The story of the rise of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in 1936 is often overshadowed by that of the country’s civil war and its entanglement across the other major developments in Europe at the time. But Spanish fascism was also driven by an enduring set of beliefs – which were so thoroughly odious and absurd – that it is a significant challenge to unravel how so many came to support the dictatorship and permit its genocide.
Sir Paul Preston is among the greatest living historians on this period in Spain, and the Departures podcast was fortunate to host him on a discussion of his most recent book, “Architects of Terror: Paranoia, Conspiracy and Anti-Semitism in Franco’s Spain.”
In his conversation with Robert Amsterdam, Preston explores the rather insane alleged scheme for world domination by a non-existent “Jewish-Masonic-Bolshevik Conspiracy,” and how so many people bought into this false propaganda leading to the slaughter of half a million people.
Despite the fact that Spain had only a tiny minority of Jews and Freemasons, Franco and his inner circle were ardent believers in this fabricated conspiracy and spread the notion that the survival of Catholic Spain. With this conspiracy, there were also the establishment’s economic interests, which required the complete elimination of all Jews. A harrowing history of a hidden holocaust, Preston’s book highlights how so much danger comes with disinformation, and how the most extreme ideologies can enter the mainstream.