dimarts, 19 d’octubre de 2010

Franco and the river Ebro

Si tolerem això ....
El Casal Panxampla ha tornat a donar una bona espenta a la campanya per eliminar la vergonya més gran de Tortosa. O sigui, treure el monument franquista del riu. Potser si algú de fora de Tortosa està llegint aquest apunt no s’acabarà de creure el que dic, però la foto ho demostra – 35 anys desprès encara tenim la “gloria” de Franco damunt de natros a Tortosa. Una vergonya per Tortosa i tot el territori ebrenc ja que el riu ens representa i ens dona la nostra forma de viure i no mereix tenir aquest tros de ferro feixista plantat al mig.
En propers apunts penjarem els motius (obvis) per treure el monument.
Per avui, però, començarem amb una explicació en anglès amb més detalls ja que si algú d’Anglaterra visita el bloc hauré de començar l’explicació al 1936! Estalvio la lliçó per a vatros en català perquè estic segur que, malauradament, la coneixem, però si voleu llegir el breu historia en anglès podeu afegir alguna correcció si cal.
Tot seguit per un video amb imatgens de Franco i la guerra amb la cançó Si Toleres Això, Els Teus Fills Seran Els Proxims, que els Manic Street Preachers van gravar a l’any 1998.

A brief history of Franco and the river Ebro. General Franco led a military uprising against a democratically elected government in Spain in 1936. This led to a civil war which lasted until 1939. Franco, leading a union of fascists, pseudo-fascists, right-wing extremists, catholic extremists, and others of that ilk, received the backing of other fascist powers such as Germany and Italy who provided man-power, weaponry, technology, and money. The democratic government, on the other hand, received very little aid or support from other democratic governments (obviously here we must remember the heroic volunteers of the International Brigades who went where their governments refused to go). England, for example, carried out a dry-run of its non-intervention appeasement policy which would later turn out to be so “successful” regarding Hitler!
Communist Russia did offer some help as the elected government was a left-wing amalgam of various tendencies. I say “help” as this later became more of a hindrance when Russia tried to take control of the situation, facing off stalinists against marxists, or was that leninists against anarchists, or was that trade-unionists against socialists! To cut a long story short, this eventually led to in-fighting and repression amongst the same side!

As with all civil wars, some people took up arms willingly but many were simply recruited depending on which side of the battle line you lived. Most people were more worried about finding money or food to get by, I suppose, than dying for their ideals. Anyway, death, misery, and destruction followed, more so on one side than the other as, while the “lefties” fought with old-fashioned Russian rifles, Franco was trying out Hitler’s new war planes.

The decisive battle for Franco’s victory and entry into Catalonia was the Battle of the Ebro. Thousands of people were killed in mass air-borne bombing raids as a futile resistance effort was crushed by Franco. The war in Spain was already virtually won, and only time and patience would have been necessary to overrun Catalonia but some historians believe that Franco deliberately sought and prolonged this battle so as to serve a lesson no one would forget. Many of the people who died were young men of no more than 16 or 17 years of age, as the recruiting age had become lower and lower for obvious reasons.
Eventually Franco won which led to 40 years of dictatorship and hardship – let’s not forget that Europe and the USA tolerated this and eventually became “buddies” with him.

The objective behind this lecture is to give a little background to the present polemical situation in Tortosa.
In the 1960s to remember the Battle of the Ebro and offer “glory” to the fallen (on Franco’s side), a fascist monument was erected in the river Ebro as it flows through the capital city of this region, Tortosa. Thirty-five years after his death and the introduction of democracy, membership of the EU and NATO, and a change of millennium, the monument still stands!
Admittedly the first years after Franco’s death was maybe not the best moment to upset nostalgic extremists or the army (as seen in the attempted coup in 1982), but I think no one now can have any doubts about Spain’s acceptance of democracy. Governments have come, governments have gone, but no one has had the political will to carry out the people’s will.
While there have been various social-citizen campaigns to have this monstrosity removed, obviously there are arguments in favour of maintaining it: some say it helps us remember how bad the Civil War and Franco were; others claim, if we remove its fascist symbols it could commemorate the fallen on both sides; or, suitably explained, it could be a monument for peace; it’s a touristic photo of Tortosa; it symbolises Tortosa for many people; its removal would be an unnecessary waste of time and money, and so on ....
Personally I am not convinced by any of these. Nor are the 2000 people who have signed a petition asking Tortosa’s council to take steps to get rid of this horror. Apparently the council will debate this next month – watch this space!

The Manic Street Preachers sang about the Spanish Civil War with If You Tolerate This, Your Children Will Be Next on 1998’s album This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours. Here's a video with images of Franco and the Civil War.

foto de La Marfanta

2 comentaris:

  1. Thanks Brian,
    The view in English you've just expressed in your blog is the common democratical sense we lack so much here in Tortosa. What would a german say if they saw a Nazi statue in the middle of the Rhin in, say, Koblenz or Köln? Many will answer that what Franco did is to stop communism, and they may be right, but they also forget, as you have said, that he uprised against a what was then a democratically elected government.
    Signed: Ebremed

  2. Desgraciadament encara queda simbologia franco-feixista a molts de llocs. Poca,comparativament parlant amb la que havia fa unes dècades, però déu ni do la que queda!