They were my Grandparents...........
These were the words uttered in a documentary shown on the Rialto Channel in New Zealand tonight - 'The Mexican Suitcase" - recounting the tale of the rediscovery of photographic records of the Spanish Civil War. The young man featured was referring to the excavations taking place in Spain now to recover and identify those assassinated during and after the 1936-1938 conflict.
His grandparents, like many hundreds of thousands of other Spaniards, may have been guilty of being nothing more than among the majority of the Spanish people who didn't agree with Franco, or his German and Italian allies, in seeking the removal of the democratically elected Spanish Government.
This young Spaniard talked about his "abuelos" - his grandparents - murdered by Franco, his Fascist supporters, by Nazi Germany, by Mussolini's insane regime - and by the British, French, and American governments of the day that refused to acknowledge the truth written by Churchill's young relative, Esmond Romilly, in the conclusion of his book - "Boadilla - A Personal Account of a Battle in Spain" -
".....I realise that there will never be peace or any of the things I like and want, until that mixture of profit-seeking, self-interest, cheap emotion, and organised brutality which is called fascism has been fought and destroyed forever"
Romilly fought and survived the battle only to go missing while on coastal patrol with the RAF during the inevitable outcome of the fascist victory in Spain - World War II.
But the documentary threw light on a history which right-wing apologists would rather remain buried in the shadows of the past.
The appeasers of fascist philosophy then, who are with us today as the exponents of the neo-conservative 'new order', were adamant that no visible, material, or active support should be given to the Republican government of Spain.
Baldwin, Roosevelt, and Blum carry history's eternal judgement for abandoning the people of Spain to the brutal dictatorship perpetrated by Franco for over 40 years before his long overdue death in 1975.
The shame of the Allies lies in their unwillingness to ensure Franco's removal after 1945, as actively as they had sought the demise of Mussolini and Hitler during the previous 6 years.
As a Scot whose family were Spanish Republican government supporters - as were a disproportionately large number of Scots - the documentary placed some of my childhood memories in context.
My father and his brother - my Uncle Alex - had been active anti-fascists during Mosley's attempts to stage fascist rallies in Aberdeen in the 1930's. Thankfully, their actions saw Mosley and his blackshirt thugs fail to stage any of their extremist activities in my hometown. Support for the Republic saw Bob Cooney, John Londragan, Archie Dewar. Bob Simpson, David Anderson, and another dozen or so heroes from Aberdeen join the International Brigades to fight fascism.
Sadly, many of those fell in defence of the Republic - all of them known, or known of, by my family.
My memories of parents, aunts, uncles, and family friends debating and declaring the ultimate victory of Spanish democracy over Franco's dictatorship remain with me still, and were refreshed by the veterans and victims - from then and from today - and by the young man's words expressing grief over the terrible fate of his grandparents.
The suitcase referred to in the documentary contained negatives of the work of Robert Capa, David Seymour, and Gerda Taro - watch this, because if we forget what happened then, we will only repeat the experience, or as George Sanatyana said so much more eloquently -
"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." 'THE MEXICAN SUITCASE"
Viva La Republica!