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The answer lies in the sewers

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  1.  
  2. Paul Preston
  3. 'The answer lies in the sewers': Captain
  4. Aguilera and the mentality of the Francoist
  5. officer corps
  6.  
  7. Article (Submitted version)
  8. (Pre-refereed)
  9.  
  10.  
  11.  
  12.  
  13. Original citation:
  14. Preston, Paul (2004) 'The answer lies in the sewers': Captain Aguilera and the mentality of the
  15. Francoist officer corps. Science and society, 68 (3). pp. 277-312. ISSN 0036-8237
  16. DOI:10.1521/siso.68.3.277.40298
  17.  
  18. © 2004 Guilford Press
  19.  
  20. Reprinted with permission of The Guilford Press
  21.  
  22. This version available at: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/2711/
  23. Available in LSE Research Online: November 2012
  24.  
  25. LSE has developed LSE Research Online so that users may access research output of the
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  32.  
  33. This document is the author’s submitted version of the journal article, before the peer review
  34. process. There may be differences between this version and the published version. You are
  35. advised to consult the publisher’s version if you wish to cite from it.
  36.  
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  38.  
  39. For more research by LSE authors go to LSE Research Online
  40. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps 1
  41. On the day the Spanish Civil War broke out, an aristocratic landowner in the province
  42. of Salamanca, according to his own account, lined up the labourers on his estate, selected six
  43. of them and shot them as a lesson to the others.1 A retired army officer, his name was
  44. Gonzalo de Aguilera y Munro. His estate, called Dehesa del Carrascal de Sanchiricones, was
  45. located between Vecinos and Matilla de los Caños, two villages respectively thirty and thirty-
  46. five kilometres to the south-west of Salamanca. Although his atrocity was extreme, the
  47. sentiments behind it were not unrepresentative of the hatreds that had smouldered in the
  48. Spanish countryside over the previous years. Aguilera’s cold and calculated violence
  49. reflected an attitude common among the big landowners of the latifundio regions of Spain.
  50. The violent social conflicts of the period from 1918 to 1921, known as the trienio
  51. bolchevique, had been crushed by military repression but the consequent hatreds continued to
  52. smoulder on both sides. Previously, there had been an uneasy truce in which the wretched
  53. lives of the landless peasants were occasionally relieved by the patronising gestures of the
  54. owners – a blind eye turned to rabbit poaching and the gathering of wind-fall crops or even
  55. the gift of food. The violence of the trienio had outraged the landlords who could not forgive
  56. the insubordination of braceros whom they considered to be almost sub-human. Accordingly,
  57. the paternalism which had somewhat mitigated the daily brutality of the day-labourers’ lives
  58. came to an abrupt end.
  59.  
  60. After April 1931, the Second Republic’s attempts at agrarian reform saw the
  61. landowners engaging in rural lock-outs and telling the hungry landless peasants to comed
  62. República (literally ‘eat the Republic’, or ‘let the Republic feed you’). The gathering of
  63. acorns, normally kept for pigs, or of windfall olives, the watering of beasts, or even the
  64. gathering of firewood were denounced as 'collective kleptomania'.2 Hungry peasants caught
  65. doing such things were likely to be given savage beatings by the Civil Guard or armed estate
  66. guards.3 In fact, in the latifundio areas of southern Spain, Republican legislation governing
  67. labour issues in the countryside was systematically flouted; unionised labour was ‘locked-out’
  68. either by land being left uncultivated or simply refused work; starvation wages were paid to
  69. those who were hired. In words of the newspaper of the principal rural union, the Socialist
  70.  
  71. 1 Peter Kemp, Mine Were of Trouble (London: Cassell, 1957) p.50.
  72. 2 La Mañana (Jaen), 16 January 1934.
  73. 3 La Mañana (Jaen), 1 October 1932, 21, 27 January, 3, 18 February, 5 April 1933; El Adelanto (Salamanca),
  74. 19 October 1932; Región (Cáceres), 24 February 1933; El Obrero de la Tierra, 14 January, 4 March 1933, 6, 13,
  75. 20 January, 17 February 1934; El Socialista, 21 January, 20 April, 1 July 1933. See also Paul Preston,
  76. The Coming of the Spanish Civil War: Reform Reaction and Revolution in the Second Spanish Republic
  77. 1931-1936 2nd edition (London, Routledge, 1994) pp.101-2, 111, 134-5, 140, 148-9, 184-5.
  78. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps 2
  79. FNNTT or Landworkers’ Federation, ‘the owners are deliberately murdering by hunger
  80. thousands of men and their families for the crime of wanting to humanise a little their
  81. unfortunate lives. Who sows the wind… By the handful, in Spain the seeds of tragedy are
  82. being thrown into the wind. Let no one be surprised, let no one complain, let no one be
  83. scandalised and protest tomorrow, if these winds provoke a storm of blood.’4
  84.  
  85. After the fall of the Republican-Socialist coalition in the autumn of 1933, the
  86. landowners had returned to the semi-feudal relations of dependence that had been the norm
  87. before 1931. Consistent infractions of labour legislation led eventually to the FNTT calling a
  88. national harvest strike in the summer of 1934. The procedures for the strike to be legal had
  89. been meticulously observed by the union leadership. However, the Minister of the Interior,
  90. Rafael Salazar Alonso, a representative of the landowners of one of the most conflictive
  91. provinces, Badajoz, saw an opportunity to smash the FNTT. He declared the harvest a
  92. national public service which effectively militarised the land-workers. Strikers were arrested
  93. by the thousands and imprisoned hundreds of miles from their homes. The harvest was
  94. brought in by machinery and cheap labour from Portugal and Galicia. The FNTT had been
  95. crippled, union members were harassed by the Civil Guard, and estate security was tightened
  96. to prevent hunger being alleviated by poaching or the theft of crops. The south was badly hit
  97. by drought in 1935, unemployment rose to more than 40% in some places and beggars
  98. thronged the streets of the towns. Hatred smouldered. Living in close proximity, the hungry
  99. and the well-to-do rural middle and upper classes regarded each other with fear and
  100. resentment. Hatreds were intensified during the right-wing campaign for the elections of
  101. February 1936 which prophesied that left-wing victory would mean ‘uncontrolled looting and
  102. the common ownership of women’. Even without such apocalyptic provocation, natural
  103. disaster intensified social tension. After the prolonged drought of 1935, early 1936 brought
  104. fierce rainstorms which ruined the olive harvest and damaged wheat and barley crops. Left-
  105. wing victory in the elections coincided with even higher unemployment. The local middle
  106. classes were appalled by signs of popular jubilation, the flying of red flags and attacks on
  107. landowners’ clubs (casinos). Labour legislation began to be reinforced and workers were
  108. ‘placed’ (alojados) on uncultivated estates. Landowners were infuriated by evidence that
  109. peasant submissiveness was at an end. Those that they expected to be servile were assertively
  110. demonstrating that they were no longer prepared to be cheated out of reform. The shift in the
  111.  
  112. 4 El Obrero de la Tierra, 24 March 1934.
  113. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps 3
  114. balance of power provoked the anger and the fear of the latifundistas. Many of them joined,
  115. financed or expectantly awaited news of the military plot to overthrow the Republic. Even
  116. before 18 July, the situation in latifundio Spain had reached breaking point.5
  117.  
  118. When the Civil War began, in latifundio areas of the Republican zone, repressive
  119. landlords were in serious danger of their lives from the landless labourers. Aguilera, like
  120. others, perceived himself to be taking retaliatory measures in advance. Many landowners
  121. joined the uprising, accompanied Franco’s columns and played an active role in selecting
  122. victims to be executed in captured villages. Their influence was reflected in the fact that,
  123. when peasants were shot, they were made to dig their own graves first, and Falangist
  124. señoritos shouted at them ‘(Didn’t you ask for a plot of land. Now you’re going to have one,
  125. and for ever!’ (¿No pedíais tierra? Pues la vais a tener; ¡y para siempre!).6 The hatred of the
  126. landowners for the rural proletariat found an appropriate instrument in Franco’s African
  127. columns. Explicit parallels were drawn at the time between the left in mainland Spain and the
  128. Riff tribesmen; the ‘crimes’ of the reds in resisting the military uprising seen as identical with
  129. the ‘crimes’ of the tribesmen who massacred Spanish troops at Annual in 1921. The role of
  130. the African columns in 1936 was seen as the same as that of the Regulares and Legionaries
  131. who relieved Melilla in 1921.7 As they moved north from Seville in early August, they used
  132. the techniques of terror which had been their regular practice against the subject population of
  133. Morocco. Word of their tactics spread a wave of fear before them and villages and towns in
  134. the provinces of Seville and Badajoz, El Real de la Jara, Monesterio, Llerena, Zafra, Los
  135. Santos de Maimona, easily fell before them. In addition to looting, they annihilated any
  136. leftists or supposed Popular Front sympathisers that they found, leaving a trail of bloody
  137. slaughter as they went. The execution of captured peasant militiamen was jokingly referred to
  138. as 'giving them agrarian reform'. After the capture of Almendralejo, one thousand prisoners
  139. were shot including one hundred women.8 After the shootings, the remaining women were
  140. raped.
  141.  
  142. 5 Preston, The Coming of the Spanish Civil War, pp.147-53, 245, 259-60; Paul Preston, ‘The Agrarian War in
  143. the South’ in Paul Preston, Editor, Revolution and War in Spain 1931-1939 (London: Methuen, 1984) pp.159-
  144. 81.
  145. 6 Alfonso Lazo, Retrato de fascismo rural en Sevilla (Sevilla: Universidad de Sevilla, 1998) pp.11-14;
  146. Margarita Nelken, Las torres del Kremlin (México D.F.: Industrial y Distribuidora, 1943) p.259.
  147. 7 Manuel Sánchez del Arco, 2ª edición El sur de España en la reconquista de Madrid (Seville: Editorial
  148. Sevillana, 1937) pp.18-20.
  149. 8 Carlos Asensio Cabanillas, 'El avance sobre Madrid y operaciones en el frente del centro', La guerra de
  150. liberación nacional (Zaragoza: Universidad de Zaragoza, 1961) pp.160-5; Servicio Histórico Militar (José
  151. Manuel Martínez Bande), La marcha sobre Madrid (Madrid: Editorial San Martín, 1968) pp.24-34; Sánchez del
  152. Arco, El sur de España, pp.62-81; Juan José Calleja, Yagüe, un corazón al rojo (Barcelona: Editorial Juventud,
  153. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps 4
  154.  
  155. The deliberate savagery constituted what one scholar has called ‘didactismo por el
  156. terror’ (education through terror). The aim was literally to bury for once and for all the
  157. aspiration of the landless peasants to collectivise the great estates. Using the excuse of the
  158. ‘red terror’, a vengeful bloodbath was unleashed by the rebel columns. These consisted either
  159. of the African columns heading for Madrid under the overall command of General Franco or
  160. those sent out from Seville by the ‘viceroy of Andalusia’, General Gonzalo Queipo de Llano.
  161. In most places, ‘the red terror’ was a feeble excuse. In a wealthy farming community,
  162. Cantillana (Seville), where there had been no history of social tension, Queipo de Llano’s
  163. forces appeared in the early hours of the morning of 26 July. In the course of the following
  164. three days, two hundred people were killed. In Carmona (Seville), for instance, there were
  165. two deaths under the Popular Front, which were revenged with the murder of 700. The
  166. owners’ view that their labourers were on a par with their livestock was illustrated in Castro
  167. del Río, where day labourers were slaughtered using the same technique as that employed
  168. with cattle.9 In Lora del Río, the Civil Guard, the priest and the local right-wingers had
  169. greeted the news of the military uprising by taking arms and creating a stronghold in the town
  170. church. It was quickly captured and they were all released except the notoriously brutal
  171. cacique. In revenge for his execution, a simulacrum of a trial was mounted in which the judge
  172. was a landowner and artillery reserve captain, who, according to an eye-witness, had
  173. pretensions to nobility equalled only by his ignorance and brutality. Three hundred labourers,
  174. including some women, were ‘tried’ en masse without defence. The crimes of which they
  175. were accused ranged from having flown a Republican flag from their balcony to having been
  176. heard expressing admiration for Roosevelt. Domestic servants were accused of having
  177. criticised their employers. All were found guilty and shot. The executions were followed by
  178. a great orgy with drink provided by grateful wine-producers. Advantage was taken of the
  179. town’s many recent widows to meet ‘the sexual excesses of that collectivity without women’
  180. (the occupying African columns).10
  181.  
  182. 1963) pp.90-1, 94-6; Jesús Salas Larrazabal, La guerra de España desde el aire 2ª edición (Barcelona: Ariel,
  183. 1972) p.64; Herbert Rutledge Southworth, Le mythe de la croisade de Franco (Paris: Ediciones Ruedo Ibérico,
  184. 1964) p.215; Francisco Moreno Gómez. ‘La represión en la España campesina’ in José Luis García Delgado,
  185. editor, El primer franquismo: España durante la segunda guerra mundial (Madrid: Siglo XXI, 1989) p.192.
  186. 9 Antonio-Miguel Bernal, ‘Resignación de los campesinos andaluces: la resistencia pasiva durante el
  187. franquismo’, in Isidro Sánchez, Manuel Ortiz, & David Ruiz, editors, España franquista. Causa general y
  188. actitudes sociales ante la dictadura (Albacete: Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, 1993) pp.148-50; Antonio
  189. Rosado, Tierra y libertad. Memorias de un campesino anarcosindicalista andaluz (Barcelona: Crítica, 1979)
  190. pp.121-2.
  191. 10 An eye-witness account by a reluctant executioner was published anonymously as ‘El comienzo: 1936 La
  192. “liberación” de Lora del Río’, Cuadernos de Ruedo Ibérico (Paris), Nos 46-48, julio-diciembre 1975, pp.81-94.
  193. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps 5
  194.  
  195. The near racist contempt of the southern landowners for their peasants had quickly
  196. been transmitted to the African Army which had rebelled in Morocco. Already, in the spring
  197. of 1936, when the rising was being prepared, General Emilio Mola, its director, and until
  198. recently, the commander-in-chief of the African Army, drew up a series of secret instructions.
  199. They summed up the extent to which the Army felt no sense of being the body whose job it
  200. was to protect the Spanish people from an external enemy. The Spanish proletariat was
  201. clearly ‘the enemy’. In that sense, the mentality of the Africanista high command reflected
  202. one of the major consequences of the colonial disaster of 1898. This was simply that the right
  203. coped with the loss of a ‘real’ overseas empire by internalising the empire, that is to say, by
  204. regarding metropolitan Spain as the empire and the proletariat as the subject colonial race.
  205. The first of Mola’s secret instructions, issued in April, declared ‘Se tendrá en cuenta que la
  206. acción ha de ser en extremo violenta, para reducir lo antes posible al enemigo, que es fuerte y
  207. bien organizado. Desde luego, serán encarcelados todos los directivos de los partidos
  208. políticos, sociedades o sindicatos no afectos al Movimiento, aplicándose castigos ejemplares a
  209. dichos individuos, para estrangular los moviminetos de rebeldía o huelgas.’ (‘It has to be
  210. born in mind that the action has to be violent in the extreme to reduce as soon as possible the
  211. enemy which is strong and well-organized. Of course, all leaders of political parties, societies
  212. and trade unions which are not linked to the movement will be imprisoned and exemplary
  213. punishment carried out on them in order to strangle any rebellion or strikes.’)11 In his
  214. proclamation of martial law in Pamplona on 19 July 1936, Mola said ‘Restablecimiento del
  215. principio de autoridad exige inexcusablemente que los castigos sean ejemplares, por la
  216. seriedad con se impondrán y la rapidez con que se llevarán a cabo, sin titubeos ni
  217. vacilaciones.’ (‘Re-establishing the principle of authority unavoidably demands that
  218. punishments be exemplary both in terms of the severity with which they will be imposed and
  219. the speed with which they will be carried out.’)12 Shortly afterwards, he called a meeting of
  220. all of the alcaldes (mayors) of the province of Pamplona and told them: ‘Hay que sembrar el
  221. terror… hay que dar la sensación de dominio eliminando sin escrúpulos ni vacilación a todos
  222. los que no piensen como nosotros. Nada de cobardías. Si vacilamos un momento y no
  223. procedemos con la máxima energía, no ganamos la partida. Todo aquel que ampare u oculte
  224. un sujeto comunista o del frente popular, será pasado por las armas’. (‘It is necessary to
  225.  
  226. 11 Felipe Bertrán Güell, Preparación y desarrollo del alzamiento nacional (Valladolid: Librería Santarén, 1939)
  227. p.123.
  228. 12 Emilio Mola Vidal, Obras completas (Valladolid: Librería Santarén, 1940) p.1173.
  229. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps 6
  230. spread terror. We have to create the impression of mastery eliminating without scruples or
  231. hesitation all those who do not think as we do. There can be no cowardice. If we vacillate
  232. one moment and fail to proceed with the greatest determination, we will not win. Anyone
  233. who helps or hides a communist or a supporter of the Popular Front will be shot.’)13
  234.  
  235. The savagery visited upon the towns conquered by Spanish colonial forces was simply
  236. a repetition of what they did when they attacked a Moroccan village. In a broadcast on 24
  237. July, Queipo de Llano commented ‘Al Arahal fué enviada una columna formada por
  238. elementos del Tercio y Regulares, que han hecho allí una razzia espantosa, sancionando con
  239. ejemplares castigos los excesos salvajes inconcebibles que se han cometido en aquel pueblo’
  240. (‘a column made up of elements of the Legion and the Regulares was sent to El Arahal where
  241. they carried out a terrifying razzia, responding with exemplary punishments to the
  242. unimaginably savage excesses that have been committed in that village’ and threatening that
  243. similar razzias would be carried out in surrounding towns. Queipo’s broadcast merely
  244. touched upon the bare bones of a complex story. When news of the military rebellion reached
  245. El Arahal, a small town of 12,000 inhabitants, the local right-wingers who supported the
  246. rising had been locked up in the town hall. On 22 July, when a Socialist town councillor tried
  247. to release them, some left and twenty three remained fearful that it was a ruse to shoot them.
  248. Some armed men from Seville then set fire to the building and twenty three died. When
  249. Queipo’s Nationalist column entered El Arahal, they reacted to what they had found with an
  250. orgy of indiscriminate violence. They killed one thousand, six hundred of the town’s
  251. inhabitants as well as repeatedly raping young women considered to be of the left.14
  252.  
  253. The latifundio system, which was the dominant mode of landholding in Andalusia,
  254. Extremadura and Salamanca, made it easier for the owners to think of the bracero as
  255. subhuman, a piece of property and a ‘thing’ to be punished or annihilated for daring to rebel.
  256. To the owners, the entire experience of the Second Republic constituted a ‘rebellion’. The
  257. contiguity of Africa and Andalucia ensured that the prejudices of the southern landowners
  258. were implemented by Africanistas trained in murdering innocent civilians. The symbiosis
  259. between latifundistas and Africanistas was illustrated frequently in the early weeks of the civil
  260.  
  261. 13 Juan de Iturralde, La guerra de Franco, los vascos y la Iglesia 2 vols (San Sebastián: Publicaciones del Clero
  262. Vasco, 1978) I, p.433. See also Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War 3rd edition (London: Hamish Hamilton,
  263. 1977) p.260.
  264. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps 7
  265. war. In the province of Cordoba, for instance, the cacique of Palma del Río, Don Félix
  266. Moreno, bred fighting bulls which limited the amount of work on his estates. He refused to
  267. cultivate his land, using the slogan ‘Comed República’ (let the Republic feed you). When the
  268. labourers demonstrated against him, he had shot one of them. Before the Civil War, Félix
  269. Moreno fled to his palace in Seville. When war broke out, the village was collectivised and
  270. food supplies rationed until fields could be tilled and the harvest came in. His fighting bulls
  271. were killed for food and the villagers tasted red meat for the first time in their lives. When the
  272. Nationalists captured the town on 27 August, their columns were accompanied by Félix
  273. Moreno driving a black Cadillac in which he was accompanied by the other prominent
  274. landowners of the area. When soldiers rounded up those of the village menfolk that had not
  275. fled, he selected ten men to be shot for each of his bulls that had been slaughtered. As
  276. desperate men pleaded with him on the grounds that they were his godson, his cousin, linked
  277. with him in some way, he just looked ahead and said ‘No conozco a nadie’. At least 87 were
  278. shot by the soldiers on that day and twice that many over the following days.15
  279.  
  280. The hatred of the latifundistas paralleled that of the colonial officers for the subject
  281. tribesmen that it was their job to repress. General Sanjurjo had been one of the first Spanish
  282. soldiers to make the link between the subject tribes of Morocco and the Spanish left. He
  283. made a seminal speech on the subject in the wake of the atrocity at Castilblanco in Badajoz on
  284. 29 December 1931, when villagers had murdered in four Civil Guards in an outburst of
  285. collective rage at systematic oppression. Sanjurjo’s words and the subsequent revenge taken
  286. by the Civil Guard was but one of the ways in which the cruelty and savagery of the
  287. Moroccan Wars was imported into Spain and used against the working class. Sanjurjo,
  288. however, was not the first person to make the link. The Asturian miners’ leader, Manuel
  289. Llaneza, wrote after the repression of the revolutionary general strike of 1917 of ‘the African
  290. hatred’ with which the military columns had killed and beaten workers and wrecked and
  291. looted their homes.16
  292.  
  293.  
  294. 14 ABC (Sevilla), 24 July 1936; Ian Gibson, Queipo de Llano. Sevilla, verano de 1936 (Barcelona: Grijalbo,
  295. 1986) p.174; Carmen Muñoz, ‘Masacre fascista en Arahal (Sevilla)’, Interviu, No.91, 9-15 February 1978,
  296. pp.38-41.
  297. 15 Francisco Moreno Gómez, La guerra civil en Córdoba (1936-1939) (Madrid: Editorial Alpuerto, 1985)
  298. pp.375-82; Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre, Or I’ll Dress You in Mourning (London: Weidenfeld &
  299. Nicolson, 1968) pp.62-9, 82-99.
  300. 16 Manuel Llaneza, Escritos y discursos (Oviedo: Fundación José Barreiros, 1985) pp.206-14.
  301. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps 8
  302. Another major stepping-stone from the terror of Morocco to the wartime terror
  303. exercised against the civilian population of the Republic was the repression after the events in
  304. Asturias in October 1934. There, the African Army had unleashed a wave of terror that had
  305. more to do with their normal practice when entering Moroccan villages than any threat from
  306. the defeated revolutionaries. Houses were looted, innocent men, women and children shot at
  307. random, women molested.17 The outbreak of the Civil War was to constitute a quantum leap
  308. in the savagery of the views of members of the military high command.
  309.  
  310. The terror visited upon the rural working class of Andalusia and Extremadura by the
  311. Army of Africa revealed much about the attitudes of Spain’s colonial officers. On 7 August
  312. 1936, in General Mola’s headquarters in Burgos, a conversation took place between the
  313. recently appointed governor of Burgos, Lieutenant Colonel Marcelino Gavilán Almuzarza,
  314. and the Director General de Prisiones, Joaquín del Moral. Del Moral asserted that ‘España es
  315. el país donde la cobardía tiene vestidos más bonitos. El miedo en España se disfraza de
  316. pacificación de espíritus, de hechos diferenciales, de conllevancias, de fórmulas. Nadie se
  317. atrevió a dar la cara a los problemas fundamentales de la Patria.’ (‘Spain is the country where
  318. cowardice wears the nicest clothes. Fear in Spain is dressed up as resolving conflict,
  319. tolerance of the differences between people, coexistence and formulas. No one dared face up
  320. to the fundamental problems of the Fatherland.’) Gavilán declared ‘hay que echar al carajo
  321. toda esa monserga de Derechos del Hombre, Humanitarismo, Filantropía y demás tópicos
  322. masónicos’ (‘we must get rid of all that drivel about the Rights of Man, humanitarianism,
  323. philanthropy and other Masonic clichés’). A lively conversation followed on the need to
  324. exterminate in Madrid ‘tranviarios, policías, telegrafistas y porteros’ (‘tram workers,
  325. policemen, telegraph-operators and concierges’). One of those present suggested that the
  326. notice in apartment buildings that read ‘Speak to the concierge before entering’ should be
  327. changed to ‘Kill the concierge before entering’.18
  328.  
  329. A couple of days later, Mola revealed even more about the military monarchy. He
  330. boasted that his father, who was a crack shot with a rifle, used his wife for his frequent
  331.  
  332. 17 The literature on the atrocities committed by the African Army in Asturias is considerable. Among the most
  333. convincing testimonies are those assembled at the time by two relatively conservative individuals, Vicente
  334. Marco Miranda, a Republican prosecutor, and Félix Gordón Ordás, one-time Ministry of Industry with the
  335. Radical party. They are reproduced in Margarita Nelken, Por qué hicimos la revolución (Barcelona: Ediciones
  336. Sociales Internacionales, 1936) pp.172-255
  337. 18 José María Iribarren, Con el general Mola: escenas y aspectos inéditos de la guerra civil (Zaragoza: Librería
  338. General, 1937) pp.210-11.
  339. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps 9
  340. imitations of William Tell. The unfortunate woman was expected to balance pieces of fruit
  341. on her head and hold others in her hand as targets for her husband to show off his skill. He
  342. told his secretary, José María Iribarren, that ‘Una guerra de esta naturaleza ha de acabar por el
  343. dominio de uno de los dos bandos y por el exterminio absoluto y total del vencido. A mí me
  344. han matado un hermano, pero me la van a pagar.’ (‘A war of this kind has to end with the
  345. domination of one side and the total extermination of the defeated. They’ve killed one of my
  346. brothers but they’ll pay for it.’)19
  347.  
  348. The major polemic on Guernica also threw up a number of astonishing insights into
  349. the mentality of the Francoist high command and, in particular, that of General Mola. The
  350. massacre of Badajoz was a message from Franco’s African columns to the people of Madrid
  351. about what they could expect if they resisted. Mola made it clear that the destruction of
  352. Guernica was a similar message to the people of Bilbao. On 31 March 1937, he had opened
  353. the campaign against the Basque Country with a proclamation which he broadcast and also
  354. had printed as a leaflet which was dropped on the principal Basque towns. ‘If submission is
  355. not immediate, I will raze all Vizcaya to the ground, beginning with the industries of war. I
  356. have the means to do so.’20 According to the U.S. Ambassador, Claude Bowers, the
  357. destruction of Guernica was ‘in line with Mola’s threat to exterminate every town in [the]
  358. province unless Bilbao surrenders’.21 Mola’s use of aircraft of the Luftwaffe revealed much
  359. of his attitude to the war and its purpose. He was obsessed with the total annihilation of
  360. Spanish industry as a prelude to building a ‘clean’ agrarian Spain. This is clear from his
  361. spine-chilling comments at the time. On 2 April 1937, he clashed with the commander of the
  362. Condor Legion, General Hugo Sperrle. Mola wanted Sperrle to destroy Basque industry.
  363. With Bilbao about to fall to the Nationalists, this request disconcerted the German. Mola said
  364. ‘if half of all Spanish factories were destroyed by our aircraft, the subsequent reconstruction
  365. of Spain would be greatly facilitated. However, the Nationalist government could not just
  366. destroy industry once victory was assured.’ ‘Spain is dominated in a totally sick way by the
  367. industries of Catalonia and the Basque Country. For Spain to be made healthy, they have to
  368. be destroyed. The German Chief of Staff Wolfram von Richthofen listened thunderstruck
  369.  
  370. 19 Iribarren, Con el general Mola, p.223.
  371. 20 G.L. Steer, The Tree of Gernika: A Field Study of Modern War (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1938) p.159;
  372. Manuel.Aznar, Historia militar de la guerra de España (1936-1939) (Madrid: Ediciones Idea, 1940) p.398..
  373. 21 Bowers to Hull, 30 April 1937, Foreign Relations of the United States 1937 Vol.I (Washington: United States
  374. Government Printing Office, 1954) p.290.
  375. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  376. 10
  377. then recited to Mola all the reasons why it was madness to destroy a country’s industrial base,
  378. telling him that ‘I have never in my life heard such idiocy’.22
  379.  
  380. The attitude of the Nationalists to the left and to the rural and industrial working class
  381. made sense only in terms of the post-colonial mentality. The Africanistas and the landowners
  382. viewed the landless peasants and the industrial proletariat as a racially inferior, subject
  383. colonial race. When they talked about the left, they did so in pathological terms. It was
  384. brilliantly summed up by the correspondent of the Chicago Daily Tribune, Edmund Taylor:
  385. ‘The enemy was a complex molecule of a spiritual poison called communism for
  386. convenience, but liberalism was the most deadly individual element in it, and the most hated.
  387. Introduced into the human organism, this poison acted like a germ virus; not only incurable,
  388. but infectious. Certain men known as the Leaders had perversely inoculated themselves with
  389. the poison, and like Satan in Catholic mythology, were deliberately trying to spread the
  390. infection as widely as they could. As the incarnation of evil these men deserved punishment.
  391. Their victims who might have been good Spaniards if they had not had the bad luck to be
  392. infected by the Leaders, did not merit punishment properly speaking, but they had to be shot
  393. in a humane way because they were incurable and might infect others.’23 Another, John
  394. Whitaker of the Chicago Daily News, put it more bluntly; ‘The use of the Moors and the
  395. wholesale execution of prisoners and civilians were the trump cards of the “best” elements in
  396. Spain… I talked with all varieties of them by the hundreds. If I were to some up their social
  397. philosophy, it would be simple in the extreme – they were outnumbered by the masses; they
  398. feared the masses; and they proposed to thin down the numbers of the masses.’24
  399.  
  400. The idea might have figured in such crude terms in the private conversations of army
  401. officers. In public, however, rebel propagandists thought it more respectable to talk of a
  402. ‘movement’ to put an end to the Jewish-Masonic-Bolshevik conspiracy in order to defend
  403. ‘Spain’, or to be more precise, a particular and partisan definition of Spain. From this had
  404. evolved the idea of a war to the death between España and the anti-España. A revealing gloss
  405. on this notion was given by a prosecutor during a court martial in Seville in late 1937.
  406.  
  407. 22 Wolfram von Richthofen,. 'Spanien-Tagebuch', in Klaus A. Maier, Guernica 26.4.1937. Die deutsche
  408. Intervention in Spanien und der 'Fall Guernica' (Freiburg: Rombach, 1975) pp.86-7; Angel Viñas, Guerra,
  409. dinero, dictadura. Ayuda fascista y autarquía en la España de Franco (Barcelona: Crítica, 1984) pp.102-3.
  410. 23 Edmond Taylor, ‘Assignment in Hell’ in Frank C.Hanighen, Nothing but Danger (London: Harrap, 1940)
  411. p.63.
  412. 24 John Whitaker, ‘Prelude to World War. A Witness from Spain’ in Foreign Affairs, Vol.21, 1-4, October 1942
  413. – July 1943, p.107.
  414. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  415. 11
  416. ‘Spanish grandeur was at its height in the Sixteenth Century, when the sun never set on her
  417. dominions. Our great century, the century of the mystics, the saints and the artists. The
  418. century of the Spanish Empire! Well, do you know how many inhabitants our fatherland had
  419. then when it was truly great? Twelve millions! What does it matter is half the population has
  420. to disappear if that is what is required for us to reconquer our Empire?’ (Fue el XVI el siglo
  421. de mayor grandeza de España. Entonces no se ponía el sol en sus dominios. Nuestra gran
  422. centuria. La de los místicos, santos y artistas. ¡El siglo del Imperio Español! Pues, ¿sabéis
  423. cuántos habitantes tenía entonces nuestra Patria, y era grande? ¡Doce millones! ¿Qué
  424. importa que ahora desaparezca la mitad de sus habitantes, si ello precisa para reconquistar
  425. nuestro Imperio?)25
  426.  
  427. During the march of Franco’s troops to Madrid, the chief reporter of the United Press
  428. in Europe, Webb Miller, was deeply shaken by the atrocities that he witnessed at Santa Olalla
  429. between Talavera and Toledo. In Toledo, after the liberation of the Alcázar, there were pools
  430. of blood in the streets and the footprints of those who had tracked through it were evidence of
  431. the mass of summary executions. A Francoist officer explained the policy to him: ‘we are
  432. fighting an idea. The idea is in the brain, and to kill it we have to kill the man. We must kill
  433. everyone who has that “red” idea.’26 The most extreme version of that theory was expounded
  434. interminably by Captain Gonzalo Aguilera, the Salamanca landowner who had shot six of his
  435. peasants. He had come out of voluntary retirement, rejoined the army and had been assigned
  436. to Franco’s press and propaganda service. His ideas were outrageous, but because he
  437. expounded them so eloquently, in excellent English, and without inhibition, journalists found
  438. him compellingly quotable. Aguilera was a polo-playing cavalryman and convinced all of
  439. the journalists with whom he worked that he was a great all-round sportsman. He was also the
  440. fourteenth Conde de Alba de Yeltes, a Grande de España and a major landowner with estates
  441. in the provinces of Salamanca and Cáceres. ‘We’ve got to kill and kill and kill, you
  442. understand’, he told John Whitaker.27 He was merely expressing the views of his
  443. commanding officer, General Mola. Towards the end of July 1936, the French press reported
  444. that Indalecio Prieto had been encharged with negotiating with the Nationalists to put an end
  445. to the bloodshed. When the General’s secretary showed him the newspapers, he burst out
  446. angrily ‘Negotiate! Never! This war must end with the extermination of the enemies of
  447.  
  448. 25 Francisco Gonzálbez Ruiz, Yo he creído en Franco. Proceso de una gran desilusión (Dos meses en la cárcel
  449. de Sevilla) (Paris: Imprimerie Coopérative Étoile, 1938) p.147.
  450. 26 Webb Miller, I Found No Peace (London: The Book Club, 1937) p.344.
  451. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  452. 12
  453. Spain.’ (‘¿Parlamentar? ¡Jamás! Esta guerra tiene que terminar con el exterminio de los
  454. enemigos de España.’)28
  455.  
  456. Aguilera recounted his biological theory of the origins of the war to Charles Foltz, the
  457. correspondent of the Associated Press: ‘”Sewers!” growled the Count. “Sewers caused all our
  458. troubles. The masses in this country are not like your Americans, nor even like the British.
  459. They are slave stock. They are good for nothing but slaves and only when they are used as
  460. slaves are they happy. But we, the decent people, made the mistake of giving them modern
  461. housing in the cities where we have our factories. We put sewers in these cities, sewers which
  462. extend right down to the workers’ quarters. Not content with the work of God, we thus
  463. interfere with His Will. The result is that the slave stock increases. Had we no sewers in
  464. Madrid, Barcelona, and Bilbao, all these Red leaders would have died in their infancy instead
  465. of exciting the rabble and causing good Spanish blood to flow. When the war is over, we
  466. should destroy the sewers. The perfect birth control for Spain is the birth control God
  467. intended us to have. Sewers are a luxury to be reserved for those who deserve them, the
  468. leaders of Spain, not the slave stock.’ One journalist who laughed at these bizarre notions,
  469. was expelled from Nationalist Spain after Captain Aguilera denounced him ‘a dangerous
  470. Red’.29
  471.  
  472. Aguilera was far from unique. Four officers in charge of the foreign press figure
  473. frequently in the later accounts of correspondents. The most frequently named were the head
  474. of Franco’s press service, Luis Bolín, and, of course, Aguilera. Bolín had been given an
  475. honorary captaincy in the Foreign Legion as a reward for his role in securing Franco’s
  476. passage from the Canary Islands to Morocco. Wearing breeches and high boots, against
  477. which he would rap a riding crop, he strode menacingly among the correspondents with a
  478. fierce scowl. Despite the fact that ‘he couldn’t fix a bayonet or put a clip into a rifle’, he wore
  479. the uniform always and behaved in a boorish manner that embarrassed the real officers of the
  480. corps. According to Sir Percival Phillips of the Daily Telegraph, they despised and detested
  481. him ‘They think he has no right to be strutting about in their uniform.’30 Bolín, according to
  482. Noel Monks of the Daily Express, would spit on piles of freshly executed Republican
  483.  
  484. 27 Whitaker, ‘Prelude to World War’, p.107.
  485. 28 José María Iribarren, Con el general Mola: escenas y aspectos inéditos de la guerra civil (Zaragoza: Librería
  486. General, 1937) pp.168-9.
  487. 29 Charles Foltz Jr., The Masquerade in Spain (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948) p.116.
  488. 30 Francis McCullagh, In Franco’s Spain (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, 1937) pp.104-7
  489. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  490. 13
  491. prisoners, many of them mere boys, saying ‘Vermin!’31 He was loathed and feared by the
  492. foreign press corps because of his frequent threats to shoot newspapermen.32 He would gain a
  493. kind of fame by dint of his arrest and mistreatment of Arthur Koestler shortly after the
  494. Nationalist capture of Malaga in February 1937.33
  495.  
  496. Of the rest of Bolín’s subordinates, one, Lieutenant Colonel Manuel de Lámbarri y
  497. Yanguas, was a rather amiable man who, in civilian life, had worked for the magazine
  498. Vogue.34 Another, a Captain Ignacio Rosales, held views only slightly more refined than
  499. those of Aguilera.35 According to Virginia Cowles, Rosales was a Barcelona millionaire.36
  500. He explained to his charges that ‘the masses cannot be taught; that they need a touch of the
  501. whip for they are like dogs and will mind only the whip. There is no understanding in such
  502. people, they must be got in hand. Held in hand where they belong.’ Like many officers, from
  503. Mola downwards, Rosales also had a biological explanation of class conflict in Spain: ‘an
  504. influx of strains inimical to Spain through the industrial cities of the coast; of this taint in her
  505. bloodstream Spain must cleanse herself. She is purifying herself and will rise up from this
  506. trial new and strong. The streets of Madrid will run red with blood, but after – after – there
  507. will be no unemployment problem.’37 In fact, ‘organic determinism’ was a central part of
  508. Spanish right-wing thinking from José Ortega y Gasset’s España invertebrada to Ernesto
  509. Giménez Caballero’s Genio de España. It was central to the mind-set of army officers.38
  510.  
  511. Franco himself told a the correspondent of the French newspaper Candide, in August
  512. 1938, that fascism varied according to national characteristics because each nation was an
  513. organism and each national fascism its immune system’s reaction ‘a defence mechanism, a
  514. sign of wanting to live, of not wanting to die, that, at certain times, takes over an entire
  515.  
  516. 31 Noel Monks, Eyewitness (London: Frederick Muller, 1955) p.73.
  517. 32 McCullagh, In Franco’s Spain pp.104-29; Arthur Koestler, Spanish Testament (London: Victor Gollancz,
  518. 1937) p.220; Monks, Eyewitness, pp.80-2.
  519. 33 Koestler, Spanish Testament, pp.223-31; Arthur Koestler, The Invisible Writing 2nd Edition (London:
  520. Hutchinson, 1969) pp.413-20, 427; Sir Peter Chalmers-Mitchell, My House in Malaga (London: Faber & Faber,
  521. 1938) pp.269-89; Luis Bolín, Spain: The Vital Years (Philadelphia: J.B.Lippincott, 1967) pp.247-9.
  522. 34 Virginia Cowles, Looking for Trouble (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1941) pp.90-4; Harold G.Cardozo, The
  523. March of a Nation. My Year of Spain’s Civil War (London: The Right Book Club, 1937) p.301.
  524. 35 Although he is mentioned by several correspondents, only Virginia Cowles seemed to know his Christian
  525. name which she gave as Ignacio, Cowles, Looking for Trouble, p.70. He does not figure in the Anuario Militar
  526. 1936, pp.323, 399. It is possible that the Rosales who acted as a press officer had taken retirement on full pay
  527. under the Azaña reforms of 1931 or, like Bolín, simply been given the honorary rank of captain.
  528. 36 Cowles, Looking for Trouble, p.70.
  529. 37 Frances Davis, My Shadow in the Sun (New York: Carrick & Evans, 1940) p.136
  530. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  531. 14
  532. people’.39 The most extreme version of the doctrine came, as might be expected from the pen
  533. of Ernesto Giménez Caballero. In a pamphlet published in the Nationalist zone in 1938, he
  534. wrote: ‘Nosotros los combatientes hemos visto a Franco en las altas horas de la madrugada,
  535. en medio del calor o de la nieve – en páramos, en rinconces abruptos, en mitad de un
  536. campamento – tendida su alma, distendidos sus nervios sobre el plano de combate, sobre el
  537. Mapa de España, “operando en vivo sobre el cuerpo de España”, con urgencia y tragedia de
  538. quirurgo que opera a su propia hija, a su propia madre, a su propia mujer amada. Nosotros
  539. hemos visto caer las lágrimas de Franco sobre el cuerpo de esta madre, de esta mujer, de esta
  540. hija suya que es España, mientras en las manos le corría la sangres y el dolor del sacro cuerpo
  541. en estertores’ (‘we have seen Franco in the early hours of the morning, in the midst of heat or
  542. of snow, his soul and his nerves stretched to breaking point, leaning over the battle plan or the
  543. map of Spain, operating on the living body of Spain with the urgency and tragedy of a
  544. surgeon who operates on his own daughter, on his own mother, on his own beloved wife. We
  545. have seen Franco’s tears fall on the body of this mother, of this wife, of this daughter, while
  546. over his hands runs the blood and the pain of the sacred body in spasms.’)40 For Franco, as
  547. for Aguilera and Rosales, the logic of this argument was that any individual whose ideas did
  548. not fit with their conception of the patria was a symptom of a disease and therefore had to be
  549. eradicated.
  550.  
  551. Aguilera gave a slightly different version of the organicist theory to Whitaker. ‘You
  552. know what’s wrong with Spain? Modern plumbing! In healthier times – I mean healthier
  553. times spiritually, you understand – plague and pestilence used to slaughter the Spanish
  554. masses. Held them down to proper proportions, you understand. Now with modern sewage
  555. disposal and the like, they multiply too fast. They’re like animals, you understand, and you
  556. can’t expect them not to be infected with the virus of Bolshevism. After all, rats and lice
  557. carry the plague. Now I hope you can understand what we mean by the regeneration of
  558. Spain.’41 Whitaker travelled with the senior staff of the African columns that marched on
  559. Madrid. His daily conversations with them convinced him that Aguilera was completely
  560. representative of their mentality, differing only in that he spoke perfect English and had no
  561.  
  562. 38 Michael Richards, A Time of Silence: Civil War and the Culture of Repression in Franco’s Spain, 1936-
  563. 1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998) p.18; Juan Carlos Losada Malvárez, Ideología del
  564. Ejército franquista 1939-1959 (Madrid: Ediciones Istmo, 1990) pp.28-30
  565. 39 [Francisco Franco Bahamonde,]. Palabras del Caudillo 19 abril 1937 - 31 diciembre 1938 (Barcelona:
  566. Ediciones Fe, 1939) p.261.
  567. 40 Ernesto Giménez Caballero, España y Franco (Cegama, Guipúzcoa: Ediciones Los Combatientes, 1938)
  568. pp.30-1.
  569. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  570. 15
  571. inhibitions about recounting his theories to any journalist that he could back into a corner.
  572. ‘Aguilera would wet his throat with another tumbler of brandy and proceed, to the approving
  573. nods and comments of other leading officers of Franco’s army. “It’s our program, you
  574. understand, to exterminate a third of the male population of Spain. That will clean up the
  575. country and rid us of the proletariat. It’s sound economically, too. Never have any more
  576. unemployment in Spain, you understand. We’ll make other changes. For instance, we’ll be
  577. done with this nonsense of equality for women. I breed horses and animals generally, you
  578. understand. I know all about women. There’ll be no more nonsense about subjecting a
  579. gentleman to court action. If a woman’s unfaithful to him, he’ll shoot her like a dog. It’s
  580. disgusting, any interference of a court between a man and a wife.’42
  581.  
  582. Captain Aguilera was the son of the thirteenth Conde de Alba de Yeltes, Lieutenant
  583. Colonel Agustín Aguilera y Gamboa of the Spanish Cavalry, and a Scottish mother, named
  584. Mary Munro. Born on 26 December 1886, he was educated first at Wimbledon College. He
  585. followed in his father’s footsteps when, on 5 October 1897, he entered Stonyhurst College,
  586. the Jesuit public school in Lancashire, which he attended until 10 July 1904.43 His school
  587. career was singularly undistinguished. Despite his later reputation as a gentleman scholar, he
  588. was always in the lower part of his class and he left no mark of achievement in sport.44 After
  589. Stonyhurst, he spent some time studying science and philosophy in Germany. Of that period,
  590. he recalled in his autobiography, that he had been much influenced by Kant’s Critique of
  591. Pure Reason.45
  592.  
  593. Aguilera became, after the death of his father on 1 December 1919, the fourteenth
  594. Conde de Alba de Yeltes and married Magdalena Álvarez y Ruiz.46 The fact of being a
  595. Count was something that he made sure was known to every journalist in his charge although,
  596. ironically, for some reason, several of them came away with the idea that he was the
  597. seventeenth Count. Given that he was prone to boasting, perhaps he hoped thereby to imply
  598.  
  599. 41 Whitaker, ‘Prelude to World War’, p.108.
  600. 42 Whitaker, ‘Prelude to World War’, p.108.
  601. 43 Letter from Father F.J.Turner S.J., Stonyhurst College Archivist; to the author, 19 May 1999; Arnold Lunn,
  602. Spanish Rehearsal (London: Hutchinson, 1937) p.70.
  603. 44 Letter from Father Turner to the author.
  604. 45 Conde de Alba de Yeltes, Cartas a un sobrino (n.p., n.d.) p.28.
  605. 46 Juan Ximénez Embún, & Angel González Palencia, Catálogo alfabético de los documentos referentes a
  606. títulos del Reino y Grandezas de España conservados en la sección de Consejos Suprimidos (Madrid:
  607. Patronato Nacional de Archivos Históricos, 1951) pp.36-7, 51; J.Atienza, Nobiliario español: diccionario
  608. heráldico de apellidos españoles y títulos nobiliarios 3ª edición (Madrid: Aguilar, 1959) p.790. Curiously,
  609. Gonzalo referred to himself variously as sixteenth and seventeenth count.
  610. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  611. 16
  612. that his title was even older than it was. Similarly, he led his friends in the press corps to
  613. believe that he had served with great gallantry in the Moroccan War fighting at the head of a
  614. unit of mounted Regulares and had distinguished himself because of his courage and a
  615. recklessness bordering on the suicidal. One admirer described him as ‘a hard-bitten ex-
  616. cavalryman of what I believe is known as ‘The Old School’.47 There is no reason to dispute
  617. either that he saw action or shared to the full the prejudices of his peers. However, in a war in
  618. which the rewards for courage and temerity were significant, as the meteoric career of
  619. Francisco Franco showed, his military records show little of significance. He had joined the
  620. Spanish Army on 25 February 1908 as a private in the cavalry and was posted to an army stud
  621. farm. He took immediate leave of absence until August 1908. When he entered the cavalry
  622. academy in Valladolid. To the intense annoyance of his father, he did not use his intellectual
  623. ability and was a lazy student. Nevertheless, he graduated as a second lieutenant (alférez) in
  624. June 1911.48
  625.  
  626. In 1910, Gonzalo had fallen in love with a celebrated beauty in Salamanca, Inés Luna
  627. Terrero. She was extremely rich and, like Gonzalo, spoke English, French and German. She
  628. was a progressive feminist who shocked local opinion because she smoked and wore trousers.
  629. She was devastated when, in 1911, Gonzalo broke off the engagement in favour of Magdalena
  630. Álvarez Ruiz, the daughter of a cochero (a man who hired out carriages and cars). Inés Luna
  631. Terrero never married and apparently, for the rest of her life, carried a torch for the dashingly
  632. handsome cavalry officer. Gonzalo’s father was furious and forbade him to see Magdalena.49
  633. Gonzalo was posted to Melilla in February 1912, where he spent a month on the staff of the
  634. ‘Captain General of the Territory’ before being posted to a series of fighting units. After
  635. seeing action, he was awarded the Cruz primera clase del Merito Militar on 10 November
  636. 1912. He was promoted to first lieutenant on 13 July 1913. He was then posted to the
  637. mainland, remaining in Alcalá de Henares and Madrid. He seemed to lead a relatively
  638. privileged existence, spending two months leave in London in the summer of 1914 and taking
  639. part in horse trials in Badajoz in 1915. In October 1915, he was posted to the staff of the
  640.  
  641. 47 Kemp, Mine Were of Trouble, p.49; Lunn, Spanish Rehearsal, pp.42, 50.
  642. 48 Hoja de servicios de Gonzalo Aguilera y Munro, Archivo General Militar de Segovia. The information on his
  643. father’s attitude derives from the testimony to the author, 30 July 1999, of the Cronista de la Ciudad de
  644. Salamanca, Dr Salvador Llopis Llopis, who has had access to the correspondence between Gonzalo de Aguilera
  645. and Inés Luna Terrero.
  646. 49 Testimony to the author, 30 July 1999, of the Cronista de la Ciudad de Salamanca, Dr Salvador Llopis Llopis,
  647. biographer of Inés Luna Terrero.
  648. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  649. 17
  650. Ministry of War.50 He had continued to see Magdalena Alvarez whom he had set up in an
  651. apartment in Madrid. In awe of his father, he kept the relationship a secret. Eventually in
  652. 1916, Magdalena became pregnant and bore him a son, Gonzalo, out of wedlock. He
  653. continued to support her in the Madrid apartment. Only after his father died was he able to
  654. marry her in 1920.51
  655.  
  656. On 19 June 1916, because of his fluent German, English and French, he was sent to
  657. Berlin where, as a junior military attaché, he assisted in the Spanish Embassy’s work
  658. protecting prisoners of war until 20 November 1917. What he saw on the both the Eastern
  659. and Western fronts, profoundly affected him. However, he seems to have internalised his
  660. reactions. At the time, and until thirty years later, it did nothing to diminish his enthusiasm
  661. for the military life. He wrote of it in the late 1940s or early 1950s in his autobiographical
  662. ‘letters to a nephew’, (‘Como sabes, durante la I Guerra Mundial me tocó estar en Alemania y
  663. vi de cerca aquellas montañas de dolor y sufrimiento que lleva consigo la guerra moderna y
  664. de las que el individuo no tiene escape posible aquellos montones de cadaveres de hombres,
  665. mujeres y niños por las carreteras heladas de Polonia, aquellas ingentes matanzas del Oeste
  666. donde además pude observar de cerca las primeras victimas de gases, que al toser arrancaban
  667. tejidos mucosos bronquiales. Aix la Chapelle casi entero era un hospital de sangre y en días
  668. de gran batalla veía cargar los camiones de brazos y piernas para llevarlos a enterrar, y en la
  669. retaguardia los dolores familiares y la ruina económica. Allí empecé a dejar de ser Cristiano;
  670. porque no cabe que una deidad omnisciente y amorosa no tuviera otros medios para conseguir
  671. sus fines que a través del martirio y perdición de sus criaturas.’ (‘I saw up close those
  672. mountains of pain and suffering that modern war brings in its wake and which no individual
  673. can possibly escape. Those piles of corpses of men, women and children at the side of the
  674. frozen roads of Poland, that huge massacres in the West where I could also observe the first
  675. victims of poison gas who coughed up thick bronchial mucous. Aix-la-Chapelle in its entirety
  676. was a field hospital and on the days of major battles, I saw lorries being loaded with arms and
  677. legs to be taken for burial. In the rearguard, I saw the sorrows of families and economic ruin.
  678. There I began to cease being a Christian; for it is not possible that a loving and omniscient
  679. deity could not find other means to fulfil its ends than through the martyrdom and perdition of
  680.  
  681. 50 Hoja de servicios de Gonzalo Aguilera y Munro, Archivo General Militar de Segovia.
  682. 51 Testimony to the author, 30 July 1999, of the Cronista de la Ciudad de Salamanca, Dr Salvador Llopis Llopis,
  683. biographer of Inés Luna Terrero. She died in Barcelona in 1953.
  684. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  685. 18
  686. its creatures.’)52 This experience may well have brutalised him. Certainly, his enthusiasm for
  687. the slaughter of the ‘Reds’ during the Spanish Civil War suggested that it had done nothing to
  688. humanise him.
  689.  
  690. On his return from Germany to Spain, he served in mainland posts, in Madrid and
  691. Salamanca. He was promoted to Captain in July 1919. He often spent lengthy periods of
  692. leave in Paris and London. He took eighteen months leave of absence from March 1924 to
  693. August 1925, during which time his second son, Agustín, was born. At some point in his
  694. career, he was aide de camp to General Sanjurjo. He was not involved in the successful
  695. pacification of Morocco in 1925, although he served again briefly in Africa. In December
  696. 1926, he was posted to Tetuán where he was involved at the head of a Tabor of mounted
  697. Regulares patrolling and protecting the roads surrounding the town – which could be the basis
  698. of his boasts of courageous exploits.53 He remained in Morocco until August 1927, after
  699. which he passed into the reserve (situación de disponible) having been seconded to the
  700. Military Household of Alfonso XIII and became a personal friend of the King. He retired
  701. from the Army in protest at the requirement that officers swear an oath of loyalty to the
  702. Republic. He took advantage of the generous voluntary retirement terms of the decrees of 25
  703. and 29 April 1931 promulgated by the newly installed Minister of War, Manuel Azaña.54
  704.  
  705. On the outbreak of war, Aguilera came out of retirement and volunteered for the
  706. nationalist forces. He was informally attached to the general staff of General Mola,
  707. commander of the Army of the North. Because he spoke fluent English, French and German,
  708. he had been given the task of supervising the movements and the production of the foreign
  709. press correspondents – sometimes serving as a guide, others as a censor. According to Sefton
  710. Delmer, he ‘spoke the best English of all the officers on Mola’s staff’.55 His English was so
  711. good that, according to Harold Cardozo of the Daily Mail, he could easily have been taken for
  712.  
  713. 52 Alba de Yeltes, Cartas, p.101.
  714. 53 Hoja de servicios de Gonzalo Aguilera y Munro, Archivo General Militar de Segovia; Archivo General
  715. Militar de Segovia; Índice de expedientes personales (Madrid: Ediciones Hidalguía, 1959) I, p.57. His service
  716. with General Sanjurjo is not specified in his military records. It is mentioned in La Gaceta Regional, 30 August
  717. 1964.
  718. 54 Ministerio de la Guerra, Sección Personal, 21 November 1932, Legajo 416, Gonzalo Aguilera Munro, Archivo
  719. General Militar de Segovia. Michael Alpert, La reforma militar de Azaña (1931-1933) (Madrid: Siglo XXI,
  720. 1982) pp.133-49.
  721. 55 Informe sobre el Capitán de Caballería retirado, D.Gonzalo de Aguilera Munro, Ministerio de la Guerra,
  722. Sección Personal, Legajo 416, Gonzalo Aguilera Munro, Archivo General Militar de Segovia (henceforth
  723. Informe GAM, leg.416, AGMS); Sefton Delmer, Trail Sinister. An Autobiography London: Secker & Warburg,
  724. 1961) p.277.
  725. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  726. 19
  727. an Englishman.56 Despite his position as liaison with the press, he lost no opportunity to join
  728. in the fighting. He was involved in the Nationalist capture of Irún on 4 September. The
  729. entire, and extremely bloody, combat was witnessed by the foreign press corps which he led
  730. into the town as if they were a unit of the conquering Nationalist forces.57 He had also taken
  731. part in action in the Guadarrama and Somosierra passes to the north of Madrid as Mola’s
  732. forces threatened the capital. When Mola’s Army of the North finally made contact with
  733. Franco’s African columns in early September, Aguilera moved south to take the press corps to
  734. cover the attacks on Toledo and Madrid. On one occasion, during that advance, Aguilera and
  735. Captain Roland von Strunk, a German military observer, in Spain under the cover of being
  736. correspondent of the Nazi Völkischer Beobachter, fought off Republican militiamen with
  737. rifle fire until they were rescued from a perilous position. They were commended for the
  738. number of the enemy that they killed. During the siege of Madrid, Aguilera took part in
  739. combat action in the Casa de Campo, Pozuelo, Aravaca and Jarama.58
  740.  
  741. Unlike most press officers who felt responsible for the safety of the journalists
  742. assigned to them, Aguilera operated on the principle that, if risks had to be taken to get stories
  743. then, so long as they were favourable to the Nationalists, he would help the reporters taken
  744. them. He regularly took his charges into the firing line and was ‘bombed, machine-gunned
  745. and shelled’ with them.59 It was the most frequent complaint of the journalists in the
  746. Nationalist zone that they were expected to publish anodyne communiqués while being kept
  747. away from hard news. This was more often the case when the Nationalists were doing badly
  748. and especially so for journalists regarded as too ‘independent’. Even favoured individuals
  749. were subjected to humiliating delays while waiting to be issued with passes for accompanied
  750. visits to the front.60 Accordingly, Aguilera was extremely popular with the right-wing
  751. journalists that met him because he was prepared to take them dangerously near to the front
  752. and would use his influence with the censor to help them get their stories through. He drove a
  753.  
  754. 56 Harold G.Cardozo, The March of a Nation. My Year of Spain’s Civil War (London: The Right Book Club,
  755. 1937) p.63.
  756. 57 Informe GAM, leg.416, AGMS; Cardozo, The March of a Nation, pp.78-87. On the battle for Irún see Hugh
  757. Thomas, The Spanish Civil War 3rd ed. (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1977) pp. 377-9; Servicio Histórico Militar
  758. (Coronel José Manuel Martínez Bande), Nueve meses de guerra en el norte (Madrid: Editorial San Martín,
  759. 1980) pp.82-4.
  760. 58 Informe GAM, leg.416, AGMS. Lunn, Spanish Rehearsal, pp.42, recounts a similar incident in which
  761. Aguilera’s companion was ‘a French journalist’. It is entirely possible that the anecdote was slightly distorted in
  762. being relayed.
  763. 59 H.R.Knickerbocker, The Siege of the Alcazar (London: Hutchinson, n.d. [1937]) p.136; Cardozo, The March
  764. of a Nation, pp.284-6.
  765. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  766. 20
  767. Mercedes despite having a chauffeur named Tomás Santos at his disposal. According to
  768. Harold Cardozo, ‘it was one of the most temperamental cars I have ever seen. It either rushed
  769. ahead at some seventy miles an hour, taking corners in hair-raising style, or else it sulked and
  770. the whole line of Press cars was reduced to following it at not much faster than a walking
  771. pace.’61 Arnold Lunn found Aguilera’s skilful but carefree driving a terrifying yet
  772. exhilarating experience, the key to which he thought was a typically Spanish oriental fatalism
  773. and indifference to death. Junkets to the front organized by Aguilera were regarded as
  774. particularly exciting given his delight at being under fire and his assumption that the
  775. journalists shared his addiction to danger.62 Cardozo, for instance, despite his ‘hair-raising’
  776. driving, regarded him as ‘often a good friend to journalists’.63 H.R.Knickerbocker of the
  777. International News Service thought him ‘our best friend of all the White officers… Captain
  778. Aguilera is fifty-two, looks forty, acts thirty, and is the best press officer it has ever been my
  779. pleasure to meet, because he really takes us to the news, namely the front.’64 Sefton Delmer,
  780. despite being expelled from Nationalist Spain by Aguilera, wrote later he would ‘always have
  781. the warmest affection’ for him. While in Burgos, he called him ‘Aggy’ and they remained
  782. friends after the war.65 More liberal journalists were nauseated by the Count’s political
  783. attitudes – a mixture of callous cruelty and high-minded snobbery. In addition to his racism
  784. and his sexism, Aguilera was convinced that a crucial issue which would influence the
  785. outcome of the war was ‘the existence and the influence of satanic powers’.66
  786.  
  787. According to the American correspondent, Edmond Taylor, Aguilera was ‘a cultured
  788. man with the mannerisms and trick of speech of an officer in the Indian army.’67 That was
  789. not uncommon in the Nationalist press apparatus. At its Burgos headquarters, the fledgling
  790. American journalist, Frances Davis, encountered an officer who spoke Oxford English as he
  791. smacked his boots with a riding crop – probably Bolín or Aguilera. After explaining to her
  792. that the press would be at the orders of the army, he changed the subject and asked if she had
  793.  
  794. 60 Davis, My Shadow, pp.130-1, 165, 171. Francis McCullagh, In Franco’s Spain (London: Burns, Oates &
  795. Washbourne, 1937) pp.111-12, Cardozo, The March of a Nation, pp.220-1.
  796. 61 See safe conduct issued Salamanca, 23 November 1936, Legajo 416, Gonzalo Aguilera Munro, Archivo
  797. General Militar de Segovia; Cardozo, The March of a Nation, p.286.
  798. 62 Lunn, Spanish Rehearsal, pp.50-1, 70; Edmond Taylor, ‘Assignment in Hell’ in Frank C.Hanighen, Nothing
  799. but Danger (London: Harrap, 1940) p.61, 64; Miller, I Found No Peace, p.322; Whitaker, ‘Prelude to World
  800. War’, pp.108-9.
  801. 63 Cardozo, The March of a Nation, pp.63, 285-6. Cardozo was addressed as ‘Major’ by the other journalists.
  802. 64 Knickerbocker, The Siege of the Alcazar, p.136.
  803. 65 Delmer, Trail Sinister, p.278.
  804. 66 Lunn, Spanish Rehearsal, p.46.
  805. 67 Taylor, ‘Assignment in Hell’, p.61.
  806. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  807. 21
  808. The New Yorker, ‘Dashed amusing publication. If you have any copies to spare bring them
  809. in with you when you come, eh? Cheerio.’68 In the evening, over a drink, Aguilera, in his
  810. upper-class English growl, would mesmerise the journalists in his care with his racist
  811. interpretation of the war. One dimension of his theory was that ‘the war was a conflict
  812. between Nordic and Oriental ideologies, the Oriental element, represented by the Reds,
  813. naturally, having been introduced into Spain by the Moors, who in the course of time became
  814. the slaves of the northern Spaniards and thus begat the proletariat. The proletariat having
  815. been converted to Marxism, an Oriental doctrine which was in their blood anyhow, were now
  816. trying to conquer Spain for the Orient, and the insurrection was quite literally a second
  817. reconquista by the Christian Nordics.’69
  818.  
  819. Arnold Lunn, old Harrovian, prominent Tory and Catholic, thought Aguilera ‘not only
  820. a soldier but a scholar’. In the Sierra de Gredos, Aguilera said to Lunn: ‘The Reds are always
  821. ranting about the illiteracy in Spain, but if they’d spend a few months living among the
  822. mountains they might begin to understand that the people who can’t read are often wiser than
  823. the people who can. Wisdom isn’t the same thing as education. I have got shepherds on my
  824. farms who are immensely wise, perhaps because they read the stars and the fields and perhaps
  825. because they don’t read newspapers.’ He was clearly an element of social discrimination in
  826. his views since he also boasted of having a library of three thousand books. He believed it to
  827. have been vandalised by the mob in Madrid, a cause of understandable bitterness.70 After the
  828. Civil War, he wrote two books himself. Only the first, on the atom, was published in 1946. It
  829. carried on its frontispiece a note stating that ‘Toda vez que el producto económico que
  830. pudiera sacarse de esta obra es destinado a beneficio de las Hermanitas de los Pobres de una
  831. determinada provinicia, no se regalan ejemplares’ (‘Given that the profits, such as they are, of
  832. this book are intended to benefit The Little Sisters of the Poor of a certain province, there will
  833. be no complimentary copies’).71 The second, written in the early 1950s, did not find a
  834. publisher. It was an idiosyncratic and autobiographical work in which he developed ideas not
  835. dissimilar to those with which he had regaled journalists during the war.72
  836.  
  837.  
  838. 68 Frances Davis, My Shadow in the Sun (New York: Carrick & Evans, 1940) pp.98-9.
  839. 69 Taylor, ‘Assignment in Hell’, p.61.
  840. 70 Lunn, Spanish Rehearsal, pp.50, 59, 70.
  841. 71 Conde de Alba de Yeltes, El átomo. Sus componentes, energía y medio (Madrid: Talleres M.Rollán, 1946).
  842. 72 Conde de Alba de Yeltes, Cartas a un sobrino (n.p., n.d.). The book was poorly type-set, presumably at
  843. Aguilera’s own expense, but not published. The copy in the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid contains the later
  844. addition of several typescript pages, pasted in, presumably by Aguilera himself.
  845. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  846. 22
  847. An English volunteer on Franco’s side, Peter Kemp, also asserted that Aguilera was
  848. widely read, very knowledgeable about literature, history and science, with a brilliant if
  849. eccentric intellect and a command of vituperation that earned him the nickname during the
  850. Civil War of El Capitán Veneno (Captain Poison).73 He had a long historical view of why
  851. the Western democracies were decadent: ‘The people in Britain and America are beginning to
  852. go Communist the way the French have gone. There’s that man Baldwin in England.
  853. Doesn’t even know he is a red, but the reds control him. And, of course, that man Roosevelt
  854. is a howling red. But it goes back further than Baldwin and Roosevelt. It begins with the
  855. Encyclopedists in France - the American and French revolutions. The Age of Reason indeed!
  856. The Rights of Man! Does a pig have rights? The masses aren’t fit to reason and to think.
  857. Then you pick up with the liberal Manchester school in England. They are the criminals who
  858. made capitalism. You ought to clean up your own houses. If you don’t, we Spaniards are
  859. going to join the Germans and Italians in conquering you all. The Germans have already
  860. promised to help us get back our American colonies which you and your crooked Protestant
  861. imperialism robbed us of. And we’re going to act pretty soon, you understand.’74
  862.  
  863. Despite his adventurism, Aguilera expected ‘his’ journalists to toe the line. On 11
  864. September 1936, F.A.Rice, the correspondent of the conservative Morning Post, went to
  865. Burgos to seek a pass to the front. He was detained and interrogated by Aguilera. He had
  866. first met Aguilera on 25 August and had posted a despatch that sought to give a picture of the
  867. Stonyhurst old-boy that would appeal to the paper’s predominantly Public School readership.
  868. He wrote about Aguilera, without mentioning his name, merely as ‘a Spanish captain’:
  869. ‘Tremendously efficient, almost impossibly brisk, a good man, one would imagine, in a tight
  870. place; I can see him as a prefect at Stonyhurst, greatly respected and not very popular’. In
  871. another piece, sent from France and not therefore subjected to the rebel censorship, Rice had
  872. used the phrase ‘insurgent frightfulness’ in relation to the rebel attack on Irún on 1 September.
  873. Aguilera objected to both articles. He accused Rice of divulging his name in the first
  874. despatch – which he had not done. Nonetheless, Aguilera judged Rice’s references to him to
  875. indicate ‘a not wholly respectful attitude’. Rice pointed out to Aguilera ‘that the information
  876. that he was an old Stoneyhurst boy had been volunteered by himself and was clearly of
  877. interest to an English correspondent and that I had not been given it in confidence. He
  878.  
  879. 73 Kemp, Mine Were of Trouble, p.50.
  880. 74 Whitaker, ‘Prelude to World War’, p.108; John T.Whitaker, We Cannot Escape History (New York:
  881. Macmillan, 1943) pp.108-110.
  882. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  883. 23
  884. suggested that the doubt thrown on his popularity at school twenty years ago, was damaging
  885. and actionable.’ What Rice referred to later as ‘these singularly humourless exchanges’
  886. continued with Aguilera’s outrage at the use of the phrase ‘insurgent frightfulness’. He
  887. reminded Rice that the journalists would ‘be seriously dealt with’ if they referred to the rebels
  888. as ‘insurgents’ or to the Republicans as ‘loyalists’ or ‘Government troops’ instead of ‘Reds’.
  889. Aguilera gave Rice a stark choice. He could leave Spain or remain under strict vigilance,
  890. without permission to cross the frontier – which was the only way of filing a story outside the
  891. Francoist censorship. ‘My messages would be heavily censored and twisted to the insurgent
  892. view. Those correspondents who represent journals of policy wholly favourable to the
  893. insurgents would have priority in the sending of messages, and as one who hitherto has been
  894. admitted to both sides, I had no guarantee when I should be allowed out.’ Rice chose to
  895. leave. He was searched at Pamplona, his films confiscated and personal letters read, then
  896. escorted to the frontier. Rice’s newspaper, the Morning Post commented on his expulsion in
  897. an editorial. ‘It proclaims urbi et urbi that any news emanating from Right sources belongs
  898. rather to the realm of propaganda than to that of fact.’ 75
  899.  
  900. Aguilera had Sefton Delmer expelled from Nationalist Spain on the grounds that his
  901. dispatches published information likely to be of use to the enemy and also were ‘calculated to
  902. make the Spanish armed forces look ridiculous’. The report in question had recounted a
  903. Republican air raid on Burgos. Delmer had described how a small British plane had
  904. inadvertently arrived in the midst of it, attracted the anti-aircraft fire of the Burgos batteries
  905. and still landed unscathed. The dispatch, Aguilera told him over a drink, ‘not only
  906. encourages the Reds to attack Burgos again. But it makes our ack-ack gunners look
  907. inefficient’. Aguilera liked Delmer and so confided in him that he did not give a damn what
  908. the reporter said about the artillery since he was a cavalry man himself.76
  909.  
  910. In the case of John Whitaker, whom Aguilera had every reason to regard as hostile to
  911. the Nationalist cause, the treatment was altogether more sinister. At first, Aguilera had been
  912. sympathetic to Whitaker because he had been decorated with the Italian Croce di Guerra in
  913. Ethiopia. He had taken Whitacker on trips which the Nationalist propaganda bureau had
  914. vetoed. However, having got to know a number of the field commanders of the African
  915.  
  916. 75 ‘A Journalist’, Foreign Journalists under Franco’s Terror (London: United Editorial, 1937) pp.26-30.
  917. Cf.Herbert R.Southworth, Guernica! Guernica!: A Study of Journalism, Propaganda and History (Berkeley:
  918. University of California Press, 1977) pp.52, 420, n.62.
  919. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  920. 24
  921. columns, Whitacker had begin to evade the ministrations of Aguilera and the press staff. He
  922. began to visit the front to see things for himself. Aguilera felt that Whitaker was seeing
  923. Francoist methods that he was not meant to. In the early hours of one morning during the
  924. march on Madrid, Aguilera turned up at Whitaker’s lodgings with a Gestapo agent and
  925. threatened to have him shot if he went near the front except on accompanied tours. ‘Next
  926. time you’re unescorted at the front, and under fire, we’ll shoot you. We’ll say that you were a
  927. casualty to enemy action. You understand!’77 From a Francoist point of view, Aguilera was
  928. entirely correct in his instinct that Whitaker was dangerous. His recollections of what he saw
  929. in Spain are among the most blood-curdling, and convincing, accounts of the behaviour of the
  930. Army of Africa.
  931.  
  932. After Franco’s armies were halted at Madrid, Aguilera both accompanied journalists
  933. and took up arms in the various battles around the capital in early 1937 that followed.
  934. During the Francoist effort to close the circle around Madrid, he fought in the battle of
  935. Jarama. He also played a duel role throughout the Nationalist campaign against the Basque
  936. country during the spring of 1937. He took part in fighting having attached himself to the
  937. Brigadas de Navarra and he also continued to watch over the press corps. During the attack
  938. on Bilbao, he entered the city before the bulk of Mola’s forces accompanied by some of the
  939. more hot-blooded and reckless members of the press corps. Aguilera, his colleague Major
  940. Lambarri and a group of journalists including Harold Cardozo of the Daily Mail, were
  941. mobbed by an enthusiastic pro-Nationalist crowd. Cardozo and the other journalists were
  942. wearing the red berets of the Carlist requeté and felt embarrassed to have been fêted under
  943. false pretences. Major Lambarri merely laughed saying ‘I was kissed by much prettier girls
  944. than you’. Cardozo felt that, in contrast, Aguilera was seriously displeased. ‘His strict
  945. military mind and his personal political tendencies made him view this involuntary
  946. association of foreigners in what he looked upon as an occasion for intimate Spanish patriotic
  947. rejoicing with rather a jaundiced eye, and he was somewhat sarcastic and biting in his
  948. comments.’78
  949.  
  950.  
  951. 76 Delmer, Trail Sinister, pp.277-8.
  952. 77 Whitaker, ‘Prelude to World War’, p.109.
  953. 78 Informe GAM, leg.416, AGMS; Cardozo, The March of a Nation, pp.286-301. In civilian life, Lambarri was
  954. a designer for Vogue, Reynolds & Eleanor Packard, Balcony Empire (New York, Oxford University Press,
  955. 1942) p.54.
  956. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  957. 25
  958. Like the entire Francoist press service, Aguilera was involved in the cover-up after the
  959. bombing of Guernica. This involved the intense vigilance of ‘untrustworthy’ journalists who
  960. tried to get near the ruins of the town and the expulsion of those who wrote unwelcome
  961. reports. It also extended to giving strong guidance to sympathetic journalists as to how their
  962. articles should be written.79 In this regard, there took place an incident that was to cause him,
  963. and his superiors, some embarrassment. This was the arrest of Hubert Knickerbocker during
  964. the campaign against the Basque country in April 1937. Knickerbocker was a journalist who,
  965. through his articles in the Hearst press chain, had done much for the Francoist cause.80 He
  966. was halted at the frontier when he attempted to cross from France into Spain. This sign of
  967. growing intolerance of foreign correspondents on the Francoist side was interpreted by the
  968. American Ambassador, Claude Bowers, as meaning that ‘there must be something in the
  969. present situation that General Franco does not care to have blazoned to the world.’81 Despite
  970. being told that he could not proceed into Spain, Knickerbocker sneaked over the frontier. He
  971. was caught and imprisoned in San Sebastián for thirty six hours. He was released only after a
  972. considerable fuss was made by Randolph Churchill. Knickerbocker was then expelled from
  973. Spain. Believing that his plight was the consequence of a denunciation by Captain Aguilera,
  974. Knickerbocker exacted revenge in a highly effective devastating fashion. He simply
  975. published, in the Washington Times on 10 May 1937, an account of Aguilera’s anti-Semitic,
  976. misogynistic, anti-democratic opinions and, in particular, his claim that “We are going to
  977. shoot 50,000 in Madrid. And no matter where Azaña and Largo Caballero (the Premier) and
  978. all that crowd try to escape, we’ll catch them and kill every last man, if it takes years of
  979. tracking them throughout the world.”
  980.  
  981. Knickerbocker’s article was quoted extensively in the U.S. Congress on 12 May 1937.
  982. It may be presumed to have been a significant propaganda blow against the Francoists,
  983. coming as it did shortly after the bombing of Guernica. Aguilera, rendered as a mythical
  984. Captain Sánchez, was quoted as saying ‘It is a race war, not merely a class war. You don’t
  985. understand because you don’t realize that there are two races in Spain – a slave race and a
  986. ruler race. Those reds, from President Azaña to the anarchists, are all slaves. It is our duty to
  987. put them back into their places – yes, put chains on them again, if you like.’ Furious about
  988.  
  989. 79 Herbert R.Southworth, Guernica! Guernica!: A Study of Journalism, Propaganda and History (Berkeley:
  990. University of California Press, 1977) pp.64-7, 334-5, 337.
  991. 80 Foreign Journalists, p.7.
  992. 81 Bowers to Hull, 12 April 1937, Foreign Relations of the United States 1937 Vol.I (Washington: United States
  993. Government Printing Office, 1954) pp.279-80.
  994. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  995. 26
  996. F.D.Roosevelt’s election, he said ‘All you Democrats are just handmaidens of bolshevism.
  997. Hitler is the only one who knows a “red” when he sees one.’ His most commonly used
  998. expression was ‘take ‘em out and shoot ‘em!’ He believed that trade unions should be
  999. abolished and membership of them be punishable by death. His beliefs on the pernicious
  1000. effects of education had also been expounded to Knickerbocker: ‘We must destroy this spawn
  1001. of “red” schools which the so-called republic installed to teach the slaves to revolt. It is
  1002. sufficient for the masses to know just enough reading to understand orders. We must restore
  1003. the authority of the Church. Slaves need it to teach them to behave.’ He had repeated to
  1004. Knickerbocker views about women roughly similar to those to which he had treated Whitaker:
  1005. ‘It is damnable that women should vote. Nobody should vote – least of all women.’ Liberty
  1006. was ‘a delusion employed by the “reds” to fool the so-called democrats. In our state, people
  1007. are going to have the liberty to keep their mouths shut.’ The Jews, he believed, were ‘an
  1008. international pest’.82
  1009.  
  1010. After the excitement of the Basque campaign, Aguilera was transferred from Mola’s
  1011. general staff to the Delegación del Estado para Prensa y Propaganda.83 It made little
  1012. difference to his readiness to be directly involved at the front. He took part in the subsequent
  1013. assault on Santander, again accompanying the Navarrese Brigades. He actually entered the
  1014. defeated city on 24 August 1937, accompanied by the correspondent of the Times two hours
  1015. before any other Nationalist forces. He drove through thousands of Republican militiamen,
  1016. still armed but utterly paralysed and dejected by the rapidity of their defeat.84 Shortly after,
  1017. Virginia Cowles found herself in the recently captured city. Captain Aguilera offered to drive
  1018. her to León where she would be nearer Franco’s headquarters as he continued with his attack
  1019. on Asturias. He still had the pale yellow Mercedes on the back seat of which he kept two
  1020. large rifles and ‘a chauffeur who drove so badly he was usually encouraged to sleep’.
  1021. Wearing cavalry boots and spurs, a cap from which a blue tassel swung, he drove as if riding
  1022. a race-horse. Since the roads were clogged by refugees and Italian troops, he would drive
  1023. along cursing at other traffic. He occasionally complained ‘You never see any pretty girls.
  1024. Any girl who hasn’t got a face like a boot can get a ride in an Italian truck.’ He gave little
  1025. sign of being on his best behaviour for a foreign correspondent. If anything, the brutality of
  1026.  
  1027. 82 Southworth, Guernica! Guernica!, pp.52, 419-20, nn.59, 60.
  1028. 83 Informe GAM, leg.416, AGMS.
  1029. 84 Informe GAM, leg.416, AGMS; Kemp, Mine Were of Trouble, pp.99-101; General Sagardía, Del Alto Ebro a
  1030. las Fuentes del Llobregat. Treinta y dos meses de guerra de la 62 División (Barcelona: Editora Nacional,
  1031. 1940) p.106.
  1032. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  1033. 27
  1034. his speech was inflamed by the presence of Miss Cowles, an attractive woman who looked a
  1035. little like Lauren Bacall. On stopping to ask the way and asking someone who turned out to
  1036. be German, he said ‘Nice chaps, the Germans, but a bit too serious; they never seem to have
  1037. any women around, but I suppose they didn’t come for that. If they kill enough Reds, we can
  1038. forgive them anything.”85 ‘Blast the Reds!’ he said to Virginia Cowles, ‘Why did they have to
  1039. put ideas into people’s heads? Everyone knows that people are fools and much better off told
  1040. what to do than trying to run themselves. Hell is too good for the Reds. I’d like to impale
  1041. every one and see them wriggling on poles like butterflies…’ The Captain paused to see what
  1042. impression his speech had made, but I gave no reply, which seemed to anger him. ‘There’s
  1043. only one thing I hate worse than a Red,’ he blazed. ‘What’s that?’ ‘A sob-sister!’86
  1044.  
  1045. During the attack on Gijón, Aguilera spotted a long line of men with picks and
  1046. shovels. ‘Red prisoners, captured at Santander’, he told his journalistic charges. I hear they
  1047. built one of the mountain roads in eight days. Not much chance for sleep, eh? That’s the way
  1048. to treat them. If we didn’t need roads I would like to borrow a rifle and pick off a couple’.87
  1049. Virginia Cowles asked another officer if the ordinary soldiers in the Nationalist Army knew
  1050. why they were fighting. Keen to oblige, the officer amiably picked a young soldier at random
  1051. and asked him. The boy replied ‘We are fighting the Reds’. She asked him what he meant by
  1052. ‘the Reds’, and he said, ‘The people who have been misled by Moscow.’ Why did he think
  1053. they had been misled? And he answered: ‘They are very poor. In Spain it is easy to be
  1054. misled”. This innocuous answer infuriated Aguilera who was listening. He rounded on the
  1055. boy, ‘So you think people aren’t satisfied?’ The terrified boy stammered ‘I didn’t say that,
  1056. Señor’ to which Aguilera replied brutally ‘You said they were poor. It sounds to me as
  1057. though you are filled with Red ideas yourself.’88 By now, Captain Aguilera regarded Virginia
  1058. Cowles as a Red herself as a result of a slight remark. When he was ranting about the sheer
  1059. destructiveness of the ‘Reds’ beause they had blown up a bridge, she had observed that
  1060. perhaps they were simply trying to block the Nationalist advance. The suggestion that the
  1061. ‘Reds’ were motivated by military logic rather than intrinsic evil provoked him to glare at her
  1062. and snap ‘You talk like a Red’. With a hostile report on her unreliability, he put events into
  1063.  
  1064. 85 Virginia Cowles, Looking for Trouble (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1941) pp.86-7.
  1065. 86 Virginia Cowles, Looking for Trouble (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1941) p.90.
  1066. 87 Cowles, Looking for Trouble, p.92.
  1067. 88 Cowles, Looking for Trouble, p.93.
  1068. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  1069. 28
  1070. train for her to be arrested. Fortunately, for her, a chain of chance encounters permitted to get
  1071. to the French border.89
  1072.  
  1073. Aguilera’s English admirer, Peter Kemp, wrote after the war ‘Loyal friend, fearless
  1074. critic and stimulating companion that he was, I sometimes wonder if his qualities really fitted
  1075. him for the job he was given of interpreting the Nationalist cause to important strangers. For
  1076. example, he told a distinguished English visitor about shooting six of his farm labourers –
  1077. ‘Pour encourager les autres, you understand.’ Kemp’s doubts derived from Aguilera’s
  1078. ‘original ideas on the fundamental causes of the Civil War. The principal cause, if I
  1079. remember rightly, was the introduction of modern drainage. Prior to this, the riff-raff had
  1080. been killed off by various useful diseases; now they survived and, of course, were above
  1081. themselves. Another entertaining theory was that the Nationalists should shoot all the boot-
  1082. blacks.’ ‘My dear fellow’, Aguilera explained to Kemp, ‘it only stands to reason! A chap
  1083. who squats down on his knees to clean your boots at a café or in the street is bound to be a
  1084. Communist, so why not shoot him right away and be done with it? No need for a trial – his
  1085. guilt is self-evident in his profession.’90 After Peter Kemp’s memoirs were published,
  1086. Aguilera took out a writ against him because of the story about shooting the farm labourers.
  1087. According to his publishers, Kemp withdrew the story – to little avail, since the book was
  1088. already out of print. In any case, he had repeated the story to others, including the
  1089. correspondent of the French Havas Agency, Jean d’Hospital.91 Clearly, it never occurred to
  1090. him that his disquisitions were sufficiently remarkable to find their way into print.
  1091.  
  1092. Although Aguilera was uninhibited when talking with journalists, particularly if he
  1093. thought they were right-wing sympathizers of the Francoist cause, he never forgot his job as a
  1094. propagandist for that cause. When the Nationalist armies conquered Asturias, the repression
  1095. carried out by the Moorish Regulares and the Legion was particularly fierce.92 It is hardly
  1096. surprising that Aguilera was anxious to ensure that no photographs were taken of soldiers
  1097. carrying umbrellas or pushing bicycles lest it give the impression that they were looting.
  1098. Nevertheless, he was not above a little looting himself, and ‘was heard murmuring that there
  1099.  
  1100. 89 Cowles, Looking for Trouble, pp.95-9.
  1101. 90 Kemp, Mine Were of Trouble, p.50.
  1102. 91 Letter from Cassell & Co. to Herbert R.Southworth, 27 March 1968, and interview of Southworth with
  1103. d’Hospital, 14 September 1968, Southworth, Guernica! Guernica!, p.418, nn.47, 48.
  1104. 92 Juan Antonio Sacaluga, La resistencia socialista en Asturias 1937-1962 (Madrid: Editorial Pablo Iglesias,
  1105. 1986) pp.5-6.
  1106. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  1107. 29
  1108. was something very thrilling and tempting about it, and that after all it was not a bit like
  1109. ordinary robbery’.93
  1110.  
  1111. On one occasion, while driving Arnold Lunn, Aguilera was incensed by a pedestrian
  1112. who was too slow in getting out of the way when he blew the horn of the speeding Mercedes.
  1113. He simply accelerated towards the young man, who leapt for safety. ‘A fellow did that to me
  1114. the other day’, he told Lunn, ‘but luckily for him my brakes are good. While he was
  1115. recovering from the shock of being missed by inches, I jumped out, seized him by the scruff
  1116. of the neck and bundled him into the car. The village was near the top of the mountain pass,
  1117. and I drove downhill for eight miles while he whimpered beside me. I then turned him out of
  1118. the car, and left him to walk home. I bet he sweated before he got there. That chap was a
  1119. typical Iberian. You know your Don Quixote, don’t you? Well, Quixote is the conquering
  1120. Franco-Norman type, tall, fair, blue eyes, and so on. Sancho Panza, on the other hand, is a
  1121. sturdy, thick-set Iberian. There was nothing wrong with the Sancho Panzas until the Reds got
  1122. hold of them, but of course they’ll never produce leaders.’94 On another occasion, he shot his
  1123. chauffeur for running his car off the road. ‘He was a red all the time’, he explained.95
  1124.  
  1125. Aguilera told Lunn one day ‘It is the melancholy duty of our generation to act as the
  1126. ministers of exemplary justice. We can only save Spain from a repetition of these horrors if
  1127. we impress upon the minds of this generation a fact of supreme importance, the fact that there
  1128. is a God in heaven and justice on earth.’96 Aguilera was wonderfully complacent. On the
  1129. Moors, he said, ‘We are proud to fight side by side with them, and they are proud to fight with
  1130. us. After the Moroccan War we sent soldiers to govern them, and had no trouble until the
  1131. Spanish Republic started sending politicians. If that had lasted, we should have lost
  1132. Morocco.’97 His view of the Moors of the Regulares and the Legion was not shared by other
  1133. observers. Edmund Taylor wrote ‘they had carried with them out of Africa a spiritual
  1134. atmosphere like the stench in the den of a beast of prey, stench of carrion and of the beast.’98
  1135.  
  1136.  
  1137. 93 Cecil Gerahty, The Road to Madrid (London: Hutchinson, 19370 p.35.
  1138. 94 Lunn, Spanish Rehearsal, p.62.
  1139. 95 Whitaker, We Cannot Escape History, p.115.
  1140. 96 Lunn, Spanish Rehearsal, p.63.
  1141. 97 Lunn, Spanish Rehearsal, p.66.
  1142. 98 Edmond Taylor, ‘Assignment in Hell’ in Frank C.Hanighen, Nothing but Danger (London: Harrap, 1940)
  1143. p.68.
  1144. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  1145. 30
  1146. John Whitaker regarded Captain Aguilera as merely the mouthpiece for many on the
  1147. Nationalist side. Indeed, precisely for this reason, Luis Bolín kept a tight rein on the press
  1148. officers. According to Sir Percival Phillips of the Daily Telegraph, the majority of them ‘are
  1149. young grandees or diplomats, amiable weaklings for the most part, ruled by Bustamente [a
  1150. pseudonym for Bolín] with a rod of iron. He telephones them at all hours of the day and
  1151. night, scolding, ordering but never advising, and, as a result of this drilling, they never
  1152. express an opinion, even on the weather, lest some correspondent should cable that such-and-
  1153. such a view is held “in G.H.Q.” or “in well-informed circles” or “by spokesmen of the
  1154. Generalísimo”… they also keep all officers away from us as carefully as if we had the
  1155. plague”.99 Despite Bolín’s efforts, it was not difficult to find many with views similar to
  1156. those of Aguilera. Rosales’ theories were like those that Taylor, Knickerbocker, Whitaker
  1157. and others had heard from Aguilera.
  1158.  
  1159. If the views of Aguilera could be dismissed as simply the exaggerations of a bluff
  1160. soldier, perhaps more significance could be attributed to the writings of a man like Dr Enrique
  1161. Suñer, who had been professor of pediatry at Madrid University (catedrático de Pediatría de la
  1162. Universidad Central) before the war and was vice-president of the Education and Culture
  1163. Committee of Franco’s military government, the Junta Técnica del Estado (vice-presidente de
  1164. la Comisión de Educación y Cultura de la Junta Técnica del Estado). In 1937, he surveyed
  1165. the blood shed during the war. He saw two kinds of blood. On the one hand, there was that
  1166. ‘of conscious criminals, authors of the blood sacrifices that we suffer, of vile brutes, with
  1167. worse instincts that those of wild beasts’ (de conscientes criminales, autores de las
  1168. hecatombes que padecemos, de viles brutos, con instintos peores que las fieras). On the other,
  1169. blood flowed ‘from noble Spanish breasts – soldiers and militiamen – generous youth, full of
  1170. an abnegation and a heroism so immense that their wounds lift them to the status of the
  1171. demigods of Greek myth’ (de hidalgos pechos españoles – militares y milicianos – jóvenes
  1172. generosos, llenos de abnegación y de heroismo tan inmensos, que sus heridas los elevan a la
  1173. altura de los semidios de las leyendas helénicas). P.5 Then he asked ‘And all this horrific
  1174. mortality, must it go without its just punishment? Our spirit rebels against a possible
  1175. impunity of the pitiless individuals who caused our tragedy. It is just not possible that
  1176. Providence and man leave without punishment so many murders, rapes, cruelties, pillages and
  1177. destructions of artistic wealth and the means of production. It is necessary to swear before
  1178.  
  1179. 99 McCullagh, In Franco’s Spain, p.112.
  1180. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  1181. 31
  1182. our beloved dead that the deserved sanctions will be executed with the most holy of violence’
  1183. (Y toda esta espantosa mortandad ¿ha de quedar sin el justo castigo? Nuestro espíritu se
  1184. rebela contra una posible impunidad de los despiadados causantes de nuestra tragedia. No es
  1185. posible que la Providencia y los hombres dejen sin castigar tantos asesinatos, violaciones,
  1186. crueldades, saqueos y destrucciones de la riqueza artística y de los medios de trabajo. Es
  1187. menester, con la más santa de las violencias, jurar ante nuestros muertos amados la ejecución
  1188. de las sanciones merecidas.’100
  1189.  
  1190. Referring to Republican politicians, Suñer wrote ‘these horrific, truly devilish men.
  1191. Sadists and madmen working with professional thieves, fraudsters, armed robbers and
  1192. murderers have occupied the posts of ministers, undersecretaries, senior civil servants and all
  1193. kinds of important jobs’ (estos hombres horrendos, verdaderamente demoniacos. Sádicos y
  1194. vesánicos unidos a profesionales del hurto, de la estafa, del atraco a mano armada y del
  1195. homicidio con alevosía, han ocupado carteras de Ministros, Subsecretarías, Consejos,
  1196. Direcciones Generales y toda clase de puestos importantes). ‘Wild boars and cloven-hoofed
  1197. beasts running through parliament, in such of sacrificial victims to bite with their fangs or
  1198. smash with their hooves. ... Monsters in the style of Nero, leaders of sects and their agents,
  1199. murdered the greatest hope of the Fatherland: Calvo Sotelo. … Galarza, Casares Quiroga:
  1200. these are his most symbolic executioners! Behind them stand the freemasons, the socialists,
  1201. the communists, the Azañistas, the anarchists, all the Jewish leaders of the black Marxism that
  1202. has Russia for its mother and the destruction of European civilization for its motto. Spain has
  1203. been before and is once again the theatre of an epic combat, cyclopean, the action Titans
  1204. against apocalyptic monsters. The programmes laid out in the “Protocols of the Elders of
  1205. Sabios de Zion” have began to become reality’ (‘“jabaliés” y “ungulados” corriendo por el
  1206. que fué Congreso de los Diputados, en busca de víctimas propiciatorias de sus colmilladas y
  1207. de sus golpes de solípedos… Monstruos neronianos, directores de sectas y ejecutores de las
  1208. mismas, han asesinado a la máxima esperanza de la Patria: Calvo Sotelo…. Galarza, Casares
  1209. Quiroga: ¡he aquí sus más simbólicos verdugos! Detrás de ellos quedan los masones, los
  1210. socialistas, los comunistas, los azañistas, los anarquistas, todos los judíos dirigentes del negro
  1211. marxismo que tiene por madre a Rusia y por lema la destrucción de la civilización europea.
  1212. España ha sido y es teatro de un combate épico, ciclópeo, acción de titanes contra monstruos
  1213.  
  1214. 100 Enrique Suñer, Los intelectuales y la tragedia española 2ª edición (San Sebastián: Editorial Española, 1938)
  1215. pp.5-6, 166-7, 171.
  1216. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  1217. 32
  1218. apocalípticos. Los programas expuestos en los “Protocolos de los Sabios de Sión” han
  1219. empezado a cumplirse).101
  1220.  
  1221. The final objective of this war, wrote Suñer without conscious irony, was ‘to a achieve
  1222. a just, moral life, aimed at strengthening the race. For this it is necessary to flee all kind of
  1223. intolerance and sectarianism, seeking inspiration only in equity and the benefit of all our
  1224. citizens. … For this ideal programme to come about, it is necessary to bring about the total
  1225. extirpation of our enemies, of those front-line intellectuals who brought about the catastrophe’
  1226. (lograr una vida justa, moral y encaminada a la fortaleza de la raza. Para ello hay que huir de
  1227. toda clase de intolerancias y de sectarismos, inspirándose solamente en la equidad y en el
  1228. beneficio de todos los ciudadanos…. Para que este programa ideal pueda cumplirse, hace
  1229. falta practicar una extirpación a fondo de nuestros enemigos, de esos intelectuales, en primera
  1230. línea, productores de la catástrofe).102
  1231.  
  1232. The desire to eliminate any intellectuals that could remotely have contributed to the liberal
  1233. culture of the Republic led Suñer to send numerous denunciations to the rebel intelligence
  1234. service, the Servicio de Información Militar. At the end of June 1937, he denounced the
  1235. family of the distinguished medievalist and philologist Ramón Menéndez Pidal, President of
  1236. the Spanish Academy (Academia de la Lengua). A conservative, Menéndez Pidal was in
  1237. exile, terrified of being the victim of the left. Suñer also denounced Menéndez Pidal’s wife,
  1238. the feminist and philologist María Goyri, who had been the first woman in Spain to earn a
  1239. university degree (1896) and later a doctorate (1909). Suñer claimed that she had perverted
  1240. her husband and children and was one of the most dangerous people in Spain ‘de las personas
  1241. más peligrosas de España. Es sin duda una de las raíces más robustas de la revolución’. He
  1242. denounced their son-in-law, the physicist Ramón Catalán, as a Communist and demanded that
  1243. he be placed under police surveillance.103
  1244.  
  1245. After the civil war, Gonzalo Aguilera went to London, possibly on some sort of
  1246. espionage mission. He regularly wrote articles on scientific subjects, especially the atom, for
  1247. his local Salamanca newspaper, La Gaceta Regional. He retired from the army as a
  1248. Lieutenant Colonel and returned to his estates and his books. He summarised his findings on
  1249.  
  1250. 101 Suñer, Los intelectuales, pp.166-7.
  1251. 102 Suñer, Los intelectuales, p.171.
  1252. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  1253. 33
  1254. the atom into a book. He also wrote a set of ‘letters to a nephew’, a remarkably erudite
  1255. mixture of oblique memoirs and philosophy written in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The
  1256. range of reference was staggering, from the Osservatore Romano to the reports of the
  1257. American Psychiatric Association, from Greek myth to Leibnitz 104 Their virulent
  1258. anticlericalism confirmed the process of disenchantment with the Catholic Church that
  1259. apparently began on the Eastern front during the First World War. Together with his savage
  1260. account of the golden age of Spanish history so dear to Francoist rhetoric, it also accounts for
  1261. the fact that they were not published.105 The work was riddled with signs that he found the
  1262. return to civilian life extremely difficult. It began bitterly with the statement that his life had
  1263. taken place in isolated meditation and surrounded by mistrust. He attributed this to ‘la
  1264. desgracia de usualmente haber sabido más que el corro en que circunstancialmente nos
  1265. encontrábamos o por siempre haber manifestado el disgusto o menosprecio que nos producían
  1266. las descabaladas opiniones de los osados y de los arbitristas’ (‘the misfortune of having
  1267. usually known more than the chorus in which we found ourselves and of always having
  1268. expressed the disgust or the contempt provoked in us by the half-formed opinions of the
  1269. daring and crackpots’. He claimed to have been accused of being a rebel and unadaptable
  1270. which he thought inevitable since he felt himself to be surrounded by ‘de hipocresía, mentira,
  1271. envidias y chicanería’ (‘hypocrisy, lies, envy and trickery’). He was disgusted with the
  1272. political context, feeling that the moral certainties of the war had been replaced by
  1273. compromise and the emasculation of ‘principios firmes’ (‘firm principles’). In a reference to
  1274. his retirement from the army in 1931 and his war service, he wrote: ‘Toda la vida hemos
  1275. procurado servir a la Patria de balde y sin ulterior intención de prebendas y emolumentos.
  1276. Varias veces por hacer frente a la corriente desorbitada y a la injusticia hemos afrontado
  1277. graves perjuicios propios y con la tristeza de no haber conseguido gran cosa.’ (‘All my life, I
  1278. have tried to serve the Patria freely and without any ulterior motives of prebends or
  1279. emoluments. Several times, by dint of opposing the tide and injustice, I have faced serious
  1280. personal disadvantage and the sadness of not having achieved much.’) In this regard, he was
  1281. delighted that a friend had told him that he was ‘más loco que don Quijote’ (‘crazier than Don
  1282. Quijote’) for criticising the Catholic Church106
  1283.  
  1284. 103 Diego Catalán, El archivo del romancero: historia documentada de un siglo de historia (2 tomos) (Madrid:
  1285. Fundación Ramón Menéndez Pidal, 2001) pp.256-9.
  1286. 104 They are undated but there are internal references to the international press which make it clear that he was
  1287. writing until, at least 1953, Cartas, pp.110, 123, note to p.126.
  1288. 105 He demolishes the Francoist glorification of Spanish history in Cartas, pp.151-76. The work is informed by
  1289. anticlericalism throughout but see especially nota del asterisco de la página 218.
  1290. 106 Cartas, pp.1-2, 91.
  1291. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  1292. 34
  1293.  
  1294. The ideas with which he had regaled the members of the press corps in his charge
  1295. during the civil war were now refined. He was profligate with extremely erudite references
  1296. to Aristotle, Cicero, the fathers of the Church, a host of medieval philosophers, Calvin,
  1297. Galileo, Spinoza and Descartes. These were juxtaposed to bizarre statements such as the
  1298. following: ‘lo que aquí llamamos higiene política es lo que los Ingleses dicen “Wisdom”’ (‘by
  1299. political hygiene, I mean here what the English call wisdom’) and ‘la palabra revolución es de
  1300. significado esencialmente Satánico, el primer revolucionario en el mito cristiano fue Luzbel’
  1301. (‘the word of revolution is of essentially Satanic significance since the first revolutionary was
  1302. Lucifer’).107 He was particularly proud of his readings in English literature, philosophy and
  1303. history, making ample reference to Shakespeare, Marlowe, Hume, Adam Smith, Gibbon,
  1304. Buckle, Darwin, J.S.Mill, Bentham and George Bernard Shaw. He made comparisons
  1305. between the Spanish Inquisition and Soviet Communism, linking the Holy Office and the
  1306. GPU. This did not imply any softening of his views on communism – it remained ‘la negra
  1307. nube de Oriente’ (‘the black cloud from the east’) and ‘inmenso tumor maligno’ (‘immense
  1308. malignant tumour’). The problem was rather the communist elements of early christianity.108
  1309.  
  1310. In politics, in the midst of a discussion on the relative merits of different races, he
  1311. wrote of the ‘patente superioridad’ (‘patent superiority’) of the white man. In a variant on the
  1312. racist ideas purveyed to Whitaker and his colleagues, he divided humanity into the ‘Nordic-
  1313. European races’ and ‘the Afro-Asiatic masses’, indicating that ‘el estado centralista, como su
  1314. nombre indica, es el más adecuado para regir los destinos de las masas inferiores’ (‘the
  1315. centralist state, as its name suggests, is the most appropriate to rule over the destinies of
  1316. inferior masses’). ‘En África, con el sistema nervioso particular de la raza negra, en que las
  1317. excitaciones adquieren formas más o menos epilépticas, solamente el ritmo continuado
  1318. acompañado de un pandero o tambor produce unas formas místicas extasiales muy curiosas y
  1319. como son gentes simplistas su misticismo degenero en lubricidad sexual.’ (‘In Africa, with
  1320. the nervous system peculiar to the black race, in which excitement acquires more or less
  1321. epileptic forms, it requires only a continual rhythm accompanied by a tambourine or a drum
  1322. to produce mystical forms of ecstasy, and since they are simplistic people, their mysticism
  1323. degenerates into sexual lubricity.’)109 He was particularly interested in proving the ‘las
  1324.  
  1325. 107 Cartas, p.6.
  1326. 108 Cartas, pp.32, 71, 97.
  1327. 109 Cartas, pp.66-8, 114.
  1328. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  1329. 35
  1330. anormalidades sexuales en las gentes inclinadas al sacerdocio’ (‘sexual abnormalities of
  1331. people inclined to the priesthood’) and that ‘al cristianismo siempre se han sentido atraídos las
  1332. mujeres y los eunucos’ (‘Christianity has always attracted women and eunuchs’). Misogyny
  1333. abounded: he claimed that a woman who reached thirty still a virgin becomes a ‘soltera agria,
  1334. que para la tranquilidad de todos está mucho mejor detrás de unas rejas de clausura’ (‘bitter
  1335. spinster who, for the peace of everyone else, is better behind the bars of a cloister’). Echoing
  1336. his remarks to Whitaker about a man’s right to kill his wife, he wrote ‘el adulterio toma
  1337. características de crimen cuyo inmediato castigo con muerte de los culpables por el esposo
  1338. ultrajado ha sido aceptado como ley natural en todas las sociedades hasta que aparecen los
  1339. síntomas decadentes de las civilizaciones.’ (‘adultery is a crime whose immediate punishment
  1340. by the death of the guilty pair at the hands of the outraged husband has always been accepted
  1341. as the natural law in all societies until the appearance of the symptoms of the decadence of the
  1342. civilization’.) He also produced a defence of the chastity belt as a necessary weapon against
  1343. female promiscuity, on which he blamed the degeneration of the race in terms of the
  1344. introduction of cancer, sexual perversion, mental instability and abnormal skin
  1345. pigmentation.110 The central theme was, however, anti-clericalism: ‘ahí está nuestra España y
  1346. los países cristianos en que las órdenes han ejercido casi un monopolio de la educación y
  1347. cuanto más en sus manos, mayor ha sido la decadencia material y ética y más propensa la
  1348. corrupción’ (‘in Spain and other Christian countries where the religious orders have exercised
  1349. a near monopoly of education, the more control they have had of education, the greater has
  1350. been the material and ethical decadence and the greater the tendency to corruption.’)111
  1351.  
  1352. Gonzalo became a well-known ‘character’ in Salamanca. He was an assiduous
  1353. member of a tertulia of doctors which used to meet at the Café Novelty in the Plaza Mayor in
  1354. Salamanca. He would make the daily journey to the provincial capital on a motorcycle
  1355. wearing a crash helmet and his uniform trousers. He was considered to be a local eccentric.
  1356. All the bookshops of Salamanca used to keep interesting new books for him on the reasonable
  1357. assumption that he would buy them. To the booksellers and the doctors alike, he was known
  1358. for his bottomless erudition. Apart from the doctors, he had hardly any friends. He had
  1359. acquaintances among other landowners but none ever achieved any kind of closeness with
  1360. him. His conversation was considered fascinating although his irritability did not encourage
  1361. friendship or intimacy of any kind. He was spoke often of writing a book about ‘a strange
  1362.  
  1363. 110 Cartas, pp.82-3, 88-9, 92-5.
  1364. 111 Cartas, pp.91
  1365. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  1366. 36
  1367. personage in Africa’.112 He could not reconcile himself to civilian life and, as he got older,
  1368. became increasingly difficult, abrasive and bad-tempered. He neglected his estates and his
  1369. house, both of which were badly run down.
  1370.  
  1371. He developed persecution mania. His wife became so afraid of his violent rages that,
  1372. in late 1963, for her own protection, she asked her two sons to come and live at home at the
  1373. Dehesa del Carrascal de Sanchiricones in Matilla de los Caños in the province of Salamanca.
  1374. The elder, aged forty-seven, Gonzalo Aguilera Alvarez, was a retired cavalry captain. He had
  1375. fought in the Civil War and been badly wounded. While in hospital, he had fallen in love
  1376. with Manuela Lodeiro, a nurse at the military hospital in Lugo. In an echo of his own father’s
  1377. reaction to his relationship with the socially inferior Magdalena Alvarez, the Conde had
  1378. reacted furiously and forbidden them to marry. They did so anyway and settled in Lugo,
  1379. where they had a daughter, Marianela. The younger son, Agustín Aguilera Alvarez, a thirty-
  1380. nine year-old farmer, also had a difficult relationship with his father. Accordingly, he had
  1381. settled first in Zamora where had married Angelines Núñez. More recently, they had moved
  1382. to Jérez de la Frontera with their two daughters and young son. Knowing only too well the
  1383. irascibility of their father, and despite the inconvenience for their own families, the two sons
  1384. agreed to their mother’s request and spent as much time as possible in Sanchiricones watching
  1385. over their father.
  1386.  
  1387. After a year, things had not improved. The family reluctantly discussed having
  1388. Gonzalo declared mentally incapacitated and placing him in psychiatric care. For fear of
  1389. scandal and with a natural horror of seeing the head of the household declared insane, they
  1390. hesitated. Finally, they put the matter in the hands of a lawyer in Salamanca. Given that
  1391. Gonzalo now suffered bronchial problems and rarely attended the tertulia in the café in the
  1392. Plaza Mayor, it was possible to fabricate the pretext of a visit of two medical friends in order
  1393. to have him diagnosed. A psychiatrist, Dr Prieto Aguirre, accompanied by another doctor,
  1394. Emilio Firmat, came to the conclusion that Gonzalo was paranoiac. He became so difficult
  1395. that his sons rearranged the house to provide him with a separate apartment with his own
  1396. television and his books. They hid all the many guns and knives, which, as an assiduous
  1397. hunter, he possessed. He believed himself to have been kidnapped and imprisoned by his
  1398. family. At the beginning of August 1964, he had even written a letter to this effect to the
  1399.  
  1400. 112 El Caso, 5 September 1964.
  1401. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  1402. 37
  1403. judicial authorities in Salamanca. He had wild fits of rage, shouting threats and insults from
  1404. his solitary apartment. He would occasionally find weapons and, in mid-August, his sons
  1405. took a flick-knife away from him. The legal process to have him committed, however, was
  1406. lengthy and tortuous.
  1407.  
  1408. Before anything could be done, Gonzalo completely lost his mind. After lunch, at 4
  1409. o’clock on the sultry afternoon of Friday 28 August 1964, his younger son Agustín went into
  1410. the Count’s room to look for some papers. When his father complained of sore feet, Agustín
  1411. knelt and started to massage his feet. Bizarrely echoing his beliefs on how to deal with
  1412. bootblacks, Don Gonzalo began to abuse his son, pulled out a rusty Colt revolver that he had
  1413. hidden and shot Agustín without warning. Badly wounded in the chest, Agustín turned and
  1414. staggered out of the room. His brother Gonzalo, alerted by the sound of the shots, ran into the
  1415. room and the Conde shot him full in the chest and in the arm. Stepping over his elder son’s
  1416. corpse, he then set off in search of Agustín in order to finish him off. He found him lying
  1417. dead at the door of the kitchen. He then calmly reloaded his revolver. His widow, Magdalena
  1418. Alvarez, aged seventy-two, came out of her room. When she saw him glaring at her while
  1419. reloading his pistol over the body of his son, she locked herself in another room as her
  1420. husband came looking for her. Since the farm labourers stood back, frightened by the sight of
  1421. Gonzalo waving his revolver threateningly, she was obliged to escape through a window. The
  1422. Civil Guard was called by the estate workers and they ordered Gonzalo to throw down his gun
  1423. and come out with his hands in the air, which, his fury spent, he did.
  1424.  
  1425. After surrendering, still in his pyjamas, he sat outside the house for more than three
  1426. hours quietly awaiting the arrival of the investigating judge from Salamanca. His wife, beside
  1427. herself with grief and rage, screamed at him ‘¡Asesino, criminal!’ (‘Assassin! Murderer!’)
  1428. Until calmed down by the farm workers, she shouted to the Civil Guards, ‘¡Matarlo que es un
  1429. salvaje’ (‘Kill him, he’s a savage’). He was arrested and taken to the Provincial psychiatric
  1430. sanatorium of Salamanca where he was detained. He and his Civil Guard escort were taken
  1431. to Salamanca in the car in which the reporters of the local newspaper, La Gaceta Regional,
  1432. had arrived at the house. Those journalists who interviewed him recounted that, en route, he
  1433. chatted amiably to the driver. He spoke about various cars that he had had at different times,
  1434. about the traffic system established in France and about the poor state of the roads – ‘hablo
  1435. para no acordarme de lo sucedido’ (‘I’m talking to put what had happened out of my mind’),
  1436. he said. When he was told that he was being taken to a psychiatric clinic, he commented that
  1437. Slaves, Sewers and Captain Aguilera: Racism, colonialism and sexism in the Mentality of the Nationalist Officer Corps
  1438. 38
  1439. psychiatrists are not usually in their right minds (en sus cabales) and said ‘ a los que fueron a
  1440. verme les llamé médicos de pueblo y se enfadaron conmigo’ (‘I called the ones that visited
  1441. me village quacks and they got angry with me’).113 During his time in the psychiatric
  1442. hospital, he apparently entertained himself by loudly insulting the nuns who staffed it.114 His
  1443. daughter-in-law, Concepción Lodeiro López, and granddaughter, Marianela de Aguilera
  1444. Lodeiro, escaped the carnage because they had gone to Lugo to make the arrangements for the
  1445. girl’s wedding. The wife and three children of Agustín were in southern Spain. Gonzalo
  1446. never stood trial and died in the hospital nearly eight months later on 15 May 1965.115
  1447.  
  1448. It would be wrong to believe that Aguilera’s earlier rantings were simply the fruit of
  1449. the extraordinary psychological disturbance which finally emerged in the tragic denouement
  1450. of this family. There is little doubt that he was utterly typical of others such as Bolín and
  1451. Rosales who had been chosen by Mola, and accepted by Franco, as appropriate spokesmen for
  1452. their cause. One officer had told Webb Miller that ‘“we must kill everyone who has that ‘red’
  1453. idea.” Another amiable, attractive, intelligent young insurgent officer told me he had
  1454. himself executed seventy-one men.’116 There is even less doubt that Aguilera’s views were
  1455. close to those of Mola, Franco, Queipo de Llano and other senior Nationalists. Rather than
  1456. simply concluding that Aguilera was mad, it would be more fruitful to consider the extent to
  1457. which his – and their – psychological disturbance derives from the internalisation of such
  1458. ideas.
  1459.  
  1460.  
  1461. 113 Documentación sobre Gonzalo de Aguilera y Munro, remitida a su viuda, Legajo 416, Archivo General
  1462. Militar de Segovia; El Adelanto (Salamanca), 29, 30 August, 1 September 1964; El Caso, 5 September 1964; La
  1463. Gaceta Regional, 30 August, 1 September 1964.
  1464. 114 Testimony to the author, 30 July 1999, of the Cronista de la Ciudad de Salamanca, Dr Salvador Llopis Llopis,
  1465. biographer of Inés Luna Terrero.
  1466. 115 Interview of Mariano Sanz González with the Director of the Hospital, Dr Desiderio López, 27 October 1999.
  1467. 116 Miller, I Found No Peace, p.344.
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