Madrid, the poppies and the post-war period: the story of the most tragic delirium



It’s hard to retell any life because no biography is true to itself, even when it is forged. There are always unfinished corners, memory gaps, ignorance and uncertainty. So a person cannot be accurate even in the honest act of trying to tell at the same time what is happening to him at the moment of telling. This circumstance does not at all despair, it stirs up the interest of the writer and induces him to blurt out phrases as incorporeal as life is literature. Something that could also mean that literature is life, but it isn’t, perhaps because the two realities aren’t really interchangeable.

But let’s not digress. Andres Trapiello is a writer. This means that he approaches life, all lives, from a point of view that can be classified as literary. In all of them, he finds some unheard-of coincidence, some burdensome chance from which one can continue to pull out, out of simple servantine curiosity, in order to catch the reality from which all characters can be worthy of reader’s sympathy. Andres Trapiello is not a historian in the strict sense of the word, but what he does with history is not fiction either. He makes literature, whatever that means. And in many cases he manages to convey a more vivid impression of accuracy than any academic work.

Madrid 1945 (Debate), for example, was not born of the novel and when it was born was simply Night of the Four Waysover twenty years ago. And it’s good that it isn’t, even if his story lends itself to it, because in this way the writer manages to emphasize his gaps without overflowing with fiction.

Let’s go back a little. Madrid 1945 this is the book that completes the previous one, as has been said; and that he came, yes, to solve the mystery of the investigation that led Andres Trapiello to excavate from oblivion corpses seven men who lived marked by misfortune more than seventy years ago. There is no better way to identify poppies. Especially if, as Trapiello explains well, we understand what each of its members sacrificed, and we know, as we do, the absolute futility of everything they undertook. Trapiello got to them, the seven who were executed in his book, and almost all the others who also appear in it, by a very quixotic accident. He accidentally stumbled upon Special Information No. 48. Or, more specifically, with a secret document of the former Francoist General Security Office, dated mid-1945. Since then, he has been able to delve into the lives of those few dozen men and women who made up the urban guerrilla, on the one hand, and the propaganda service, on the other, with which Spanish National Union tried to force Franco out of Spain. Without success, of course.

The attack on the sub-delegation of the Falange de Cuatro Caminos led to the largest demonstration since the end of the war. A year later, an election mass was celebrated in a chalet on Ávila Street after the attack.

Night of the Four Ways It is so named because there, in this area of ​​Madrid, there was a sub-delegation of the Falange, which was attacked by five men with “night behavior and treachery”, if we use the common language that fits so well legally in this case. Only two of them pulled the trigger, but all were eventually charged with participating in assassination of Falangist Martin Mohr and janitor David Lahr. A total of eleven people were prosecuted for this crime and seven were sentenced to death as a result of a tough response from the state and society, which almost certainly none of them expected, and which now only gives us an idea of ​​​​the unevenness of this crime. . life is made up of. Neither their self-perception as the liberators of Spain was correct, nor the ostentatious attitude with which they acted did not correspond to the true significance of their actions, nor the victims they chose to start their armed struggle deserved that unjust end that brought only suffering, as those who received the bullet first, and those who received it later, in front of the firing squad.

Like everything else, this book can be described in several ways. We can say that we are talking about the attack of the communists on the Franco regime. In other words, it focuses on the aphelion—or perihelion, in terms of ideologies, who knows—of a relationship that shared two extremes that determined winners and losers. And that its main characters are those seven guerrillas who ultimately gave their lives for a reason that never had a chance to materialize. In a sense, it is. However, it is enough to take a quick look at the name index at the end to understand that the author is interested in all the actors who fumbled around him, if not more, then certainly no less intensively. This is a book about the attack as much as a book about the era. And this is a book about the struggle, as well as the fateful circumstances that befell the whole society, the Spaniards who lived, wanting to cope with the consequences of a recent collective suicide attempt. Everyone tried to overcome the war in their own way, undoubtedly. And if some wanted to continue it, to conquer it, then soon after the defeat, almost everyone preferred to leave, surrendering to the sluggish inertia of that vast majority that simply tried to live as if it had never happened.

Human characters roam the pages of this impressive book, worthy of both condemnation and sympathy, considering that they killed some and almost all died. And that they always did it by force of circumstances, in the name of an impossible goal sponsored by an ideology as stifling, arbitrary and criminal as the regime they set out to fight. Everything could be classified as extraordinary nonsense, if this word were not so insufficient in describing such a misfortune. The opening of the Pce archives allowed Trapiello to see firsthand what he already knew from other books. In particular, the hypocritical procedures of the Communist Party, which unfairly executed many members who risked their skins for their slogans and who were purged due to internal wars and cross-charges that cannot be verified. But above all, it gave him the opportunity to consider the final pieces of the puzzle and throw into the air a hypothesis as valid, if not more so, than any previously put forward: more than likely intervention of American intelligence services in all this mess, and the accidental rescue of several characters who differed from the rest with a gift of opportunity. Everything is very new, yes, but without romance.



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