during the Spanish Civil War: 6,832.

Total number of bishops killed: 13.

— and summarises the book as being

A short chronicle of how, within living memory, thousands of Catholics gloriously gave their lives for Christ against what was almost a mouth of Hell reaching up to engulf Spain.

Agradezca a Cristo por Franco!

Still, only 233 of these ‘martyrs’ were beatified by Pope John Paul II.

But how many of the 6,000 or so alleged deaths were caused by anarchists?

And to suggest that “Franco’s regime did its best to imprison or execute those involved in leftwing repression” is such a distortion of the historical record of Franco’s murderous rule as to be laughable.


When the dictatorship ended in 1975 an agreement not to rekindle the embers of the civil war was a key element of the transition to democracy.

What ‘agreement’? With whom? I can only imagine that Giles Tremlett in Madrid is referring to a broad agreement among the Spanish elite and, possibly, the Spanish middle class, to ‘not mention the war’. An alternative account of this period by Albert Meltzer tells quite a different story, namely, one concerning the steps taken by the Spanish state to ensure that, even after Franco’s death (November 20, 1975), the Spanish anarchist movement remained buried: literally and metaphorically.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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