If they hide under the ground, we will dig them up

27 12 2008

David Hwang did not have to invent the terror of Radio Falange: For each one of us they kill, we will kill them tenfold. If they hide under the ground, we will dig them up. And if find them dead, we will kill them again.

Nationalist General Gonzalo Queipo de Llano: For every one of mine who falls, I will kill at least ten extremists. Those leaders who flee should not think they will escape [that fate]; I will drag them out from under the stones if necessary and, if they are already dead, I will kill them again. [quoted in Giles Tremlett, Ghosts of Spain, p. 29]

Quiepo de Llano was not alone in his sentiments. General Emilio Mola  argued that Everyone who is openly or secretly a supporter of the Popular Front should be shot. . . We have to sow terror. We must eliminate without scruples all those who do not think like ourselves. [p. 32]

And then there were the stolen chilren, ‘separated from rojo families and then adopted or handed over to Falange or convent-run orphanages. Some 30,000 children passed through their doors between 1944-1955.’ [p.67]

Late-Franco Spain may have been ‘only’ authoritarian, but the bloody terror of the early decades gave way later not merely to suppression, but a more controlled violence. The transition from Franco to his selected successor (and eventual democratizer) King Juan Carlos could be called non-violent only in comparison to that bloody past. Manuel Fraga Iribarne, a Francoist who helped found the right-wing People’s Party (which governed Spain 1996-2004) and who had presided over police killings of protesters in the 1970s, enjoyed threatening his opponents. Remember, he told future Socialist president Felipe Gonzales, that I am the power, and you are nothing. And when, after Franco’s death, he was asked to go easy on protesters, he responded I shall beat them black and blue.

It is late, and I have nothing to say about this, for now. But I had wondered in a previous post if Hwang and Golijov had exaggerated or invented the terror of the Falange. They did not.








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