Pinocchio Nose’s reply to those who would let dead dictators be

One of the more intriguing aspects of blogging is the comments one receives. Most posts, at least on this blog, receive no more than a handful of replies, but they tend to be thoughtful, articulate and often complimentary, for which I’m appreciative.

There is of course, the occasional anti-Semitic rant, which seems to be nothing more than boilerplate rubbish sent out on a semi-regular basis to posts that, say, identify the Nazis for what they were: A genocidal regime led by a ruthless tyrant and an array of sycophants. These mindless rants are easy enough to identify and delete, however.

Sometimes, though, one gets a comment that is both odd and intriguing.

I recently received a comment on a story that I posted back in November 2011 regarding then-ongoing debate about what Spain should do regarding the resting place of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.

At the time, there was discussion about whether Franco’s body should be removed from Valle de los Caídos, or Valley of the Fallen, a sensitive historical site near Madrid, and reburied elsewhere.

The Valley of the Fallen is a Catholic basilica and memorial conceived to honor those who fell during the Spanish Civil War. It contains the remains of nearly 34,000 individuals.

Despite the fact that my post contained no commentary either way on whether Franco, who died in 1975, nearly 40 years after the end of the Spanish Civil War, should be buried among the victims of the brutal conflict, someone, albeit rather late, took umbrage with the fact that I deigned to touch on the controversy.

“Mind your own business and we shall mind ours; don’t poke your Pinocchio nose into everything,” they wrote, although I did take the liberty of cleaning up the comment to make it easier on the eyes. (The original can be seen in the comments section here.)

I have to assume that this individual is either from Spain or has close connections to Spain.

As I detailed in my respond, the Spaniards forfeited the right to keep the whereabouts of Franco’s remains an internal matter when they allowed German, Italian and Soviet forces to hone their military skills on the Iberian Peninsula during the Spanish Civil War, in a prelude to the events of 1939-1945.

Also, given that Franco’s repressive regime, which was characterized by concentration camps, forced labor and executions, especially among political opponents, is estimated to have claimed 200,000 to 400,000 additional lives, which makes the events of 1936-39 and the decades afterward more than just a local issue.

As for what drove this individual to comment now, after nearly three years, all I can figure is that it’s related to increased scrutiny of Germany’s role in Spain during the Spanish Civil War recently, with some calling for German Chancellor Angela Merkel to apologize for her nation’s involvement in the conflict.

Merkel, who was in Spain this week for a short visit with Spanish leaders, should use her time in that country to “settle the historical debt for the crimes of the Condor Legion,” according to a statement by Spain’s Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory, which provides support to the victims of the Franco regime and researches the brutalities committed in that period.

The Condor Legion – a unit composed of volunteers from the German army of the Third Reich – served in the Spanish Civil War on the side of the Franco-led Nationalist faction. It directly contributed to Franco’s victory over the Spanish Republicans, according to Deutsche Welle, a German broadcasting service.

“The country you lead has an enormous debt to the victims of the Franco dictatorship,” the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory wrote in an open letter to the German chancellor.

Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, the Spanish Civil War presented an opportunity to test new weapon systems, especially for the air force. The so-called Condor Legion air force unit achieved notoriety by bombing the northern Spanish town of Guernica in 1937, an event memorialized by a Pablo Picasso’s painting.

As for the fate of Franco’s remains, that remains a point of controversy.

In November 2011 a Spanish commission charged with giving direction regarding the conversion of the Valley of the Fallen to a “memory center that dignifies and rehabilitates the victims of the Civil War and the subsequent Franco regime,” rendered a report recommending the removal of the remains of Franco remains to a location to be chosen by his family, but only after first obtaining a broad parliamentary consensus for such action.

That decision was based on the fact that Franco had not died in the Spanish Civil War and that the purpose of the Valley of the Fallen was to be an exclusive resting place for those who had died in the conflict, which claimed an estimated 500,000 lives.

However, shortly before the report was issued, the conservative Popular Party won the 2011 General Election with absolute majorities in both Spain’s Congress of Deputies and Senate.

The following summer, Spanish Vice President Soraya Saenz de Santamaria stated during parliamentary questioning that his government had no intention of following the recommendations of the commission with respect to the removal of Franco’s remains.

In October 2012 a motion placed before the full Senate calling for the removal of Franco’s remains from the Valley of the Fallen was rejected by the Popular Party majority and the matter is now seen as dead in the water.

(Top: Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, center, meets with German dictator Adolf Hitler, right, in Germany. Not pictured: Millions of their victims.)

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16 thoughts on “Pinocchio Nose’s reply to those who would let dead dictators be

  1. I should declare an interest as my father fought for the Republic in the Spanish civil war…and am currently reading Paul Preston’s ‘The Spanish Holocaust’.

    I do not believe in heaping guilt on people who were not responsible. Modern Germany is not the Germany of the 1930s.

    However, I do believe that as much of the truth as possible comes to light: that people know what was done…..in the hope that they will take control of their rogue governments and prevent it happening again. Looking at current penal laws against popular assembly in Spain, it looks as if the years since the death of Franco might be just an interlude before right wing oppression begins again.

    • Yes, I’m with you. I see a different between heaping guilt on a nation, and having that nation own up to what happened in the past. Spain has certainly had a tumultuous past and does itself no favors by being unwilling to address what happened during Franco’s regime, or during any other period. I remember well the quote that the Third World began at the Pyrenees, which was due in no small part to the oppressive governments of Spain and Portugal. One would have hoped Spain would have learned a thing or two from its bout with fascism.

      I don’t know how your father felt about fighting in that war, but I’ve gotten the impression that many, in the end, came away disillusioned.

    • Indeed, though I assume that whomever wrote wasn’t writing in their native language, which probably hampered their message. If someone is going to take the time to respond, you would think they’d be a little less vague.

  2. The “revisionist” agenda in Spain and Italy towards their respective dictators is nothing new though it has taken on an added impetus in recent years. Franco in particular seems to be heading towards some form of “reformation”. I suspect this is not unrelated to the financial crisis of recent years in Spain, the ever-worsening scandals around the Spanish royalty, and Catalonia’s hesitant moves towards independence. Spain is a nation uneasy with itself.

    I attended a training course a good while ago, a three-day hotel boreathon. There were two Spanish and two Basque girls participating, mid-20s or so, with around 8 Irish. The dislike between the Spanish and Basque girls was palpable.

    • That’s an interesting view that I hadn’t considered. Kind of like the view that only Tito could keep Yugoslavia from disintegrating, so therefore there must have been something good about him. It’s interesting that so many nations in Europe that have been long been accepted as unified states would likely divide into smaller states if their citizenry were given the chance to vote on the issue. Not just potenially Spain and the UK, but also Belgium and Italy come quickly to mind. Of course, Russia is a case unto itself.

  3. i think the lesson is to learn from these dark marks on history and to never let these things happen again. as for the commenter, i’m not really sure the motivation –

  4. And how, might I ask, may we learn from history if we don’t study it and endless question it? Those who don’t know their history and all that…

    In fact, I’d echo Helen’s comment, the right-wing Rajoy government is not a nice one at all. He’s really surprised me with the severity of his policies, unless you are a banker of course, in which case he makes Father Christmas, or rather Papa Noël, look mean.

    I’m relatively lucky with my commenters, thoughtful, considerate, and prepared to spend time on not just reading but then writing an opinion that adds to the overall post.

    I don’t know what I’d have done with that one. Left it, replied to it, or junked it? When I write posts criticising American foreign policy, for example, I don’t get a load of rabid Americans telling me to keep out my Pinocchio nose. People can criticise Spanish, Gib, British politics for all I care because I certainly do. And without criticism and different views, where are we? Well living under a dictatorship, whether acknowledged or de facto.

    • I’m the first to admit that I don’t know everything, or anywhere close to everything, so I welcome constructive criticism, especially that which broadens my horizons. However, petulant remarks along the lines of “mind your own beeswax” don’t sit so well.

  5. I marvel at how vast your knowledge of history is. I would agree with Roughseas, without the ability to criticize, and more than that, analyze, we lose our freedom. Your commenter was spam, and I probably would have junked him and not thought too much more about him (unless it got to me), but true to form, you, not only considered him, but responded thoughtfully and logically. 🙂

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