Herbert Southworth

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Herbert Rutledge Southworth (February 6, 1908 – October 30, 1999) was a writer, journalist and historian specializing in the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent Francoist State in Spain and whose work led the Francoist ministry of information to set up an entire department[1] to counter his demolition of the State's propaganda.[2]

Early life[edit]

Southworth was born in Canton, Oklahoma. He worked as a construction worker and in a copper mine in Arizona. There, he learned Spanish from the Mexican workers. At Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) in Lubbock, Texas, he majored in history, with a minor in Spanish. In 1934, he started work in the document department at the US Library of Congress in Washington.[3]

Spanish Civil War[edit]

When the Spanish civil war broke out, Southworth reviewed books on the conflict for the Washington Post. His articles brought him to the notice of the Spanish republic's ambassador, who asked him to work for the Spanish information bureau.[4]

He also took a master's degree at Columbia University and formed an enduring friendship with the war correspondent Jay Allen.[2]

Southworth was devastated by the defeat of the Spanish republic and he and Allen continued to work for the exiled premier Juan Negrín.[5]

World War II[edit]

Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Southworth was recruited by the US office of war information. In 1943, he was sent to Algeria to work for the office of psychological warfare, and later was posted to Morocco to broadcast to Franco's Spain.[6]

Propaganda[edit]

Southworth wrote a series of books which obliged the Francoist State to change its falsified version of its own past.[2] The most celebrated was an exposé of rightwing propaganda, The Myth of Franco's Crusade, which was published in Spanish and French by José Martínez, of Ruedo Ibérico, the leading anti-Franco exiled publishing house based in Paris. Sold clandestinely in Spain, its impact obliged the then information minister, Manuel Fraga,[1] to set up a department dedicated to modernising the State's historiography.[7] Its director, Ricardo de la Cierva, later Spain's minister of culture (1980-1981), went on to write 80 books in defence of Francoist Spain.[2]

In 1965, Southworth wrote a second book, Antifalange, on how Franco converted the Falange into the single party of his State.

Guernica! Guernica! A Study of Journalism, Diplomacy, Propaganda and History (1977) deals with the effort by Franco's propagandists and admirers to wipe out the atrocity at Guernica. Two years before its publication, and on the advice of the French historian, Pierre Vilar, the manuscript had been successfully presented by Southworth as his doctoral thesis at the Sorbonne.[8]

In the mid-1970s, Southworth became Regents Professor at the University of California.[8]

A pugnacious polemicist, he regularly took part in literary arguments, most notably with Burnett Bolloten and Hugh Thomas.

In 1970, he sold his collection of documents to the University of California.

Only three days before his death, he delivered the manuscript of Conspiracy and the Spanish Civil War: The Brainwashing of Francisco Franco, published by Routledge.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Gibson, Ian. "Southworth y 'El mito de la cruzada'" (in Spanish)
  2. ^ a b c d guardian.co.uk, Obituary Tuesday 9 November 1999
  3. ^ Preston, Paul. (2009) We saw Spain die. Foreign correspondents in the Spanish Civil War. Constable. London. pp.416-417
  4. ^ Preston, Paul. (2009) We saw Spain die. Foreign correspondents in the Spanish Civil War. Constable. London. p.418
  5. ^ Preston, Paul. (2009) We saw Spain die. Foreign correspondents in the Spanish Civil War. Constable. London. p.419
  6. ^ Preston, Paul. (2009) We saw Spain die. Foreign correspondents in the Spanish Civil War. Constable. London. p.420
  7. ^ Preston, Paul. (2009) We saw Spain die. Foreign correspondents in the Spanish Civil War. Constable. London. pp.413-414
  8. ^ a b Preston, Paul. (2009) We saw Spain die. Foreign correspondents in the Spanish Civil War. Constable. London. p.425

Bibliography[edit]

  • Preston, Paul. (2009) We saw Spain die. Foreign correspondents in the Spanish Civil War. Constable. London. ISBN 978-1-84529-946-0