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Post Bernd Rother's "Franco y el Holocausto"
Created by John Eipper on 01/22/17 5:49 AM

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Bernd Rother's "Franco y el Holocausto" (Angel Vinas, Belgium, 01/22/17 5:49 am)

I very warmly welcome David Pike's comments on Bernd Rother´s book, Franco y el Holocausto (21 January).

This book was first published many years ago. I reviewed it for Hispania when it was available in German only. When it was translated into Spanish, the publisher brought in my review as a sort of preface. I haven´t read it for years. If my memory is correct, Rother´s main purpose was to demystify the allegation common in the Francoist historiography that the Franco regime did its utmost to save Jews from the Holocaust. In order to do so, the anti-Jewish measures taken in the summer of 1939 were brushed away. Basically, they dealt with the expulsion of Jewish doctors from the medical associations and the restriction in the issuing of visas for Jews. Thanks to Cristina Calandre´s indefatigable efforts, I brought them into my book La otra cara del Caudillo.

Almost all documentation regarding political and diplomatic relations with the Third Reich in the 1940-1942 period has disappeared from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs archives. This is coincidental with the tenure by Franco´s brother-in-law, Ramón Serrano Suñer, who since tried to build himself a new "legend."

Antonio Marquina and Gloria Espina went to great lengths to exploit the remaining documentary evidence. It turned out that Serrano had no interest in saving Jews or "red" Spaniards for that matter.

After Franco died there has been some effort to overdo whatever measures were taken by Spanish diplomats to save Jews, frequently without instructions from Madrid. I acknowledge however that this part of Spanish foreign policy has never been my cup of tea.

JE comments:  WAISer Sasha Pack and I had coffee with Ángel Viñas in Buffalo two years back, and I was surprised to learn from Ángel just how hermetic Spain's official archives remain to this day.  Regarding the protection of Jews during the war, did Spain have any rogue diplomats who issued visas independently, as did Portugal's Aristides de Sousa Mendes?

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  • Spanish Diplomats Who Helped Jewish Refugees (Angel Vinas, Belgium 03/08/17 7:05 AM)

    Back on January 22nd, John E asked:  "Did Spain have any
    rogue diplomats who issued visas independently [to Jewish refugees during WWII], as did Portugal's
    Aristides de Sousa Mendes?

    Oh, yes. There were several. Out of my cuff I could mention Angel Sanz Briz, Sebastián Romero Radigales, Julio Palencia, Miguel Ángel Muguiro, Eduardo Propper de Callejón, who I think coincided in Bordeaux with his Portuguese colleague, Bernardo Rolland, and some others.

    The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to which I feel a special attachment, has been at pains to highlight the exploits of these diplomats. Some of them have been declared righteous among the nations by Israel. At least one whom I won't name went from fervid anti-Semite to saviour of Jews.

    What the Ministry has never done is try to recover the vanished documentation of Serrano Suñer's times. In my blog (www.angelvinas.es) I've run a series of posts denouncing Serrano´s efforts to create a legend for himself. It turns out that all of the regime used to love Jews...

    The hole in the Spanish documentation to which I refer is, I believe, unique in the annals of Spanish diplomacy.

    JE comments:  At what point did the long-lived Serrano Suñer (Franco's brother-in-law) seek to re-fashion himself as a defender of the Jewish people?  Sometime during the 1960s, when Israel moved to the front lines of the Cold War, as Spain had done a decade earlier?  I'm looking forward to reading Ángel's posts on the topic.

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    • Why Does WAIS Say "German Holocaust"? (Edward Jajko, USA 03/10/17 3:52 AM)
      I have trouble with the semantics of the WAIS subject heading "German Holocaust."

      The Holocaust of WWII is the holocaust beyond description or exception, and has had no need of descriptive modifiers. To some it is the Jewish Holocaust, but that title ignores the many other victims who were specifically targeted; although Jews were the preponderance of those who were murdered.

      In any event, while the guilt falls on the Germans, to say "German Holocaust" implies that it was the Germans who suffered, not the Jews of various nationalities, the Poles, the Gypsies, and others.

      After all, people don't refer to the "Turkish Genocide"(well, Turks do), but to the Armenian Genocide. It is the object of the action, not its author, that should modify this sort of noun. And with the Holocaust, the Sho'ah, no descriptive modifier is needed. Certainly not "German."

      JE comments: The WAIS subject menu is fixed and predates my time in the editor's chair. Still, Ed Jajko's point is well taken. We'll make the change to "Holocaust/Shoah."

      The victim/executioner semantics of Holocausts is not that simple, however.  "Nazi Holocaust" is a commonly used term; put in quotation marks and you get 389,000 Google hits.  No one would suggest that it's referring to Nazi victims.

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