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Blog/ Lessons From the Spanish Civil War: A Higher Loyalty Is Badly Needed

Tapestry of Picasso's Guernica, by Jacqueline de la Baume Dürrbach, at the Whitechapel Gallery in London. Credit: ceridwen / Guernica at the Whitechapel

Guernica was not “fake news.” Generalissimo Franco needed Mussolini and Hitler. And today Donald Trump seems to need Putin. And Trump admires other dictators as well. He did not object to the use of chemicals by Sadaam Hussein against the Kurds. He admired Maommar Gadhafi and Hussein, and he has lauded Kim Jong-un. Even Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has been praised for his strength, even though his government is full of human rights violations and reminding people of the days of Ferdinand Marcos.

Where is Donald Trump taking us today?

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Oil is big business and when I was growing up I hardly ever saw a gasoline station as I walked around my community. I lived in a large New York City Housing Project that stretched from Houston Street to Sixth Street on the Lower East Side (later called Alphabet City because it included avenues A to D) and it also had as its other perimeters Avenue D to the F.D.R. Drive. We did learn about one gasoline company by watching “Mr. Television” whose sponsor was Texaco. Milton Berle, that famous Jewish comedian and actor, did at least one of the commercials live for Texaco-Sky Chief. Berle probably would be turning over in his grave right now if he could read this.

I am almost done reading Spain In Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939. There is mention of Texaco and President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the book as people were desperate to get American support for the Republicans in Spain who opposed Franco.

The book is full of information about how the Communists (worldwide) and the Fascists opposed each other and that influential people in what we call the “free world” took sides. The Republicans killed around 7,000 priests and Roosevelt listened to the voices of Catholics across the United States. Franco and the Nationalists killed others including sympathizers (400,000 deaths attributed to him from the start of the civil war). History keeps repeating the same pattern, as I read yesterday how ISIS killed 21 farmers in Iraq. That’s the way it was done! There is a chapter about Texaco, which provided the oil, gasoline, and other products to the Fascists. Spain’s Franco was getting airplanes, tanks, and more equipment from Italy and German along with military personnel.

Torkild Rieber, a Norwegian born, naturalized American citizen was the man who gave the fuel to Franco and he did it on credit and he stopped shipments to the other side (the Republicans who fought for a democracy) and he did not charge for the shipments and he used agents of the company to basically spy on similar shipments that were heading for Republican held territory and he broke American law in using Texaco’s ships to transport the fuel. And, and, and!

And now we get to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He called Rieber into the White House to meet with him and he did reprimand Rieber for providing credit to Franco Spain. He could have done more using the powers given to the president under the arms embargo legislation. Rieber secretly continued providing the Fascists and Adam Hochschild in his book states that Rieber was acting as Franco’s banker, providing unbelievable terms that went well beyond common practices. Rieber was an admirer of Adolph Hitler.

There was a fine paid by Texaco, called a “wrist-slap” by Hochschild, which was $22,000. Shell, Socony, Atlantic Refining, and Standard Oil of New Jersey also provided oil to Franco. (see the Pablo Picasso painting of Guernica). At the request of the Franco government, German and Italian fighter planes flew over Guernica for two hours, bombing it in a practice run that would be used later by the Germans in its Blitzkrieg. A photo of Guernica would make us immediately think of Aleppo, Syria today.

There were twenty-three Ju-52 bombers that followed a single bomber on April 26, 1937. Most of the dead (200 killed) were women and children as the men were away fighting on the Republican side. More than 30 tons of bombs were dropped. Heinkel He-51 fighter planes, came in low, killed people and livestock running through the streets on market day.

Franco and the all-important leadership of the Catholic Church of Spain denied that is had taken place. This attack was a forecast of the coming London blitz by the Germans. And keep in mind that the destruction was fueled by Texaco. Milton Berle used to promote its Sky-Chief product.

In March 1938 Italian and German bombers attacked Barcelona (18 raids in 48 hours).

The Germans had received bombs from DuPont in Delaware. Hitler invaded Austria just four days before the bombing of Barcelona, unleashing violence against Jews and others. Tens of thousands were arrested.
Guernica and Aleppo. When will they ever learn? The “fake news” provided by Franco and his supporters continues today in the United States. Even now as the United States Senate decides on the appointment of Gina Haspel for C.I.A. chief (see my article about James Comey in the Jewish Business News), the truth is not being told by Donald Trump. Gina Haspel’s seems to be part of a cover-up related to torture (she is tough Trump says), but I learned that Attorney General John Ashcroft would not sign on to more torture after learning how it really affected people and he would not remain loyal to the demands of President George W. Bush.

John Ashcroft learned things from his Deputy Attorney General that persuaded him that government agencies could not legally stand behind an order to waterboard and torture people. This history is in James Comey’s book. Read it.

The Ashcroft scene reads like a scene from The Godfather or some other great work. It is one thing when the news media makes an error and another thing when a president constantly misleads the public.

Right now there is information coming out that Trump’s lawyer-friend, Michael Cohen received $500,000 from a Russian connected with the Kremlin. Could those Russians be Trump’s bankers? By misleading the public, Trump becomes an enemy of the people. Congress banned torture in 2015 and if Trump is ready to use torture again it defies legal limits.

This administration is torturing me!



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