Dies Santos Juliá, the great historian of the TWENTIETH-century Spanish Dies Santos Juliá, his life in pictures Historian of the complex

“The legacy of the Transition is that democracy enjoys among the Spanish of the most consistent and high legitimacy, and at the same time the policy suffers the same rejection as always. To recover the legitimacy of the democracy that no one discusses, but the prestige of the policy is perhaps the greatest mind that left outstanding the years of the Transition”. This is the balance that Santos Juliá did in the monumental book of Memory of the Transition (editorial Taurus), who had before gone out, fascicle to fascicle, in the journal THE COUNTRY between the fall of 1995 and April of 1996. Now go away the third of the great editors of the collective work (Javier Pradera, Joaquin Prieto and Santos Juliá) and we do the paper we wonder to whom we will consult. Nor is it even certain that, in view of the current events, Santos thought the same thing 23 years ago. Their presence in THE COUNTRY has been almost constant for the readers in the last 35 years not only as a historian but as a political analyst of the present, and as a friend and counselor supportive of some of the directors of the journal, which we have learned of him.

on may 27, 2010, Santos Juliá met with a group of subscribers of THE COUNTRY. By a coincidence, that day had been put up for sale your book Today is not yesterday. Essays on Spain in the TWENTIETH century, a period very little sedate: 23 years of constitutional monarchy is not democratic, plus another seven of monarchy with dictatorship and no constitution; eight years of the republic, three of which were spent in civil war with part of the territory under another military dictatorship; 36 years of dictatorship and 25 of democracy. “An eloquent sequence”, is said in the book, “what is very complicated than has been to establish in Spain a form of State based on a broad social consensus”.

subscribers –most readers of the newspaper from its first numbers, and that, from time to time, are put together in the headquarters to meet those who produce, analyze, and believe in him– had asked to speak with the historian of galicia, then 70 years old, referring to the majority. Between the notes of that meeting are some of the ideas foundation, which Santos Juliá has picked up in most of his books.

1) Great Britain was, as is not tired of repeating the president Azaña, the first enemy of the II Republic in the Civil War; and the united STATES and the Vatican, flanked by France and the United Kingdom, were the main partners on that, for years without end, Franco was able to consolidate his power. The strategic alliance of the western democracies with Franco’s Spain lasted until the dictator’s death.

2), The historian, said at the headquarters of the newspaper: “Our feelings have to be relativized by the objectivity. There are load with all the dead”. Knower and no one of the life and work of Manuel Azaña, his reflection stripping of the long and dramatic conversation that kept the president of the Republic with his friend Angel Osorio in the night of 22 to 23 August, 1936, when had come to the National Palace the news of the atrocities committed by a militia in the assault on the jail Model of Madrid, where they were cut down or shot dozens of prisoners, among them Melquíades Álvarez, former political head of Azaña in the Reformist Party.

The political drama and consciousness experienced by a handful of republicans faced with the enormity of the crimes committed lived who, knowing them and feeling disgust by so much blood shed, decided to remain loyal to the Republic. Not raised the they had killed, which they saw as the death of the representatives of the old social order as a requirement of the revolution; nor those who, without the killing, was justified by some historical necessity or because before the revolution was the rebellion; nor, in the end, those who rely on their commission rushed to put land to seek refuge in a third Spain, which was intended to neutral.

3) Quoted Dionisio Ridruejo, which defined the policy of cleaning done by your side (the victor of the war) as a seamless operation of extirpation of the forces of republican policies. A repression aimed to establish for an indefinite time discrimination between victors and vanquished. How would one break down the barrier of the dividing?, wondered Julia. There was No possibility of reconstructing the minimal moral community in which consists of any democratic State, if people from the two sides of the barrier did not establish a current in both directions, to sit around a table, talk, negotiate and come to some agreement on the future. That began to occur in Spain and in exile since the end of World War II, and continued with the encounters of the children of victors and vanquished in the universities since the mid-fifties, with the reconciliation policy adopted by the Communist Party in June 1956, with the colloquium, Munich, 1962, in the meetings of the working commissions and citizen movements in premises provided by parishes and convents, with the initiatives of dialogue and collaboration between communists and catholics in the sixties and the Together Democratic of the seventy.

4) Reviled as a myth and a lie, the Transition was not a time of silence, or amnesia, or mouths shut and brains lobotomized. On the contrary, there has been an ongoing discussion about the past of war and dictatorship. It has been written, spoken, filmed extensively on the Civil War and the franco regime. But there has been a sense of shared responsibility over the requirement of an amnesty (discussed and approved in Congress, defended by some political prisoners of Franco, and not decreed by any Government) as a first step to start a constituent process that culminated in a regime accepted by the majority of the citizenship, whatever the side on which they had fought during the war.

By defending these ideas, Santos Juliá was attacked in some forums, for writers to the left or right. A few days after that intervention with the subscribers of the newspaper and of the appearance of the book cited, the historian José Álvarez Junco wrote an article in EL PAÍS in which he said that writing about the Republic, the Civil War, the franco dictatorship or the Transition “is something that one should not do without felt before the clothes. Because it can very well happen that you end up being declared a traitor to some cause sacred.” That is what had happened to “the best connoisseur of the TWENTIETH century Spanish” for defending exposed positions. Concludes Álvarez Junco, and one remains subrogated in their palabras: “it Is understandable that it has received so many angry attacks on the part of the one and the other: all who do not accept the complexity of the past and remain occupied in stories manichaeans, in movies good and bad. Santos Juliá demonstrates not only professionalism, intelligence and capacity for nuance, but also a great civic value”.

It remained until the end. Santos Juliá has written in his newspaper until you have failed the forces. Still on Tuesday 15th of October he received a message from THE COUNTRY, saying: “How are you, Saints? Do you feel like it and you can write something of Franco? In any format you want.”

For the first time, did not answer.


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