Date of Submission

Spring 2013

Academic Program

Historical Studies

Project Advisor 1

Cecile Kuznitz

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Within the context of Spanish politics in the first half of the twentieth century, Jews appear as a common denominator in the political platforms of both the Spanish liberals and the Spanish Right. Given Spain’s long and tumultuous history with the Jews, interesting questions then arise as to how and why Jews figured into Spanish politics as such. The questions of this paper center around three themes: Jews in Spanish political discourse, distinctions within Jewish communities, and the Jewish perspective. How did Jews fit into the different political ideologies of the Spanish left and the right, and to what extent did they enter into the política arena, and why? Were “the Jews” an all-encompassing and homogenous group in the minds of Spanish philosemites and antisemites? Or were distinctions made between certain Jewish communities? If so, why? Moreover, where did Jews place themselves in this narrative? What can be learned from exploring their own perspective?

The objectives of this paper are two-fold: first, to obtain an overview of how Jews were presented and perceived in Spanish society and politics at the start of the twentieth century through exploring the themes of philosemitism and antisemitism, and second, to explore the relationship between Spain and the Jews in two different periods: the Spanish Civil War fought between 1936-1939 and the Second World War (1939-1945) and the Holocaust in order to expound a closer look at how, as political pawns, they figured into the establishment and formative years of fascist Francoist Spain. This particular period in Spanish history is very compelling to study because it sees Spain’s decline as an imperial power in 1898, which prompted questions of national status and regeneration to emerge in the political arena at the start of the twentieth century. Furthermore, it is also characterized by political and social upheavals: the Second Spanish Republic established in 1931 and the subsequent battle fought between loyalists to the Republic and Franco’s Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. The Second World War and Spain’s involvement in that international conflict also sees Spain in an interesting position as a neutral and fascist country with pro-Axis sympathies. Therefore, when viewing this period of Spanish history from the perspective of Spanish-Jewish relations, interesting questions then arise concerning Spain’s behavior towards Jews in an increasingly time of instability not only for Spain, but also for European Jewry as a whole.

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