Monday, 11 June 2012

Professor Paul Preston's ploy: 'The Red Gene'

Holocaust, Holocaust Deniers & Tameside Trade Union Council

TODAY, on Radio Four's 'Start the Week' program on the Second World War, the historian Antony Beevor remarked upon how after World War II, the Russians resisted any legal definition of genocide that went beyond the systemic racial annihilation to include the extermination of a political form or the destruction of a cultural group.  The reason clearly was that the Russians didn't want to have to account for their treatment of the Kulacs or their own involvement in the Ukrainian famine in the 1930s.

In his promotion of his recent book 'The Spanish Holocaust', Professor Preston has put work in to suggest that General Franco and the Spanish Right in 1936 launched their rebellion which became the Spanish Civil War, in the underlying belief that they were destroying a 'red gene' in Spanish society.  Thus, Professor Preston, by so doing, can cleverly portray the Spanish Falange, the Carlists, Franco, General Mola and the other rebel Generals as quasi-racists on par with Hitler and other typical Fascists.  For my part I have only heard Professor Preston speak on this subject on the 28th, April 2012 at the Manchester People's History Museum and on the radio, so I can't comment as to how convincing is his hypothesis on this.  Yet, what Paul Preston seems to be doing is very much in the tradition of first creating a hypothesis and then seeking evidence to support his argument.

Critics in some quarters of his latest position are suggesting, perhaps unfairly, that he is promoting a 'pro-popular front' and 'pro-communist' line in his analysis of the Spanish Civil War.

What is curious to us in the North about all this, is that it was the former communists in the Greater Manchester County Association of Trade Union Councils who in 2006 rejected Tameside Trade Union Council's desire to pay tribute to what Professor Preston is now calling 'The Spanish Holocaust' and to place the Spanish Civil War in its proper 'historical context'.  Instead of paying homage to the struggle of the Spanish people, both Mike Luft, then Treasurer of Oldham TUC, and Alec McFadden, the North West Representative on the TUC JCC, merely wanted to commemorate those voluteers from Greater Manchester who went to fight in Spanish Civil War.  To be fair neither seemed to have a good grasp of the Spanish War, but their unwillingness to pay tribute to the Spaniards and their trade unions led to a dispute inside the Manchester Association of TUCs which culminated in Mr Luft being descibed as a 'Holocaust denier'.  Following this incident every attempt was made to undermine the production of a booklet commemorating the Spanish Civil War by the the committee authorised to produce it (which included Tameside TUC):  the bank account was changed; a constitution was hurriedly rewritten and the Secretary of Tameside TUC was suspended as a delegate to Greater Manchester County Association of TUCs for a year in 2006-7.  Alec McFadden recommended this suspension in his report to the TUC Joint Consultaive Committee.  It later turned out that the TUC JCC had acted ultra vires (beyond its powers)

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