The Telegraph – Still Apologising For Francoism After All These Years by Stuart Christie

Sunday Telegraph, 26 February 2012 (click to read)

What on earth are the criteria used by the Sunday Telegraph books editor to dredge up its reviewers? In a review of Paul Preston‘s ‘The Spanish Holocaust,’ Sunday’s (26/2/12) ’s ST magazine carried what is probably the most outrageously offensive and mealy-mouthed defence of Franco’s heritors since Brian Crozier’s 1967  hagiography ‘Franco’  (in which he defended the view that Guernica was destroyed not by the Germans but by the Basques themselves!). The reviewer is one Jeremy Treglown, Professor of English at Warwick University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a man whose work has hitherto focused on the lives of Roald Dahl, Henry Green Faber and the letters of John Wilmott, Earl of Rochester.

Basically, the thrust of his self-serving argument is that Francoist atrocities should not be investigated because it undermines political stability — a defence of impunity that was never raised at Nuremberg, Tokyo — or through to the more recent Baathist trials in Baghdad.

Words (almost) fail me. This guy’s got the gall to state: ‘Without the co-operation of former Francoists at all levels, the new system couldn’t have worked…’ Has it not occurred to this ivory-towered chancer that if they hadn’t cooperated they’d be either swinging from lampposts across Spain or seeking asylum in the Argentine of the Junta, Pinochet’s Chile, Stroessner’s Paraguay, Hugo Banzer’s Bolivia, or Geisel’s Brazil. The only places that would have them!

Treglown continues: ” . . . the new democracy distinguished itself . . . [by not being vindictive]. An obvious example is the fact that most of Franco’s descendants still live in Spain.’ Of course they still live in Spain – they still own the effen place, AND they control the legislature, the judiciary and most of the press!

Another weasely criticism Treglown makes of Paul Preston’s riveting new book is his use of the word ‘Holocaust’ in the title, which he appears to imply is sensationalist, exploitative and should be used exclusively in reference to the Nazi genocide of European Jewry, ignoring all the other victims of the Nazi killing machine: socialists of every kind, gays, gypsies, liberals, anti-fascists . . . One salient point EVERYONE should remember is that Franco killed more Spaniards than Hitler ever killed German Jews.

The academic from Warwick ends with another particularly cretinous comment: ‘In more immediate terms, a problem with the Spanish left’s current obsession, endorsed by this book, with the sins of the grandfathers is that in being used for party-political ends it also acts as a substitute for anything more constructive.’

Listen, Jeremy Treglown! the left’s so-called ‘obsession’ with the ‘sins of the grandfathers’ has bugger all to do with ‘party-political ends’. The movement for the recovery of historical memory is most definitely ANTI party-political; it has been precisely the party politicians of all hues — but particularly the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) — who, since Franco’s death and throughout the so-called ‘transition’ to the present day, have consistently deferred to the Church, the army, the press and the Francoist lobby, and have successfully sabotaged all attempts to rehabilitate the victims of Franco’s dictatorship. In my mind at least there is no doubt that the PSOE’s failure to win at the last elections wasn’t just down to the anti-social policies it was responsible for during the last parliament, but also its craven refusal to get on with the ‘complete rehabilitation of the victims of the Francoist dictatorship’, to quote the promise made by PSOE leader Rubalcaba in 2004 when he announced the setting-up of the Inter-Ministerial Commission for that very purpose.

As for Treglown’s jaw-droppingly elitist parthian shot, ‘It may be time for the left to forget about remembering’ — a sentiment whole-heartedly endorsed by Judge Baltasar Garzón’s right-wing political and judicial enemies who have succeeded in having him barred from the bench for 11 years. I can’t believe anyone with pretensions to integrity, scholarly objectivity or academic rigour, especially someone who presumes to review such an important historical study as Paul Preston’s ‘The Spanish Holocaust’, could have written that …