Der Spiegel notes this anniversary: The thousand bloody days of the Spanish Civil War ended in March 1939 when Franco marched into Madrid. The killing was not over.

Probably 200,000 human beings were killed in the name of Franco’s name in the Civil War in in the years after the war. But in their area of influence the Republicans had 38,000 political opponents murdered among whom were 6,800 priests, whom they wrongly believed to be on Franco’s side. And if such numbers are only estimates, they still have explosive force: Even until the present Spanish society is troubled and polarized, even until the present are mass graves and the bones of political opponents sought. For the Spanish the Civil War is even after 70 years an open wound.

Both sides committed atrocities in the Civil War; Franco kept up the killing afterward. All that can be said for him is that he probably killed fewer people than the Communists would have killed, if they had come to power.

Like many historical traumas, the wounds of the Spanish Vivil War remains unhealed. The French have never come to terms with the violence of the Revolution, or with Vichy collaboration with the Nazis. The Germans have not fully come to terms with the Nazi era. Russia keeps retreating from a confrontation with the evils of the Communist era. The Catholic Church turns its face away from the sexual abuse scandal. And so on. Our instinct is to turn our face away from horrors, but without confrontation and repentance there is no healing.

Leave a Comment