Historian Preston delves into Spanish "holocaust"

Thu Apr 21, 2011 7:55am EDT
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By Martin Roberts

MADRID (Reuters) - Veteran British historian Paul Preston estimates 200,000 Spaniards were killed far from the front line in the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War, and thousands more in the ensuing decades-long dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

After a decade of research, Preston gives details in his latest of many books on the War and its aftermath, whose English title is "The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain."

"I cannot think of a word that better encapsulates the astounding level of suffering of civilians in the Spanish Civil War and after," Preston said in response to a question about the use of the word holocaust in the book's title.

"There was an awful lot of death and suffering that isn't actually quantifiable because we don't know all the names," he told Reuters during a tour to promote the Spanish version of the book, released earlier this month.

The English edition will be published in autumn 2011.

Preston said many previous histories had focused on violence in areas controlled by the Republican government, rather than by supporters of the 1936 military uprising which began the war and eventually installed Franco as dictator in 1939.

"Basically what I've done is produce the first major study of the whole thing which looks at both sides, the difference in scale and of intentionality," he said.

"It's also the first that's based on this colossal amount of material that's come out over the last 10 years."   Continued...