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Home Culture Pyramid of the Italians: A ridiculous monument to Fascio and Mussolini, an asset of cultural interest? | Culture

Pyramid of the Italians: A ridiculous monument to Fascio and Mussolini, an asset of cultural interest? | Culture

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The ruinous monument to Fascio that stands on an inhospitable slope of the Puerto del Escudo, on the way to Cantabria from Burgos, is not democratic memory, as required by the 2022 law. It is not even historical memory. And it has no architectural value either. Let’s talk properly. It is an irrelevant monument, which offends even Francoist National Catholics. The dictator Francisco Franco soon knew this, who disowned the popularly known as the “Italian cemetery” when the first abbot of the Valley of the Fallen, the Benedictine Justo Pérez de Urbel, and the first general director of Prisons under Franco, Máximo Cuervo Radigales, a pioneer of Opus Dei, proposed to clean it up and incorporate it as a complement to the imposing monument that the leader of Spanish fascism was raising to his greatest glory in Cuelgamuros. Fray Justo learned of the models from which the so-called Caudillo was inspired: “He wanted to imitate Philip II, who built the monastery of El Escorial to commemorate the battle of San Quentin, and he wanted to follow in the footsteps of Mussolini by celebrating the deeds of his legionaries. in Spain”.

The spokesman for the Junta de Castilla y León, Carlos Fernández Carriedo (PP), now argues to declare such a monstrosity Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC), that the Mussolinian pyramid is unique “within the cultural heritage of Castilla y León due to its design and “aesthetic, architectural and landscape values.” Let’s not argue about bad taste (Kant already said that, speaking about tastes, the discussion ends), but about illegal and immoral tastes. In short, disappointments. The Minister of Culture, Gonzalo Santonja, of Vox, and some institutions that call themselves cultural have joined the fascist revelry by highlighting the tourist attributes of the complex. “History is also what they don’t like,” Santonja emphasizes, without pointing out. It is not about demolishing it either, but blessing it as an asset of cultural interest!

The reasons why Franco soon detested Mussolini’s ridiculous architectural gift are easy to understand. In 1959, when the Valley of the Fallen was inaugurated, Franco’s regime was burned with the support that helped it win a war that propaganda then called the Glorious Christian Crusade. To praise a monument to Mussolini was to glorify that that Crusade was a swastika, as the historian Herbert R. Southworth wrote in The myth of Franco’s crusade. It was with the credits, weapons, planes, ships and soldiers contributed by Nazi Germany and fascist Italy that the war was plotted on the rebel side. But when Pérez de Urbel and Máximo Cuervo’s suggestion reached Franco, Hitler had committed suicide with his wife, Eva Braun, and Benito Mussolini had been hanged like a pig in a Milan gas station, along with his lover, Claretta Petacci. The Spanish dictator owed them a lot, but he wanted to erase them from the national Catholic memory.

Francisco Franco (center), between Serrano Suñer (left) and Benito Mussolini (right), during their interview in Bordighera, in 1941.

There is more. Does the Government of Valladolid not know how the happy Fascio monument was built? Work began in 1938, before the end of the war, with the Italian military furious at the heavy casualties among their black shirts in the battle to conquer Santander months before. In that environment, they took prisoners at random, they harassed them and many of them were given a ride or they exercised with them in a firing squad. They had plenty of captive labor. Nobody told them that the principle of Redemption of Sentences by Work existed. Better said, the decree drafted in 1938 by Cuervo, the ideologist of the system by which prisoners—especially politicians—could reduce their sentence by performing forced labor, had not yet been approved. This was the motto of Cuervo, then leader of the National Catholic Association of Young Propagandists (ACNdJP), today the Catholic Association of Propagandists (ACdP): “The discipline of a barracks, the seriousness of a bank, the charity of a convent.” Although the prisoners colloquially called him “the greatest crow”, his management at the head of the national prison system would not have tolerated the excesses of the Italian legionnaires.

Milan Kundera wrote in The Unbearable Lightness of Being that memory frees man from brutality. It is surprising that the promoters of this extravagant initiative, probably admirers of the exploits of the Franco regime, ignore the other reason why Franco ended up detesting Mussolini despite imitating him so much. The dislike was mutual. He must have been even more disillusioned when, at the end of World War II, the diaries of Galeazzo Ciano, the Duce’s son-in-law and his Minister of Foreign Affairs, were published. Franco must have been stumped by this paragraph, which Ciano puts in Mussolini’s mouth: “The shameless people who have had so much to say about our intervention in Spain will one day understand that the true bases have been established in the Ebro, in Barcelona and in Malaga. of Rome’s Mediterranean empire. Franco gives us the egg today; “Tomorrow he will give us the chicken.”

The Valley of the Fallen, today renamed Cuelgamuros Valley.Santi Burgos

Count Ciano would not see it. While waiting to be shot, he agrees with his wife Edda, not to ask her father for forgiveness for her husband, which Galeazzo knows he will not obtain, but how to get the diaries to Switzerland. Many of them fall into the hands of the Germans, who destroy them. The rest, published in Spain by Crítica in 2004, are very useful to know Mussolini’s terrible opinion of Franco and that of his son-in-law Ramón Serrano Suñer, Minister of the Interior in those years. Ciano writes, on September 4, 1942, when Serrano was fired from the Government by his brother-in-law: “It was inevitable. I was convinced of this when listening to the way in which Serrano Suñer spoke about Franco: he used the language that can be used referring to a cretin servant. And without the slightest caution; in front of everyone.”

The pharaonic complex of Cuelgamuros was conceived by Franco long before the war ended, to glorify himself like the Catholic Monarchs, Charles V and Philip II. Mussolini beat him to it, with the impertinence, furthermore, of putting on the table the accounts of his contribution to the victory: a credit of 4,000 million, 30,000 soldiers and 4,000 dead. It was the account that Ciano made when he visited the pyramid, on July 13, 1939, accompanied by Serrano Suñer and a caravan of civil, ecclesiastical and military authorities.

What was later known as “the valley of the fallen Italians” was inaugurated a month later, before the Spanish dictator signed, on April 1, 1940, the decree for the construction of his own monument of exaltation, which he ordered to sign it with “ the highest cross in the world, 152.4 meters.” Mussolini, on the other hand, erected a ridiculous concrete pyramid with the door facing the sunrise and a huge M in the frame, in homage to himself, without the cross in the original construction. “Here the legionnaires who fell for the cause of Spain and its civilization rest in glory,” read one of the walls. If this is an asset of cultural interest!

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