Nationalism and Reconstruction in Dictatorships: Franco’s Spain and Socialist Poland in Comparison (1939/1945-1956)

                                Carolina Rodríguez-López / José M. Faraldo


Beginning: 2011



              In 1939 and in 1945, after two different wars, Spain and Poland became organized as two dictatorships of opposed ideological signs, but with a similar nationalist pathos. Both countries were forced to settle the frames of a new nation where their capital cities served like an arena for displaying the national symbols and the new national power. Madrid and Warsaw had suffered the effects of wars and both of them had to tackle out two (although quite different) reconstruction processes. For Spanish Fascists, Madrid –as capital city of the “Reds” during the Civil war- had been a “perverse” city and the reconstruction of the town should be a “moral” one, erasing the material rests of the former democratic era. For Polish Communists, Warsaw should be restored as a national capital town, as true Polish, as testimony of the martyrdom caused by the German occupation and the “wrong” decisions of the “capitalist”, anticommunist Polish government in exile.

       This project compares the reconstructions of towns in Poland and Spain between the beginnings of the regimes (1939/1945) until the transformation into "softer" dictatorships (1953/1956). We focus on Madrid and Warsaw but looking for other cases too. We explorines how both processes were conducted like attempts of producing a new and in their own way, modern nation. At the same time we examine how the after-war reconstructions displayed several standards of architecture, urban planning and visual culture with roots in old artistic styles, defined now as “truly national”.

        The comparison of two quite different –but homologous- cases shows in a persuasive way the role of nationalism as ideology and cultural background in the production of the material urban space.


Spanish marks in foreign archives. Materials on Spain and Spaniards in Security archives of former Communist countries

                                                   José M. Faraldo


Beginning: 2009

Funding: Ministerio de Innovación y Ciencia, España, subprograma Ramón y Cajal



        The archives of the security police in all state-socialist countries held uncountable resources of very different kinds: folders of real and possible confidents, folders on prosecuted people, reports about social perceptions of current facts, reports of security actions, even confiscated literary works... Possibly, there’s no many archival sources in Europe so interesting for analyze a lot of important problems of the social, cultural and political history of the XX century. After the fall of the Berlin wall, the security archives suffered very different destinies and played different roles in every country. Many materials were presumably destroyed for the proper police in the chaos of the changing and some was made disappear by American intelligence agencies (above all in Eastern Germany), but with time, in all of these countries centralized, new-born institutions took the task of preserve and usually to open to the public and guide and help researchers the main part of existent materials.


        Because usually the most of this materials were to be used in the prosecution of dissent and the defense of the Communist rule in the own country, foreign historians have thought of them being only marginally useful for understand other nations, in special, for western European countries (except, of course of Western Germany). This should be specially valid for “marginal” and very far away countries like Spain. Nevertheless, in the course of  former researches, we have come across on materials that mention concrete actions of the state security in Spain (for example: Spain was at least at the beginning of the 1970s used as an operational basis for the Polish security in their secret meetings with the agents they had in the American financed Radio Free Europe). Some other evidence took us to think, that the security in all socialist countries observed very closely the Spanish political émigrés there. Eastern Europeans traveling through Spain were always kept under surveillance and often asked when they came back.

       We think that this materials, which are considerable, can be very useful for Spanish historians or historians in general in order to trace some implications of the Cold War in the Iberian peninsula. The Cold War in Spain is usually seen only in a transatlantic (relationship with the USA) and Mediterranean perspective while the Eastern European linkages are totally forgotten, even although the anticommunism and antisovietism was one of the main ideological arguments of Franco’s dictatorship. We would like to help to bring this dimension up to the Spanish historiography.



Academic exiles: German and Spanish Professors in the United States Universities. 1933-1950

                                              Carolina Rodríguez-López


Beginning: 2009.

Founding: (partially) Real Colegio Complutense en Harvard.


After the seizure of power by Nazis in Germany in 1933 and during the long post-war period in Spain (since 1936) a large group of scholars were forced to leave their country in search of a new destination. Both German and Spanish totalitarian regimes implemented a deep depuration process which forced few waves of exiles. The common goal among scholars was to continue their academic careers which they had already begun or had already consolidated in Germany and Spain. The possibility of continuing their academic careers in the US was taken into account by a prominent group of professors. The aim os this project is to compare Spanish and the German academic exiles in the US


By defining this process as academic exiles I am interested mainly in identifying professors who came to US universities; knowing what were the reasons behind their choice of US; finding out which universities they worked in; and learning about their experiences and impressions of the American academic milieu. My purpose is to study the exile in terms of “cultural transfers” and “trans-national relationships”.