On 30 October the Madrid City Council approved the celebration on 23 August of the Day of European Remembrance of the Victims of Stalinism and Nazism to pay homage to the victims of the communist and National Socialist regimes and other totalitarian and authoritarian regimes’, following an initiative promoted by the ultra-right group Vox.
Vox, although not part of the city government team made up of right-wing party members (Popular Party and Ciudadanos), is decisive in supplying majorities against left-wing parties in the City Council. Vox’s initiative has taken the 19 September 2019 European Parliament Resolution on the Importance of European Remembrance for the Future of Europe as an express point of reference. The Resolution was approved in the City Council by a narrow margin of one vote, since all right-wing parties voted in favour and all left parties voted against it.
It is well to remember that Vox’s spokesman in Madrid’s City Council, Javier Ortega Smith, has stood out for his extreme stance against the victims of Franco and against foreigners and in refusing to recognise the existence of sexist violence. Because of this, he is facing several legal prosecutions that have been brought against him.
In particular, referring to the case of the Thirteen Roses, a group of underage women activists of the Unified Socialist Youth executed by a Francoist firing squad on the morning of 5 August 1939, he said on television that ‘they tortured, murdered, and raped with impunity‘. This statement has no basis in fact (not even the dictatorship’s ghastly courts accused them of this) and was made with the sole purpose of offending the memory of the victims and accustoming the public to equating the left with Nazism in the spirit of the European Parliament Resolution.
We are facing a conscious strategy of historical revisionism with the obvious purpose of whitewashing the Franco dictatorship. In line with this, Madrid’s City Council has committed an additional offence against the victims of Franco on 25 November when it removed the plaques in the East Cemetery with the names of almost 3,000 victims who were shot. This unilateral act has stirred revulsion and repeated indignant protest.
In parallel to these official acts, acts of vandalism are proliferating in the city of Madrid, such as the recent desecration of the monument to the International Brigades in the district of Vicálvaro or the destruction of a plaque commemorating La Pasionaria (Dolores Ibárruri) in the neighbouring municipality of Rivas Vaciamadrid.
The enabling effect of the European Parliament Resolution on these acts is evident. They are encouraged by the Resolution’s attempt to revise history in obviating the role of antifascism in the construction of democracy in Europe, and criminalising communism.
As the Communist Party of Spain pointed out in a recent statement on the occasion of the anniversary of the death of La Pasionaria:
[…] Today – with the recent European Parliament Resolution, they intend to misrepresent history with an anti-communism that implies measures to outlaw us. As you demonstrated in your life we should not be afraid of them. They intend to celebrate the end of communism, but they are doing nothing more than talking about it. This is no coincidence. Today, when we are at the beginning of a new capitalist crisis, they intend to neutralise any alternative by smears and foul play, but it is not the will or the official declarations of the rulers that move history but the commitment of women and men for improving their daily reality.
The Government of the City of Madrid is in the hands of the right and the extreme right – for a short time because in the city of No Pasarán! there is already a social majority that is going out into the streets to combat these retrograde measures and the neoliberal policies they intend to impose. The memory of the anti-fascist resistance fighters will live on in all of them.