Thursday, 2 February 2012

No Spanish Holocaust Humour: Siempre Chufla!

'Don't worry Senora, he won't be needing a coat where he's going!'

YESTERDAY in the Spanish Supreme Court the voices of the victims of Franco were heard for the first time from those who were children in 1936 relating their accounts of what happened to their parents in the Spanish Civil War. Pino Sosa, now 75-years-old from the Canary Islands, said: 'On the 19th, March 1937, a group of Falangistas came at 6 a.m. for my father. My mother went to get him a coat and the Falangist said: "Don't worry Senora, where he is going he won't be needing it and he won't be coming back".' Siempre chufla los Espanoles: the Spaniards always can be counted on to crack jokes even in the most dire situations like when they are committing assassinations. It is one of their many virtues; one could hardly imagine 'Comrade Spiky Mike' from Chorton' or 'Knight Rider' from Oldham or the randy secret police agent, Mark Kennedy, coming up with such a turn of phrase before they pulled the trigger now could you: too much of the English stiff upper lip! (The humour has that extra bite to a Catholic killing an anarchist or socialist; because whatever the weather outside is doing in the 'infieno' [HELL] a coat is the last thing one needs.)

About the same time 75 years ago in 1937, the International Herald Tribune reports: '1937 Demonstration in Moscow - One of the mightiest demonstrations in Russian history was held here today [Jan. 30] when more than a million persons massed in Red Square and in surrounding streets to express approval of the verdict in the treason trial concluded at midnight. Thirteen of the 17 defendants charged with conspiring against the state had been sentenced to death... Addressing the group, Nikita Khrushchev, secretary of the committee, said: "We declare that by whatever means the enemy may try to check our advance toward a Communist society we shall crush the attempt." Astonished silence greeted the announcement of the sentences last night in the courtroom.' I wonder if Comrade Stalin and the Russian Communists were as good, in 1937, at droll 'Chufla' as the Spanish Falangists?

Never-the-less, one must grant our local fellow-travellers and one-time admirers of Stalin and Mother Russia a certain banal dark humour; for in 2006 they also held an inquiry at Salford Quays presided over by Alec McFadden, the TUC JCC North West representative, into whether or not it was appropriate to call someone a 'Holocaust denier' for failing to recognise that Spain had suffered a form of genocide during and after the Spanish Civil War under Franco. One witness at the inquiry, John Howard then Chair of the Greater Manchester County Association of Trade Union Councils, even said at this hearing: 'I've never heard of the Spanish Holocaust!'. Since the, of course, the historian Paul Preston, himself a sympathiser of the Communist Party, has published a book entitled 'The Spanish Holocaust', and today Judge Garzon is facing the Spanish Supreme Tribunal on the charge of ulta vires [acting beyond his powers] for investigating the 'crimes of the Francoists' for a 'systemic plan' to eliminate its detractors. In trying to raise these very matters in 2006 at the time of the 70th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War, the Secretary of Tameside TUC was suspended for one year on the recommendation of Alec McFadden: this followed a complaint from Oldham TUC, its then secretary, Martin Gleason and Treasurer, Mike Luft. In the end after contacting Brendan Barber and the TUC, it turned out that Alec McFadden himself had acted 'ultra vires' and beyond his powers in proposing this suspension.

I only wish I was a Spaniard and could come up with some piece of 'Chufla' to capture the spirit of silliness of the occasion at Salford Quays.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am ashamed about the trial, he is a good guy. Spain is different,you know!