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"Silence of others"

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MickMac

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Just watched documentary on a dark era in Spain,s history brilliant. Recommend a watch.
 

t2andreo

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Without commentary, and IIRC, there is a stone monument to the aforementioned International Brigades smack in the middle of the old Roman road (Via Romana) on the alternative Camino Frances route from Calzada del Coto to Calzadilla De Los Hermanillos. (Stage 18 in Brierely, after Sahagun - green dots).

Back in 2014, i recall taking a photo of the monument, as the artifacts left there by families to commemorate their loved ones, were poignant. It really is a beautiful way to walk.

Hope this helps.
 

mmmmartin

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This is available now on the BBC iPlayer by searching for "Silence of Others". It's part of the Storyville series so will surely be a gripping watch. I've just watched the first five minutes of it and of the remainder is as good as that, it's very good indeed. But not for the faint-hearted. (You could say that about much of Spanish history though.)
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Currently on a "Virtual" Camino and striding out across Castile y Leon!
From a book of Remembrance in a Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Belgium:

"European history is like a loose fitting cloak - it covers all kinds of sin. Never be afraid to look beneath, but be prepared to stand aghast at the follies of our ancestors."
 

MickMac

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Without commentary, and IIRC, there is a stone monument to the aforementioned International Brigades smack in the middle of the old Roman road (Via Romana) on the alternative Camino Frances route from Calzada del Coto to Calzadilla De Los Hermanillos. (Stage 18 in Brierely, after Sahagun - green dots).

Back in 2014, i recall taking a photo of the monument, as the artifacts left there by families to commemorate their loved ones, were poignant. It really is a beautiful way to walk.

Hope this helps.
I hope this will not be censored if it is C'est lá vie, but I walked this way a year ago with my brother to Calzadilla De Los Hermanillos.
We stayed in premises which had some photos of civil war, found it unnerving and would not return.
I feel that this thread is important and we should recognise the history good or bad of the beautiful country that is Spain.
 

Bella2017

Active Member
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2014,2015,2016.
March 2017 Oct 2018 Camino ingles june 2019 cancelled Camino Portuguese Oct 2019
It was interesting to watch and completely took my mind off my own problems. It seems unbelievable that such terrible things have happened in Spain a place I love and think of as calm and peaceful with lovely people especially when on the camino
 

mmmmartin

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Yes agree that the Camino is a great way to take your mind off other things. Paul Preston's book about Spanish history called The Spanish Holocaust is a real eye opener and might help to explain why in some villages you pass through on the Camino, half the people never speak to the other half.....
 

t2andreo

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History is just history. It is simply the story of the past. Knowledge of past history is, IMHO critical to avoiding similar mistakes and failing to learn from past mistakes or errors in judgment.

It only becomes political, and potentially contrary to Forum rules, if we make it a current issue.

As long as we steer clear of pro or con issues relating to any county's history, I am confident the moderators will permit us to have an adult discussion.
 

MickMac

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Yes agree that the Camino is a great way to take your mind off other things. Paul Preston's book about Spanish history called The Spanish Holocaust is a real eye opener and might help to explain why in some villages you pass through on the Camino, half the people never speak to the other half.....
That is exactly the strange and eerie feeling I got in the village Calzadilla De Los Hermanillos when I asked for directions to a premises a feeling of resentment of my request not against me more the request. I always try to read between lines when talking to strangers (bad habit of mine) strange when I got home I tried to find out more about Calzadilla De Los Hermanillos the memorial mentioned on the Roman Road is a revelation to me thanks Andreo. I never noticed it on route.
 

mmmmartin

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Interesting point. I've thought for a long time that the Camino would be very difficult to recreate in another country, that it somehow chimes with the Spanish character to have pilgrims, many from other countries, walking slowly across their entire landscape. And that this is what makes the Camino so attractive to pilgrims such as you and me. They are, today, extremely welcoming to us foreign pilgrims. And I've thought that perhaps this is because whichever side their family was on in their civil war, foreigners came to their aid. So today, a foreign pilgrim on the Camino is welcomed. (In the UK there is even today a myth that in WW2 the nation was alone against the world - it ignores the Americans, Canadians, Polish, Indians, Irish who were on our side - and foreigners were then, and are today, seen by many as a threat.) The Spanish have created a fabulously welcoming culture on the Camino that today we benefit from. The religious aspect of the Camino is the icing on the cake for some but not for all, of course.
 

Marc S.

Active Member
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Since 2012: CF, CdN, CP, Salvador, Aragones, Via Regia, Elisabethpfad, Jakobsweg NRW, Jakibspaad.
History is just history. It is simply the story of the past.
If things were only so simple... People always have different versions of the past, there is not just one story of the past. And the version one adheres to, is partly depending on one's political viewpoints I guess. But let's not go there ... :(

For those interested - and in addition to post #9 - I particularly enjoyed reading 'Travels through Spain and its silent past' by the British historian and (Guardian) correspondent Giles Tremlett. It helped my understanding of Spain and its history.
 

t2andreo

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I have read extensively on Spanish history. It is part and parcel of my 'off season' but Camino-related activities. For most beginners, I suggest they start with Iberia, by the American author James Michener.

It is NOT a novel. Here is the introduction as presented on the publisher's website:

"Spain is an immemorial land like no other, one that James A. Michener, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author and celebrated citizen of the world, came to love as his own. Iberia is Michener’s enduring nonfiction tribute to his cherished second home. In the fresh and vivid prose that is his trademark, he not only reveals the celebrated history of bullfighters and warrior kings, painters and processions, cathedrals and olive orchards, he also shares the intimate, often hidden country he came to know, where the congeniality of living souls is thrust against the dark weight of history. Wild, contradictory, passionately beautiful, this is Spain as experienced by a master writer."

For readers of English, Mr. Michener is a seminal author. Many of his books, set against different periods of world history ARE fiction.

Iberia is different. It is Michener's tour de force about Spain and Spanish culture. It is not necessarily a history book, as much as it is a set of stories set against Spain and its culture. Be aware, like most all of his books, it is LONG.

I recommend it very highly if you are new to the subject of reading about Spain, it's development, history and culture. Once you have read this, you can easily use Google to locate "the 10 best books about (X)..." Where (X) is the feature of Spanish history or culture, whether it is the Camino, the Inquisition, Colonial Power, or the Civil War. I did it this way, and I am still working my way through the many, fabulous books, by dozens of esteemed authors. Spain is the subject the keeps giving...marvelous!

Hope this helps.
 

mmmmartin

Active Member
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NOT a subject of discussion with Spanish people in any way, shape or form
Very true and IMO a long conversion in fluent English will instantly become a "don't understand" the moment you mention Franco - so that is advice for any pilgrim on any Camino at any time. And IMO it's for them to decide not us.

the American author James Michener
Blimey there's a blast from the past. My love affair with Spain - which has resulted in me doing 4 1/2 Caminos on foot or bicycle and working for a fortnight in Santiago issuing compostelas - began after reading The Drifters by Michener and in the early seventies (when Franco was alive and kicking) I hitchhiked across Spain into Portugal and Morocco specifically to visit the towns he mentioned. It was a sort of pilgrimage I suppose. Now I'm going to dig out that book and read it. So, thanks @t2andreo for that.
EDIT. I've now ordered a used copy of the book
 
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mmmmartin

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Finally, this programme is fascinating and after 90 minutes it ended and I realised that
A) I'd sat through an hour and a half of a film with not one word in English and
B) there seemed to be something in my eye.

Spain, you have to love it.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
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who were on our side
...I see an assumption here!
I particularly enjoyed reading 'Travels through Spain and its silent past' by the British historian and (Guardian) correspondent Giles Tremlett.
Yes, I enjoyed this book - the actual title is "Ghosts of Spain: Travels through Spain and its silent past." I found that I needed to read it rather slowly in order to retain anything. The history is so complicated that I would otherwise lose the connections, even though he writes in a very accessible way.
 

t2andreo

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This is still very recent history. Lots of the people who lived through it are still alive.

NOT a subject of discussion with Spanish people in any way, shape or form (imo).
🙂
I totally agree with you, and whenever I am in Spain, I personally avoid ANY discussion of the Spanish Cvil War or ANYTHING having to do with the Franco era. I suggest that others do the same.

If asked, I politely tell folks that “I am a guest in Spain. I do not have full knowledge, enough to have an opinion. So, as a good guest, I prefer to have another glass of this excellent wine, thank you.” It always works to dissipate any tension.

OTOH, I find it amusing when I acknowledge to my Spanish friends, or people I may be newly introduced to, that I live in “La Florida,” not merely the US. I make that specific point.

Discovered by Spanish explorers in 1565, the first settlement was established at St. Augustine, Florida. It is the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement within the borders of the continental United States.

Many Spaniards, having been properly taught about the immense, global influence, power and wealth of the Spanish Empire, are impressed when I tell them that I live in a former Spanish colony. I happily discuss this with them, explaining how “La Florida” has had five national flags flying over it: Spanish, French, English, early-US, then the Confederate States (during our Civil War), and finally and presently the US national flag...go figure... FYI, the term "La Florida" is how Spanish kids are taught about this glorious part of their history. That is how they know it... "The Florida..."

It’s all history... after the passage of enough time, like when all people who had first-hand knowledge or direct experience of a regime, political system or event are gone, then it is just a story of the past.

Of course it is a truism that the victors write the history.

But that is the job of historians. They do the research and study to ensure that all aspects of the past are eventually brought to light.

Good, bad or indifferent, it is part of the human condition. As I said before, above: “All knowledge is good.”

Hope this helps.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
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To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
If things were only so simple...
Yes. I've not watched The Silence of Others, just the beginning with the old woman pointing out and talking about where the remains of her mother lie and it nearly makes me cry each time I try to watch it.

As far as I understand it, the documentary is not mainly about history or about the duty not to forget history. It is about coming to terms with one's country's past and the fact that people involved in that past are still alive in your country and in your society and they didn't change their views and their thinking by 180 degrees just because the form of government changed from dictatorship to democracy; the fact that it is so painful that it is not talked about, either voluntarily or by a sort of tacit pact; and the need to have a public debate about it and public processes to deal with it. The articles I've read about it in connection with this documentary and with Spain often mention the process of Vergangenheitsbewältigung (Germany) or the Truth and Reconciliation commissions (South Africa).
 
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t2andreo

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Thank you. That was a fair and largely apolitical summation of the Spanish Civil War. He might have added more detail. But THAT would only start a two-way discussion which WOULD no doubt serve to get this thread closed and or deleted.

Hence, I recommend leaving at that, otherwise, the moderators might awaken... DO NOT chime in here with more historic detail. It might be mistaken for political discussion - a violation of the Forum Rules.

Instead, if anyone wants to know more, there are hundreds if not thousands of books on the subject, written from both sides' perspectives. I highly recommend the Preston book mentioned above as well as George Orwell's books. There are also films made on the subject.

As a very frequent guest in Spain, I must have read at least 10 or so books on this subject alone, written from both sides, to bring me up to at least the academic level of a contemporary Spanish citizen. I maintain a reading list that I tick off as I read the books. As I learn of more worthwhile books, I add them to my list, find them, then read them.

Most of the better books, written by Spanish authors, have been translated into English, and should be available in libraries or elsewhere.

Incidentally, George Orwell fought in the International Brigades. He survived, escaping to France, then returned to England, where he began writing his seminal line of books...Animal Farm, 1984, etc. Read those too. Orwell had an epiphany of sorts while fighting in Spain. This first-hand education and understanding stayed with him for the rest of his life. That is ALL I will say on this point.

Also, the online newspaper The Local.es maintains a list of the best books about this subject. See: https://www.thelocal.es/

Here is the book list from "The Local.es":


And their accompanying "must see" list of 10 films:


I hope this helps the dialog. This is a very worthwhile subject for independent study by anyone interested in learning more about their Spanish hosts. Spain is a marvelous country with a long and varied history. At one time, they were THE most powerful country in the world. They remain a great country, at least in my view.

A good guest always learns something about their hosts. It is more than the intelligent thing to do. It is polite and "good form."

Hope this all helps.
 
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wayfarer

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Hence, I recommend leaving at that, otherwise, the moderators might awaken...

If you want my list of books, send me a PM. I prefer not to post them here for all. so as to not run the risk of being accused of becoming political.
The sleeping moderators only ever awaken when the rules are broken, that is why I often say "read the rules before posting" Ignoring is is forgivable in a new member who might not have seen the rules button but not forgivable for veteran members who should know better and in some cases wear their interactions with the mods as a badge of honour. We are here to try and make this a safe forum for everyone.
And again....read the rules before posting especially in a very sensitive thread such as this one.
 
Camino(s) past & future
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I recommend Hugh Thomas' The Spanish Civil War as it provides background (from the 1820s), the setting, and the military, social, and political aspects of the war. I took notes from it before I went on the del Norte a few years ago, and also on the Cami Catalan, and found it helpful. It explained why some small Spanish towns had no buildings older than 70 years, and why many Catalan and Aragonese villages had all been rebuilt to the same pattern. Two of my Spanish historian contacts tell me that it is the best one-volume work on the war and is trusted by many Spanish readers as being impartial and sympathetic, not to one side or the other, but to the Spanish people.

Warning! It is a doorstopper, so set some time aside, and do not think that you can carry it in your pack.

Those interested in the Canadian presence in the civil war might like Michael Petrou's very readable "Renegades," on the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion. He traversed most of the grounds himself and has tales of the reception he had from local authorities and villagers, interviewed the last survivors, and also had access to the nominal rolls and papers of the Brigade in the archives in Moscow during the brief period when foreign researchers had access.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
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NOT a subject of discussion with Spanish people in any way, shape or form (imo).
Absolutely. Unless they bring it up themselves. Which is unlikely, but it once happened to me while walking the San Olav. I was so used to extreme silence about the subject that at first I couldn't process what I was being told. And then the penny dropped. I just listened, slightly stunned, as the mayor of a small town described how there were places in the hills above the town where 'many' bodies had been buried. I am still haunted by adjective. It was a small place. 'Many' people killed would have left the place decimated - I couldn't help but extrapolate to the entire country. It really hit home, the horror of that time, and what it must have done to everyone.
That Spain has collective PTSD is no surprise, and we who visit need to be sensitive to that, keeping our hearts open and our mouths shut.
 
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t2andreo

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The sleeping moderators only ever awaken when the rules are broken, that is why I often say "read the rules before posting" Ignoring is is forgivable in a new member who might not have seen the rules button but not forgivable for veteran members who should know better and in some cases wear their interactions with the mods as a badge of honour. We are here to try and make this a safe forum for everyone.
And again....read the rules before posting especially in a very sensitive thread such as this one.
Oh, I KNOW the rules. Lord knows I have skirted and broken some at times. Having suffered at least one 30-day suspension, I learned my lesson. Being PC on this side of the pond does not come easy to me. Playing under the "Euro rules" is even dicier. But I am getting the hang of it.

Since those days, I have become more cautious. Hence, my admonition to others. I enjoyed this thread and want to see it kept open.
 

ginniek

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
frances 2017
When I'm walking on the Camino or wandering around cities and towns I unconsciously try to ignore any signs of or about the Civil War--and I really do know better. As an undergrad many years ago I studied both history and Spanish, and one of my professors was a very dignified older Spanish woman. There is a major road in Madrid named after her family. One weekend I went into New York City and saw To Die in Madrid. On Monday I asked her if she had seen it yet, and all she could choke out was "Casi me muere," or "I almost died."

I hadn't thought about that in a long time until I was walking into Logrono a few months ago. Near the intersection of the N-111 and the A-13, in front of a very large and modern wine distribution center, I noticed an old and battered metal sign that simply stated that 25 Republican supporters were killed here. It changed the way I experienced Logrono and the rest of my time in Spain. From then on I remembered the books and articles, non-fiction and fiction, about the Civil War I had read during the past several decades.
 

mmmmartin

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Fascinating to see how Spain has changed from then, to now, when it is a civilized, welcoming, powerful, wealthy, European country. Mind you, Germany has also changed. Which a religious pilgrim might say shows us that redemption and forgiveness are possible.
 

AlwynWellington

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Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
It is my understanding that most, if not all, countries that were first developed from Britain have had a form of civil war (however called) and which, even with the passage or 100 years or more, they still struggle with. My own is very much included in that observation.

And so I very very struck by a few words at the end of a brief documentary which I saw in early September 2018.

I had started from Canterbury Cathedral and with a week was at Arras for a rest day. I was keen to see the Wellington Tunnel, so called by the miners from Aotearoa-New Zealand who extended the original Roman tunnels (and later medieval extensions) of Arras. At the end of the tour we were invited to watch a five minute documentary about how these tunnel were used at that time.

At the end words were spoken and displayed on screen expressing the hope that the European civil wars, including World War 1 and extending back over many hundreds of years, had now ended.

A week later I was in Reims Cathedral for another rest day. In looking at the many displays in the (very large) south ambulatory I encountered a photo taken, just a few feet away from where I was standing, of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and President Charles de Gaulle on 8 July 1962 at a service of peace and reconciliation.
 
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mmmmartin

Active Member
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A pilgrim who wished a deeper understanding of the history of the Spanish villages, cities and rural areas through which they walk could do worse than listen to this BBC programme that explains quite a lot: it's on the radio so should be available outside the UK without a TV licence.


I'd also add that the final few minutes is very worth listening to for a pilgrim contemplating walking a Camino because it explains why the young Spanish generation is taking an interest in recent history.
 
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