Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

A Time of Silence: Civil War and the Culture of Repression in Franco's Spain, 1936-1945

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

A Time of Silence: Civil War and the Culture of Repression in Franco's Spain, 1936-1945

Article excerpt

A Time of Silence: Civil War and the Culture of Repression in Franco's Spain, 1936-1945. By Michael Richards. [Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare.] (New York: Cambridge University Press. 1998. Pp. xii,314.$59.95.)

This heavily annotated work (over one-third of the book is footnotes) by Michael Richards, a lecturer at the University of the West of England, "attempts to show how the Civil War was understood and absorbed ... during and in the immediate aftermath of the conflict ... by exploring the interchanges between violence, ideas and economics during a period in which liberalism was seen as a foreign contagion that infected carriers of impurities, such as freemasons, regional nationalists, the working class. non-Catholics and women. . . .'

Richards accomplishes this task by using every source he can to bolster his thesis and ignoring those that do not. The result is an uneven work that diminishes the validity of his original intention. Every bloodthirsty statement of a Nationalist supporter, every incident of persecution of the working class and of non-Catholics is used to convince the reader that these were the norm. As one example, Richards rejects the carefully documented estimate of Ramon Salas Larrazabal of 2,314 executions by Franco's supporters in Granada during 1936, mentions Ian Gibson's undocumented "5,000 to 6,000",and then inflates that to 8.000. without any documentation.

Of course, the repression was terrible and unjust, but Richards fails to put it in the context of reprisals for executions carried out by leftists during the first few weeks of the war. This is particularly true of the documented thousands of clergy and the undocumented many more thousands of laity killed because they were Catholics. The embracing of the Franco regime by the church hierarchy and by most ordinary Catholics has to be viewed in this context, but Richards fails to provide it. …

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