To Spain! Help?

This evening I’m leaving NYC for a couple of weeks in Spain. It’s mainly a vacation with my daughter Lorna, but when I originally planned it I thought I could also do a little interviewing about the whole process Spaniards have gone through of choosing whether and how to memorialize the victims of Civil War and Franco-era violence.
However, I’ve been running around so fast in the past few weeks that I really haven’t done anything to set up interviews, excursions, etc in Madrid in pursuit of this project. So if any of you fine JWN readers has some suggestions about people I could talk to, or places I could go, please post them on the Comments board here pronto!!
We’ll only be in Madrid for a few days. After that we’ll head south to Andalucia, which has a whole set of different concerns about memorialization, on a very different time-scale.
Anyway, I’d much appreciate any help any of you can give. H’mmm, now I need to think about packing.

15 thoughts on “To Spain! Help?”

  1. I visited the home of the first president of the republic in Priego de Cordoba in Andalucia a few years ago. It contained an interisting history of the brief life of the republic up to the president’s exile to Argentina. Also in Toledo visited the site of a siege of a Nationalist outpost by the Republicans which commemorated the courage of the Nationalist comander.

  2. I visited the home of the first president of the republic in Priego de Cordoba in Andalucia a few years ago. It contained an interisting history of the brief life of the republic up to the president’s exile to Argentina. Also in Toledo visited the site of a siege of a Nationalist outpost by the Republicans which commemorated the courage of the Nationalist comander.

  3. H, are you familiar with the work of Pollack on the role of place and memorialization? He wrote on the Sbreneca massacre-
    I can send you the article if you would like; brief, however a cornerstone piece for my own work-

  4. H, and JWN readers:
    Last night, I posted a leaf from the Children’s Hospital Fund, Sick Kids Hospital, for the Children of Lebanon-
    AS you may know, I deplore how MUCH we in academia are in fact, sheer wankers. Thus, H, and all, today another child in Lebanon died from unexploded cluster munitions-
    I hope that you will take 5 minutes, to write your Senator to urge the US to pressure Israel to hand over the maps of the sites of the cluster munitions which were viciously spewed across the south-reports from HRW, FNCL, and others indicate that Hezb appeared to use them as well-to a much smaller degree…THESE ARE PUTRID weapons…
    I hope your note will also include a request for further support from the US to help clean up the south-

  5. Hello Helena,
    I’m art-oriented myself but in Salamanca (one of the most beautiful cities in Spain) there’s a museum that the Freemasons have created to remember their members who were lost in the Civil War (with an archive). It’s elaborate and extensive with a film about the Franco period that shows for visitors. The Freemasons were certainly targets of Franco (and they’re still pretty steamed about it) and so this would be one definite arrow in your quiver. I got this from the web:
    Salamanca Museums: Freemasons’ Lodge Museum (Logia de Masones) – Gibraltar, 2, Salamanca, 37008, Spain
    Situated together with the city’s National Historical Archives, in the Barrio Antiguo region, Salamanca’s Freemasons’ Lodge is a particularly unique museum. With many important artefacts and items related to the Spanish Civil war in the late 1930s, the museum also features memorabilia from when it was used as the Masonic lodge.
    Salamanca museum open: Monday to Friday – 09:00 to 14:00
    Salamanca museum admission: free
    Bob Consoli

  6. Go to:
    There you will find the details of the International Brigade reunion (didn’t I e-mail it to you?). Phone or e-mail Kevin Doherty or Ciaran Crossey.
    The flyer says that Dolores Ibarruri or at least her daughter may be at the reunion, starting in just over a week’s time in Belfast. I know you won’t be in Belfast but the point is these are English-speakers who have on-going contacts with the Republican side in Spain.
    Also, a fresh article on Counterpunch, called “How the U.S. Schemed Against Spain’s Transition from Dictatorship to Democracy” by Vicente Navarro, at:
    The author’s e-mail address is at the bottom of the article.

  7. Just on the subject of the general struggle of memory against forgetting, I recommend Norman Finkelstein’s review of Jeffrey Goldberg’s book “Prisoners: a Muslim and a Jew Across the Middle East Divide” at:
    Here is a quote from Finkelstein:
    “And yet it’s precisely because Goldberg seems to know his subject, and knows how to convey its truth to the reader, that, depending on one’s take, the cynicism of his bad faith and faux innocence or the thick-headedness of his refusal to see what’s right before his eyes (probably both) not only rankles but enrages. For it must be said that this is a quite wretched book which, for all its willingness to acknowledge ugly realities about Israel’s occupation, albeit realities which can no longer be concealed, nonetheless reiterates and, because of the seeming openness, revivifies the old pernicious myths and threadbare clichés sustaining the occupation, presenting them in a form less detached from reality yet processed to make them assimilable by his liberal American Jewish audience.”
    It’s long, but good, and especially good on Goldberg’s odious expropriation of Ghandianism for his disinformational purpose.
    People familiar with the real history of MK Gandhi might say that the latter’s ambiguous legacy is wide open to this kind of use, or abuse, and should therefore be avoided in any case, as an albatross around the neck should be avoided. That is a one for you to ponder in relation to your GNN. For if Gandhi’s legacy can be put to perverse service in the interest of the Israeli occupation, then so can GNN be used, there and elsewhere.
    The Spanish Civil War was an occasion for deep reflection on the question of how far an intellectual should go in the cause of peace. You know that many writers on that occasion decided that pacifism was not a sufficient response to bestial fascism, and that action was required, and as a result some of them died in action.
    One of those writers was Christopher Caudwell, killed in Spain while manning a machine gun, covering the retreat of some of his mates at Jarama, seventy years ago this year. He had previously written a defence of his intellectual position in the face of the well-publicised pacifism of his day, and was well aware of Gandhi, and of the Society of Friends. Find it at:

  8. Hi Helena,
    The most complex site you’re likely to see in Andalusia is the Cathedral at Cordoba.
    It has been plunked down in the middle of a large mosque and this it is that contributes to its complexity.
    I saw this article from the BBC that you might be interested in.
    It’ll make more sense once you actually see the structure in question, the famous
    (and overpoweringly beautiful) ‘Mezquita’. When you’re there you’ll
    learn that when the Muslims conquered Cordoba in the eighth century and wanted to build
    that mosque they purchased an old Christian church, St. Vincent’s (I think) and used that as
    the site for the new mosque. So your time scale goes back to about 750 A.D. There’s a
    small museum, in the mosque, that features finds from the pre-Muslim Visigothic church
    site which you may find to be of interest. When you’re there be on the lookout for a plaque,
    in Spanish, placed near the entrance to the Cathedral to commemorate Franco’s victory.
    I apologize for not being able to remember the exact wording but it says something about
    being grateful for (Franco’s) victory over anti-Christian forces, or something to that effect.
    It’s just a little mirror into the mentality.
    The mosque in Seville was destroyed by the armies of the Reconquista so that they could
    replace it with a cathedral. But in the cathedral in Seville we were able to see a video that
    featured a virtual reconstruction of the mosque that had been there.
    Remember, as far as the Reconquista is concerned, it’s mostly myth. The ‘Reconquista’
    stretches from the eighth century until 1492. That’s 700 years. That’s the same time span
    that stretches from Augustus to Charlemagne. A long time. When Franco wanted Spain it
    took him three years. When the forces under Tarik wanted Spain they conquered (most)
    of it in about 20 years. To conquer a country 400 miles square in ~800 years (to make
    the math easy) is 1/2 mile a year. That’s NOT a reconquest. It’s population pressure. If
    the population of southern France had been as sparse as the population in North Africa
    during those years then Spain would still be Muslim. The myth of the Reconquista was
    primarily fostered by Isabella and Ferdinand who, in conquering Granada, wished to
    present themselves as the culmination of Spanish history up until that point. That’s like
    me presenting myself as the culminating goal of biological evolution. This is particularly clear when
    you consider that Seville and Castille are conquered by Christian forces in the first half
    of the thirteenth century (1221, 1248 or thereabouts). But it’s another 250 years before
    the last Muslim redoubt in Spain, Granada, is captured by the Christians (Isabella and
    Ferdinand in 1492). That’s an awful long time to go upstream 150 miles or so. If the American
    frontier had been tamed at that rate we’d be just now celebrating the glorious conquest of
    Philadelphia. The Reconquista was never a political fact as much as it was a genteel warrior
    That ought to get you some maill.
    Best regards,
    Robert Consoli

  9. Allow me to correct an error. I said ‘Seville and Castille’ in the previous post. Of course it should be ‘Seville and Cordoba’. Seville was reconquered in 1248; Cordoba in 1236.
    Robert Consoli

  10. Bob, thanks so much for all of that great information. We´re in Granada now, having arrived from Sevilla today, so have a pretty vivid idea of much of what you´ve written about. Thanks in particular for your explanation of the social construction of the ¨Reconquista¨. (Of course biological evolution had a teleology culminating in you (or me.) Did you (or I) ever doubt it? Irony alert for the unalert.)

  11. Hi Helena,
    I’m hope you’re having a great time in Spain. There is much in Spain that is magnificent and unforgettable but the Mezquita in Cordoba is right at the top. Please don’t miss it.
    Robert Consoli

  12. Helena,
    From a frequent reader.
    Just to let you know, that Spain really does not exist but Spains. Sorry that you will only enjoy one of them, may be the one that best fit with the stereotypes, so the visitor is reasured on its own previous ideas and feel confortable.
    Andalucia its the exotic Spain of the romantics from Beethoven Fidelio to Bizet´s Carmen. Place of darkness and bloody passion…
    But other Sapain exits, up north Madrid. The one of the Romanic, the Gothic, the green hills, the celtic sweet..
    José Bembibre

    wrote about Prtuguese colonial war
    He has, also, translated into Portuguese the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith.
    He has been awarded several prizes.
    Don’t forget the name of this great author, you’ll be hearing of him soon.
    Please, add blog to your favourites,
    Thanks for visiting.

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