Secret lives, escape routes, shady deals and political violence 1939-1982.
How the capital of Spain became a key city in the reformation of an old totalitarianism.
The fight against the major fascist regimes in Europe was fought and won in the trenches of the Second World War. Nevertheless, many supporters of those regimes survived, hiding under new identities and biding their time in hope of a brighter future, escaping to third countries or reinventing themselves as mere pawns in the new context of the Cold War. And sooner or later, the people living these various realities would all converge in the same place: Madrid. As Francoist Spain hurried to wash its hands of its past sympathies with Hitler and Mussolini and paint itself as a Catholic bastion against the threat of communism, the country's capital functioned as the de facto neofascist Metropolis.
Pablo del Hierro reveals a Madrid which operated as a hub for black-market art deals, a refuge for fascist leaders and gateway to escape routes – rat roads – between continental Europe and Latin America. A city which became the vital meeting point for the far-right operatives refusing to give up on totalitarian terror and dreaming of one day returning to power in their home countries.
By rescuing the dark and disturbing side of Madrid's history, we can better understand its role as a key link in a chain. A chain which connects Franco's victory and the post-1945 fascist dispersion with far-right terrorism during the transition to democracy, as well as some of the more threatening movements present in Spain today.