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Young people and historical memory: Franco’s coup was a “revolution” and the civil war, a “rebellion” of the people.

Young people are suspended in historical memory. With differences, yes, but the knowledge of topics such as the republic, civil war, dictatorship or exile is still full of gaps and distortions. They know they exist, but many of their characteristics and internal logic are unknown or confused. For them, these are facts that have become “black holes in Spain’s recent history,” concludes a report on “barriers to access knowledge of democratic memory among young people,” compiled by the Association of Descendants of Spanish Migration.

Prepared by the CIMOP Research Institute, this is a qualitative study and is based on individual interviews and group dynamics conducted in May and June with young people between the ages of 16 and 30. “Knowledge of Spanish history in the 20th century, especially its first half, was relatively poor among most young people,” says the report, which points to the fact that the “dominant” view is marked by international events such as the World. the second war. “Everyone can reconstruct what a Nazi concentration camp was like, but they have no mental idea of ​​how and where the Francoist repressions took place.

In our country, the stages they name are mainly transition and civil war, while other events “key to the understanding of our society”, such as the dictatorship, the post-war period, anti-Francoism or the exile “live in amazing oblivion”. . And what they know seems to be “emptied of political-ideological understanding and concrete reference”, – emphasized in the study funded by the Ministry of Presidential Relations and Democratic Memory.

The report focuses on the variation and absence of this content in the classroom. Many young people mentioned that the Republic or the conflict “were topics they didn’t get to in time because they were one of the last” or indicated a feeling of “uncertainty” in remembering facts and dates. The new law of democratic memory, which was finally approved a few days ago, aims to cover these gaps, aiming to include the study of Franco’s repression in books and curricula.

The interviewees were boys and girls from Madrid, Valencia and Seville, from “lower-middle” and “upper-middle” classes, students in public and private centers or universities, and some already working. But not everyone showed the same “flaws”. The researchers found that the factor that most motivates young people to show more interest and knowledge about these events is “family and community memory”, that they heard memories or anecdotes from their parents and, above all, from their grandparents. Faced with this, the “pact of silence” in the environment is a “clear obstacle”, which the study shows more intensively in Madrid and less in Valencia and Seville.

The Republic is associated only with the left

The “dominant” image of the Second Republic that the interviewees have is permeated with “confusion” and absence. They tend to associate this period exclusively with the left, as if the political right did not exist, and their “relevant part” doubts the truly democratic and representative character of these governments. However, young people who show more knowledge of this historical period cite the “enfranchisement leap” that occurred in issues such as universal suffrage or educational policy.

Nevertheless, accounts of this period dominate as a “convulsive and chaotic” period, a “strong social disturbance” that leads to a “certain relativization” of the 1936 coup d’état in the youth, although most describe it as “illegitimate”. and “illegal”. It is projected “as a resource used by the political right to end a convulsive and dangerous period, poorly managed and led by the forces of the left,” according to the report, which highlights the wide range of responses given by those polled. It was about military rebellion and war.

The coup d’état was defined as a “national uprising”, using the terminology of the Francoist rebels; In some cases also as “confrontation between parties” or “national or popular insurrection”, “revolution”, “political rebellion” or “open confrontation”. “Those who had an image of the republic expressed only in the idea of ​​representing the left tended to characterize its end in terms of conflict and confrontation.” The second group, for whom it was a more diverse and democratic regime, tends to use the concept of a coup d’état and interpret it “as an attempt by certain reactionary sectors to impose a certain project on Spain by force.”

One participant from Valencia framed the image he had of the dictatorship as a “bad disease that had to be endured” due to previous instability, while other young people in the same group defended the idea that the rebellion was a premeditated attack on a democratic regime. In Madrid, another interviewee referred to the start of the civil war as “an uprising of the poorest part of the population against a dictatorial regime” (meaning the Second Republic).

“no wounds opened”

Regarding displacement, the report points to a lack of “awareness and relevance” in the image that young people project, as well as an absence of “figures and references” that then “symbolize this reality and resistance”. Because of the “derogatory” connotation that the term “Republican” still has for many, they prefer the name “Spanish emigration” to “Republican emigration”, and they tend to place it “as a somewhat secondary factor in importance”. The rest of the unwanted consequences of the war and the beginning of the dictatorship.

There is also a “relatively broad inertia” to define migration as an “elite” fact, “resources are closer to a privileged social group”, while in general, young people showed more interest in anonymous life stories rather than public reports. . On the other hand, among the diversity of views, the “consensus” image among the interviewees to understand emigration is based on the perception of it as “the only way to avoid reprisals” such as torture or imprisonment, an image that is “challenged”. most of them.

The need to remember what happened was widely agreed among young people, especially given that the voices of the time are being lost, but the research highlights a “politicized and stigmatized” picture of the very concept of historical memory. For some, the laws serve to “return to a situation of historical injustice,” but others see them as an attempt to “rewrite the past” that aligns the discourse “more closely with the far right,” the report said.

Despite the polarization, for most the mantra of “not opening the wounds of the past too much” continues to work, and the idea of ​​”restoring the rights of the forgotten victims” also manages to generate consensus. Among the specific policies, the location and opening of mass graves is one of the most widely accepted.

Source: El Diario





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