Órgano del Círculo Tradicionalista General Carlos Calderón

Órgano del Círculo Tradicionalista General Carlos Calderón leal a S.A.R. el Duque de Aranjuez Don Sixto Enrique de Borbón y al ideario católico-monárquico.
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lunes, 23 de julio de 2018

Reseña de «La rebeldía carlista. Memoria de una represión silenciada» de Josep Miralles Climent

Publicamos hoy una nueva reseña bibliográfica en inglés de nuestro colaborador extranjero, Arvo Jokela (de quien ya publicamos una reseña de otro libro el pasado año), sobre el reciente libro de Josep Miralles Climent titulado «La rebeldía carlista. Memoria de una represión silenciada: Enfrentamientos, marginación y persecución durante la primera mitad del régimen franquista».

Esta obra narra ciertos acontecimientos de una época en la que los carlistas leales a Fal Conde y a Don Javier (esto es, encuadrados en la Comunión Tradicionalista) se enfrentaron a la primera etapa del régimen del general Franco, no precisamente desde unos postulados izquierdistas con los que quizá se identifique el autor, sino desde la ortodoxia tradicionalista más férrea: eso que algunos, entre ellos el propio general Franco, venían a llamar, despectivamente, integrismo. No en vano, Climent (autor que por lo general desaconsejamos) tiene escrito otro libro titulado «Los heterodoxos de la Causa», en el que parece querer dar al adjetivo heterodoxo una connotación simpática o, cuanto menos, compatible con el hecho de ser carlista, desconociendo tal vez que un carlista heterodoxo no es otra cosa que un "no carlista", al igual que un católico heterodoxo es un "no católico"; pues como enseñaba la Real Academia Española, el vocablo heterodoxia se aplica a lo que es contrario al sentir recibido, y a la verdadera religión católica.

A continuación la reseña de Arvo Jokela sobre un libro que a pesar de todo puede tener interés:

Josep Miralles Climent, La rebeldía carlista. Memoria de una represión silenciada: Enfrentamientos, marginación y persecución durante la primera mitad del régimen franquista (1936-1955), Madrid 2018, ISBN 9788416558711, 430 pages in total, numerous small in-text photographs, soft cover, available also for electronic devices, price in Spain around €25. 

Among some 200 works on Carlist history during the Francoist era many deal with the so-called “primer franquismo”, yet there is only one work intended as a general in-depth study: “Retorno a la lealtad” by Manuel Martorell Pérez (2010). Relations between Carlism and the emerging Francoist regime form one of key threads of Martorell’s study; they are now approached in more detail in the recent work of Miralles Climent, who dedicated his investigation specifically to the Francoist repressive policy towards Carlism until the mid-1950s.

The unpublished study of Miralles Climent was presented to the jury of XV Luis Hernando de Larramendi prize, annually awarded to works on history of Carlism. Though the prize eventually went to another work, the jury considered Miralles’ contribution important enough to merit publication, which materialized as the book in question. Prologued by Solé i Sabaté and with notes honoring Luis Hernando de Larramendi, the volume contains a bibliography and a personal index. The narrative falls into 3 major chapters, dealing respectively with the periods of 1936-1939, 1939-1945 and 1945- 1955; they are supplemented by chronological lineup of major events.

The value of the book is chiefly about gathering together all accounts of repressive measures, applied against the Carlists between 1936 and 1955. The author went to great lengths inspecting official and clandestine Traditionalist press of the era, leaflets, private correspondence, Comunión Tradicionalista papers and some documents produced by the regime. The result is an endless list of detentions, arrests, fines, labor camp confinements, travel restrictions, expulsions and deportations, but also closures of circulos, property takeovers, suspensions of rallies and meetings, and censorship interventions. Last but not least, the book provides a chronicle of apparently officially condoned violent attacks carried out by various hit-squads, like raiding premises, vandalizing, personal assaults, provocations or attempts to break up or sabotage meetings and rallies. A very interesting thread is also some sort of official propaganda campaign, with attempts to eradicate independent Carlist presence from public sphere and to promote a domesticated, regime-engineered vision of Carlism as a glorious movement of the past which has eventually merged in the new party led by Francisco Franco.

There are a few major problems with this compilation, however. One is that the author relies almost exclusively on Carlist sources and approaches them with little or no criticism. Many of these accounts are difficult to verify and one is left wondering about their credibility. The key example is the Begoña incident, presented in line with the Carlist propaganda as a carefully prepared Falangist plot; Miralles makes no reference to a thesis worked out fairly convincingly by Thomás, namely that the Begoña bombing was an accidental confrontation. What looks like a tendency to categorize possibly large number of incidents as anti-Carlist repression assumes somewhat absurd dimensions when with little or no doubt, the death of Alfonso Carlos in 1936, the Nationalist bombing of Durango in 1937 or the decimation of Tercio de Montserrat at Cuatro Caminos in 1938 are counted in. Such cases pose serious questions about the judgement of the author; many readers might be tempted to suspect him of insufficient source criticism and excessive reliance on speculations. What seems even more confusing is that some important cases of anti-Carlist measures are entirely ignored. The sub-chapter dealing with Francoist campaign against Carlist feminine organizations contains not a single note on the fate of Urraca Pastor, sidetracked from executive position in female FET branch.

Another problem is that apart from compiling anecdotal information, the author makes almost no attempt to quantify the scale of Francoist repressions against the Carlists. The only figures he gives, i.e. the number of requetés arrested in May 1937 for opposing unification and the number of complaints about marginalization of Carlism within FET (raised along the internal party escalation route), are quoted after other authors, namely after Urrizola and Peñalba. The undersigned found 159 Carlists listed by name as repressed in the period of 1939-1945 (Chapter 2); for the same period Miralles refers 24 cases of violent street clashes between the Carlists and either the Falangists or the forces of order. However, it is not clear whether these figures should be approached as exhaustive or rather as a sample. Since the author made a great effort to evidence every case of repressive action perhaps the reader should assume that the figures deliver a fairly good idea about the scale of Francoist harassment, yet I would prefer to see some up-front estimates which gauge how repressive versus the Carlists the system actually was.

A general attempt to quantify anti-Carlist measures would perhaps enable comparison with the scale of Francoist crackdown on other political groupings. In its absence one is left only with a vague impression that the term “terror”, often employed to describe Francoist policy versus anti-regime opposition, is not applicable to the policy versus the Carlists. Except a single case of a Traditionalist who sided with the Republicans and was executed by the Nationalists, Miralles provides evidence of 3 Carlist deaths, one being execution and two the result of mistreatment in captivity; there are also 6 unclear cases referred as possibly related to Carlist deserters from Nationalist troops. Compared to some 28,000 court-ordered executions and an unknown number of extra-judicial ones registered during early Francoism the Carlist death toll seems minor; perhaps one should assume that it is so also in case of other repressive means. However, Miralles makes no attempt to put the Francoist repression against the Traditionalists in perspective; readers unfamiliar with the Spanish history of the 1940s might be led into concluding that the anti-Carlist repression campaign administered by the regime was particularly heavy.

The question discussed above seems part of a wider issue, namely this of general policy of the regime versus Carlism and mutual relations between the two. What seems to be a relatively mild repressive policy suggests that Francoism tended to avoid all-out war against Carlism and kept hoping that the movement might be somehow domesticated. However, Miralles does not seem interested. His study on the repression is focused almost exclusively on the repressed, with barely any attention paid to these who executed the campaign. This perspective is clearly visible in the range of sources inspected. Apart from Fondo Arrese, almost no use is made of papers produced by administration; the governmental archive in Alcala de Henares is quoted only 7 times in footnotes. The mechanics of repressive policy remains entirely out of sight: no attempt is made to identify key decision makers, their objectives, choice of targets or strategy, channels of execution, internal debates within the Francoist camp or fluctuations of the repressive course.

It appears from the narrative that anti-Carlist campaign was powered mostly by the Falange and perhaps the Falange-controlled Ministry of Interior, especially during the tenures of Serrano Suñer and Pérez González; the Interior structures, in particular civil governors, seem key in executing this policy. Somewhat chaotic intensity of repressions – e.g. fines for similar offences might have differed from 1,000 to 10,000 ptas – suggest that much depended on local personal setup. However, the above is nothing but impressions of the undersigned; Miralles himself offers no systematic analysis of policy-making versus Carlism within the Francoist camp. In particular, the author offers no conclusion on the role of Franco personally; was he the chief architect of the policy, or perhaps he let Serrano and the Falangist hard-liners pursue their anti-Carlist zeal? The reader is left here with no clue at all. Similarly, one will not learn from Miralles whether there were any internal debates within the regime, e.g. whether the army or local administration had any moderating effect on apparently syndicalist-driven anti-Carlism. If the author refers to some minor internal dissent it is discussed in personalist terms as related to individuals like Rodezno, Bilbao or Varela.

This simplistic picture of “Francoist regime” is paired with equally simplistic picture of Carlism itself. Miralles narrows the term to the followers of Fal Conde and Don Javier, which in turn allows him to paint a picture of Carlists united in their opposition to Franco. All Carlist branches which stayed on the verge or beyond loyalty to the regent – so called carlo-franquistas, carlo-juanistas, carloctavistas, sivattistas – are all denied Carlist credentials. It enables the author to pursue his key thesis – that Carlism and Francoism were irreconcilable enemies – but this thesis seems far from universally approved. Actually, a competitive thesis seems to be at least equally justified, namely that the post- war Carlism found itself bewildered, fragmented and disoriented, and that many Carlists – including the Falcondistas-Javieristas – were in vain trying to square the circle of what the proper course versus Francoism was.

And this is probably what the main problem with Miralles’ book is. Instead of providing an insight into complex, ambiguous, contradictory, paradoxical if not schizophrenic relations between Carlism and Francoism, it delivers a highly dubious image of clear-cut enemies. The opinion that genuine Carlism has always remained belligerent towards the dictatorship seems far too simplistic. “La rebeldia carlista” as the title of the book is entirely inappropriate. Miralles fails to prove the point and his narrative suggests clearly that there was no Carlist rebellion at all. On the other hand, his work at least punctures the thesis which prevails in historiography, namely that along the army, the Church, the syndicalists, the technocrats, the Alfonsists and the bureaucracy, Carlism was one of political families competing for power within the Francoist framework. Unfortunately, in absence of comparative background (e.g. repression against the Alfonsists) it is close to impossible to tell whether measures applied against the Carlists might be classified as internal struggle within the system. Miralles does not even consider such a question and he certainly would answer that Carlism was by no means one of political families making up the regime. This might be a valid claim, yet with broader perspective missing in the book it remains yet to be verified.

The final judgement of Miralles’ work must be to the negative. Anecdotal, with poor source criticism, lots of speculations, no attempt at synthetic overview, no analysis of the regime policy making and focused on the Carlist end, the book delivers a false impression of heavy repression campaign having been administered against the Traditionalists. By presenting a simplistic vision of both the regime and Carlism Miralles obscures, not clarifies the question of mutual relations between the two. What seems to be a complex tangle of paradoxes, ambiguities, bewilderment, indecision, confusion, contradiction and fragmentation is presented as a clear-cut case of Carlist rebellion and Francoist repression. Lack of comparative background does not help to understand whether anti-Carlist repressive means were closer to internal power struggle within the regime or rather closer to terror applied against post-Republican opposition. All this can hardly be outweighed by the fact that the book is a massive assortment of interesting and in some cases fascinating accounts, stories and episodes, many of them not published in historiography so far.

Arvo Jokela

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