Recommended reading: Helen Graham, The War and its Shadow, University of Sussex Press; Portland, 2012, 250 pp.
In Spain today, its civil war remains 'the past that will not pass away.' The long shadow of World War II also brings back to central focus its most disquieting aspects, revealing to a broader public the stark truth already known by specialist historians - that in Spain, as in the many other internecine wars that would soon convulse Europe, war was waged predominantly upon civilians: millions were killed, not by invaders and strangers, but by their own compatriots, including their own neighbors. Across the continent, Hitler's war of territorial expansion after 1938 would detonate a myriad 'irregular wars' of culture, as well as of politics, which took on a 'cleansing' intransigence, as those driving them sought to make 'homogeneous' communities, whether ethnic, political, or religious. So much of this was prefigured with primal intensity in Spain in 1936, where, on July 17-18, a group of army officers rebelled against the socially-reforming Republic. Saved from almost certain failure by Nazi and Fascist military intervention, and by a British inaction amounting to complicity, these army rebels unleashed a conflict in which civilians became the targets of mass killing. The new military authorities authorized and presided over an extermination of those sectors associated with Republican change, especially those who symbolized cultural change and thus posed a threat to old ways of being and thinking: progressive teachers, self-educated workers, 'new' women. In the Republican zone, resistance to the coup also led to the murder of civilians. This extrajudicial and communal killing in both zones would fundamentally make new political and cultural meanings that changed Spain's political landscape forever. The War and Its Shadow explores the origins, nature, and long-term consequences of this exterminatory war in Spain, charting the resonant forms of political, social, and cultural resistance to it and the memory/legacy these have left behind in Europe and beyond. Not least is our growing sense of the enormity of what, in greater European terms, the Republican war effort resisted: Nazi adventurism and the continent-wide wars of ethnic and political 'purification' it would unleash.