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Barcelona and the Spanish Civil War

July 26, 2012

At the recent Challenging History conference in February a speaker talked passionately and articulately on the complexities around the recovery of bodies of those who were killed at the hands of Franco’s regime during and after the Spanish Civil War.  During the presentation a map was displayed that showed the locations of mass graves and I was shocked to see that almost the entire country seemed to be covered and that the violence seemed to leave no town or village untouched.  The speaker expressed her concern that when Historians talk about fascist Europe they generally do not give attention to Spain, largely because it was not involved in the Allies fight against Germany and Italy, and that the general understanding of the Spanish Civil War is poor both at home and abroad.

I stumbled on this article in The Guardian which reports on a popular walking tour in Barcelona that explores the impact of the war on this great Catalan city.  The tour guide is Nick Lloyd, an Englishman, who has lived in Barcelona for 22 years who comments that most people who take the tours are either anarchists or fans of George Orwell who (along with 2000 Britons) fought against Franco during the conflict.  It’s sort of amusing, also, to discover that the new Apple store was the headquarters of the Communist party during the civil war.

It may or may not be a surprise that there is no similar walking tour in London about the English Civil War, certainly there are enough locations that would be relevant, but quite why it hasn’t happened is another thing.    Certainly there is a general lack of understanding about the English Civil War even today, and that may or may not have something to do with the fact we live in a constitutional monarchy in Britain, but when Parliament don’t mention the trial of Charles I in their blurb about Westminster Hall here, it’s probably suffice to say that the rest of the country is going to struggle with it too.

If you want to read more about London during the Civil War click here for an interesting talk by Barry Coward which attempts to give a more balanced overview of both the Parliamentarian and Royalist pressures at work during the conflict in the capital.

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