One of the most most bizarre phenomena of the twentieth century was the glorification of the "Republicans" of Spain and the whitewashing of the atrocities committed by the anarchists. Unleashed by the Left, the anarchists were given license to roam about doing what they pleased to so that the Left, in an effort to create enough disorder and fear, could install an all-out totalitarian state.
Motivated by the call to fight "The Fascists" young men in the West left their homes to join units such as the romantically named Lincoln and Washington Brigades, only to be used as cannon-fodder by the Republicans.
The Western media more than glossed over the horrors of the "Red Terror". Almost to a one, they either ignored it or chalked it up to the necessary job of combating reactionary elements. Only the Nationalists, not all of them fascists by any means (The Falange only being a portion of the movement), would be labeled as the monsters.
Burt Boyar was quoted from his book book "Blessed" in the following link:
"The National and Municipal Police were under the command of a government whose plan was to let chaos reign throughout the country until the Soviets came in to “Restore Order”. This end result had been sought at the first meeting of The Comintern (Communist International) in 1918 when Lenin announced that Spain was their first target because of its strategic location at the mouth of the Mediterranean and because it was a warm weather port. They finally almost accomplished it eighteen years later in 1936. The plan was to create chaos and then step in to “create order”, remaining in control, making Spain the first Iron Curtain country. To accomplish this all members of the Anarchist Party, working men, were sworn in by the new government as militiamen, given rifles and empowered to make arrests, while their elected leaders of the Popular Front sat back and let nature take its course.
In Madrid, Barcelona, Seville – all major cities, the militiamen roamed the streets in packs, stealing, plundering, beating, killing at will, taking “revenge” on their “oppressors”. Anyone who appeared to have money or a belief in God, or to have served in the military, was their natural prey, “a fascist”. They were robbed, beaten, killed, and left on the streets to eventually be picked up and taken to the morgue by police vans cruising the streets looking for them. The municipal police were under orders to look the other way.......
Spain was gripped in what became known as The Red Terror. Even more than the aristocracy and the military, the clergy was the most despised by the Anarchists. Within four months, one hundred and sixty churches were burned and as the priests, monks, altar boys and nuns came running out, fleeing the smoke and flames, the Anarchists were waiting for them with mounted machine guns and mowed them down.
In Malaga, militiamen stripped nuns of their clothes, gang-raped them on the street, lined them up on the concrete and drove over them with a steam roller. A monk captured by militiamen had his rosary beads forced into both ears until his eardrums burst. Another was put into an arena with eight fighting bulls. His hands and feet were not bound so that he could amuse the militiamen by trying to escape the horns of the monstrous animals that quickly gored him to bits, repeatedly catching him on their horns and tossing him in the air until he had become only pieces of body parts.
In all, some seven thousand priests, monks and nuns and twelve bishops perished in the savagery of these working men’s “revenge”."
This prejudice against Franco is particularly odd if you simply take an impartial look at the historical record and at how Spain fared throughout and after WWII. Despite repressive measures taken against Leftists and a substantial number of summary executions, Franco's Spain had no gulags. Nor did his government pursue a systematic genocide against any segment of the population. In fact, Spain was a safe haven for European Jews and went out of its way to rescue the Sephardim, European Jews of Spanish descent (hence, the previously mentioned favorable cover blurb). By keeping Spain, for the most part, out of the actual combat of WWII, Franco preserved Spanish lives, maintained Spanish independence, and continued laying the groundwork for a stable society, one which would eventually become a democracy. More than this though, neither he nor the Spanish people were responsible for the kind of large scale slaughter which other leaders and nations engaged in throughout the war--there are no Dresdens, or Nankings, or Hiroshimas, or Stalingrads, etc., to trouble the Spanish conscience.
Compare this record to that of FDR and America. America too stayed neutral, until provoked by the attack on Pearl Harbor. FDR refused to allow Jewish refugees into the United States. We rounded up innocent Americans of Japanese descent and shipped them to concentration camps. Over four hundred thousand Americans died fighting the War and Lord only knows how many we killed, including hundreds of thousands of civilians in nuclear blasts and fire bombings. And at the end of the day, what did we achieve ? We merely replaced a homicidal German regime with a homicidal Russian one, locking ourselves into an additional fifty years of deadly and expensive Cold War. Given this context, which leader, FDR or Franco, better deserves to have his War performance lauded ?
The Republican regime was made up such heterogeneous, often unsavory elements that it was regularly at each other's throats, with the war often assigned a secondary priority. Towards the end it became even more pronounced and surreal; this civil-war-within-a-civil-war is a taboo subject. That the republic was not entirely composed of poets, novelists and artists as the romantic fantasy would have it, is another.
If extra-judicial detentions (abduction), torture, and paseos (execution) when informal and firing squads at cemeteries or prisons (the formal manner) is how they dealt with each other and their allies, imagine how they treated those remotely suspected of being neutral, or heaven forbid opposed to their politics.
Apologists for the Republic have several answers they believe are an iron-clad when explaining away this reign of terror.
The main one nowdays is: It didn't happen, it's just fascist propaganda.
Another is the pent-up anger of the lower classes towards the rich and the clergy. Simply put: They had it coming. Vox populi, lex maxima: This legal fiction was voiced by no less a personage that a republican minister of justice, García Oliver, an anarchist to justify the extermination. Ponder on that for a moment. In the movie based on Hemingway's book For Whom The Bell Tolls, there's a scene which illustrates this wishful thinking. When the civil war began, workers and peasants rose-up against their ancient oppressors and did burn churches and hold mass public executions, but once they got it out of their system they settled down and began to build a spanish version of a left-wing utopia.
Yet another is the need of the Republic to fight spies and fifth columnists. Russian syphillis it's been called, seeing spies everywhere. Needless to say it was a painful and inmediately fatal disease for those who came in contact with the Checas and other representatives of the Republican security apparatus.
None of these arguments provide but the flimsiest cover for the atrocities, but if you disregard the victims' testimony out of hand and then argue that the victim asked for it, well then it can be treated as iron-clad.
One shudders just thinking of the gigantic blood bath, had the republicans won the war. Victory only seems to spur communists into greater killing and repressions to keep their populations cowed and obedient (see China, North Korea or Cuba).
I have a personal theory on why this romantic fiction continues to grow, in spite of the facts and reality which absolutely contradict it.
A communist article of faith is the immaculate nature of their world movement (along with their infallibity). It logically follows that as a part of the world communist entity, republican Spain could never engage in terror or murder, those are things in which fascists indulge. For doing so would sully the sacrifice of so many volunteers and expose the idealistic naivetee so common to American left-wingers out to save the world, even if it kills it. Lori Berenson and John Walker Lindh come to mind.
Even if some left-wingers ever entertain the heretical notion that the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites were more or less gigantic concentration camps or killing fields, Spain they argue is the one exception. That is until it was crushed by the evil fascists hordes led by Franco.
Failure to reckon Communist systematic murder and repression of their own and alien population, before and after WW II at least on an par with the Nazis (the numbers tip the scales heavily against the communists) is the main reason people refuse to see and accept the true nature of the Republic.
Academia and Hollywood acting as the keepers of the republican myth is another. In our culture this is not to be disregarded lightly or underestimated."