A tweet from the Spanish government’s Ministry of Justice regarding Spain’s ‘crucial role’ in liberating Paris from the Nazis in 1944 caused a controversy on social media over the weekend.
In acknowledgement of the 75th anniversary of the historic event, the ministry’s tweet read: “Spain had a crucial role in the liberation of Paris 75 years ago. Spanish soldiers from La Nueve [150 Spanish Republican soldiers under French command] were the first to enter Paris and their contribution to this historic event was fundamental in the liberation of Paris.”
Quim Torra, the Catalan president, took to Twitter to dispute the Ministry of Justice’s description of events.
Despite the ministry acknowledging the role of La Nueve, Torra condemned the tweet’s apparent ignorance in praising ‘Spain’s role’, given Spain’s Republican-Fascist divide.
Torra highlighted that ‘the Spanish role in the Second World War was sending thousands of soldiers from the Blue Division [Spanish volunteer soldiers who fought alongside the Germans] to fight at Hitler’s side. Republican Soldiers from La Nueve continued fighting against fascism and Francoist Spain.’
España tuvo un papel crucial en la liberación de @Paris hace 75 años. Los soldados españoles de #LaNueve fueron los primeros en entrar en #París y su contribución a este hecho histórico fue fundamental #LiberationdeParis??@MAECgob @EspanaGlobal @EmbEspFrancia pic.twitter.com/1jxVFFQgfO
— Ministerio Justicia (@justiciagob) August 23, 2019
Several other Catalan politicians echoed Torra’s message, some more forcefully. The Esquerra Republicana (ERC) party MP Gabriel Rufián tweeted: ‘If these Spanish soldiers of ‘La Nueve’ had returned, they would have been shot and buried in a gutter, just like they did with 100,000 others. A bit of rigour please.’
Former deputy of left-wing CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy) Mireia Boya also had her input: ‘Months afterwards, these war-makers from ‘La Nueve’ entered Aran (in northwestern Catalonia) in the so-called recaptured operation of Spain to try to overthrow the Franco dictatorship that led them into exile. Laundering Republican history with lies is what the Ministry of Justice is doing.’
The former mayor of Badalona Dolors Sabater has also expressed her concerns: ‘Manipulating history by constantly rewriting Francoism and his legacy today, and continuing to scorn and silence republicanism. This is a lie that in being official is made even more serious [and] demands immediate rectification.’