"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Monday, November 11, 2019

Franco's Exhumation Leads to Vandalism at GL of Spain


The headquarters of Madrid's Provincial Grand Lodge of the Gran Logia de España (Grand Lodge of Spain) were vandalized on October 21st during street protests over the exhumation of the body of long-deceased former Spanish dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco Bahamond. Digging up the old dictator's corpse last month brought out the pro- and anti-Francoist street protestors and the bored vandals alike. 


The Grand Lodge building was painted with slogans, a swastika and a crosshair gunsight. Protestors also attacked buildings of various socialist groups, Catholic Church buildings, and major Spanish monuments, including one memorializing the creation of the Spanish Constitution of 1978 after Franco had passed on.

Pro-Franco protesters in Madrid
The Spanish Civil War (often called the dress rehearsal for World War II) raged between 1936 and 1939, resulting in Francisco Franco and his Nationalist Party's ascendency to power. The two big name fascist dictators of the period, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini both supported Franco and used Spain as a science project to learn how to wage total war on military and civilians alike. Soviet thug Josef Stalin supported the Nationalists, but even  he used Spain's Civil War as a practice field in the coming battle between fascism and Communism. Hitler and Mussolini both fell in 1945, but Franco clung on and ruled in Spain all the way through his death in 1975. 

Under Franco and his largely Catholic Nationalists, Freemasonry was outlawed in the country. According to Henderson and Pope's indispensable book Freemasonry Universal,  during Franco's almost 40 years in office more than 10,000 Spaniards were arrested for their alleged Masonic membership, and the Grand Orient of Spain went into exile in Mexico.  



The Generalissimo never tempered his anti-Masonic sentiments.  Even in his final speech before his death in 1975, given from (where else do dictators speak from?) the balcony of his Royal Palace, Franco railed against the imaginary "Jewish-Masonic Conspiracy."

Spain's Valley of the Fallen
Way back in 1940, Franco was just as enamored of monumental architecture as his fellow German and Italian fascists were. He decreed that a 'Valley of the Fallen' be built to honor the glories of his dead troops, and that it have “the grandeur of the monuments of old, which defy time and forgetfulness.” The monument in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains on Madrid's outskirts features as its centerpiece an enormous neoclassical- brutalist basilica built of granite, festooned with statues, mosaics, and tapestries depicting heroes, martyrs, Catholic imagery, and plastered with Franco's favorite fascist emblems - all set 800 feet into the mountain. Albert Speer would have been proud, even though it's an odd pastiche of religious iconography and a repressive dictatorial regime. Not surprisingly, it was partially constructed with the forced labor of political prisoners. 

Today the Valley has mass tombs with the remains of almost 34,000 people killed on both sides of the Spanish Civil War. All of it is topped with the tallest cross in the world, rising over the whole valley at 500 feet like an enormous rising thing.


When Franco finally died 44 years ago, his supporters buried him in this giant mausoleum under a 3,000-pound granite slab, where he remained entombed ever since, or at least until last month. Considering the ignominious ends of both Hitler and Mussolini and the subsequent disgrace with which both of them have been held ever since the end of WWII throughout Europe, Franco's mortal remains being surrounded by such a magnificent monument to real-live fascism always seemed more than just a slightly bizarre anomaly. 


Franco's now-former tomb inside the monument's basilica
(New York Times photo)
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party took office in 2018, and he pledged to move Franco’s remains from his mountainside memorial, saying “no democracy can allow for monuments to exalt a dictatorship.” The Benedictines and Franco's family fought back, but after spending two years blocking the move, the exhumation was approved by Spain's Supreme Court in September. Franco was dug up, airlifted, and replanted thirty miles away, next to his wife, several of his ministers, and his pal, the late, former murderous Dominican Republican dictator Rafael Trujillo. 

Nice neighborhood, proving that even after death, you can still pick your friends.

Anyway, back to the Masons.

As I said, relocating Franco's corpse last month brought out the street protestors and the bored vandals on all sides. But true to Franco's own philosophy, laws and foibles, his family came out swinging the loudest of all. They fought the exhumation for two years before losing in September in the Courts. Francis Franco, eldest grandson of the dictator and the Eleventh Marquis of Villaverde, gave an interview the day before the Generalissimo's mouldering bones were removed, and he rattled some old bones of his own. 

Who, he was asked, was responsible for contributing to Franco's mortal coil and evicting him from his overbuilt cemetery plot? You guessed it – the Freemasons. Oh, and the Communists, with whom Francis believes us to be in cahoots: 

Francis Franco, the grandson of the former dictator
From an October 21st interview in El Pais
"My grandfather had two enemies, which are the Masons and the Communists. The law of Historical Memory made by [José Luis Rodríguez] Zapatero, who was a Mason, all he has done has been to create reds and blues, independence and unionists. In the preamble he says that it is for reconciliation and is a lie. It is a political weapon to achieve the objectives of trying to erase the entire era of my grandfather."
So very odd the way various anti-Masons like to conflate the Masonic fraternity with opposing groups like Communists, who ALSO despise Freemasonry and always have. True to his grandfather's tradition. And since the pro-Franco protesters attacked both the Grand Lodge as well as (overwhelmingly) buildings associated with the Catholic Church in Madrid, it looks like the Francoists also think the Freemasons and the Church are pulling on the same oars politically. 

It's hard to keep track without a scorecard.

In response, the Grand Master of Spain, Oscar de Alfonso Ortega, gave an extremely rare public interview in the November 4th edition of El Español in which he said Franco's grandson had crossed a red line by accusing Spain's Masons. Tired of being silent in the face of harassment, the Grand Master challenged Francis Franco, offered to sit him down over a cup of coffee, get over his ignorance, and "break the clichés instilled in him as a child." 

 “His grandfather tried to exterminate us," Ortega said. "I am sure you will understand me when I explain it to you. ”

Oscar de Alfonso, Grand Master of the Gran Logia de España

From the article El Gran Maestro masón reta a Francis Franco a un café: "Le contaré que su abuelo quiso liquidarnos" by Daniel Ramirez (via imperfect Google and Bing translations - you can read the original Spanish at the link): 



The Mason Grand Master challenges Francis Franco to a coffee: "I will tell him that his grandfather wanted to liquidate us"

Before starting, De Alfonso qualifies: the Freemasons are not left or right. Everybody fits in. Freemasons believe in a Great Architect of the Universe, who can bear the name of God, Allah or Buddha ... According to his internal barometer, although the majority religion among the brothers is Christianity. An argument that, according to the Grand Master, dismantles right from the start the "anti-Catholicism" attributed to them by Franco.
Q: The Grand Master does not usually give interviews, and less with an election campaign around the corner. Why have you decided to grant this one?
In recent years we have suffered more than twenty attacks. Each and every one of them have been denounced. But we didn't advertise them for fear of a kind of called effect. They have thrown eggs, they have put Franco's stickers on us, they have drawn swastikas and crosshairs at the headquarters... They have even beaten on the gate of the Lodge with a [sledgehammer]!
Q: And what has changed so that they take a step forward?
Now, military headquarters, churches and offices of political parties have suffered something similar at the hands of the same group of bigots. Stop it now! Let it be known. In the Grand Lodge of Chile they have had to remove move paintings [graffiti?]. Another Masonic temple in that country was set on fire. In New York recently, we suffered an attack with Molotov cocktail. It is as if they were marking us, as if they put a Star of David on our chest. What if one goes from sledgehammers at the door to physical aggression? I accepted this interview so people know.
Q: This week, in a statement, you accused the Francoists of putting Masonry back in the spotlight. Could you explain that?
We respond to statements by Francis Franco in El País, the eldest grandson of the dictator. He said a phrase that made my hair stand on end: “My grandfather only had two enemies. Communists and freemasons. ” That has neither feet nor head. He may be the grandson of Franco, but how dare he say in 2019 that we were his enemies? It is just the other way around! We were victims of extermination. It is history. To complete the 'Judeo-Masonic conspiracy,' he needed to mention the Jews, but with them he doesn't dare now. He didn't have the guts to say it. His grandfather created a Repression Court dedicated to us.
Q: The attack on the Lodge came shortly after the words of Francis Franco. Do they establish a cause-and-effect relationship?
I don't think Francis Franco has any influence over anyone. These groups committed a cross-sectional attack against all the entities that I mentioned. It was planned. The culprits were groups of extreme right and reduced brain.They attack the freemasons because of that collective imagination created by Franco. They neither asked us about the exhumation, nor did we take a position on it. Incidentally, the unearthing was decided by the three powers: Executive, Legislative and Judicial.
Q: What would you say to Francis Franco if he met him?
I would tell him that he is completely wrong. Absolutely. Maybe it's not his fault, but no one has explained to him what Freemasonry is and who the Freemasons are. I offer to explain.
Q: Would you be willing to have coffee with him?
Of course! Freemasons exercise tolerance and profess respect. I wouldn't spit in his face. Quite the opposite. I would put on the table the reasons why he's wrong. I will do everything in my power to get him out of that ignorance. I hope he removes those clichés that instilled him as a child. I say coffee really, not in a [literal] way. I would shake his hand. If you keep two fingers in front, you would realize your mistake right away.
Q: Could you summarize, for those who do not know, how was that persecution of which he speaks? What are the most rigorous data?
4,000 Masons were executed during the Civil War. 80,000 police files were opened and thousands of convictions. Over time, the shootings came to a halt, but they were sentenced to twelve years in prison and forbidden to practice their profession - lawyers, professors, journalists ...
Q: Why do you think Franco made Masons - together with Communism - his great enemy?
He had a sick obsession with the Freemasons. Franco wasn't a fool. Never the less, he sought a kind of fifth column, someone to qualify as dangerous and thus keep his people mobilized. They were not black or Jewish. They [looked just like everyone else]. Something like: "They are infiltrating our ranks and plotting to bring us down." He was great.
Q: It is said that the dictator tried to be a Mason before 1936 and that he was rejected. Is that credited or is it a hoax?
I have heard it several times ... There is no - or has not been found - written proof that it is true. For me it is a rumor, a myth. His brother Ramon was a Mason. And most likely his father was, too. Ramón is proven, and [his father... is 90% proved.]
Q: Why 90%?
I have not seen a [document] as in the case of the brother, but I have read renowned historians who manifest it. Franco's father abandoned his wife and children. Perhaps the dictator developed from that a particular hatred. Although his brother Ramón did not [follow that path]. Nor did the rebel military servicemen who were Freemasons. He used that image of the Judeo-Masonic conspiracy when it suited him.
Q: Francis Franco says that Zapatero, author of the Historical Memory Law, is a Mason. Do you know?
Francis proves to have more mouth than brain with those statements ... Zapatero is not and has not been a Mason. His grandfather was, a retaliated, realist military man.
Q: Without giving names - I understand that your codes prevent it - can you tell me if any brother Mason appears in the structures of [today's] Government? In the Second Republic, there were 170 Masonic deputies in Congress ...
There are some Freemasons in the Senate, a couple in Congress ... Many in the autonomous parliaments, in the councils, in the general directorates ... Where we have more presence is in the Canary Islands, with seven mayors. But that doesn't mean anything. Freemasonry is a reflection of society. There are also unemployed Masons, journalists, mechanics, or builders.
Q: Are those two deputies declared or keep their condition secret?
They are confidential. I am convinced that if they came out of the Masonic closet they would have some problems... inside their own parties! I respect that. In any case, the political presence of Masons is a minority. And I'm glad. It makes it easier for me to explain why we are not a lobby.
Q: Today, forty years after the dictatorship, what percentage of Freemasons makes their status public?
Most keep it secret. But I tell you one thing: in the last few years a lot of people have told it. There are two Masonic Spains: an open one that says so and goes out in the newspapers, located on the coast, from Catalonia to Malaga and the islands; and another very conservative, reluctant to exhibit itself, from Madrid to the Castillas through Navarra and Galicia.
Q: Do you have the feeling that, currently and in general, being a Mason is frowned upon or creates distrust?
There is a problem among the brothers. Many keep it inside, which is more [of a personal] thing than [officially as an organization]. Many brethren think that it would bring them problems, such as a layoff or a divorce. There are no signs that this will happen, but they think it will happen. The shadows are, above all, in our brain.
Q: Why should rites be secret?
Masonic rituals are symbolic. We explain our teachings and principles based on a few symbols. We create a ritualistic environment, and the candidate must interpret it. It is a very sensory experience, also aimed at the heart. These rites involve initiation. And all initiations have, historically, been secret. The candidate passes some tests and we accept it. If the ritual were public, why pass tests? We ask for a vote of confidence. We do secret rites, but they are not horrible. There is no blood, we don't kill a chicken, nothing.
Q: Wouldn't opening the Grand Lodge of Spain to women be a sign of progress and modernity? Why don't they do it?
We are a male order. There is another female one. We respect and accept it. There is also another mixed [gender order]. I have no problem with that.
Q: But you leave them out of your 'creed' ... let's say they are not allowed to belong to the "official" Freemasonry.
We follow an ancient tradition, which tells us that we are a masculine order.
Q: Beyond tradition, do they have any reason?
We accept that tradition freely. We are very clear about our DNA. We will not change it. Perhaps it's a difficult position to explain and understand. Sorry. I like that there are Masonic women. I think they can be, but not in the Grand Lodge of Spain.

(I will take this rare opportunity to go right for the low-hanging fruit. For those of you of a certain age, you'll be happy to know that, after the exhumation was performed, Generalissimo Francisco Franco has been determined by officials to still be seriously dead. Doctors say his condition remains unchanged.)



NOTE: This story was edited at 10:40AM 11/12/2019 to correct an erroneous statement that Stalin had supported Franco, when just the opposite was true. That's what I get for chaotic work habits. I also corrected the full name of the Grand Master of Spain, Oscar de Alfonso Ortega, which did not appear in the El Español interview.

3 comments:

  1. Stalin did not support Franco. He interned on the side of the left wing of the Spanish Republic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stupid error on my part, which is what I get for chaotic work habits I'm afraid. It's worse when I know it's wrong and don't fix it as soon as I see it.

      No, Stalin did NOT support Franco, and I have edited the post this morning after I reread it. Quite the opposite - as you say, he supported the Nationalist side. Stalin saw Spain as a practice run in the coming war between fascism and communism. My apologies for the error.

      Delete
  2. as a member]for 30 years plus years my only regret is I should have joined earlier

    ReplyDelete

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