The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain

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Overview

The remains of General Francisco Franco lie in an immense mausoleum near Madrid, built with the blood and sweat of twenty thousand slave laborers. His enemies, however, met less-exalted fates. Besides those killed on the battlefield, tens of thousands were officially executed between 1936 and 1945, and as many again became "non-persons." As Spain finally reclaims its historical memory, a full picture can now be given of the Spanish Holocaust-ranging from judicial murders to the abuse of women and children. The ...
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The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain

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Overview

The remains of General Francisco Franco lie in an immense mausoleum near Madrid, built with the blood and sweat of twenty thousand slave laborers. His enemies, however, met less-exalted fates. Besides those killed on the battlefield, tens of thousands were officially executed between 1936 and 1945, and as many again became "non-persons." As Spain finally reclaims its historical memory, a full picture can now be given of the Spanish Holocaust-ranging from judicial murders to the abuse of women and children. The story of the victims of Franco's reign of terror is framed by the activities of four key men-General Mola, Quiepo de Llano, Major Vallejo Najera, and Captain Don Gonzalo Aguilera-whose dogma of eugenics, terrorization, domination, and mind control horrifyingly mirror the fascism of Italy and Germany.

Evoking such classics as Gulag and The Great Terror, The Spanish Holocaust sheds crucial light on one of the darkest and most unexamined eras of modern European history.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The murder of 200,000 Spaniards and the deaths of countless more from disease, slave labor, and the ravages of concentration camps was a deliberate plan by Franco’s troops to eliminate their opponents, says Preston, a leading scholar of 20th-century Spanish history at the London School of Economics. Preston (The Spanish Civil War) provides more than enough illumination of this lesser-known holocaust in this thick, intensely detailed, indignant account. Spain entered the 20th century impoverished and largely rural. Industrialization and the rise of militant unions after WWI provoked conflicts that worsened after the passing of a reformist 1931 constitution, which outraged landowners, army officers, and the Catholic Church. They supported the rising Falangist movement, which denounced the government in familiar fascist rhetoric. The 1936 rebellion was led by Gen. Francisco Franco, who, after taking power, “perfect... the machinery of state terror” in order to maintain power. Although Preston describes many Republican atrocities, a relentless stream of gruesome trials, executions, and massacres presses his case that the Right committed the lion’s share. Many conservatives, finding much to admire in Franco, have accused Preston of bias, and this latest work is unlikely to silence them. Illus. (Mar.)
Ian Kershaw
“A harrowing and moving account of the immense terror and enormous atrocities, especially perpetrated by General Franco's followers, during and after the Spanish Civil War, meticulously researched and superbly written by an outstanding historian.”
Jon Lee Anderson
“Paul Preston is the outstanding scholar of Spain's Civil War, and The Spanish Holocaust, is unquestionably his opus magnus. For the first time, the horror of the Spanish conflict has been placed in its appropriate historical context. As documented by Preston in this moving, brilliantly rendered account, Spain was not only the scene-setter for World War Two, but also the proving ground for the campaigns of mass-murder that became its ghastly hallmark. A deeply important, powerful work of history.”
New York Times Book Review
Magisterial account... it is bound to be an essential reference for anything written on the subject for years to come.— Adam Hochschild
The New Republic
What Preston knows about the years of civil war, 1936-1939, is astounding… Preston’s work is a powerful intervention in a Spanish discussion. It’s significance transcends the events it brings to light, and suggests some basic re-evaluations of recent European history.— Thomas Snyder
The Volunteer
Monumental study... [The Spanish Holocaust] directly links Spain’s Nationalists to the Nazi regime, stressing that Franco’s reign of terror, like that of Hitler and Goebbels, was carefully planned and systematically executed.... The Spanish Holocaust draws on Preston’s vast research, as well as scores of recent historical studies, to establish the most accurate possible estimates of numbers of Spanish victims—statistics that, ever since the outbreak of the war, have been notoriously subject to manipulation and distortion.... [Preston] has produced an indispensable, important book.— Sebastiaan Faber
Library Journal
Figuring in America's imagination largely as the place noble young men went to fight, the Spanish civil war was a particularly dark and bloody moment in European history. Perhaps the (English-speaking) authority on the subject, London School of Economics professor Preston offers a detailed account of the terror that reigned in Franco's Spain. Not as much coverage as there should be on this crucially important issue, so take a good look.
Kirkus Reviews
Chilling history of the class-fueled institutionalized violence perpetrated mostly by the reactionary Francoists during the Spanish Civil War. Scholar Preston (London School of Economics; We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War, 2009, etc.) uses the word Holocaust self-consciously but deliberately in this exhaustive treatment of the horrendous violence the Spanish waged against each other to annihilate mutually "undesirable" elements. The friction between the agrarian oligarchy and the landless day laborers and radicalized leftists had been escalating throughout the 1920s, culminating in the establishment of the Second Republic in 1931. However, the reactionary defenders of order, alarmed by the fall of the monarchy and breakdown in status quo, believed the new regime was a "Jewish-Masonic-Bolshevik conspiracy to take over Spain"--therefore violence against it was justified. While the Socialist leader Francisco Largo Caballero propounded revolutionary slogans that incited the hungry masses, the fascist Falange led by General Franco spoke repeatedly of the conspiracy masterminded by the Jews and international foreigners (the contubernio, or "filthy cohabitation"). Preston concentrates on the systematic spread of terror and repression by forces of the right in specific areas of Spain; they moved from town to town, hunting out "reds," often with the enthusiastic collaboration of the local landowning class. (During this time the poet Federico García Lorca was dragged out and shot.) The right-wing uprising particularly targeted leftist women, who had enjoyed new status and rights under the Republic. Using techniques of terror perfected against the Moroccan population, Franco and his hardened Africanistas moved to subjugate Madrid by slaughter, dismemberment and rape. Preston focuses on the staggering toll of the violence and the Francoist spin that stretches well into the present without proper reckoning. A rigorous, scrupulously researched study.
Adam Hochschild
…magisterial…The Spanish Holocaust is not really a narrative but a comprehensive prosecutor's brief. With its immense documentation—120 pages of endnotes to both published and unpublished material in at least five languages, including corrections of errors in these sources—it is bound to be an essential reference for anything written on the subject for years to come.
—The New York Times Book Review
Thomas Snyder - The New Republic
“What Preston knows about the years of civil war, 1936-1939, is astounding… Preston’s work is a powerful intervention in a Spanish discussion. It’s significance transcends the events it brings to light, and suggests some basic re-evaluations of recent European history.”
New Yorker
“Fascinating... Unflinchingly, Preston sifts through the pillage, torture, and mass executions of this bleak chapter in Spanish history.”
Sebastiaan Faber - The Volunteer
“Monumental study... [The Spanish Holocaust] directly links Spain’s Nationalists to the Nazi regime, stressing that Franco’s reign of terror, like that of Hitler and Goebbels, was carefully planned and systematically executed.... The Spanish Holocaust draws on Preston’s vast research, as well as scores of recent historical studies, to establish the most accurate possible estimates of numbers of Spanish victims—statistics that, ever since the outbreak of the war, have been notoriously subject to manipulation and distortion.... [Preston] has produced an indispensable, important book.”
John Brademas
“Paul Preston’s The Spanish Holocaust, is the most illuminating study I have seen of the complex, modern conflict that observers of Spain today still find difficult to understand. Anyone wanting to know modern Spain will read with great interest, this brilliant, well-informed analysis.”
Adam Hochschild - New York Times Book Review
“Magisterial account... it is bound to be an essential reference for anything written on the subject for years to come.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393064766
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/16/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 720
  • Sales rank: 629,231
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 2.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Preston, author of The Spanish Civil War, Franco and Juan Carlos, and The Spanish Holocaust, is the world's foremost historian on twentieth-century Spain. A professor at the London School of Economics, he lives in London.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Prologue xi

Part 1 The Origins of Hatred And Violence

1 Social War Begins, 1931-1933 3

2 Theorists of Extermination 34

3 The Right Goes on the Offensive, 1933-1934 52

4 The Coming of War, 1934-1936 89

Part 2 Institutionalized Violence in the Rebel Zone

5 Queipo's Terror: The Purging of the South 131

6 Mola's Terror: The Purging of Navarre, Galicia, Castile and León 179

Part 3 The Consequence of The Coup Spontaneous Violence in The Republican Zone

7 Far from the Front: Repression behind the Republican Lines 221

8 Revolutionary Terror in Madrid 259

Part 4 Madrid Besieged The Threat And The Response

9 The Column of Death's March on Madrid 303

10 A Terrified City Responds: The Massacres of Paracuellos 341

Part 5 Two Concepts of War

11 Defending the Republic from the Enemy Within 383

12 Franco's Slow War of Annihilation 428

Part 6 Franco's Investment in Terror

13 No Reconciliation: Trials, Executions, Prisons 471

Epilogue: The Reverberations 519

Acknowledgements 529

Glossary 531

Notes 535

Appendix 655

Index 673s

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Posted May 6, 2012

    Professor Preston's book is dense but quite absorbing. He called

    Professor Preston's book is dense but quite absorbing. He called the killings under General Franco during the Spanish Civil War a 'holocaust', and I felt it appropriate after reading the book. Because it was limited to Spain while the bigger holocaust was being perpetrated by the Germans, this chapter in the Spanish history seems to have been buried and forgotten.

    It was eye-opening, disturbing, and heartbreaking to read about all the horrific killings and tortures against mostly innocent civilians, and I got the sense that the wounds are not yet completely healed in Spain. After all, General Franco was a revered figure well into the 21st century, and it's often harder to lay bare the open sores when the wounds are inflicted from within. And I felt there is a lesson for all of us. Just like it happened in Spain and more recently in other countries such as Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the freedom we often taken for granted can be easily swept away unless we are constantly vigilant and defend our rights to speech and freedom.

    And more often than not, it's the women and children who bear the brunt of the harm. Briefly mentioned were the cases of children being forced into orphanages and indoctrinated and/or adopted by their parents' murderers, much like the cases of the disappeared in Argentina. I've noticed a few other reviewers accusing the author of left-leaning bias. Since I am not familiar with the Spanish history, I can't comment on that, but I believe the book offers universal insight and lessons for all people, regardless of their political beliefs.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Paul Preston is the finest historian of modern Spain. This is a

    Paul Preston is the finest historian of modern Spain. This is a harrowing account of the brutality and sadism unleashed by General Franco’s coup against the elected Spanish government.

    In the resulting war, 200,000 people were killed on the battlefield. Another 200,000 were killed, either murdered or executed after the flimsiest of legal process, 150,000 by the rebels and 50,000 by Republicans. Franco lied that the Republic had killed 470,000 people.

    Preston contrasts the rebels’ programmatic violence with the Republic’s episodic violence. The rebels aimed to kill “without scruple or hesitation those who do not think as we do”, said coup director General Emilio Mola.

    Preston notes, “In general, Francoist ‘justice’ attributed all deaths to a deliberate policy of the Republican government and the Generalitat. This was simply not true and a projection on to the Republicans of the rebels’ own murderous intentions.” (Similarly, Franco accused the Republic of military rebellion!)

    Field Marshal Sir Philip Chetwode said that Franco “is worse than the Reds.” Preston writes of the rebels’ ‘programme of extermination’, of ‘Franco’s slow war of annihilation’ and of ‘the official encouragement of atrocities in the rebel zone’.

    Preston observes, “While the rebel authorities actively sanctioned atrocities throughout the war and after, it was precisely the Republican government’s opposition to them that limited them to the first five months of the war.” The Republic tried to control the anarchist checas, death squads.

    The rebel forces massacred peasants, workers, civilians and prisoners, raped working class women, mutilated casualties, and murdered the wounded. The rebels used atrocity stories - false of the Republic, true of the rebels - to whip up hatred and justify mass murder.
    The rebels killed priests and nuns who opposed them; they burned down churches, where Republicans were inside them. Many priests backed the rebels and joined in the repression. The Daily Express and the Daily Mail backed the rebels; the Daily Mail’s reporter was embedded with Franco’s forces.

    The Spanish communist party alleged that there were fifth columnists inside the anarchist trade union movement the CNT. Preston comments that the ‘accusation was in fact entirely justified’. Italian agents infiltrated the CNT and Nazi agents infiltrated the Trotskyist POUM.

    In March 1937 hundreds of CNT members abandoned the battlefront, went to Barcelona, and recruited 5,000 CNT members into a new body called the ‘Friends of Durruti’. Andreu Nin, head of the POUM, welcomed this treachery.

    Preston remarks on “the conflict between the advocates of revolution and those who believed that priority should be given to the war effort. The notion that its culmination in the so-called ‘May events’ was a carefully laid Stalinist plot has no basis.”

    Nin said that the working class had solved the problem of religion by not leaving a single church standing. Preston observes, “the assassination of priests and the burning down of churches were given an idealistic veneer by anarchists as the prior purification necessary for the building of a new world, as if it was that easy to eliminate religion.” Likewise, shooting the whole ruling class would not make a revolution.

    The border area La Cerdanya was run by an anarchist criminal. The anarchist FAI ‘presided over a network of terror throughout Catalonia’ and carried out massacres.

    Throughout the war, the British government pretended to be neutral, while assisting Franco as much as it could. Its ‘Non-Intervention’ policy enabled the German and Italian interventions which took Franco to victory. At the war’s end, Colonel Casado, the leader of the coup which ended the Republic, escaped to Britain on a British warship, along with the leader of Madrid’s notorious anarchist checa.

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  • Posted May 27, 2012

    Excellent narrative of the cruelty in Spain in the 1930s.

    This book is very well researched, well documented and well written. It is a fascinating account of the murders and exterminations which occurred in Spain in the 1930s, as well as a detailed documentation of the individuals and characters involved.

    I recommend this for anyone interested in history.

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