Spain is a large country with a long, rich and eventful history. For the people of Spain the dominant event of the twentieth century was the Civil War, 1936 to 1939. The Republicans, who were loyal to the democratic, left-leaning and relatively urban Second Spanish Republic, formed an alliance of convenience with the Anarchists to fight against the Nationalists, a Falangist, Carlist, Catholic and largely aristocratic conservative group led by General Francisco Franco. After two years and eight months of bitter conflict the Nationalists emerged as the victors and Franco became ruler of Spain for 36 years until his death in 1975. Few would deny that the war itself and the 36 years of Nationalist rule that followed it have left deep scars and that even 42 years after his death Franco's legacy casts a long shadow over the Spanish people.
Our first guest speaker of 2018 is Dr Peter Anderson, Associate Professor in Twentieth Century European History at the University of Leeds. Peter's lecture, entitled In the Shadow of Franco: The ongoing battle in Spain over its dark past, will examine how and why the Spanish Civil War continues to divide society. It will explore the long-silenced history of the Francoist repression and examine more recent efforts to come to terms with this violent past. These efforts include demands for the dignified reburial of the remains of those murdered, justice for the families of thousands of children removed from opponents, the return of property and the renaming of streets.
It is often the case that the most recent history is the most uncomfortable, that the closer we are to events the more difficult it is to achieve an accurate understanding of them. Eighty years on from the Spanish Civil War Spain has come very far, but Franco's shadow is a long one and few of the people of Spain are untouched by it.