The Spanish Holocaust – Part One 55:00, 2003 (Ref: EU03865)


The first of two documentaries that tell the horrors of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship that followed. During both the Spanish Civil War and the following dictatorship, the Franco regime justified its repression by pointing to the atrocities committed by the “Reds” against the “Nationalists”. But the truth is that Spanish generals were plotting a coup d’etat ever since the election of February 1936 in an attempt to overthrow the legally elected government. The violence was not just limited to a coup – instead a strategy based on terror and repression was dreamt up to achieve the generals’ evil ends. It’s true that atrocities were committed by both sides, but recent studies have shown that there were both qualitative and quantitative differences. “Revolutionary” violence tended to be fairly spontaneous. By contrast, the Fascists used violence in a planned fashion from the very outset in their obsession with rooting out any vestige of democracy. When Fascists forces swept into a village or town, they ruthlessly rounded up men, women and children and shot them. What the generals thought would be a walk-over turned into an agonising civil war lasting three years. Franco actually wanted a long war since it would help him assert his leadership and justify the liquidation of anyone connected to the Republic. In the first months of the war, thousands of people were dragged out of their homes and killed – shot at the roadside or against the walls of local cemeteries. The families of these people are still trying to find out what happened to their relatives and where they are buried. The wall of official silence doesn’t make the task easy. In this episode we visited the village of Zafra in Badajoz Province – which the Fascist troops entered two weeks after the coup of July, 1936. There, Commandant Castejon drew up a list of one percent of the population to be killed. The 48 civilians were the first to be murdered in Zafra – 300 were to die in the village. We then visited several villages in Extremadura in south-west Spain where they had no time to organize resistance to the Fascist troops but they still paid with their lives. In the notorious Badajoz slaughter, thousands were killed in the local bull ring, outraging international public opinion. From then on, the regime did its utmost to hide its atrocities. The hasty roadside killings gave way to more systematic killings and a veneer of legality. People were condemned to death in sham trials.