divendres, 7 de juny de 2013

(1) International Brigade / Fight for Democracy / Rewriting History



Tots els experts ens diuen que l’Historia és subjectiva i que sempre ens ho conten els guanyadors. OK, hi estic d’acord, però també estic convençut que hi ha uns fets indiscutibles.
Tornem a l’any 1936. Segons a qui escoltes, el govern espanyol, elegit democràticament, eren uns inutils, el demoni banyut, uns idealistes, gent en ganes de estirar Espanya fins al segle 20 d’una vegada per totes, gent en ganes de construir una república moderna i demòcrata, o gent amb ganes de vendre els seus bebes a Stalin per a fer caldo .... però, trobo que hi ha un fet que no es pot discutir. Era un govern elegit democràticament.
Segon fet; Franco va començar un cop d’estat, el qual, per la forma que ell actuava, es va convertir en una guerra civil.
Tercer fet; vist que els governs aliats miraven per l’altre costat, per motius politics, molts voluntaris d’arreu del món van anar a Espanya a lluitar a favor de la democràcia. Eren els Brigadistes Internacionals.
Quart fet; va guanyar Franco i Espanya va viure 40 anys de dictadura.
Ara que han passat els anys, i Espanya ha fet una “transició” cap a la democràcia, hi ha veus diferents sobre com s’hauria d’actuar amb aquest bagatge. Que si oblidem, que si no remenem, que lo fet està fet etc ... suposo que es pot parlar de totes les opcions mirant com altres països han actuat amb referència al seu passat fosc.
Però els fets continuen sent fets.
 A gairebé totes les ciutats d’Espanya, i moltes de Catalunya (Tortosa sense anar més lluny), encara hi ha monuments o recordatoris a la victòria dels copistes, amb debats publics sobre la convivencia o no de retirar-los. A Madrid resulta que tenen l’Arc de Triumf de Franco. I un petit monument recordant les Brigadistes que va posar l’Universitat – ni el govern ni “el estat”. Ara resulta que és aquest monument que molesta, un petit record de la gent que va venir fins aqui i va morir en nom de la democràcia, és el seu record que molesta – i, segons aquest article, van a retirar-lo. No tinc paraules. Passen coses molt grosses a la peninsula cada dia, però aquest m’ha deixat bocabadat! A gairebé totes les ciutats del Regne Unit o Irlanda tenim plaques recordant els morts, però aquí molesten (mentre gasten una fortuna restaurant el Valle de los Caidos).
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Ever since I was a lad, I’ve heard the one about History being a subjective issue, and that History is always written by the victors. However, I still believe that a fact is a fact.
Let’s go back to 1936. Spain has a newly elected democratic government. Some say they were a bunch of idiots, some say idealists, some say they’d set up a republican democracy worthy of the 20th century, others say they couldn’t have organised a piss-up in a brewery – geniuses, back-stabbers, the devil incarnate willing to sell babies to Stalin to make his soup with ... who knows? But, Fact One, they were democratically elected.
Fact Two. Franco staged a coup d’etât which evolved (either deliberately or through incompetence) into a civil war.
Fact Three. As most foreign governments turned a blind eye it was up to politically conscious volunteers to come from all around the world and fight on the side of the democratically elected government. The International Brigades.
Fact Four. They lost. Franco won and Spain suffered a 40-year dictatorship.
Years later, and Spain is still trying to come to terms with this historical burden. 35 years after their “transition” into a democracy and there is still public debate about what’s best – whether to sweep all this under the carpet and pretend it never happened or to make an attempt at a public acceptance and explanation of this dark past, following the example of other countries. Who knows what’s best. Again, a political, psychological, and personal debate.
However, facts are still facts.
Most towns in Spain, and Catalonia (Tortosa being a prime example) retain monuments and street signs celebrating the victory of Franco and his coup. Madrid even has its own huge Arc de Triumf apparently, not to mention the infamous monument/tomb built for Franco – el Valle de los Caidos – which has just been restored for a few million €uros. Turns out there is also a small monument commemorating the International Brigaders in Madrid, on the University Campus. Turns out, according to this article, that the Franco “Theme Park” that parts of Spain resemble, does not annoy the government and is not under debate. Turns out that the monument to lives lost fighting for democracy does. And they are going to pull it down.
Luckily there are many more such monuments in cities and towns all over the UK, Ireland, USA etc, but even so, a sad sad day for Spain.
UPDATE: since I wrote this I have found these two more serious and interesting opinions on this matter and the general question of how to approach history. One by historian Richard Baxell and Two by Sheffield University PhD student Matthew Kerry.

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