Thursday, January 24, 2008

70th Reunion Of The International Brigades

Here's a clip I found on youtube of the 70th reunion of the International Brigade. I get goosebumps.
Here's a portion the text of the times article of 1/13/08, entitled, "In Spain, a Monumental Silence,"
that provides the background for the previous post
LAST month Spain passed a law that doesn’t make much sense, on its face, but says quite a lot about Europe in the new century. The Parliament, fulfilling a campaign promise from 2004 by Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, ordered that families wanting to unearth bodies of relatives killed during the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s or who suffered as a political consequence of General Francisco Franco’s four-decade-long regime should get full cooperation from the state, and at the same time that every province in the country must remove remaining monuments to Franco. Unearth the past — and erase it. Never mind that over the years most of these monuments have already been carted off, making the law largely toothless and symbolic. Even so, in the debates over it, nobody here has talked much about the inherent contradiction. Or is it a contradiction? “A new generation has begun to look at the past,” Santos Juliá, a senior historian of the post-Franco years, explained to me one recent morning. “They’re the grandchildren of the civil war. My generation wanted to discuss what happened without a sense of culpability. The grandchildren look on the same years of reconciliation as an unending concession, and it is time to fix blame.” Survivors build monuments to remember the dead, and tear down the statues of the tyrants who killed them, but mostly in vain. Statues and memorials inscribe history, which each generation rewrites to suit itself. In Budapest statues of Communist idols have been relocated to a park on the city outskirts to become virtual headstones at a kind of kitsch graveyard. Russia, in its dash to prosperity, remains conspicuously reluctant to rehash the past, but it also removed many signs of Soviet rule.
And of course nobody has scrutinized public symbols and spaces more than the Germans, for whom nearly every stone and street sign has provoked a fresh monument. The meeting room for the German foreign minister in Berlin is an example of the extent to which the Germans have gone even in private. Originally the office for the head of the Nazi state bank, then taken over by Erich Honecker, the East German leader, who met in it with his Politburo, the room was left nearly intact after the Wall fell when the Foreign Ministry moved in, so that on where paintings of Marx and Engels once hung behind Honecker’s chair, faded rectangles were left as cautionary reminders.
Spain is different, though, having endured a civil war. With their traditional fear of deep, dark demons in their soul, Spaniards after Franco’s death and during the transition to democracy entered into what has long been called here a pact of silence, which the new law clearly aims to undo. As the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper put it 40 years ago, about a different regime, “A single personal despot can prolong obsolete ideas beyond their natural term, but the change of generations must ultimately carry them away.” You might say that in Spain’s case the change now comes a generation late.

No comments: