THE SPANISH HOLOCAUST by Paul Preston

THE SPANISH HOLOCAUST

Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain

KIRKUS REVIEW

Chilling history of the class-fueled institutionalized violence perpetrated mostly by the reactionary Francoists during the Spanish Civil War.

Scholar Preston (London School of Economics; We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War, 2009, etc.) uses the word Holocaust self-consciously but deliberately in this exhaustive treatment of the horrendous violence the Spanish waged against each other to annihilate mutually “undesirable” elements. The friction between the agrarian oligarchy and the landless day laborers and radicalized leftists had been escalating throughout the 1920s, culminating in the establishment of the Second Republic in 1931. However, the reactionary defenders of order, alarmed by the fall of the monarchy and breakdown in status quo, believed the new regime was a “Jewish-Masonic-Bolshevik conspiracy to take over Spain”—therefore violence against it was justified. While the Socialist leader Francisco Largo Caballero propounded revolutionary slogans that incited the hungry masses, the fascist Falange led by General Franco spoke repeatedly of the conspiracy masterminded by the Jews and international foreigners (the contubernio, or “filthy cohabitation”). Preston concentrates on the systematic spread of terror and repression by forces of the right in specific areas of Spain; they moved from town to town, hunting out “reds,” often with the enthusiastic collaboration of the local landowning class. (During this time the poet Federico García Lorca was dragged out and shot.) The right-wing uprising particularly targeted leftist women, who had enjoyed new status and rights under the Republic. Using techniques of terror perfected against the Moroccan population, Franco and his hardened Africanistas moved to subjugate Madrid by slaughter, dismemberment and rape. Preston focuses on the staggering toll of the violence and the Francoist spin that stretches well into the present without proper reckoning.

A rigorous, scrupulously researched study.

Pub Date: March 5th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-393-06476-6
Page count: 676pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2012




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