The Threat in Spain

In 1938, America’s comparison of the terrors of Nazism with those in Spain was probably accurate. Fulton J. Sheen estimated that 12,000 clerics and 200,000 noncombatants had been murdered by the Spanish Republicans. Those numbers are too high, but not wildly so. Hugh Thomas, in his 1986 update of The Spanish Civil War, reports that contemporary estimates of about one million deaths in the war are now considered about twice too high. Thomas estimates 7,000 murders of clerics at the hands of Republicans, which is still pretty horrific. Ultimately, the Nationalists’ murders outnumbered those of the Republicans’, but not by huge margins, and the bulk of them occurred during their post-victory “White Terror.” If the Republicans had won, they would surely have indulged in their own “Red Terror.”

In late 1938, the number of Jews murdered by the Nazis was probably still considerably lower than even the modern estimate for Spanish Catholics. (Policy had concentrated on their segregation and impoverishment.) The Nazis had not yet invaded Poland, and the industrialized death camps were still several years away. The America article, however, was published just weeks after Kristallnacht, which marked a clear ratcheting up of anti-Jewish terrorism.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

It is astonishing to think that God would choose to enter the world this way: as a fragile newborn who could not even hold up his own head without help.
Ginny Kubitz MoyerOctober 20, 2017
Protestors rally to support Temporary Protected Status near the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Sept. 26. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
Around 200,000 Salvadorans and 57,000 Hondurans have been residing in the United States for more than 15 years under Temporary Protected Status. But that status is set to expire in early 2018.
J.D. Long-GarcíaOctober 20, 2017
At the heart of Anne Frank’s life and witness is a hopeful faith in humanity.
Leo J. O'Donovan, S.J.October 20, 2017
Forensic police work on the main road in Bidnija, Malta, which leads to Daphne Caruana Galizias house, looking for evidence on the blast that killed the journalist as she was leaving her home, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. Caruana Galizia, a harsh critic of Maltese Premier Joseph Muscat, and who reported extensively on corruption on Malta, was killed by a car bomb on Monday. (AP Photo/Rene Rossignaud)
Rarely does the death of a private citizen elicit a formal letter of condolence from the Pope.