Thursday, July 7

This is how the Franco regime purged teachers in the postwar period

The document slept the dream of the just in the Arxiu del Regne de València until found it by chance during an investigation into the economic-political clan of the deceased mayor Rita Barberá. The documentary collection of the priest Juan Luis Corbín Ferrer, uncle of the lawyer José María Corbín, includes a report prepared in the immediate post-war period on the teaching staff to purge at the outstanding Lluís Vives Institute in Valencia. “It’s very interesting,” says Carmen Agulló, professor of the History of Education at the University of Valencia and one of the greatest experts in the Francoist purge of republican teachers. José María Azkárraga, retired professor from the Lluís Vives and popularizer, agrees: “It provides the names of the teachers who had passed through the institute in the Republican period, something that was largely unknown until now.” “In the list of names appears the painter and sculptor María Labrandero, she did not know that she had been a drawing teacher at Vives”, Agulló adds.

Juan Luis Corbín Ferrer, a pro-Francoist through and through, according to a retired jurist who was his student at the center, was ordained a priest in 1952. His father and brother were murdered during the short summer of anarchy 1936, after the coup against the democratic legality of the Second Republic. The priest is the author, among other works on the capital of the Turia, of the Historical monograph of the Luís Vives High School (Valencia City Council, 1979). Her sisters María Concepción Josefa and María Rosario Corbín Ferrer donated their funds from her archive to the Generalitat Valenciana five years after her death, which occurred in 2005.

The document, titled Development of the reports requested by the Ministry of National Education corresponding to the National Institute of Secondary Education Luís Viveshas already been incorporated into complete archive of the teaching center, located a stone’s throw from the Plaza del Ayuntamiento and the Estación del Norte. Although it does not indicate any date, from its reading it can be deduced that it was prepared in the immediate post-war period, after the entry of Franco’s troops into the city.

While the new regime registered the Valencians, house by house, shot the losers of the contest and overcrowded the prisons with political prisoners, the purging machinery was also activated without interruption. The legislative body of the dictatorship included a complex process to cleanse administrations of republican officials. “In Valencia there were so many teachers that two purification commissions were formed, one chaired by the director of the Lluís Vives Francisco Morote and another chaired by Fausto Martínez Castillejo, a Falangist in an old shirt who was the one who sanctioned the most,” explains historian Carmen Agulló.

The first provincial commission sanctioned 19.72% of teachers, while the second scored 31.96%. The Superior Commission of Madrid considered that the results of Francisco Morote were too benevolent: “What does this commission from Valencia want to separate! Marxist and dangerous. This commission is very weak in all the files. It was necessary to dismiss her or give her a vote of censure.” Morote “was a good person and he wasn’t exactly a staunch Franco supporter, the role of the character is a bit controversial, he was a very old person who died shortly after,” says José María Azkárraga.

One in four teachers received some type of sanction in Francoist Spain, according to the latest historiographical studies. “One of the characteristics of purging the teaching profession,” says Carmen Agulló, “is arbitrariness.” “There was no direct relationship between the charges and the sanction, except for the Freemasons who were expelled. Teachers were not sanctioned for their professional side but for their political or union positions”, the historian abounds.

The dictatorship was in charge of applying “Spanish pedagogy” in contrast to the renewal movements, branded as “foreign doctrines”, that had emerged during the Republican period, with such significant protagonists in Valencia as the philologist María Moliner. “Spanish pedagogy was aimed at training people in National Catholicism,” adds Agulló.

The sanctioned teachers were separated from the public school and many ended up in private centers such as the well-known Academia Castellano. “The trick was that, normally, the ownership of the academy was held by a person in order who hired people who he knew were very good at their profession,” says Carmen Agulló.

José María Azkárraga, retired professor from the center and tireless disseminator of the history of republican and post-war Valencia, highlights that the document “provides an unprecedented description of the building”. The center moved from La Nau to the current building, headquarters of the Jesuit College of San Pablo until Mendizábal’s disentailment, during the 1869-1870 academic year, “driven by a prominent figure such as Vicente Boix y Ricarte, chronicler of the city”, explains Azkárraga. In 1930, the center is baptized with the name of Lluís Vives in homage to the humanist and philosopher persecuted by the Inquisition.

“From Vicente Blasco Ibáñez to Max Aub and a long list of people who in those years had the only option of Vives” passed through the institute, recalls José María Azkárraga. “It is a demographic issue: it is the only institute in Valencia and the only one capable of giving degrees. There were religious schools but at the beginning of the 20th century everyone took the Vives exam”, he adds. The building, located between the streets of Játiva, Arzobispo Mayoral, San Pablo and Marqués de Sotelo avenue, has a splendid patio, a chapel and underground treasures of the first order.

The document found in the collection of Juan Luís Corbín of the Arxiu del Regne outlines the “good state of conservation” of the building after having been “liberated in Valencia on 29-3-[1]939 by the glorious Army [de] Spain”. “A curious piece of information that it contributes”, highlights Azkárraga, “is the demolition of the fence and the use of the iron for the fortifications of the defense of Valencia against the Francoist bombings”. In addition, there is the “great refuge” that is currently preserved for guided tours and school activities (only the promoter José María Azkárraga has taken “several thousand people” to the heritage vestige on the urban routes of Republican Valencia that he organizes for love of art).

It also details the list of “management positions” during the “red era” and the teaching and administrative staff, in addition to the “incidents” during the Civil War. The report refers to the “disorders produced in the school life of certain individuals, who, either because they were affiliated with the old Catholic organizations or because they were children of people affected by or sympathetic to the National Movement, were persecuted, not allowing them to continue their studies or that they transfer them to other centers and even deny them the issuance of the Bachelor’s Degree after having already, in a period prior to the Red, completed their studies in this center”. The teachers “addicted” to the “red domain” that appear in the document were ideal candidates for the purging process, just as the right-wing teachers were in the immediately preceding period.

The commission in charge of the “admission or non-admission of students” by “elements of the FUE [Federación Universitaria Escolar]”, he points out. “It has caught my attention that the commissions were made up of teachers and students,” says historian Carmen Agulló, who recalls that “during the Republic in peace there was no purge but the Republic in war also made purge files to all teachers ”. Those files, Agulló adds, have largely disappeared and the only trace that remains is that of the post-Franco war processes.

“The archives in the Spanish State and especially in the Valencian Country are a disaster, with an incredible lack of personnel”, criticizes the historian, who also alludes to the documentary material that some people “took home”. Such was the case of the unpublished document on the Lluís Vives Institute in the hands of the priest Juan Luís Corbín.

Memorial Luis Vives Ministry of National Education on Scribd