Friday, April 3, 2020

A crazy autopsy from the Franco-Hitler meeting in Hendaye

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Updated:03/27/2020 01:45

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At the end of the Civil War, Franco felt he owned the place, emperor of Spain. In the style of The great Dictator from Chaplin, the Caudillo danced with a balloon of his possessions in an office with echoes until he realized that, in truth, he was punctured and there was nothing round about that Spain. The dictator looked around, rather to his right, for someone to urgently lend him an inflator in Europe. For a few months that “did not shake the world,” Franco and Hitler were negotiating the formula for a Spain destroyed by war also plunges into the world conflict.

Just the writer Juan Eslava GalánIn an unflappable mood, he could find the exhausted Spain tickled that had endured the worst of the “Huns and the Others.” That regime still in diapers that revives with deep documentation and a lot of irony in the pages of The temptation of the Caudillo, a novel essay, as the jienense likes to say, which addresses the details and the picturesque characters that surrounded the meeting in Hendaye, of which this year is the 80th anniversary.

For some, Franco was smarter than anyone and delayed the conversations when he convinced himself, when everything seemed to indicate otherwise, that Germany was going to lose World War II. While others, the least sympathetic to Galician, consider that Hitler simply did not give a damn if Spain entered the war or not. Failure would have resulted from his laziness …

The temptation of the Caudillo. Juan Eslava Galán. Planet, 2020. 800 pages. 23.90 euros.

Eslava Galán gives in her work a more temperate explanation about the disagreements. As in a romantic comedy of bad, when Franco looked for Hitler, the Austrian made the charge to him not to jeopardize the African possessions of France, that the regime demanded; and when later Hitler did need Spain to annoy Churchill, it was the Galician who turned away from the Fuehrer. Temptation in 1940 lived upstairs in Germany, but not at any price. Franco feared that if the Nazis won the war Spain would not take part in the lootBut he was more concerned that it was the Allies, who controlled the arrival of food on the Peninsula, who prevailed in the end.

Deaf dialogue

Between the fear of Churchill or Hitler, Franco opted for the first and, as a tip, managed to make the regime survive the conflict. The Hendaye meeting of October 23, 1940 turned out thus a dialogue of the deaf where Hitler left cursing his luck: “With these guys there is nothing to do.” Neither Franco, of whom he never had a good opinion, nor the entourage that accompanied him made a pleasant impression on Hitler.

Around that cheap tangle parade, from the Slavic pen, a whole court of crazy characters. From those Falangists who flocked to Berlin at the promise of fine, all-inclusive brothels, to that Brother Justo Pérez de Urbel, first abbot of the Valle de los Caídos monastery, “a mouse-like puffin, enteco, bald, nervous” who was entrusted with the task of connecting the Franco dynasty with that of “the judges of the Bible”, at least. Secondary plots also circulate throughout the book, such as that Europe’s search for the lost jewels of Felipe II or the reasons for building the Valley of the Fallen, which are today buried under tons of popular beliefs and political disinformation. Because Franco, apart from some mortal remains and a punching bag for certain politicians, is also a historical character, neither more nor less than the most influential of the Spanish twentieth century.

It is the ability to draw a hilarious portrait even in the dark corners of the past the one that makes Slavic a genre in itself. An unclassifiable work of which it is difficult, almost impossible, to take your eyes off once its pages are opened. Humor without leaving the historical plane, or losing the pulse of the historiographic news over the period.

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