Spain’s unspoken massacres unearthed

As Spain struggles to overcome decades of silence and a "don't look back" transition to democracy, British historian Paul Preston is the first to detail what happened behind the frontlines in the Spanish civil war and how 150 000 people were illegally executed by Franco’s troops and death squads while some 50 000 were killed in the Republican side, mostly by the anarchists. More than 70 years after the end of the war and nearly four decades after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco not a single perpetrator of the cruel repression has been brought to justice. A 1977 Amnesty Law, criticized by the UN and human rights organizations, still protects them. A top judge was brought to trial recently for daring to investigate the illegal executions and disappearances that in his view could be considered as war crimes and crimes against humanity. In his new book The Spanish Holocaust. Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain Preston reveals how a systematic terror and brutal repression were designed by Franco’s generals and strategists. We sat down with Preston to talk about his findings, the historical memory, Francoist myths and narrations, the cherished spirit of transition and how able Spain on the left and on the right as well as the Catholic church are to come to terms with the past.
For Helsingin Sanomat in 2012.

photos by stefano buonamici & random house mondadori