Conspiracy and the Spanish Civil War: The Brainwashing of Francisco Franco

Conspiracy and the Spanish Civil War: The Brainwashing of Francisco Franco

Conspiracy and the Spanish Civil War: The Brainwashing of Francisco Franco

Conspiracy and the Spanish Civil War: The Brainwashing of Francisco Franco

Synopsis

Written by one of the most celebrated historians of the Spanish Civil War, this book presents a fascinating account of the origins of the war and the nature and importance of conspiracy for the extreme right. Based on exhaustive research, and written with lucidity and considerable humour, it acts as both an outstanding introduction to the vast literature of the war, and a monumental contribution to that literature.

Excerpt

Herbert Southworth became a major figure in the historiography of the Spanish Civil War as a result of the publication in Paris in 1963 of his book, El mito de la cruzada de Franco. It was issued by Ediciones Ruedo Ibérico, the great publishing house of the Spanish anti-Franco exile run by an eccentric and massively well-read anarchist, José Martínez Guerricabeitia. Smuggled into Spain and sold clandestinely, Ruedo Ibérico's books had enormous impact particularly after the publication of a Spanish translation of Hugh Thomas's classic work on the Spanish Civil War. From the first moments of the conspiracy that became the military coup of 18 July 1936, the rebels were falsifying their own history and that of their enemies. Hugh Thomas's book recounted the history of the war in a readable and objective style - in itself a devastating blow for the partisans of what they called Franco's crusade - and was therefore devoured hungrily by anyone who could get hold of a copy. Southworth did not narrate the war but rather dismantled, line by line, the structures of lies that the Franco regime had erected to justify its existence. The consequence of the arrival in Spain of both books was an attempt by the then Minister of Information, the dynamic Manuel Fraga Iribarne, to counteract their intellectual and moral impact.

There was created in the Ministry of Information a special department under the name Sección de Estudios sobre la Guerra de España. A young functionary of the Ministry, Ricardo de la Cierva y de Hoces, was to direct it. His job was, broadly speaking, to bring up to date the official historiography of the regime in order to repel the attacks coming from Paris. The principal weapon in the armoury of this new unit of intellectual warfare was provided by the purchase of the magnificent library on the Spanish Civil War built up over many years by the Italian journalist, Cesare Gullino. Southworth quickly became the department's main enemy. In comparison with Hugh Thomas, who was already well known after the world-wide success of his book on the Spanish War, Herbert Southworth was virtually unknown. However, there was another crucial difference between the two men. Thomas had written his great book on the conflict but the Spanish Civil War was not going to be the central objective of his life. He was already working on his monumental history of Cuba. Southworth, in

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