The recent movement in Spain to give proper recognition to all the victims of the country’s Civil War has prompted many Spaniards to denounce such intentions as merely ‘raking up the ashes’. Paul Preston’s chillingly powerful new book demonstrates how much the Spanish Right has to fear from dwelling too closely on the atrocities of twentieth-century Spain. The book, though generally much praised in its original, Spanish edition, has been predictably vilified by some, not least for its title. The idea of Franco instigating a Spanish ‘holocaust’ has been seen as a delusion of Preston’s, as well as an inappropriate use of a term regarded by many Jews as their prerogative.
Yet, as Preston explains in an excellent early chapter devoted to the ideological background to Franco’s rebellion, the horrific massacres and executions carried out by the Spanish Right were motivated by a deep-rooted anti-Semitism which, mysteriously, had survived even in a country that had officially expelled its Jews over four