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Afterword: Herbert R. Southworth Collection


El Presidente de la República ha dicho...

[The President of the Republic has said...]. . Junta Delegada de Defensa de Madrid. Delegación de Propaganda y Prensa. Rivadeneyra, S.A. Madrid. Lithograph, 2 colors; 101 x 70 cm.

This poster reproduces an excerpt taken from a speech made in Valencia by the president of the Republic, Manuel Azaña, on January 21, 1937. Behind the text is a stylized silhouette of the President. Azaña touched upon numerous issues in this speech, including the resilience of the Madrid residents who fought off Franco's troops, and the fact that Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy aided Franco. Furthermore, he made a strong appeal to all Spaniards to recognize the Republic as the sole and legitimate authority of the land. While the President encouraged Spaniards to continue the fight against Franco and his allies, he came across as forlorn, as the only possible victory was a Pyrrhic one. The poster reads as follows:

Because it is no longer a matter of danger to the Republic, it is no longer simply a civil war between Spaniards; let us say it clearly: we are experiencing a foreign invasion in Spain, and it is not only the Republican political regime which is in danger, but also the true independence of our country. Ah! But in order to extinguish the war, yes, in order to extinguish the war we have but one course of action which is to continue it. In order to extinguish the war we must defeat the rebels ... We engage each other in civil war for the essential unity of Spain. We engage in war for the integration of the national territory. We engage in war for the independence of our homeland and for the right of the Spanish people to freely determine its destiny. For that we fight ... Victory will be impersonal because it will not be the triumph of any single one of us; nor shall it be of our supporters, nor of our organizations. It will be the triumph of republican liberty, a triumph of that which we stand for. It will not be a personal triumph because when one feels the Spanish pain I feel in my soul, no triumph can be attained against our compatriots. And when your first magistrate raises the trophy of victory, surely the heart of every Spaniard will break, and it will never be known who has suffered more for the liberation of Spain.

Manuel Azaña was born in Alcalá de Henares in 1880. A lawyer by training, he preferred writing fiction and literary criticism. Politically, Azaña was affiliated with the moderate Reformist Party of Melquiádez Alvarez until he founded his own Acción Republicana in 1927. When the Republic was declared in 1931, Azaña participated in the government as Minister of Defense. From March to October of 1931, he led the Republican government as premier and turned his attention to reforming the land tenure system, constructing more schools, hiring more qualified and secular educators, and curbing the clergy's influence in society. Azaña has been criticized for his lack of tact in accompanying his reform with scathing rhetoric. For example, after the burning of Madrid's religious buildings on May 10, 1931, Azaña was quoted as saying, "All the convents of Madrid are not worth the life of a single Republican." In 1934, Azaña was briefly imprisoned for allegedly being responsible for the revolutionary strikes that took place in the month of October. That same year, Azaña fused his Acción Republicana with other moderate parties to form Izquierda Republicana. This political party became the driving force behind the Popular Front coalition (which included the Socialists, the Communists, and other Republicans) that slimly defeated the right in the national elections of February 16, 1936. In October 1936, Azaña became President of the Republic, a post which he occupied throughout the Spanish Civil War. In 1939, he fled to Montauban, France, where he died of a heart attack on November 3, 1940.

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