Thursday, April 23, 2009

History Is Slippery

A follow-up to this


Sir, – Paul Preston’s reply (Letters, April 10) to David Roman’s criticism of the review of Preston’s book about the Spanish Civil War, We Saw Spain Die, manifests a disturbing bias.

...Preston chooses to overlook and to remain completely silent on Roman’s most serious contention – that the Republican side, at the time, was equally guilty, and perhaps more so, of perpetrating appalling atrocities (he cites the slaughter of thousands of prisoners transferred from prison in Madrid to nearby Paracuellos de Jarama, arguably the biggest atrocity during the Civil War)...

It is a pity that in this way Preston uses his authority to lend credence to the prevailing simplistic, fashionable, liberal-leftist orthodoxy, officially sanctioned by the current Spanish government, that the Republican side fought the Civil War against Fascism in defence of liberal representative democracy. The Left in Spain now seeks to exploit the memory of nationalist atrocities as part of a cynical, opportunistic campaign aimed at associating the conservative opposition with the Franco regime.

In marked contrast, objective historians, using evidence available in the Moscow archives since the collapse of the USSR, show that the threat to the Second Republic came just as much from the revolutionary Left, and increasingly as the Civil War progressed, from the Moscow-dominated Republican government itself through Stalin’s main instrument, the Spanish Communist Party...had the Republican side won, the most likely outcome would have been the establishment of an East European-style communist regime during the Soviet era, i.e., a state in which all meaningful vestiges of democracy and opposition would have been brutally eliminated at the cost of thousands of lives.

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