Francisco Franco, In Memoriam – a radio play
Produced by Gail Pellett
Directed and Written by Donald Bluestone
Presented by: WBAI-FM
Aired on: Pacifica Network     Date: 1976

Federico Garcia Lorca

Generalissimo Francisco Franco

The death of Generalissimo Francisco Franco on Nov. 20, 1975 inspired much reflection on the rise of fascism in Europe in the 30’s, particularly in Spain and the Spanish Civil War which forecast the horrors about to be unleashed in Europe under Hitler’s schemes.  This radio play, written and directed by Donald Bluestone,  interweaving the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca, Pablo Neruda, Antonio Machado and Genevieve Taggard along with news report styled narration, sound effects and music of the period, was produced at WBAI-FM in New York and aired in March 1976.

In haunting cadences and imagery, this poetic play conjers up this dark period in Spanish history –as fascist forces in Spain set out to overthrow the newly elected Republican government.  As the threats escalated, Western European allies and the United States remained neutral.  Soon German fighter planes were bombing towns like Guernica —  as a harbinger of what would soon follow throughout Europe as WWII broke out.  But it was Generalissimo Franco along with several other fascist generals of Spain who led the decisive battles in and around Madrid.

Pablo Neruda

The Republican effort — although splintered — was bolstered by volunteer units from the U.S. called the Abraham Lincoln Brigades — cooks and ordinary working men who spoke no Spanish nor knew how to shoot a gun.  International brigades soon joined them from Germany, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and France.  Still the Republican side was outnumbered by 6 to 1 on the ground and by 20 to 1 in the air.

Thousands met their deaths from aerial bombings and on the battle fields.  Most insidious was the infamous Civil Guard who took suspected Republican sympathizers  from their homes and shot them.  Frederico Garcia Lorca was executed in his home town of Granada in 1936.   On March 28, 1939, the Italian fascists marched into Madrid.  The Republican government was finished.

Abraham Lincoln Brigade

Eisenhower & Franco, 1959

When Franco died in 1975, U.S. Vice President, Nelson Rockefeller, attended his funeral along with Augusto Pinochet, who with American help had ousted the democratically elected Salvador Allende in Chile 2 years before, all further indication of the troubling ties between the U.S. and military dictators during the Cold War.

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