Saturday, August 2, 2008

Spain's Surviving Socialist Soldier


The savagery of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) created unprecedented carnage and wholesale bloodshed, under conditions of outrageous hatred and the fiery rhetoric of rabid patriotism. Atrocities committed numbed the country's sensibilities, and desensitized its citizens towards the extent of violence and human suffering resulting from deeply rooted political differences. It was a struggle by a legitimately elected socialist oriented government against a Coup d' etat led by rightist General Francisco Franco, that had the support of the businessmen, industrialists, landlords, and the nobility; as well as the Catholic Church.

The Civil War became an international arena, a proxy war for the battle against the forces of fascism by all individuals from many nations opposed to it - even if their own governments supported the rightist coup. Volunteers for the socialists who were referred to as Republicans, battled against soldiers of their own country who fought for the fascists. The Franco fascists labeled themselves Nationalists, and sought to retain the status quo to deny the Republican plan of wealth redistribution. Adolph Hitler used the war as a rehearsal for many of the Blitzkrieg tactics he used for the war in Europe, and perhaps to refine his plan for the extermination of the Jews.

After ferocious battles and untold atrocities on both sides, the Nationalists soundly defeated the Republicans to establish a dictatorship. The massacre of Republicans and their sympathizers and supporters followed in earnest in what was considered a preview of the holocaust of World War ll. But one socialist survived to reveal his version of this chapter in the history of Spain. His name is Antonio Garcia Baron.

Baron's story is a remarkable tale of survival, not only of his physical existence, but his principles as well. Despite his advanced years, he has maintained his health well and kept his memories of the Civil War intact. He is the only survivor of the anarchist Durruti column, which prevented the advance of the Franco forces to Madrid. After the defeat of the Republicans, he escaped to Britain to join the war against Germany. He was captured in 1941 and sent to Mauthausen concentration camp. Here, Himmler confirmed the collaboration of the Catholic Church with the Third Reich, but who also expressed the plan to go against the Church leaders at some later date. He survived the Mauthausen and lived in Paris in 1945, however, Franco's minions continued to hound him while purges of Republicans went on in Spain. His eyes were damaged by poisoned coffee in France, in what he termed as one of more than a hundred attempts on his life.

In the1950's he settled for a sparsely populated place in a region of Bolivia where he could be as far away from any priest. He claimed that the Spanish press covered up the massacre of 2 million Republicans which was masterminded by the Catholic Church. In the Bolivian community he went to, the presence of a German priest who bad-mouthed him as a criminal forced him to move to a jungle 67 kilometers away with his Bolivian wife Irma. Believing the priest continued to spy on him and made attempts to inform his enemies of his whereabouts, he established an anarchist community with nomadic indians in the heart of the wilderness. His community thrived, and he has survived the harsh jungle, and perhaps all his enemies.

Notwithstanding his status as a stateless citizen which was taken away by Franco, he believes he should not request for a reinstatement of his citizenship because it was stolen from him by the government. He averred that Franco wanted the Nazis to exterminate them in silence at Mauthausen. Paintings from events in prison provide a visual reminder of his past under the Nazis. Baron is determined to share his version of the Civil War to a larger audience. Recent developments in Spain could assist him in this effort. Thousands of documents from the Civil war detailing the campaign of the Nationalists versus the Republicans were ordered released by Spain's socialist government as part of its policy of redressing the wrongs of Franco's era. The order is controversial since the documents include Franco's campaign of brutal repression against his perceived enemies.

The documents and the details that are to be revealed by Baron may face rejection or may be acknowledged and embraced. It could lead to division or forge unity. But for Baron, the truth can no longer be suppressed, and the fulfillment of a promise to fallen comrades must now come to pass since his opportunity to do so diminishes with time. As with all dictatorial regimes then and now, in whatever form or whatever part of the world they insidiously breed, a day of reckoning will come. Like Baron, who survived the horrors of war, the inhumanity of torture, the paranoia of assassinations, and the isolation and deprivation of an unforgiving wilderness environment, someone will emerge with the truth which may open old wounds, or commence the healing of several decades of bleeding from wounds inflicted by injustice and perpetuated by blatant lies.

Haarrrwwwwk...Twoooooooph...Ting!

14 comments:

Layne | Reward Rebel said...

Wealth and bigotry are a dangerous mix, and there’s plenty of both in the Catholic church. I don’t want to offend anyone, so I’ll say no more and, instead, take my cue from you, DD, "Haarrrwwwwk... Twoooooooph... Ting!” :lol:

SheR. said...

Ah.. the truth..
In Croatia, much talk is about the war criminals that were involved in the Yugoslavian war (Bosnian war).
In war, like my fiance puts it, there is no person who has done absolutely no wrong.
May whatever Truth or Justice that anyone seeks give them a good night's sleep.

Kim said...

a memorable story Durano...
and hopefully there will be karma for this hero...
the Catholic Church has a lot to answer for !!!

The Fitness Diva said...

Wow. Educational as usual.
I appreciate the history lesson!

Good to see you back on the blog, Durano! Hope all is well with you!

Zhu said...

Glad to see you back ;-)

The Spanish civil war is a very dark moment in the history of the country. It's interesting to note that many Spanish filmmakers or authors that were born during this period cast a very sharp eye on the society then.

genny said...

A resourceful blog and thanks for stopping by...

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Layne,

I am a baptized Roman Catholic but that's about all there is to it. There are still many lingering beliefs but several critical questions remain.

I have done several years of battle with the Dominican priests in High School on the basis of what the Church has done in the name of God. Their only reaction was that all the research and knowledge I had was wasted on the lies written about them. They also tried to punish me for these but I always managed to outwit and out maneuver them.

I have nothing against the essence of the religion itself and Jesus in particular, but the hype and the slant they have injected in its teaching must be cleared to find better meaning for those looking to build their lives through honest faith. Otherwise, most will be going through life as bigots themselves. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Sher,

You are correct in that Sher. War is the most inhuman evil man can inflict on his fellowmen.

Che Guevarra, that revolutionary in South America was once interviewed and he was asked about his passion for war and the freedom movements he espoused with this question: "But Che, if revolution is the only viable method for change, what about the innocent bystanders?"
Che replied, " In a revolution, there can be no innocent bystanders".

But there are rules even in war, most of which are violated in the passion of each battle. That's why I subscribe to what Benjamin Franklin of the US said, " There never was a good war, or a bad peace". :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hello Kim,

The stories about the Spanish Civil War continues to this day in Europe. When I was in Italy, old people we came across in parks talked about it from memory too.

This man has suffered enough and I believe he continues to live only because of the burden of carrying his untold story.

My wish is for him to be given this opportunity too. And you're right, the Catholic Church has a lot to answer for, as always. It took several decades for them through Pope John Paul ll to apologize for the way they responded to the treatment of Jews during the last war. I wonder how long it will take them for this one. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Fitness Diva,

Thanks for the compliment.

Glad to be able to blog but not as much as I really want to. All these are being encoded through the kindness, loyalty and devotion of my secretary, Carol.

I'm fine, lost a few pounds but healthy nonetheless, thanks.

It's August 3rd as I write this and I'm so happy doing so, like a boy who has found his long lost favorite toy. :-)

One thing I can say Fitness, we get a lot of exercise here without really trying.LOL! :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Zhu,

I have reason to believe that the Spanish Civil War lives on in the mind of many Spaniards as well as many Europeans.

This is the effect of lies and cover ups that took many decades to contain, but like all untruthful accounts, the stench will always move to the surface.

I am also documenting and validating quietly some of the atrocities committed in this country where I'm at several years before, during the disaster, and its aftermath. The things we know about the woman elected President here who was denied her assumption to the post is just a tiny tip of the iceberg. My colleagues are scared of the risk I'm taking talking about these things with the people here, but what is life without risks eh? This is an adventure that makes this task we have to do more exciting and and fulfilling. Thanks for the visit. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Genny,

Thanks for the kind words. And thanks for dropping by too.

I have seen photo blogs that improved tremendously over a period of less than a year. Yours shouldn't be an exception. :-) --Durano, done!

Anonymous said...

What a load of shite......!!!!! Go study History - what REALLY happened......... !!!! Not your "Twisted, distorted left-wing, inaccurate" portrayal.........!!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Anonymous,

I'm afraid that you haven't specified what it is that is "twisted" and "inaccurate", except to leave unintelligent words commonly used by the uninformed when they disagree with an observation of another. It is merely a street level bullying that is devoid of reason and substance; and passed on as a logical response.

Documents are now being opened about Franco's campaigns. If it is the history of the war written under Franco that you refer to, that would be as biased and slanted as any one sided account of a congenital liar.

Sources were obtained from the links provided, please check them out. Thank you for dropping by. :-) --Durano, done!