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Post The Rifle and the Cross: Spanish Civil War Images
Created by John Eipper on 04/08/15 1:25 PM

Previous posts in this discussion:


The Rifle and the Cross: Spanish Civil War Images (Enrique Torner, USA, 04/08/15 1:25 pm)

JE:  Enrique Torner sent these images related to WAISworld's Topic of the Month, the Spanish Civil War.  They share a common theme:  the intersection of war and religion.  Image 1 appears to be Republican milicianos taking aim at a statue of some saint.  Anti-clericalism at its most literal!  Can anyone identify the statue?


Not to be outdone, Image 2 depicts a regiment of priests, presumably ready to do battle with the group in Image 1.  Something about this photo strikes me as staged:  the padres don't know how to hold a rifle:

Image 3 is self-explanatory...or are the good curas waving bye-bye?


Enrique:  what is the provenance of the photos?

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  • More SCW Images (Anthony J Candil, USA 04/09/15 3:23 AM)

    Here are some more SCW images to add to Enrique Torner's collection (8 April):


    Puerta de Alcalá, Madrid

    Avenida de la Unión Soviética (Gran Vía), Madrid

    JE comments:  Three images of "Red Madrid."  The last photo is a blunt reminder that in the 1930s, "propaganda" was still something governments did openly.  Now it's called Public Relations.

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  • The Rifle and the Cross: Spanish Civil War Images (Enrique Torner, USA 04/09/15 2:09 AM)
    The photos John E posted on 8 April were courtesy of Michael Seidman, a history professor from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, who specializes in the Spanish Civil War.

    He came to Minnesota State as our Nadine Andreas guest speaker to talk about the SCW and Franco's role in WWII. He was kind enough to give me a copy of his PowerPoint, and these pictures really impacted me, as I had never seen them before, and they are so brutally straightforward.

    Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the virgin that the Republican soldiers are "executing," but it was a very symbolic act, representing their aim of destroying the Catholic church.

    JE comments:  Anthony Candil (next in queue) identifies the first image as the Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, at the Cerro de los Ángeles, south of Madrid.

    The WAIS effect strikes again!  Yesterday I wrote a letter of recommendation for a former student who's applying to graduate school.  Where?  The University of NC-Wilmington.  Considering the 4000+ universities in the US, that's pretty uncanny.

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  • Cerro de los Angeles; SCW Photos (Anthony J Candil, USA 04/09/15 2:26 AM)
    Of the photos posted by Enrique Torner (8 April), the first one is the statue of the Sagrado Corazón de Jesús (Sacred Heart of Jesus), at El Cerro de Los Ángeles (Angels' Hill), south of Madrid, on the road from Madrid to Seville.

    I think the statue is still there. It was always said that the popular militias "executed" Jesus because he was doing the "fascist salute" with his right hand/arm.

    I believe the second photo is a fake.

    See the pants under the priests' tunics in some cases, and it appears that there are soldiers behind them, in a uniform dated much earlier than the SCW period.

    Also at the foot of the photo we can see clearly "CNT" (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo), an anarchist organization.

    I believe the third picture, of the priests giving the fascist salute, is genuine. One more mistake of the Catholic Church.

    JE comments:  Here are the photos again:


    The second one, of the battalion of fighting priests, is marked "Periódico CNT."  I can't make out the words after that.

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  • "La Spagna Nazionale Vi Invita"; More SCW Images (Carmen Negrin, France 04/09/15 5:26 AM)

    A few more pictures regarding the Italians in Spain, from an information pamphlet done by the Republicans.

    The Italians were indeed so much more gentlemanly than the Francoists.

    The document is from the end of the war, 1938. It was probably distributed in Spain in the fallen zones. The inside includes a speech by Azaña and the presentation of the 13 points by my grandfather [Prime Minister Juan Negrín--JE], but you can only see it if you open it carefully. I have a similar one with the official position of the archbishops with a response by a group of Catholic priests, pointing out that their attitude is not that of love as in Christianity, etc.




    JE comments:  "Nationalist Spain invites you!"  I presume the "Strada della Guerra" (second image) is a reference to the Camino de Santiago.  The pamphlet (does it fold out like a map?) seems to be an extended parody of the Michelin Guides and tourist maps of yore.  Note that the cover copy is in Italian but the photo captions are in Spanish.  The final image reads:  "Victims of the barbaric bombardment of Italo-German aviation, 7 January 1938."

    Did the producers of this pamphlet expect its Italian readers, assuming they were volunteers fighting against the Republic, to feel remorse and lay down their arms?  

    A most unusual and fascinating document.

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    • RSI Stamps Depicting Sites Bombed by Allies (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 04/10/15 6:44 AM)
      Carmen Negrín's post featuring images of Barcelona after bombardment (10 April) reminded me that the Repubblica Sociale Italiana made a series of postal stamps showing the major monuments and churches destroyed by Allied aerial bombings, among them:

      • The Basilica of San Lorenzo in Rome, originally built in the 4th century by Emperor Costantine then restructured in 1207.

      • The Church of San Ciriaco in Ancora, started in the 4th century then rebuilt in the Middle Ages, becoming one of the best churches of the period.

      • The Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milano with the "Ultima Cena" of Leonardo da Vinci, which miraculously suffered only minor damage.

      • The Abbey of Montecassino, of which I have already written on WAIS.

      • The Loggia dei Mercanti di Bologna from 1382, the meeting place of the merchant corporations.

      • The Duomo di Palermo, which following the Arab invasion from 831 to 1072 became a mosque.

      For sure, the producers of these stamps did not expect the Allied pilots to feel remorse and lay down their arms.

      When I lived in Chicago a local friend of mine, a stamp collector, asked me what these stamps depicted, but when I said that the stamps memorialized churches and historic buildings bombed by the Allies, he flatly denied it: "A falsehood! We never do things like that!"

      JE comments: Any philatelists in WAISworld? I dabbled in it a bit as a child, but I always preferred the more robust nature of numismatics.  Stamps, however, are more colorful, varied, and teach better lessons.

      Eugenio: if you have images of these stamps I'll post some of them.

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  • "Regiment of Priests" Photo (John Heelan, UK 04/10/15 8:47 AM)
    Here is the apparent provenance of the "Regiment of Priests" photo posted by Enrique Torner (8 April):


    I note that the article claims they were a firing squad in Valladolid and appears to allocate names to the priests. However as a keen photographer I am suspicious. Magnifying and examining it, I note the trousers poking out under the cassock in the back row, none of the "priests" is wearing a cross and there is an officer in military uniform standing at the back right of the shot.

    It could well be an image taken for propaganda purposes by either side in the conflict.

    JE comments: Can we conclude that this is a staged shot? Let's just call it fake. But this begs the question: the CGT published it, but which side produced it?  As John Heelan observes, compelling arguments could be made for either.

    Here's the photo again:

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  • More SCW Images: Nationalist Spain (Anthony J Candil, USA 04/14/15 4:50 AM)

    This first photo was taken in 1939. You can see together with Nationalist Army officers and Falange officials, the commanding officer of the Condor Legion,
    Luftwaffe General Wolfram Von Richthofen (the Red Baron's cousin), who was the last commander of the Legion in Spain.

    It's amazing to see the contrast between swastikas and the lions of the old kingdom of Castile-Leon.

    This one is the monument at the Plaza de Italia (Italy Square) in Santander.

    It is still there, however the monument is not well preserved. You can read, "A las heroicas legiones italianas" (to the heroic Italian legions).

    And here...what a couple!

    JE comments:  Note that while the Führer looks towards Destiny, the Caudillo gazes lovingly into the Führer's left ear.  There has to be some meaning here.

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    • Condor Legion, Sperrle and von Richtofen (Paul Preston, UK 04/14/15 9:44 AM)

      I hate to be pedantic, but the commanding officer of the Condor Legion was General Hugo Sperrle.  (See Anthony Candil, 14 April.)  Colonel Wolfram Von Richthofen was his chief of staff and the strategist behind the bombing of Guernica and the Blitzkrieg assaults on Poland and France.

      JE comments:  I have to add a photo.  Sperrle has the severe look that suits a German general.  He survived WWII, having fallen out of favor with Hitler by 1944.  He was acquitted at Nuremberg and lived out his years quietly in Munich.

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      • Sperrle and von Richtofen (Anthony J Candil, USA 04/14/15 1:41 PM)
        I cannot believe I can teach the master Paul Preston anything but yes, Hugo Sperrle was the first commander of the Condor Legion, although only until October 1937, with von Richthofen serving as his chief of staff.

        In October, 1937 he was replaced by Major General Hellmuth Volkmann, who stayed in Spain until April 1, 1938, being then finally replaced by Von Richthofen until the end of the war, and returning to Germany in May, 1939.

        Apparently Sperrle was sacked after Franco complained about the bombing of Gernika. But truth or not, the fact is that Sperrle left Spain for good in October, 1937.

        I am sure that many WAISers know that Sperrle led the Luftflotte 3 at the Battle of Britain, in 1940.

        JE comments: What exactly was Franco's complaint about the Gernika bombing? I thought he endorsed it fully.

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        • Sperrle's Dismissal from Spain (Angel Vinas, Belgium 04/15/15 2:01 AM)

          In response to Anthony Candil's question about Sperrle´s dismissal (15 April), I can categorically state that it had to do nothing with Gernika. Franco was a bit upset about him because Sperrle didn´t follow Franco´s wishes to use the Legion Condor piecemeal. Franco was also upset about ambassador Faupel for meddling in domestic Spanish affairs. Faupel and Sperrle couldn´t stand each other. The Wilhelmstrasse was unhappy about the ambassador. Outcome? New names for both the Legion Condor and the Embassy.

          JE comments:  Was the explanation that Franco got Sperrle sacked for Gernika a product of Francoist revisionist history?  Paul Preston (next in queue) has a further comment.

          The anniversary of the Gernika bombing is not far off (26 April).  However, today marks a hugely significant anniversary:  150 years since the death of Lincoln (15 April 1865).

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          • 150th Anniversary of Lincoln's Death (Anthony J Candil, USA 04/15/15 6:30 AM)
            John is right; for us it's maybe more important to put aside the Spanish Civil War and think about what happened 150 years ago today.

            Historian Tom Donnelly said:

            "What if President Lincoln had lived to steer our nation through the early, uncertain years of Reconstruction rather than leaving us with his stubborn, irredeemably racist Vice President, Andrew Johnson?"

            Maybe as he added: "Something about President Lincoln inspires us to ask these questions and dream of a different American story--one spared of the tragedy of Jim Crow and our century--plus struggle to live up to Lincoln's promise at Gettysburg of 'a new birth of freedom.'"

            Is that so?

            Lincoln was not a saint, and as a human he made mistakes, but we must pay tribute to the man who freed the slaves, the man who saved the union, passed the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery and died pushing for voting rights for those who were freed.

            He indeed was a great president.

            JE comments:  Lincoln, both a visionary and a realist, no doubt would have handled
            Reconstruction more skillfully than the unpopular Johnson.  But at what
            cost?  For starters, Lincoln would have lost his reputation as a martyred president.  Would the nation be better off now because of it?

            Either way, I proclaim Lincoln Day on WAIS.  (As President, I think I have the power to proclaim such things.  If not, remember that Lincoln occasionally overstepped his Constitutional powers, too.)

            For those who've never visited Springfield (Illinois) and the excellent newish Lincoln museum, it's a must-see.  Scroll down to the second photo:


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            • Lincoln's Birthplace (Anthony J Candil, USA 04/16/15 3:44 AM)
              I second John E's recommendation to visit Springfield IL, but don't forget that Lincoln was actually born in Kentucky, at Hodgenville.

              The Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park labels the replica cabin, where he was born, which was built thirty years after his death, the "Traditional Lincoln Birthplace Cabin."

              However, the significance of the two Hodgenville sites (birthplace and boyhood home) are found in the setting itself.

              Kentucky was certainly a land that most influenced the life of Abraham Lincoln.

              It's not far away from Elizabethtown (E' town); remember the movie? I spent two years there, at Fort Knox, while with the US Army in the 1970s and I have very nice memories of my time over there.

              JE comments: And in one of the countless uncanny parallelisms of the US Civil War, President Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy was also born in Kentucky--in Fairview.  For good measure, Mary Todd Lincoln was another Kentuckian, born in patrician Lexington.  Four of her brothers fought for the Confederacy.

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        • Sperrle's Dismissal from Spain (Paul Preston, UK 04/15/15 2:21 AM)

          Franco gave Sperrle and von Richthofen a free hand in the Basque campaign. Sperrle wrote in 1939, "All suggestions made by the Condor Legion for the conduct of the war were accepted gratefully and followed." Guernica was a meticulously planned atrocity and von Richthofen wrote in his diary on 24 March, "we are practically in charge of the entire business without any of the responsibility" and, on 28 March, "I am an omnipotent and effective commander (Feldherr)... and I have established effective ground/air command." Franco wrote a letter of thanks and congratulation to Sperrle and Richthofen for their help during the campaign.

          The idea that Sperrle was removed because of a clash with Franco is not sustainable in the light of the meticulous research by Herbert Southworth, Guernica! Guernica!: A Study of Journalism, Propaganda and History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977), Xabier Irujo, El Gernika de Richthofen. Un ensayo de bombardeo de terror (Gernika-Lumo: Gernikako Bakearen Museoa Fundazioa, 2012), and the one hundred and twenty-page epilogue to the recent edition by Ángel Viñas of Southworth's masterpiece, La destrucción de Guernica. Periodismo, diplomacia, propaganda e historia (Granada: Editorial Comares, 2013).

          JE comments:  One can imagine the joy it must have given Franco to punish the pesky Basques in the city most linked to their historical identity.

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      • Gen. Hugo Sperrle (Paul Preston, UK 04/14/15 1:56 PM)

        Regarding the wonderful photo of Sperrle (see my earlier post of 14 April), I was once told that Hitler used to take him to meetings with the diplomatic staff of other nations. Allegedly, Sperrle's job was simply to stare at them, which got them nicely in the mood to give in to Hitler's demands. I have no idea if this is true, ma si non è vero, è ben trovato.

        JE comments:  Gotta run the photo again.  If your goal is to intimidate, the monocle works wonders.

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