Resumen de la Ley de Memoria Histórica de España

La Ley de la Memoria Histórica (Ley 52/2007 de 26 de Diciembre) es probablemente una de las más controvertidas en la historia de España. Cada uno es libre de tener la opinión que quiera sobre esta ley. Lo que voy a hacer aquí abajo es resumir los puntos que toca, para que quede claro a qué se refiere, y a qué no. El texto completo de la ley está disponible aquí.

Lo primero, contexto:

En 1969, 30 aniversario del final de la Guerra Civil, Francisco Franco dictó el Decreto-Ley 10/1969, por el que prescribían todos los delitos cometidos antes de 1 de abril de 1939,​ (es decir, el final de la Guerra).

Con la llegada de la democracia se fueron promulgando una serie de decretos y leyes específicas para tratar de compensar las penalidades y sufrimientos de aquellos que padecieron los avatares de la guerra en el bando republicano o prisión en la época franquista. Algunas de ellas fueron:

  • Decreto 670/1976, de 5 de marzo, por el que se regulan pensiones a favor de los españoles que, habiendo sufrido mutilación a causa de la pasada contienda, no puedan integrarse en el cuerpo de caballeros mutilados de guerra por la patria.
  • Ley 46/1977, de 15 de octubre, de Amnistía.
  • Ley 5/1979, de 18 de septiembre, sobre reconocimiento de pensiones, asistencia médico-farmacéutica y asistencia social a favor de las viudas, hijos y demás familiares de los españoles fallecidos como consecuencia o con ocasión de la pasada guerra civil.
  • Ley 35/1980, de 26 de junio, sobre pensiones a los mutilados excombatientes de la zona republicana.
  • Ley 6/1982, de 29 de marzo, de pensiones a los mutilados civiles de guerra.
  • Ley 37/1984, de 22 de octubre, de reconocimiento de derechos y servicios prestados a quienes durante la Guerra Civil formaron parte de las fuerzas armadas, fuerzas de orden público y cuerpo de carabineros de la República.
  • Disposición adicional decimoctava de la Ley 4/1990, de 29 de junio, de Presupuesto Generales del Estado para 1990, que determina las indemnizaciones a favor de quienes sufrieron prisión como consecuencia de los supuestos contemplados en la Ley 46/1977, de 15 de octubre, de amnistía.

Todas estas leyes, decretos y disposiciones fueron mejorados y ampliados por algunas comunidades autónomas. Esto, por si alguien está tentado de argumentar que no se tomaron medidas para aliviar los padecimientos de las víctimas de la guerra en el bando republicano.

Las medidas principales de la Ley de Memoria Histórica son:

  • La ley reconoce en su preámbulo «el carácter radicalmente injusto de todas las condenas, sanciones y violencia personal […] durante la Guerra Civil y […] la Dictadura». Los tribunales franquistas y sus condenas, «dictadas por motivos políticos, ideológicos o de creencia […] contra quienes defendieron la legalidad institucional anterior, pretendieron el restablecimiento de un régimen democrático en España o intentaron vivir conforme a opciones amparadas por derechos y libertades hoy reconocidos por la Constitución», son declarados «ilegítimos». Sin embargo, aunque los juicios no son anulados, el preámbulo de la ley establece que ante las demandas de revisión de juicios, la Justicia no podrá rechazarlas invocando las leyes de la dictadura, definidas como «represoras y contrarias a los derechos fundamentales». Esto presenta una seria contradicción en el cuerpo de leyes españolas, ya que varias leyes franquistas siguen en vigor, la jurisprudencia franquista sigue siendo parte de la tradición legal, y el actual jefe de Estado lo es solamente porque en 1975 se aplicó una ley franquista: la Ley de Sucesión en la Jefatura del Estado. En la práctica, entiendo, y estoy abierto como siempre a ser corregido, que esta intención de ignorar las leyes franquistas no ha llegado, legalmente, a ninguna medida particular de relevancia.
  • Ayudas a los represaliados. Las ayudas existentes a las víctimas del franquismo y a sus familias (pensiones, compensaciones financieras) son extendidas. Además, podrán beneficiarse con hasta 135.000 euros las familias de las «personas fallecidas en defensa de la democracia entre el 1 de enero de 1968 y el 6 de octubre de 1977».
  • Símbolos franquistas. La ley establece que los «escudos, insignias, placas y otros objetos o menciones conmemorativas de exaltación personal o colectiva del levantamiento militar, de la Guerra Civil y de la represión de la dictadura» deberán ser retiradas de los edificios y espacios públicos. La retirada «no será de aplicación cuando […] concurran razones artísticas, arquitectónicas, o artístico-religiosas protegidas por la ley», lo cual podrá aplicarse a iglesias y templos de culto. Esta ha sido quizá la medida que en la práctica ha resultado más nociva y controvertida, llevando a un memento mori en muchas ocasiones sin sentido.
  • Valle de los Caídos. Se regirá por las normas aplicables a lugares de culto y religiosos. Se dispone su despolitización, prohibiéndose los «actos de naturaleza política […] exaltadores de la Guerra Civil, de sus protagonistas, o del franquismo» y que la fundación gestora del Valle «incluirá entre sus objetivos honrar y rehabilitar la memoria de todas las personas fallecidas a consecuencia de la Guerra Civil de 1936-1939 y de la represión política que le siguió». Esta medida está en un punto medio entre lo innecesario y lo lógico: desde que se abrió, el Valle de los Caídos ha servido para “honrar y rehabilitar la memoria de todas las personas fallecidas a consecuencia de la Guerra Civil de 1936-1939” y por eso están enterrados ahí soldados de ambos bandos, y no sólo de uno.
  • Brigadistas Internacionales: se les concederá la nacionalidad española sin que tengan que renunciar a la propia. Por cuestiones de edad, esta disposición sólo llevó a que un puñado de brigadistas recibieran pasaportes españoles. Es un reconocimiento al que se puede objetar (¿por qué no darle nacionalidad a los voluntarios fascistas?, podría preguntar alguien inocente e ignorante sobre las cosas del mundo) pero que no vas más allá del simbolismo político mitinero.
  • Nacionalidad para Hijos y Nietos de exiliados. A pesar de estar incluida como disposición adicional dentro de la Ley de Memoria Histórica, el apartado primero de la «Disposición Adicional séptima» permitió optar por la nacionalidad española a los hijos de personas que hubiesen sido originariamente españolas, «sin importar la fecha de nacimiento ni el lugar de nacimiento de éstas». Es decir que en la práctica cualquier nieto de hombre emigrante pudo optar por la nacionalidad española de su abuelo, siempre que éste hubiera conservado la nacionalidad española hasta por lo menos el nacimiento de su hijo en el exterior. Hay que recordar que hasta el 29 de diciembre de 1978 sólo los varones transmitían la nacionalidad a sus hijos: en la práctica, esta disposición sólo extiende ligeramente la jurisprudencia española en lo concerniente a la concesión de nacionalidad, sin grandes cambios.
  • Centro Documental de la Memoria Histórica. Se crea el Centro Documental de la Memoria Histórica en la ciudad de Salamanca, en el que se integrará el actual Archivo General de la Guerra Civil. Esto ha dado lugar a muchas peleas políticas en parte absurdas y en parte simbólicas, pero tampoco es una medida de gran calado en general.
  • Fosas comunes. El Estado ayudará a la localización, identificación y eventual exhumación de las víctimas de la represión franquista cuyos cadáveres se encuentran aún desaparecidos, a menudo enterrados en fosas comunes. Esto puede parecer de cajón: escribo en 2019, cuando la búsqueda de fosas continúa y, aunque muchos la hayan hecho un negocio, no parece un desatino que el estado ayude financieramente a que se entierre a combatientes o víctimas de la Guerra que llevan décadas en fosas comunes, cuando se pueda y cuando lo pidan las familias (este hilo excepcional de Twitter demuestra las muchas dificultades y tergiversaciones que hay al respecto). Pero tiene su truco: Santos Juliá, historiador progresista nada sospechoso de franquismo, frecuentemente dirigió sus críticas contra la Ley de Memoria Histórica vía este punto en particular. En 2018, un año antes de fallecer, dio una entrevista en la revista Letras Libres en la que subrayó que la polémica de las fosas no pasaba de ser una argucia política del PSOE contra el PP: “Me consta que el gobierno de Rodríguez Zapatero se lo planteó (dedicar al Estado a abrir las fosas). Y se desechó y se prefirió el camino de las subvenciones a particulares. (…) La decisión de privatizar la cuestión de las fosas tiene que ver con la política del PSOE de arrinconar al PP. No hay otra explicación. Con una democracia que en 2005 estaba consolidada y una demanda social, legítima, que lo está solicitando, ¿por qué no lo asume el Estado? Pues porque si lo hace, en seis meses, un año, se acabó. En cambio así tienes un continuo elemento de agitación.”

Aquí hay un análisis más detallado de la ley, y cómo se engarza en el marco legal español.

 

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Moral Debts Are Dangerous Things To Hold

William Makepeace Thackeray knew it, and wrote thus in “Vanity Fair,” (1848) chapter XVIII:

“When one man has been under very remarkable obligations to another, with whom he subsequently quarrels, a common sense of decency, as it were, makes of the former a much severer enemy than a mere stranger would be. To account for your own hard-heartedness and ingratitude in such a case, you are bound to prove the other party’s crime. It is not that you are selfish, brutal, and angry at the failure of a speculation—no, no—it is that your partner has led you into it by the basest treachery and with the most sinister motives. From a mere sense of consistency, a persecutor is bound to show that the fallen man is a villain—otherwise he, the persecutor, is a wretch himself. And as a general rule, which may make all creditors who are inclined to be severe pretty comfortable in their minds, no men embarrassed are altogether honest, very likely. They conceal something; they exaggerate chances of good luck; hide away the real state of affairs; say that things are flourishing when they are hopeless, keep a smiling face (a dreary smile it is) upon the verge of bankruptcy—are ready to lay hold of any pretext for delay or of any money, so as to stave off the inevitable ruin a few days longer. “Down with such dishonesty,” says the creditor in triumph, and reviles his sinking enemy. “You fool, why do you catch at a straw?” calm good sense says to the man that is drowning. “You villain, why do you shrink from plunging into the irretrievable Gazette?” says prosperity to the poor devil battling in that black gulf. Who has not remarked the readiness with which the closest of friends and honestest of men suspect and accuse each other of cheating when they fall out on money matters? Everybody does it. Everybody is right, I suppose, and the world is a rogue.” 

David Mamet knows it. From “The Spanish Prisoner,” his 1997 movie:
Jimmy Dell: I think you’ll find that if what you’ve done for them is as valuable as you say it is, if they are indebted to you morally but not legally, my experience is they will give you nothing, and they will begin to act cruelly toward you.
Joe Ross: Why?
Jimmy Dell: To suppress their guilt.
Nicolás Gómez Dávila knew it. From “Escolios a un texto implícito” (ed. 2009) (the translation is mine):
Those who betray us will never forgive us for their betrayal.
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Diarios de Guerra de Manuel Azaña (11)

(Esta entrada es parte de una serie)

Hablando con Santiago Pi y Suñer, enviado de Companys, Manuel Azaña vuelve a darle a la Generalitat de Cataluña, su afición favorita. La guerra sigue, nuevos desafíos aparecen, y Azaña se va convenciendo de que la mayor fuente de debilidad republicana, el motivo número uno por el que la rebelión no fue aplastada e el primer momento y por el que muy probablemente acabarán perdiendo la guerra, es Companys y el nacionalismo catalán: “ustedes, desde la Generalidad, no han proclamado una revolución nacionalista o separatista. Querían hacerla pasar a favor del río revuelto.” La estimación de Azaña se basa en la propia confesión del enviado: que, si la Guerra se hubiera ganado, todas las medidas que tomó Companys “habrían sido otros tantos triunfos en sus manos.”

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Azaña sigue con la conversación anterior: “apoderarse la Generalidad del Banco, o de otros establecimientos y servicios, con el pretexto de que lo hacían para que no los tomase la FAI, es caso miserable… En suma, la Generalidad, cuyo Presidente, como recuerda ahora Companys, es representante del Estado, ha vivido no solamente en desobediencia, sino en franca rebelión e insubordinación.” Hay veces en que uno se pregunta qué de cerca estuvo Azaña de escaparse de su palacete y cruzar las líneas para entregarse a los Nacionales.

 

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Páginas después, Azaña sigue sin olvidarse de Cataluña: “Claro está que si al pueblo español se le coloca en el trance de optar entre una federación de repúblicas y un régimen…”

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“…centralista, unitario, la inmensa mayoría optaría por el segundo.” Tantas cosas han cambiado desde 1937, y tantas no han cambiado nada. Azaña, que nunca da puntada sin hilo, se despide del pobre Pi con una estocada final: “No teman ustedes que los avasallen. Ya ve: la CNT les ha tenido varios meses en su mano, y al fin ha soltado la presa.”

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Negrín llama desde la Sociedad de Naciones en Ginebra, ese engendro que hace que por comparación la ONU nos parezca un oasis de orden y raciocionio. El presidente del Gobierno está indignado con las condiciones puestas para que los internados salgan de las embajadas donde se metieron para no ser asesinados (el ilustre médico Gregorio Marañón era uno de estos horribles fascistas, en la embajada polaca de Madrid). Prieto aprovecha para meter baza, sugiriendo que su odiado Negrín no sabe escribir; luego, continúa sardónico,”cuatro horas de catalanismo encima de todos mis quehaceres.” El lloriqueo permanente es, sin duda, el rasgo separatista que más irrita a los gobiernos españoles. Prieto, a Pi: “mire usted: yo soy de una franqueza brutal. Todo lo que pasa con Cataluña proviene de que están ustedes gobernados por un enfermo, como Companys, y dos miserables canallas como Tarradellas y Comorera.”

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Prieto, el obeso, haciendo chistes sobre el régimen que le han puesto en medio de la privación en que vive la población civil de la República. A Azaña le caía muy bien, debía ser un hombre muy carismático, y en las páginas de este diario sale como uno de los más brillantes y honestos republicanos.

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Un raro recuerdo de Azaña sobre los tiempos del alzamiento rebelde, de los que habla poco: una época en la que este locuaz escritor estuvo meses sin decir no pío. Escribe que Diego Martínez Barrio estuvo desaparecido durante los dos días en que fue presidente del Gobierno por encargo del propio Azaña (18-20 de julio de 1936).

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Largo Caballero, destituido como secretario de UGT. Azaña aprovecha para lanzar alguna puntadita contra su caído rival. Bombardeo nacional en Barcelona: 30 muertos.

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Azaña mira al futuro, en directa contradicción con la propia propaganda de su régimen: “Hay o puede haber en España todos los fascistas que se quiera. Pero un régimen fascista, no lo habrá… recaeríamos en una dictadura militar y eclesiástica de tipo español tradicional.”

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“Sables, casullas, desfiles militares y homenajes a la Virgen del Pilar. Por ese lado, el país no da otra cosa,” escribe. Se reúne con un conocido de Castellón, que le comenta “la tendencia localista, que pretende instalar un museíto en cada pueblo.” Los anarquistas, cuando entraron en Castellón, fusilaron a 102 presos en una cárcel y luego a 75 que estaban en un barco, continúa Azaña.

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Las interioridades de la delegación española en Ginebra son “risibles o lamentables”, le indica Carlos Esplá, jefe de propaganda, a Azaña. El presidente recibe un informe sobre la presencia de 105.000 italianos listos para acudir a la ofensiva en el frente de Aragón, lo que indica que la inteligencia del bando republicano, como muchas otras en muchas guerras, tenía el hábito de inflar las cifras de enemigos. El máximo de efectivos, incluyendo cocineros y traductores, que el CTV italiano tuvo en toda España en un momento dado, fue 50.000.

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Luis Nicolau, gobernador del Banco de España, explica el plan neozelandés para España en la Sociedad de Naciones: convertir al país en un mandato del insigne grupo internacional. Azaña vuelve a una de sus fantasías favoritas: que tras las elecciones del 1936 la derecha podría haber vuelto a gobernar en unas elecciones. Supongo que todo es cuestión de poner a un nuevo líder de la oposición cuando la policía te asesina al que tienes: al mal tiempo, buena cara.

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(Continuará)

 

 

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We Need An Idiot for a King

(Updated Jan. 20, 2020)

The world’s strangest ranking is this one. From 1 to 20, the best countries in the world according to the human development index:

1 Steady  Norway 0.953 Increase 0.002
2 Steady   Switzerland 0.944 Increase 0.001
3 Steady  Australia 0.939 Increase 0.001
4 Steady  Ireland 0.938 Increase 0.004
5 Decrease (1)  Germany 0.936 Increase 0.002
6 Steady  Iceland 0.935 Increase 0.002
7 Increase (1)  Hong Kong 0.933 Increase 0.003
7 Steady  Sweden 0.933 Increase 0.001
9 Decrease (1)  Singapore 0.932 Increase 0.002
10 Steady  Netherlands 0.931 Increase 0.003
11 Decrease (1)  Denmark 0.929 Increase 0.001
12 Steady  Canada 0.926 Increase 0.004
13 Decrease (1)  United States 0.924 Increase 0.002
14 Steady  United Kingdom 0.922 Increase 0.002
15 Steady  Finland 0.920 Increase 0.002
16 Steady  New Zealand 0.917 Increase 0.002
17 Decrease (1)  Belgium 0.916 Increase 0.001
17 Decrease (1)  Liechtenstein 0.916 Increase 0.001
19 Steady  Japan 0.909 Increase 0.002
20 Steady  Austria 0.908 Increase 0.002

As anyone can see, 8 of those 20 countries are monarchies (in yellow). This is not even counting countries that are technically monarchies — as the queen of England is still their queen — but don’t really work as such, like Canada, Australia and New Zealand. That, in a planet in which only 44 out of 193 U.N. members are monarchies — including Canada, Australia, New Zealanda and many other Commonwealth countries.

So, it’s obvious that, statistically speaking, monarchies work better than republics. This surely requires some explanation; or, at least, philosophical theorizing. Enter Slavoj Zizek, and his 1991 book “For they know not what they do.”

In the book (pp. 186-190), Zizek looks closely at Hegel’s deduction of a theory of monarchy, straight from Hegel’s on philosophy of right. Zizek resignedly writes:

“This deduction is, as a rule, looked down upon… There is surprise at the absurdity and inconsistency of Hegel, the philosopher of absolute Reason, advocating that the decision on who will be the head of state should depend upon the non-rational, biological fact of descent.”

In summary, Hegel’s argument for monarchy is based on the fact that only a monarch can embody the unity and will of the state in a single person: “this demand for natural immediacy is best met precisely by lineage,” Zizek explains. And then he adds:

The constitutional monarchy is a rationally articulated organic Whole at the head of which there is an “irrational” element, the person of the King. What is crucial here is precisely the fact accentuated by Hegel’s critics: the abyss separating the State as an or organic rational totality from the “irrational” factum brutum of the person who embodies supreme power – that is to say, by means of which the State assumes the form of subjectivity.

Against the reproach that the fate of the State is thus left to the natural contingency of the person of the king, who may (and will very often will) be dumb, an idiot, a coward, etc, Hegel retorts (as quoted by Zizek)*:

‘… all this rests on a presupposition which is nugatory, namely that everything depends on the monarch’s particular character. In a completely organized state, it is only a question of the culminatory point of formal decision . . . . It is wrong therefore to demand objective qualities in a monarch; he has only to say “yes” and dot the “i” … whatever else the monarch may have in addition to this power of fmal decision is part and parcel of his private character and should be of no consequence …. In a well-organized monarchy, the objective aspect belongs to law alone, and the monarch’s part is merely to set to the law the subjective “I will”.’

The king’s acts are, thus, of a purely formal nature: its framework is determined by the Constitution, his actual decisions are proposed to him by his counsellors, so that “he has often no more to do than sign his name. But this name is important. It is the last word beyond which it is impossible to go.”

Up to this point, this appears as a fairly straightforward argument for constitutional monarchy. The traditional appeal of hereditary kings is such: all the power that they have is power that is negated to others so, in a twisted way, the less they exercise that power, the less danger there is for everyone else.

This explains why it’s always the most active, prepared and ambitious kings who got their countries into the deepest holes: Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and his cousin “Nicky” Nicholas II of Russia, fated to rule their empires in 1914, are great examples.

On the other hand, in a republic all of the available power is up for grabs, and the margin for error (and success) is thus higher. Every republican leader, whoever ends up on top of the greasy pole, has all the tools needed to dig a country into the deepest hole.

In a monarchy, even if a complete madman becomes prime minister, the king will always be there to represent some sort of constraint. Few such constraints exist either in countries with executive presidents (U.S., Russia, France) or all-powerful primer ministers who often outrank the President of the Republic, a purely ceremonial title that commonly attracts purely ceremonial characters.

There’s one other fact at play, that of chance. The very first democracy in the world, that of Athens, depended on and was defined by chance, and not votes: it developed from what was then called isonomia (equality of law and political rights), with sortition seen as the the principal way of achieving this fairness. It was utilized to pick most of the magistrates for governing committees, and juries.

In fact, “democracy” (literally meaning rule by the people) was perceived to be in opposition to those supporting a system of oligarchy (rule by a few), which was often characterized by elections — a process easily subverted by those with money and secret cabals, as Republican Romans knew very well. Elections were seen as antithetical to Athens’ democracy, Aristotle explains (in Politics, Book 4):

“It is accepted as democratic when public offices are allocated by lot; and as oligarchic when they are filled by election.”

In Athens, to be eligible to be chosen by lot, citizens self-selected themselves into the available pool, and were then picked through lotteries for a one-year term. A citizen could not hold any particular magistracy more than once in his lifetime, but could hold other magistracies.

The system was subverted in multiple ways during the 5th century BC, so early in the 4th century BC Athenians went as far as using specific randomizing devices to pick government officials. Much later, in the Republic of Venice, a similar system depending on chance was used as part of the complex to determine the Republic’s ruler, one of the reasons why such polity was stable beyond the norm for run-of-the-mill republics.

When chance is important in the political process, becoming a politician is not very appealing, since in the end anyone (in the case of Venice, anyone belonging to the political elite) can reach the top without really trying. Monarchy, Zizek adds, by its very nature provides that component of chance, helpful antidote against the rise of a self-serving political class; in fact, it makes chance the supreme elector:

“The monarch functions as a “pure” signifier, a signifier-without-signified; his entire actuality (and authority) consists in his Name, and it is precisely for this reason that his physical reality is wholly arbitrary and could be left to the biological contingency of lineage. The monarch thus embodies the function of Master-Signifier at its purest; it is the One of the Exception, the irrational protuberance of the social edifice which transforms the hous mass of “people” into a concrete totality of mores…”

There’s more, Zizek continues. Through the king…

“…the community itself reaches its “being-for-itself ” and thus realizes itself- it is a paradoxical “symbol” by means of which the symbolized content actualizes itself. The monarch can accomplish this task only in so far as its authority is of a purely “performative” nature and not founded on effective capacities. It is only his counsellors, the State bureaucracy general, which are supposed to be chosen according to their ‘ pective capabilities and their fitness to do the required job… it is only against this background that Kant’s unconditional prohibition of the violent overthrow of the king obtains its rationale.”

The idea here is that the monarch, in the Hegelian view, functions as “the point of madness of the social fabric”: he is the only one among individuals who is by “nature” what he (socially) is — all others must “invent” themselves, elaborate the content of their being by their activity. In a way, the king is taking a bullet for everyone else. Left in a position of inherited privilege, with no way to know his actual worth, while everyone else can at least pretend that they strive for positions in the meritocracy.

Later in the same book (pp. 198-99), Zizek provides a republican example of Hegelian kingship (successful purely as kingship, regardless of political content or actual policies): that of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. By taking on many of the traits commonly associated with the common, mediocre king — “the obvious limits to what he was able to understand, and so on” — he turned them into effectively positive conditions of his reign:

“Reagan was perceived precisely as somebody who reigned in a king-like fashion: making empty gestures, putting the dots on (other’s) i’s, not really grasping what was going on . . . . So much for the idea that the logic of the Hegelian monarch is an eccentric witticism of no importance for today’s world.”

In a sense, Zizek also explains in the book (p. 374), the function of the Hegelian monarch corresponds exactly to that of the Jacobinical Terrorist: to serve as a protector of the empty locus of power, through his own inability to fully exercise such power:

“That is to say. his function is ultimately of a purely negative nature; he is an empty, formal agency whose task is simply to prevent the current performer of Power (executive) from “glueing” on to the locus of Power- that is, from identifying immediately with it. The “monarch” is nothing but a positivization, a materialization of the distance separating the locus of Power from those who exert it. It is for this reason – because his function is purely negative- that the question of”who should reign” could be, even must be, left to the contingency of biological lineage — only thus is the utter insignificance of the positivity of the monarch effectively asserted.”

The king is thus a mere placeholder. Not a king because of his greatness or virtues, but an empty container in a line of power-storing devices in human shape, whose main task is to provide a successor for the same thankless, albeit comfortable, role. The role keeps a sacred flame that is too powerful for anyone capable to keep; it can never be kept by somebody who believes he has every right to use it, but only by somebody who is scared to use it and thinks only of passing it along to the next in line, untouched.

We really start the path down the rabbit-hole of kingship later (p. 382), when Zizek asserts that decision-making by the Hegelian monarch, that creature of chance, must be left itself to chance to be most effective:

“The monarch effectively “decides”, makes a choice, only when the best solution, from the rational standpoint, is to leave the decision to chance. He thus prevents an endless weighing of pros and cons.”

Here, Hegel is quite explicit, Zizek explains: in his Philosophy of Right, he compares the role of the modem monarch with the way the Greek Republic looked for a reference that would help it to reach a decision in natural “signs” (the entrails of ritually slaughtered animals; the direction of the flight of birds, etc.).

Such a decision-making system may seem stupid to a modern eyes, and certainly seemed stupid to Europeans when they saw it applied by, say, 19th century Indian sultans, but it’s been, historically speaking, much more effective than most people believe. 

Divination rituals became part of human culture from very early on because they work, on the most obvious and simple sense: smart tribesmen came to understand that always being predictable, using always the same kind of weapon, or visiting always the exact same place at the exact same time of the year, was an inherently dangerous trait. So they used divination to randomize actions.

Devoid of writing techniques or any way to explain complex concepts to descendents who weren’t always as smart as they were, they left them crude rituals instead: if the entrails of the goat look reddish, don’t visit that mountain range the next summer. Romans and many other successful peoples would use this to avoid biases in policy-making and puzzle enemies, for centuries on end. To some extent, Zizek argues following Hegel, monarchs provide that element of surprise, of useful unpredictability, for modern societies:

“With modem monarchy, this principle of decision no longer needs an external support; it can assume the shape of pure subjectivity. The very agency of the monarch thus attests the inherent limitation of Reason – let this be a reminder to those who still prattle about Hegel’s “panlogicism”, his presumed belief in the infinite power of Reason.”

*

It’s important to keep in mind that Zizek has kept pondering Hegel’s theory of monarchy over the years. It reappears, for example, in his Hegelian opus magnum “Less than nothing,” (2012) where he writes:

“It is often alleged against monarchy that it makes the welfare of the state dependent on chance, for, it is urged, the monarch may be ill-educated, he may perhaps be unworthy of the highest position in the state, and it is senseless that such a state of affairs should exist because it is supposed to be rational. But all this rests on a presupposition which is nugatory, namely that everything depends on the monarch’s particular character. In a completely organized state, it is only a question of the culminating point of formal decision.”

The monarch must also be seen as a “natural bulwark against passion” so “it is wrong therefore to demand objective qualities in a monarch,” he argues. In fact, Zizek notes that the marxists who mocked Hegel’s theory of monarchy, replacing it by their own theory of enlightened one-man leadership, “paid the price for their negligence”:

“In the regimes which legitimized themselves as Marxist, a Leader emerged who, again, not only directly embodied the rational totality, but embodied it fully, as a figure of full Knowledge and not merely the idiotic dotter of the i’s. In other words, the Stalinist Leader is not a monarch, which makes him all the worse.”

Korea’s Kim dynasty thus may be perceived as worse than a monarchy, as long as it keeps effective power, and better than a republic if and when the chubby Kim dynasts start becoming mere figureheads for the regime. Zizek, in the same book:

“Hegel was well aware that it is only this distance between the “knowledge” embodied in the state bureaucracy and the authority of the Master embodied in the king which protects the social body against the “totalitarian” temptation: what we call a “totalitarian regime” is not a regime in which the Master imposes his unconstrained authority and ignores the suggestions of rational knowledge, but a regime in which Knowledge (the rationally justified authority) immediately assumes “performative” power—Stalin was not (did not present himself as) a Master, he was the highest servant of the people, legitimized by his knowledge and abilities.”

This insight points towards Hegel’s unique position between the Master’s discourse (of traditional authority) and the modern discourse of power justified by reasons or by the democratic consent of its subjects:

‘Hegel recognized that the charisma of the Master’s authority is a fake, that the Master is an impostor—it is only the fact that he occupies the position of a Master (that his subjects treat him as a Master) which makes him a Master. However, he was also well aware that, if one tries to get rid of this excess and impose a self-transparent authority fully justified by expert knowledge, the result is even worse: instead of being limited to the symbolic head of state, “irrationality” spreads over the entire body of social power. Kafka’s bureaucracy is just such a regime of expert knowledge deprived of the figure of the Master—Brecht was right when, as Benjamin reports in his diaries, he claimed that Kafka is “the only genuine Bolshevik writer.”’

* Hegel, Philosophy of Right, Oxford: Oxford University Press 1967, pp 288-9

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Diarios de Guerra de Manuel Azaña (10)

(Esta entrada es parte de una serie)

Azaña vuelve con el tema de Marruecos, que tantas risas ha dejado hasta ahora. Cita la idea de Largo Caballero, de traer a mujeres del Protectorado para que subleven a sus “amos” contra Franco, con la que sólo puede bromear.

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Otro clásico: Cataluña. Aquí Azaña rememora los primeros meses de la guerra (sin entradas en sus diarios) en los que la Generalitat quiso “conquistar” Aragón y las Baleares. Al desembarcar en Mallorca, la urgencia de las tropas era recibir cien banderas catalanas. Es increíble la pretensión de Companys, de que él no había decidido tales expediciones, que debían ser “cosa de la Consejería de Defensa”: la idea de que los políticos de Madrid son subnormales es un antiguo prejuicio catalán.

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Es verdad que los políticos se enteran a veces de las cosas por la prensa: Azaña abre el periódico y se queda de piedra viendo que el general Pozas felicita la Diada catalana con un viva a los pueblos oprimidos y sus libertades.

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Indalecio Prieto explica que el 33% de los comisarios políticos de la unidades republicanas son comunistas (el PCE sacó 17 de los 473 escaños en las elecciones generales de 1936), y que las JSU, parte del organigrama comunista, tienen un 16% adicional de los comisarios. Detalle curioso, que el enchufado tan inútil que han tenido que rechazar sea yerno de Margarita Nelken, una de las grandes tránsfugas de la historia de España: feminista que votó contra el voto femenino, se pasó del PSOE al PCE en 1936 y acabó expulsada de este partido.

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Prieto, como Negrín y Azaña, está hasta las narices de la República: “Me tiene sin cuidado que los partidos se unan o no, porque en cuanto se acabe la guerra, de cualquier modo que sea, tengo resuelto, si salvo el pellejo, dar por terminada y liquidada mi vida política, para siempre. En el primer barco que salga para el país de habla española más lejano, tomaré pasaje.” Prieto murió en 1962, en México, no el país más lejano ni el más incómodo: a principios de 1939, fortificó el apoyo del gobierno de Lázaro Cárdenas para los exiliados republicanos, cuando Prieto acordó la venta al gobierno de México, por un precio simbólico, de equipamiento aeronáutico que había comprado la República en EEUU pero no había podido ser entregado (1). Esta peripecia también ayudó para que Prieto y sus simpatizantes se quedaran con el valioso Tesoro del Vita sacado de España hacia México, en lugar de que cayera en manos de Negrín.

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“En España la democracia que había se acabó al empezar la guerra. Porque el sistema imperante desde entonces no es la democracia. Es una revolución, que no ha llegado a cuajar y sólo ha producido desorden,” Azaña dice, repitiendo sin saberlo las conclusiones de Orwell en “Homenaje a Cataluña”. Continúa su soliloquio con reflexiones sobre lo incapaces que son los españoles de someterse a “una disciplina de libertad y de razón,” repitiendo aquí las conclusiones de Adolf Hitler sobre los fracasados alemanes que no hicieron realidad su sueño en 1945.

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Volvemos al pan nuestro de cada día: “Las cosas en Cataluña van de mal en peor.” Azaña narra el curioso episodio en que el gobierno republicano decide asaltar todas las cajas de seguridad en sus manos, en nombre de la democracia, y la Generalitat se niega a aplicar la medida en Cataluña… porque sus prohombres tienen mucho oro escondido que aún no han podido sacar a Francia. Cómo uno acumula oro con el modestísimo sueldo de un funcionario público durante una Guerra Civil, bueno… El mismo Azaña nos ha enseñado cómo.

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A todo esto, la órbita de Companys se sigue quejando de las desconsideraciones hacia la persona del molt honorable. Prieto estalla, por enésima vez: “Lo que quieren es dinero y hacer ellos lo que les dé la gana”.

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Más quejas de funcionarios catalanes, sobre la forma en que les trata el gobierno de la República. Correctamente, concluyen que lo único que une a todas las facciones del gobierno central es su aberración por Companys y sus palafreneros.

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Prosigue la misma cantinela:

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  1. El tesoro del Vita, de Francisco Gracia Alonso (2014), p. 230.

(Continúa)

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Hitler and Mussolini Weren’t Evil Geniuses: They Were Idiots

The other day I was reading an interesting article about the latest archeological discoveries in Pompeii, when I came across something that I found surprising: that, during World War II, the Allied aerial assault of 1943 —  with more than 160 bombs dropped — completely destroyed Pompeii site’s gallery and some of its most celebrated monuments. Over the years, 96 unexploded bombs have been found and inactivated; a few more, experts say, remain likely to be uncovered in areas not yet excavated.

This is the kind of thing that everyone would know by heart, had the Fascist powers won World War II. Together with the completely unnecessary bombing of the cathedral at Rouen and the Montecassino abbey, the mockery of the laws of war in which the British and Americans often indulged (1), the Altmark incident, the invasion of neutral countries such as Iran, Vichy France (attacked in Mers-el-Kebir, then Dakar and later in the Torch operation of 1942, in a series of straightforward illegal acts of war) and Iceland (as well as the attempt to do the same with Norway, pre-empted by Germany), the bullying of others like Portugal (forced to cede Azores bases to the British, under threat of Allied invasion, in 1943), the multiple provocations and continued trickery by the U.S. administration to get the country to join the war against the majority opinion of U.S. citizens, and the subsequent large-scale, non-stop aerial campaigns to kill as many civilians from the likes of Germany and Japan as possible (Japan, interestingly, never attacked a single American civilian target and was still subjected to savage, deliberate murder from the air, intended to maximize civilian killings, from the very beginning of the war) by whichever means necessary, the Pompeii bombings would be marked on schoolchildren brains with branded iron, had the Fascists won the War.

These would be the top, most-commonly cited examples of Allied chicanery and lack of morals and any respect for human rights, the sure signs that the Allied were always doomed to lose. There would be no Schindler’s List movie, or book.

One may laugh. Lots of people will. Yes, one can write one of those “if the Nazis had won” novels, a “Man on the High Castle” in which Aryan schoolteachers teach blond kids just how evil the forces of democracy were. And that’s it. When it comes to World War II, most people — especially those who pride themselves of being atheist, science-first types — believe on historical determinism: they will tell you that the Fascists were always doomed to lose. Come on, there were sure signs all around.

We just had the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the largest monument to Allied victory in World War II, so this is a good day to explain why I don’t believe that the Fascists were doomed to lose, at all. Actually, looking closely at the facts, my conclusion is close to the opposite: the Fascists had all the cards to win World War II, and they only lost because they played a very strong hand very, very badly. And nobody is more to blame than their top two players: Adolf Hitler of Germany and Benito Mussolini of Italy.

Henry Kissinger, in his magisterial chapter on World War II in his classic “Diplomacy,” notes that Hitler was, besides everything else, terrible at international geopolitics.

A self-taught provincial Austrian with no foreign languages and a pretty slipshod grasp of basic facts of history and geography, Hitler won a brilliant victory in the internal game of German politics, which he mastered, and then turned this victory into a rout by establishing a very strong state in record time (1933-39, six years, less than your typical U.S, Presidency) out of a defeated and bankrupted country. The case can be made that Germany was ripe for a Fascist takeover, and pretty much any Fascist leader would have been able to accomplish that. But Hitler was smart and effective while taking power. The problem, from Kissinger’s point of view, is not there: the problem starts when he moved on to exert influence on the international stage, in the clumsiest possible manner.

As Kissinger explains, Hitler was the luckiest leader in German history. Germany may have been on its knees, or a similarly bad position, by 1933. But the Versailles treaty that left the country impoverished and set on revenge had also created the perfect opportunities for expansion and economic growth.

In 1914, Germany — outside of its moderately-sized colonial empire in Africa and tiny specks of Asia — shared borders with three large empires with which it had to deal very carefully (France, Austria-Hungary and Russia) and with four small, rich countries that didn’t provide much room for expansion, even if annexed (the Benelux countries and Denmark) and were in any case closely watched and protected by other powers.

By 1919, Germany was surrounded by weak, small countries that could be bullied, bought off, isolated, played off against each other, carved out and incentivized to do Germany’s billing: Poland, Czechoslovakia, the rump Austrian state, Hungary, Yugoslavia, the Baltic States… With just a little discretion, Hitler from 1933 could have taken full economic and political control of central Europe without the need to fire a single shot, much like Germany did in the 1990s as soon as the Iron Curtain fell and the Berlin government suddenly found it extremely important to ensure that the Croat and Slovenian nationalists secured their own countries.

Instead of moderation, Hitler as we all know went full steam ahead on every front. And still, even as he guaranteed that Germany would only receive absolute cold hostility from the democratic powers, he succeeded in a fashion: in early 1939, with the Czech Republic gone and Slovakia turned into a protectorate, with Spain in the hands of a thankful German ally, Hitler had secured one after another stunning diplomatic success, without getting Germany embroiled in a European war.

Hitler was clumsy but, because of a variety of reasons, he was lucky, and he thought his luck would hold for ever. It didn’t. Even as he knew for a fact that…

a) Germany had no real need to invade Poland, much less to do so immediately. There was nothing of urgent strategic necessity for Germany in Poland.

b) Fascist-leaning Poland was, in many senses, a potentially powerful and useful German ally, that could be easily bought off with German investment and aid, to be used if needed against Russia, Hitler’s ultimate enemy as he kept saying over and over again (and, again, such has been the strategy deployed by German governments since the 1990s).

c) The deal finally agreed with the Soviet Union to divide Poland and keep the Soviets away from an alliance with Britain and France gave Stalin the green light not only to take a chunk of Poland, but also a chunk of almost-as-Fascist Romania (Bessarabia, modern-day Moldavia), and all of the solidly Fascist Baltic States and almost-as-Fascist Finland.

d) And this Poland invasion would result on CERTAIN war against Britain and France, which had ABSOLUTELY NO APPETITE for war against Germany.

… Hitler still invaded Poland, setting off a timer that he didn’t need to set off. Now, suddenly, he was at war against two superpowers at the same time, and he had a third superpower (the Soviet Union) on its eastern borders, ready to wage war at a moment’s notice. Now he knew he had no real choice other than getting the Western Allies out of the war first; or else he would have to knock the Soviets off before they could join the Western Allies in a large coalition against the biggest power of central Europe: and if he failed, as he did, all would be lost. As it was. (2)

Mind you, this is not an extravagant, minority opinion. As Lothrop Stoddard reports in his weird, fascinating little travel book “Into the Darkness: Berlin 1940,” this was the majority, consensus opinion of average Germans right after the war started:

Embattled Poland was the last local obstacle to Mittel-Europa. By a series of amazing diplomatic victories, Adolf Hitler had taken all the other hurdles without firing a shot. This led the average German to believe that the Fuehrer would complete the process without recourse to arms… Why, they asked, should Britain and France stick their noses into what was none of their business? Most Germans did not believe that the Western Powers would risk a general war over Poland. The German people was thus psychologically unprepared for what actually happened. When they found themselves suddenly plunged into a decisive struggle with the Western Powers, Germans were torn between two emotions: disgust at what they considered a stupidly needless war, and fear for the consequences which it might involve. All sorts of persons I talked with stigmatized the war as a tragic blunder. Some of them went so far as to criticize their Government for having acted too precipitately.

This Hitler four-dimension chess-playing, to me, doesn’t sound like evil genius. More like evil stupidity. And I haven’t said anything about the criminal, moronic policies that forced thousands of Germany’s most brilliant minds out of the country, and left them scheming to destroy his regime; the silly racism that still led Germany to treat even key allies, actual and potential, with disdain because they were insufficiently Aryan in the minds of semi-literate buffoons; the unfulfilled plans to invade the likes of Catholic, Fascist-leaning Ireland (it sure looks like Hitler was really into invading fellow Fascist countries); and the contradictions in a mind that only wanted peace with Britain but first gave Britain no choice other than declaring war on him. And I haven’t even started off with Mussolini.

Italy was no Germany in 1939, we all can agree on that. Italy was a significant European power, but it didn’t have a large enough industrial base, or an efficient enough state, to wage war for years against determined, powerful enemies.

Go tell that to Mussolini, who joined World War II only so he could get a small slice on southern France. This is the ruler of a country with substantial interests and colonies in Africa who willingly went to war with Britain, the biggest power by far in Africa and the Middle East. This man couldn’t really be surprised when the British rolled over his colonial empire in a matter of months, really. But he won Nice, the French city.

Mussolini wasn’t a complete idiot because, on the brink of the German occupation of Paris in June 1940, he thought that Fascism was the wave of the future. He was an idiot because he did shoot himself on the foot so many times. In 1940, because he felt he didn’t have enough enemies in Britain (and Britain’s shadow partner of the time, the U.S., which was very obviously angling to get in the war sooner than later), Mussolini — like Hitler before him — decided to invade yet another Fascist-leaning country of limited strategic importance: Greece. (3)

This was, from the Fascist point of view, idiotic enough by itself. Strategically, it only made sense for Italy to engage Greece if it guaranteed somebody else’s support: for example, that of also Fascist-leaning Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania or even Yugoslavia, which was as well close to fall in the Axis camp. But Italy didn’t secure any support from anyone, and soon found itself in big trouble. All the while, let’s remember, while losing battle after battle against the British in Africa.

In fact, an argument can be made that Italy’s misadventures in Greece helped Turkey make up its mind AGAINST joining the war on the Axis side, a huge relief for the Allies, especially the Soviets, which had no way to defend their southern flank against Turkish encroachment (4). Even more importantly, Italy provided an opening for the British to launch an anti-Axis coup in Yugoslavia that forced Germany to invade yet another potential Fascist-leaning ally, so it could be invade Fascist-leaning Greece in early 1941, leading to a delay of weeks in the planned Barbarossa invasion of the Soviet Union — a delay that eventually left the German armies at the gates of Moscow before the Russian winter set, saving Russia from extermination.

From the outside, anyone could have said that Mussolini and Hitler went from victory to victory. By late 1941, the Allies’ situation was dramatic. But the Axis’ fumbling and stupidy had sowed the seeds for disaster, and disaster came for them, soon enough.

My point is that all of this wasn’t pre-determined. All of these were stupid decisions; any number of different decisions at keys point could have resulted in a completely different outcomes. It wasn’t written on the stars that Democracy and Communism would inherit the world in 1945. History is just the result of human decisions, it’s not a mystical process governed by mysterious laws; history is what happens when idiots like Hitler and Mussolini get full, unchecked power.

  1. A couple of high-profile examples will suffice: Hitler sent for SS Colonel Otto Skorzeny on October 21, 1944, just ahead of the Ardennes offensive, and told him that the Americans had put three captured German tanks flying German colours to devastating use during at assault at Aachen, Netherlands; that’s why he directed him to create the famous, phoney ‘American’ task force that sought to seize bridges across the Meuse between Liège and Namur and to spread alarm behind the enemy lines when the Ardennes attack began. A year earlier (Oct 4, 1943), right after the allied raid on Dieppe, there was a grave incident during a smaller, follow-up raid on the German-occupied Channel island of Sark. A raiding force of sixteen Commandos seized a German work party, tied them with ropes, and marched them to the beach where they bayoneted and shot to death some of them, still trussed, before withdrawing. Straightforward assassinations of prisoners committed by American troops, such as that of General Ernst Fick, the former head of a prisoner camp, were rarely, if ever, prosecuted.
  2. One interesting, rarely mentioned aside to the Polish question: Poland, as a fellow Catholic authoritarian fascistic power, had been somewhat supportive of Franco’s 1936 coup in Spain. Poland’s embassy had been a place for refuge for noted Spanish conservatives, such as Gregorio Marañón, who were facing death by shooting squad at the hands of their “democratic” opponents. Franco was highly sympathetic to Poland, and Spain’s official press received the German assault on a fellow Catholic power pretty coldly, even going as far as to praise Pole heroism on the face of overwhelming odds. Hitler’s adventurism in Poland did much to weaken Franco’s initially strong support for National Socialism. By the time both leaders met in Hendaye, Oct 23, 1940, at the peak of Nazi success, Franco flatly refused to join the Axis, which eventually had very damaging consequences for the Fascist war effort, as Hitler feared. Even though Spain eventually sent ONE DIVISION worth of volunteers to fight Soviet Germany (and the division’s members confessed to being appalled by the German treatment of Polish civilians whom they met along the way), Spain’s potentially war-deciding support for Hitler never materialized. As Stanley Payne wrote in his biography of Franco, a full perspective of the problems faced by Spanish neutrality may be obtained by comparing Spain’s attitude to Sweden’s, “which in certain respects accomodated German pressure to a greater degree than did Spain.” For example, Sweden allowed the passage of German troops through its territory (which Spain denied), for long shipped large amounts of strategic raw materials to Germany only, and at times denied asylum to escaping Baltic Jews, while Spain opened its borders to those fleeing central Europe consistently and without exceptions, and kept trading with the Allies (and the Axis) throughout the war. Spain could have very easily allowed Germany or Italy to knock down Gibraltar, shutting down the Mediterranean to British shipping, dooming Malta and most probably the British Middle East. A handful of Spanish infantry divisions would have been more than enough to push the issue in favor of the Axis in North Africa, opening up Iraq and Iran to Axis influence, and the Soviet underbelly to Islamic insurgencies. Up to the Torch operation (the US-British invasion of Northern Africa) in November 1942, the prospect of Franco joining the war was the stuff of Churchill nightmares, and the understandings and compromises reached to avoid that outcome are the sole reason why Franco was allowed to remain in power after 1945. Hitler’s invasion of Poland was truly a disaster for the Fascist International; in a final twist of historical irony, it was the Soviet-controlled Polish government that presented the UN motion which put Spain under a UN embargo between 1946 and 1950.
  3. Poland wasn’t the only issue in Franco’s mind when he met Hitler: Franco repeatedly cited Mussolini’s hostility and provocations against Greece, soon to result in the disastrous Greco-Italian War of 1940-41, started five days after that summit, as another sign that the Axis “lacked seriousness.”
  4. Turkey was extremely pro-Axis, and had every reason to get in a war fought against its traditional enemies, Russia and the Western powers that brought the Ottoman Empire down. As late as 1943, when it was becoming obvious to everyone that the Axis would lose the war, Winston Churchill tried to convince Turkey to join the Allies and reap some gains out of it, and was completely rebuffed in the little-known Adana conference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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El Cuento del Juez de las SS en Buchenwald

Pongamos que hay un juez. Un juez alemán, que se convierte en miembro de las Waffen-SS al comienzo de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, y empieza a investigar el estado de los campos de concentración.

Sé que esto suena raro, pero sigamos con el cuento: al fin y al cabo la ficción te permite libertades que el periodismo no autoriza.

Así que tenemos a este juez. Este hombre va por aquí y por allá, revisando diferentes campos de concentración. Tengamos en cuenta que al principio de la guerra, hasta la conferencia de Wannsee en 1942 y diversos hechos sucedidos ese año, la Solución Final no está en marcha.

Aún así, muchos judíos polacos, soviéticos y de otros países han sido asesinados al principio de la guerra, la mayor parte en grandes redadas en el Este, justo al otro lado de la nueva frontera alemana que separa los territorios anexionados a Polonia en 1939 y el Gobierno General de Polonia bajo el control de Hans Frank y, más allá, los nuevos territorios tomados a los soviéticos en Bielorrusia, Ucrania y demás.

Nuestro juez de las SS tiene jurisdicción sobre el territorio del Reich y sobre el Gobierno General y otras regiones bajo mando militar. Entre los lugares que visita, antes y después de 1942, está el campo construido en las afueras de Oswiecim, por ejemplo, llamado “Auschwitz” por los alemanes, situado unos kilómetros más allá de la nueva frontera alemana.

El juez enfoca su atención sobre un campo de concentración muy famoso en años siguientes: Buchenwald. Este campo estará en los labios y las memorias de muchos en parte por los famosos presos que sobrevivieron a su estancia allí, incluyendo el escritor español y futuro Ministro de Cultura Jorge Semprún, y porque fue liberado por tropas británicas y estadounidenses. Como escribí hace unos meses:

Buchenwald no era uno de los peores campos. Gran parte de los presos eran políticos o de guerra. Un 76% de los que pasaron por el campo sobrevivieron, incluyendo no sólo Semprún sino famosos de la época como Leon Blum, ex primer ministro de Francia, y futuras luminarias como los Premios Nobel de Literatura Elie Wiesel e Imre Kertesz.

Uno que no sobrevivió Buchenwald fue Misha Defonseca, autor de unas memorias sobre su paso por el campo que resultaron ser ficticias, puesto que nunca había estado allí; fue condenado en 2014 a pagar 22 millones de dólares a su editor. Es curioso que el libro llegara a ser imprimido: la versión de Defonseca era que una manada de lobos salvajes le ayudó a sobrevivir tras su escape.

Nuestro juez se establece durante meses en Buchenwald. De hecho, cuando sea interrogado en la post-guerra, declarará que su impresión sobre el campo en general era positiva, y el trato y alimentación ofrecida a los internos era correcto: por ejemplo, explicará el juez, Buchenwald tenía un prostíbulo para uso de los presos. Como lo oyen. Eso es lo que dijo el juez.

Nuestro juez no es del todo tonto. También declarará que descubrió muchas cosas sospechosas. En otros campos, desvela una serie de asesinatos extrajudiciales sobre los que abrió una investigación que acabó con sentencias judiciales contra los perpetradores, personal de las SS bajo su jurisdicción, algunos de los cuales fueron fusilados. En Lublin, en particular, encuentra en 1943 un retorcido sistema con el que presos judíos son asesinados cuando se les reúne con la excusa de organizar bodas.

En el mismo Buchenwald, a pesar de lo positivo, el juez descubrirá que Otto Koch, jefe del campo durante una temporada, había cometido apropiación indebida de fondos y abusado de su cargo para asesinar a presos sin motivo, en particular a presos judíos. Después de ser juzgado, Koch acabará ejecutado por pelotón de fusilamiento, una semana antes de que las tropas estadounidenses lleguen a Buchenwald.

Supongo que el lector ya habrá adivinado que esta historia no es un cuento, estrictamente hablando. Es el testimonio del juez Konrad Morgendurante el juicio de Nuremberg. En total, las investigaciones de Morgen llevaron a la ejecución duante la guerra de dos comandantes de campos de concentración, Koch y Kriminalkommissar Wirth de Lublin.

Morgen fue exonerado de cualquier crimen y autorizado a continuar como juez alemán en la posguerra.

 

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