The Fascists in Spain

Posted by The Skibbereen Eagle | March 2, 2016 0

Salvador_Puig_Antich
42 years ago today, at 9:20 am on 2 March 1974, the execution by garrotte of Salvador Puig Antich, 25-year-old anarchist, began in a cell at La Modelo (The Model) Prison in Barcelona despite a widespread international campaign to spare his life. It took him almost 20 minutes to die, as the medieval device slowly strangled him with each turn. At the same time an East German common criminal named Georg Michael Welzel (alias Heinz Chez) was also killed that day, at Tarragona prison. The two executions were the last time that this horrifically intimate form of execution – a metal band is slowly tightened around the neck by the executioner standing behind with a crank until the victim is asphyxiated – was carried out in Spain. Spanien_Mord_an_Puigpuignoticia_normal

salvadorSalvador Puig Antich was an anarchist, born in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain and active during the 1960s. A member of the Iberian Liberation Movement (Movimiento Ibérico de Liberación) (MIL), he was executed by the Francoist regime after being tried by a military tribunal and found guilty of the death of a Guardia Civil (Spanish gendarme).

Handsome young Salvador was radicalised as a youth in the 1960s under the oppressive semi-fascist Franco dictatorship. As was the style at the time, the Catalan nationalists philosophy soon migrated to anarchism, and he brought his army experience to the Movimiento Ibérico de Liberación (MIL), whose direction-action credo entailed bank robberies branded as “expropriation.”

Puig Antich was caught in a police ambush that also claimed the life of a police officer — at least some of the bullets seemingly delivered by police friendly fire. But his defence that his own gun discharged only as he was beaten senseless by the gendarmes never had a chance, since between arrest and trial, another set of proscribed leftists assassinated Prime Minister Luis Carrero Blanco.

Blanco’s successor Carlos Arias Navarro  went by the handle “Butcher of Malaga” for his depredations as a nationalist prosecutor during the Spanish Civil War. Although recycled as a moderate leader in the last phase of Francoism and the beginning of the transition to democracy, Carlos Arias Navarro was in fact a hard-line politician who had been involved in the White Terror, signing 17,000 thousand death warrants at the time of the dismantling of the Spanish Republic. To help take the political edge off the scene, a non-political murderer, Heinz Chez was garrotted at almost the same time, in a different prison.

Empfang des Reichsfühers SS Himmler beim Caudillo Während seines Aufenthaltes in Spanien, der im Zeichen der deutsch-spanischen Freundschaft stand, empfing auch der Staatschef Franco den deutschen Gast. UBz: Reichsführer SS Himmler während des Empfangs bei dem Generalissimus Franco. Ganz rechts der spanische Aussenminister Serrano Suner, hinter dem Caudillo (halb verdeckt) General Moscardo. Herausgabe 25.10.1940

Karl Wolff, Heinrich Himmler, Franco and Spain’s Foreign Minister Serrano Súñer in Madrid, October 1940

In 1931, Spain’s King Alfonso XIII, under the pressure of his country’s sagging economy, agreed to hold democratic elections. It was the first time in nearly 60 years that free elections were allowed in Spain, and the people voted overwhelmingly for a republic and Spain’s monarchy was finished. Alfonso decided to go into exile to avoid large-scale violence, and he left the country in April 1931.

Franco_eisenhower_1959_madrid

Franco and US President Eisenhower in Madrid, December 1959

In 1936 Francisco Franco was one of the military leaders of a coup against to overthrow the elected Spanish Democratic Republic in the Spanish Civil War (1936—1939), subsequently establishing his lasting dictatorship. Salvador Puig Antich’s region of Catalonia was the last to fall to Franco’s forces aided by Hitler’s Nazis and Mussolini’s Italian Fascists and suffered particular repression in the years after 1939.  puig_noticia_grande

Franco’s ultranationalist faction received military support from several fascist groups, especially Nazi Germany and the Kingdom of Italy.  Leaving half a million dead, the war was eventually won by Franco in 1939. He established an autocratic dictatorship, which he defined as a totalitarian state.  Franco proclaimed himself head of state and government under the title El Caudillo (the Chief), a term similar to Il Duce (Italian) and Der Führer (German). During the Francoist regime, only one political party was legal: a merger of the monarchist party and the fascist party that helped him during the war, FET y de las JONS.

Franco led a series of politically-motivated violent acts, including but not limited to concentration camps, forced labour and executions, mostly against political and ideological enemies, causing an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 deaths, depending on how death in the more than 190 concentration camps is considered.

The Skibbereen Eagle

In 1898, to widespread bemusement, a small Provincial Newspaper in an equally small town in the South West corner of Ireland sonorously warned the Czar of Russia that it knew what he was up to and he should be careful how he proceeded for “The Skibbereen Eagle” was wise to his game and in future would be keeping its eye on him! It is doubtful that Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias, even noticed the Eagle’s admonitions but as history soon proved he should have paid closer attention to the Eagle’s insightful opinions!

Today, powered by its readers and contributors, from its cyber eyries in Ireland and the centres of the Irish Diaspora The Eagle casts its Cold Eye on Life and Death and much in between.
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