21 November 2012

A Remembrance of Bravery and Fidelity, and an Example to Future Generations

At seven o'clock in the morning of that day of horror in Toledo, [Commander of the Nationalist forces defending the Alcázar, Colonel Jose] Moscardó's 24-year-old son Luis was picked up for questioning by a militia patrol who did not know who he was.  In Toledo as in many other cities of republican Spain, a committee of militant Socialists and anarchists had been set up to question persons suspected of disloyalty to the Republic.  These committees were universally called "checas," the Spanish spelling of the name Lenin had given to the first Soviet secret police, CHEKAs.  The head of Toledo's checa was a lawyer named Candido Cabello.  He knew Luis Moscardó by sight.  The moment he saw him, he decided to use him to bring about the surrender of the Alcázar.  He picked up the telephone and called the boy's father.  It was ten o'clock.

After identifying himself, Cabello said, "You are responsible for all the crimes and everything else that is happening in Toledo.  I give you ten minutes to surrender the Alcázar.  If you don't, I'll shoot your son Luis who is standing here beside me."

Moscardó's face did not betray his feeling.  "I believe you," he said.

"And so that you can see it's true," Cabello continued, "he will speak to you."

Luis was then given the phone.  "Papa!" he cried.

"What is happening, my boy?"

"Nothing," Luis answered.  "They say they are going to shoot me if the Alcázar does not surrender.  But don't worry about me."

"If it is true," replied Moscardó, "commend your soul to God, shout 'Viva España!' and die like a hero.  Good-bye, my son, a kiss."

"Good-bye, Father, a very big kiss."

When Cabello was on the phone again, Moscardó said, "You might as well forget the period of grace you gave me.  The Alcázar will never surrender!"

In the Diputación, Cabello slammed down the receiver violently and cursed briefly.  Then he said to the militiamen around him, "Since his father wants it, do whatever you please with him."  Luis Moscardó was led out.

In the Alcázar, Colonel Moscardó stood for some moments in stony silence, his staff too stunned even to condole him.  Without a word to anyone, he walked into his sleeping quarters in the next room and quietly shut the door.

-- from The Last Crusade: Spain: 1936, by Warren Carroll

[Luis was shot one month later.  The defendants of the Alcázar held out in the face of overwhelming numbers, and one month after the murder of Luis, nationalist forces liberated the fortress.]

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