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PostMy Father in the Spanish Civil War; from Anthony J. Candil (John Eipper, USA, 04/13/13 5:59 am)
JE: Anthony J. Candil (Austin, TX) has followed up on his post of 11 April:
My thanks to John E for posting my last message.
On his last question, I have to say that the so-called "Ley de la Memoria Histórica" (Law for the Historical Memory) was established by former president José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero in 2004. I know many people will disagree with me, but I think it was an unnecessary measure that ultimately led to reopening buried memories and wounds, once again validating the poem of Antonio Machado about the "two Spains." Spain in 2004 was much in need of many other key reforms, in my humble view, and a review on the immediate and close past shouldn't have been a priority. Today as far as I know that law is still standing, and money much needed elsewhere is being devoted to whomever wants to review the history and write it again, especially if it favors the Republican side. This is just my view.
On the issue of Prime Ministers Zapatero and Aznar being so apart, I'm not so sure. Keep in mind that José María Aznar even managed to say once that his favorite historical person was no other than Manuel Azaña, the president of the Republic, something that neither Zapatero nor even Felipe González ever dared to say. But yes, of course, Aznar and Zapatero were different and very apart. And I don't like either of them. I think both did poorly as Prime Ministers.
On the issue of my father, Ramón Candil. I can tell you that his story is fascinating, and I only came to know about it recently. He never said anything to me nor to anyone.
Let me tell you briefly. He started the war as a Republican, a very young corporal in the Infantry Regiment "Castilla 3," in Badajoz, where he has enlisted as a volunteer in late 1935. In July 1936, he was about to start medical school at the University of Sevilla, where his uncle Fernando Candil was a professor at the Law School. His father--my grandfather Antonio--was a civil servant working at the Ministry of the Interior (then Ministerio de la Gobernación), but due to his affinities and links with the Guardia Civil, he was put in jail at the Convento de San Agustin, Badajoz. It's a complicated story.
My father was the personal secretary those days of the commanding officer of the Regiment (who kept his unit loyal to the Republic), Colonel José Cantero, who was later on executed or killed in action. There's always an ongoing debate on this.
On August 14, 1936, my father was away from his Regiment, trying to provide some relief and help for his father who was still in jail. My father was quickly taken prisoner by a patrol of la Legión (probably from Castejón's column) and later on sent to the infamous Plaza de Toros (bullring), from where he was finally freed two or three days later by his own father and on orders of Lieutenant Colonel Yagüe himself. My father saw many executions. Certainly he was lucky to survive, but he wasn't left many options. Later on as he was about to enter the university, he was sent to one of the many war military academies established by the Nationalists (Academias de Transformación), and by the end of 1936 he was already a very young second lieutenant (alférez) in the Nationalist Army in time to be sent to the capture of Málaga alongside the Italian forces.
Later on he participated in many battles, even at the attempt to land in Cartagena. He ended the war being promoted and much decorated, being just barely 20 years old. But that's another story.
He never spoke to anybody about his experience; never wanted to. But now while he's still with us I'm trying to put his memories in order. I'm trying to write a book on those August days, when Franco's forces took over the city of Badajoz. Not everything that has been published conforms to that reality, my father says.
JE comments: Civil wars are so tragic (and so fascinating) because your choice of side was often determined by chance. The story of Ramón Candil's arrest by the Franco forces is a case in point. My thanks to Anthony for sharing his father's story.
I'm sure there is an extensive bibliography on the Nationalist "Academias de Transformación." Any recommendations from our SCW experts? Few things strike me as scarier than re-education camps.
The massacres of Badajoz receive extensive coverage in our colleague Paul Preston's masterful We Saw Spain Die. See also Paul's WAIS post of 25 November 2012: