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Azaña, the pragmatist calling for peace

mid-afternoon of Monday, July 18, 1938, the president of the Republic, Manuel Azaña, climbed the steps of the city Hall of Barcelona, the day on which they fulfilled two years of the military uprising that provoked the Civil War. Accompanied by the main authorities of the country, as the Government had moved to Barcelona, Azaña uttered what is probably his most deep and emotional of a Spanish political, the of the famous three ps: "Peace, mercy and forgiveness". It's been 80 years of one hour and five minutes of prose brilliant, declaimed with passion and without reading any role. A speech that is one of the axes of the IX Conference on the life and work of Manuel Azaña, which are held until the 30 of November in the madrid suburb of Alcalá de Henares, where he was born January 10, 1880. The conference, organized by the civil association Forum of the Henares, began this Wednesday, with a lecture by historian Jose Alvarez Junco.

"it Is a speech very powerful, very well built, very good in a literary way, which exudes a deep sorrow for the killings of the war", stresses Álvarez Junco. That afternoon, Azaña was intended that the public opinion were echoed of "a negotiated settlement and reconciliation, but there was no intention to do so by any of the two parties," added this professor emeritus of History of Thought and Social and Political Movements of the Universidad Complutense of Madrid. "The Government of [John] Negrín wanted to resist at any cost, and the nationalists, annihilate the enemy".

it Is a speech very powerful, very well built, very good in a literary way, which exudes a deep sorrow for the killings of the war

Álvarez Junco

The context of those words were, on the one hand, a Republic is aware that the defeat was very hard to avoid —there was a last great attempt to reverse the situation, that was the battle of the Ebro, which began a week after the speech of Azaña— and, on the other, a prebélica international tension, by the expansionism of nazi Germany, which annexed Austria. So, in his last speech in life (he died in exile in france, in Montauban November 3, 1940, just 20 days after resigning) dealt with the war, but mentioning the international dimension which it had acquired.

Alvarez Junco divided his intervention, in the Auditorium of the University of Alcalá, in two parts. In the first put "in context" to Azaña, in Spain, "the intellectual isolation of three centuries". A country's "non-existent in the international order". He was one of the intellectuals of the Generation of the 14 "that you became aware that you had to change that situation, a country's rural and illiterate, in order to construct Spain as a nation".

Then he spoke of the man. Azaña was a "studious, hard-working, that is released into the policy at the end of the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera and arrives at the idea that the monarchy is incompatible with the modernization of Betist the country", but its "unique and great political instrument were his speeches". Azaña "recognizes the diversity of the country, defends the Catalan Statute, but it is against the islamic concept of nation, the scream". All of your political action is characterized by "a pragmatic view, which distanced him from the utopianism of the revolution, and populism". With this relates to that "what we need in Spain is to create institutions and people to participate in them, that they are democratic". It underlined, however, that the president of the Republic was a complex personality. "I had so much intellectual superiority, that he became an evil politician, became arrogant. And I was bored the political task, to devote to a game."

we Fight for the freedom of all, even of our adversaries.

Manuel Azaña

however, the Azaña that you hear in the speech of July 18, 1938 is close, simple, direct and endorsed by a "applause end huge." It did not conceal that he kept "a considerable distance with Negrin, a supporter of resist". The historian points to the reluctance created Azaña by the "extralimitaciones" of his office. "Took initiatives to England or the Vatican to mediate in the conflict."

His speech was picked up by several newspapers the next day, although interestingly none titled with the triplet by which it is known. "The war is against the Spanish nation as a whole, even against their own fascists", stressed The cutting Edge. "We fight for the freedom of all, even of our adversaries," was one of the phrases in which he stressed The socialist, echoing the misgivings of the Government towards Azaña, he omitted the word "peace" of the three with which he had finished speaking, a word that for some it was a sign of weakness and defeatism.

An advocate of the historical heritage

The conference on the figure of Manuel Azaña held since 2010 and are promoted by a civil association, a Forum of the Henares, supported on this issue by the city Council and the University of Alcalá and the Fundación Largo Caballero. "Azaña had a life rich in events in the history of Spain and then there are the affairs which he undertook as a novelist or researcher - therefore, it can be addressed from different areas", says Jesus Cañete Ochoa, coordinator of the conference.

on Wednesday, November 21, there will be a colloquium in the Old Hospital of Santa María la Rica, in the town of alcala, on the publications that the publishing Kingdom of Cordelia has been edited Azaña, as The evening at Benicarló, or literary essays gathered in The weapon of the letters. On Thursday, Vicente Alberto Serrano, will talk about the role of Azaña in the defense of the artistic and historic heritage. "Delivered a lecture in 1916 at the Ateneo of Madrid to show the destruction of cities like Reims and Verdun in World War I," added Cañete; Sunday, 25th, there will be a "promenade sentimental" of the sites linked to Azaña in Alcalá and Friday, 30, will be held a conversation with the historian Santos Juliá, for the purpose of the re-release of his book Life and time of Manuel Azaña (1880-1940).

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