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Post"1936: Fraude y Violencia"; from Roberto Villa Garcia (John Eipper, USA, 05/30/17 3:20 pm)
JE: In the past two months, WAIS has published a number of reviews and comments on the new book 1936: Fraude y violencia en las elecciones del Frente Popular, by Manuel Álvarez Tardío and Roberto Villa García. I have communicated with one of the authors, Prof. Roberto Villa of the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (Madrid), who sent the following response. The English translation is mine:
My thanks to John Eipper for allowing me to participate in the WAIS Forum. I prefer to be as polite as possible and don't care to address the criticism that was made against me on WAIS. It is painful to have to introduce yourself by refuting the label of "Francoist" or being associated with "Nazism" or "Petainism." Nor have I ever written a book sponsored by Bullón, as I am accused of doing, although I would have no problem associating myself with Bullón because I have nothing against him and do not consider him shameful.
I do not even care for the labels of "left-wing" or "right-wing" historian. We historians vote in elections and of course have our personal principles and beliefs. But we do not have an ideological code to tell us how to analyze our sources or to interpret every historical fact. Nor are we robots. There is such a thing as empathy, which allows us to overcome our own ideas and put ourselves in the place of others.
Beyond all this, I want only to encourage WAISers interested in the Second Republic and the Spanish Civil War not to allow themselves to get carried away by prejudices. My book [1936: Fraude y violencia en las elecciones del Frente Popular] is not an updated version of the Francoist agenda, nor does it present a one-sided "right-wing" vision, for good or bad. Rather, it is full of nuances and complex explanations. Historians have the responsibility of studying the 1936 elections, after the publication of the diary of the president of the Second Republic, Alcalá Zamora, to determine if his accusations of electoral fraud are true or not.
However, the book is much more than that. It is a political history of the final months prior to the Civil War, written from the theoretical perspective of a "Crisis of Democracy" as outlined by Juan José Linz. We did intensive research in twenty archives, and all the sources we used date from prior to the Civil War. Anyone who reads the book will see the enormous distance between our arguments and some of the things that have been said about it in the WAIS Forum.
JE comments: I am struck by Roberto Villa's youth. He told me off-Forum that he was born in 1978. Co-author Manuel Álvarez Tardío is just six years older, which places the authors in the post-Franco generation. I cannot say if it's an advantage or disadvantage for a historian to have no personal memory of an event, but it definitely gives a different perspective. The same thing was probably said about German or Japanese (or US, British or Soviet) WWII historians born after 1945.
In any case, I am grateful to Roberto for his interest in WAIS. His book is on my summer reading list.