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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fascist genocide of Basques among most brutal in Europe

Lau Haizetara Gogoan (meaning
recalling to the four winds, i.e. speaking out loud) has arrived to the conclusion that the Fascist genocide in the Basque Country was one of the most brutal in the Western World in the 20th century. In the case of Navarre, it murdered 1.13% of all people, a situation only superated by Bosnia of all studied cases. Even the raw numbers approach those of fascist Argentina (which has a population many times larger).

They protest that, while in other cases of brutal fascist repression and genocide, truth comitees have been created to clarify what happened and compensate as much as possible the victims, in Spain nothing of the like has ever happened. Instead the matter is once and again hidden under the rug, allowing the modern fascists of the Tory party (now they call themselves "christian-democrats") to attempt once and again to deny it and even to make threats against (the so-called) democracy each time the issue is raised.

Overall it is estimated that some 1 million people (c. 4-5%) were killed during the Civil War and in its aftermath, throught the Spanish state. Most of them did not die in the battlefields. And while the leftists also killed some people, the vast majority of deaths were summary executions in the fascist zone, where anyone who was thought as vaguely "red" was simply murdered without further questions.

This of course did not end with the war. I always remember an anecdote of my aunt (my uncle's wife), who came from Salamanca to work as teacher in Ondarroa (a massively Basque-speaking town, language that she did not know) in the 60s. One of her pupils, a teenager, dared one day to call the Spanish policemen txakurrak ("dogs", our equivalent of English "pigs" in a similar context) . They immediately arrested him and he came out of the police station dead. Just an anecdote, albeit very illustrative of the kind of criminal regime we had to face and we still have to face to a great extent.

Source for the main news: Gara.


Anonymous said...

The "1 million deaths" has to be a typo. From what I have read the maximum would be 500 000. Anyway, what are the sources which claim this toll?

As for Navarre, I remember a Basque old man once said to me "during the war, if there were 4 sons in a house, all of them went to fight for Franco". This obviously means a huge commitment. I can imagine what would have happened to those who did not want to support the fascists: your 1,5 %.



Anonymous said...

Oops, when I meant "Basque" I wanted to say from "Euskadi (Araba, concretely)". Navarre people are obviously Basque.


Maju said...

The 1 million figure is from memory and I don't have time right now to research. Anyhow .5 or 1 million is not that different considering both are estimates.

Southern Navarre in particular, as well as neighbouring La Rioja were, like all the Ebro basin, very much leftist. Country workers were certainly not for fascism at all - and they were decimated.

As for the rest, it's a complex history: the proto-nationalist Basque rebellions were the Carlist Wars, in which Basques (including the four provincial governments, so it was something official) supported the ultra-conservative pretender to the Spanish throne, D. Carlos and his descendants (also named Carlos). They did so because of two reasons:

1. Religious brainwashing (it was our Taliban period, so to say)
2. Most importantly because the ultraconservative pretenders promised to perpetuate the wide autonomy Basques had enjoyed since the Castilian invasions, with our own law and parliaments, with no military service but for the defense of the provinces and our own tolls (looking to Castile, not to the sea or our brothers of the north). The Liberals wanted to destroy all that and did to a large extent.

So Basques manned the Carlist armies but they were virtually excluded from the deision centers. In fact there were two Carlist parties: the Navarrese (Basque), that provided the manpower and the money, and the Apostolic (Spaniard) that controlled the movement from the exile. At some point in the first war, famous General Zulmakarregi was offered by the Navarrese party the Crown of Navarre, what would have displaced the Carlist leaders totally. He rejected but soon after, he was slightly injured while besieging Bilbao and the pretender insisted in that he was treated by his own personal physicians. He "mysteriously" died soon after (was obviously murdered) and Basques negotiated a peace (the famous embrace of Bergara) that was not ratified by the Spaniards.

So some decades later there was a second Carlist War (some call it "third" but the second, not supported by Basques, was just a minor faled uprising) that also ended in a never fulfilled peace agreement.

This Carlist anti-Jacobine tradition fed the rise of Basque nationalism in the late 19th century, which had a more modern style but that was still also very deeply lagged by the Christian traditions (that's why the Basque banner has so many crosses and the Basque national day is Resurrection Sunday, enfin). But also persisted as a force of its own especially in the areas where Basque language was being lost (Navarre and Araba particularly). They were mobilized by the fascists certainly but soon were forced to apply genocidal practices anyhow, much to the disgust of some of their leaders.

Franco applied some minor Carlist policies, allowing limited self-rule to Navarre and Araba (but not to Biscay and Gipuzkoa that were called "traitor provinces") and integrating the loyal Carlists into his fascist single party that added the term "Traditionalist" to the already long one of "Falange Española y de las Juventudes Obreras Nacional-Socialistas"). The Carlist banner (the Burgundy Cross, known here as St. Andrew Cross) was usd by the fascists all the time, what basically just killed the remnants of Carlism.

The late evolution of the Carlist Party, less and less relevant, was to become an odd leftist monarchist party that was among the first to challenge fascism in Navarre. For that reason many of their members were murdered by death squads before the passivity of the Spanish police in the massacre of Montejurra/Oriamendi in the late 1970s.

I doubt it can be claimed that every single Navarrese was mobilized for fascism. No doubt that many were but many were also against it and, as mentioned, many many were murdered. In any case you had no choice: either you fought for the side you fell in or you sought some pretext (my grandfather worked in a ship first and then in a mmunitions manufacture, while his brother in law risked his life with violent combinations of drugs and excercise to pretend he was ill) or you were sent to the front in a punishment batallion (another granduncle of mine died in one of them). In war you have not so many choices and Navarre fell to the Fascists since the very first day of the coup.