History

Good luck go with you Italian soldier

Should you find yourself down on London’s South Bank today, you might hear the sound of the Internationale being played out as members of the International Brigades mark the 70th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War as they do every year. So take your ear plugs.

This time the ceremony led by former veteran and TGWU secretary general, Jack Jones, will be slightly different as for the first time since the war a member of the Spanish government will be in attendance.

The Times has a double page spread this morning looking back and forward at how the war is seen and talked about in Spain reflecting that the price of democracy in Spain when it came in 1975 has been (without its truth and reconciliation committee) one of silence.

“Some claim that we had a model transition,” José Antonio Martin Pallin, a Supreme Court judge, wrote recently. “In my opinion, the wounds were hurriedly sewn up using thick thread, and inevitably left scars.”

Some fear that delving into the past will cause the re-emergence of the so-called ‘Two Spains’. Conservatives say that the fragile balance between two sides has been upset and the country risks being torn apart. But most think Spanish democracy is now mature enough to debate its past.

“Sooner or later,” says Alejandro Quiroga, a lecturer in Spanish politics at Newcastle University, “the Spanish are going to have to deal with their past. Otherwise, it’s going to be very difficult to move on.”

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