Victims' and human rights organizations object to the conduct of the Minister for Defence, José Bono with respect to the parade on 12th October 2004.

On 8th October 2004, the Spanish Minister for Defence, José Bono, announced with respect to the military parade of 12th October that French armed forces would be taking part to commemorate the liberation of the city of Paris by the armoured II Division of Leclerc with whom a group of Republican Spaniards also fought.

At the same time, the Minister for Defence José Bono announced that two Spanish veterans would also take part in the parade: one was a member of the División Azul which fought alongside the German troops against the Russians and the other was a Republican who fought in the Leclerc Division during the Second World War.

With respect to this announcement, the signatories to this communiqué respond as follows:

1) We welcome the fact that the Spanish Armed Forces recognise those who fought against Nazism and the Axis powers.

2) We welcome the fact that the participation of Spanish Republicans in the forces that liberated the city of Paris has been publicly acknowledged as it was in the official ceremonies which took place in Paris on 24th August 2004; nevertheless we remember that at this significant moment in history only two survivors of that event remain.

3) We wish to highlight the fact that, militarily, the División Azul operated as the 250 Infantry Division of the Wehrmacht; and was also known as the "División Hipomóvil", and later as the "Blue Legion", forming part of the National Socialist forces which the International Tribunal of Nuremberg held responsible for crimes against peace; in other words, a crime of aggression pursuant to international law. Crimes against peace are the most serious crimes in international law.

4) Resolution 32 (I) dated 9th February 1946 of the United Nations General Assembly states expressly that the Francoist regime "having been founded with the support of the Axis powers, in view of its origins, its nature, its record and its close association with the aggressor States, does not possess the necessary qualifications to justify its admission.".

5) Resolution 39 (I) dated 12th December 1946 of the United Nations General Assembly provides that:

    "(a) In origin, nature, structure and general conduct, the Franco regime is a fascist regime patterned on, and established largely as a result of aid received from, Hitler's Nazi Germany and Mussolini's Fascist Italy.

    (b) During the long struggle of the United Nations against Hitler and Mussolini, Franco, despite continued Allied protests, gave very substantial aid to the enemy Powers. First, for example, from 1941 to 1945, the Blue Infantry Division, the Spanish Legion of Volunteers and the Salvador Air Squadron fought against Soviet Russia on the Eastern front. Second, in the summer of 1940, Spain seized Tangier in breach of international statute, and as a result of Spain maintaining a large army in Spanish Morocco large numbers of Allied troops were immobilized in North Africa.

    "(c) Incontrovertible documentary evidence establishes that Franco was a guilty party with Hitler and Mussolini in the conspiracy to wage war against those countries which eventually in the course of the world war became banded together as the United Nations. It was part of the conspiracy that Franco's full belligerency should be postponed until a time to be mutually agreed upon.".

6) We believe that "there can be no just and lasting reconciliation without an effective response to the need for justice; as a factor of reconciliation, forgiveness, insofar as it is a private act, implies that the victim must know the perpetrator of the violations and that the latter has been in a position to show repentance. For forgiveness to be granted, it must first have been sought. "

7) We further believe that "A people's knowledge of the history of its oppression is part of its heritage and, as such, must be preserved by appropriate measures in fulfilment of the State's duty to remember. Such measures shall be aimed at preserving the collective memory from extinction and, in particular, at guarding against the development of revisionist and negationist arguments." .

8) Bearing in mind what we have stated above with respect to the Second World War, we are compelled to remind the Minister that the coup d´état led by General Francisco Franco constituted a breach of the constitutional order; the legal system then in force the legitimacy of which derived from the principle of sovereignty recognised by the Constitution of the Republic. Since the commencement of the Second World War hostilities Franco´s regime has come to be considered an Axis power and its internal illegality has also been recognised at the international level.

9) The Spaniards who fought for freedom and democracy in the Allied Forces were deprived of their nationality and accused by the Fascist state of having fought in foreign armies, a situation which continues to this day.

10) We believe that it is both offensive and humiliating that the millions of victims of National Socialism who were exterminated in concentration camps and all those who fought the Axis powers (including Francoist Spain) in the struggle for democracy and freedom should be treated equally with the members of a criminal organization condemned by the United Nations, by international law and by ius gentium.

11) Therefore we object in the strongest possible terms to the conduct of the Minister for Defence, José Bono; conduct which we consider inconsistent with and contrary to the standards of democracy, civil liberties and human rights.

This statement is published for general distribution.
Madrid, 10th October 2004

Signatory organisations:

  • AFARIIREP - (Association of Relatives and Friends of the 2nd. Republic Victims of Reprisals by the Franco Regime)
  • Association for the creation of an Archive of the Civil War, the International Brigades, the Children of the War, the Resistance and the Spanish Exile. AGE (Archive of War and Exile)
  • Association for the Descendants of the Spanish Exile
  • Association of Salamanca for Memory and Justice
  • Ateneo Republicano de Galicia
  • Equipo Nizkor
  • Forum for Memory
  • Friends of the Fallen for Liberty (1939–1945), Historical Memory of the Murcia Region,
  • Gragero Group, Leon
  • Manuel Azaña Association
  • Republican Institute of Human Rights
  • Young People for Historical Memory "Amnesia", Javier Moreno and Ignacio Díaz Bidart

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