Letter: Flight of the Angel of Budapest

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The Independent Online
Sir: Phil Davison's article 'The Angel of Budapest' raises intriguing questions over General Franco's attitue towards the Jews. It seems likely that in the middle of the Second World War he gave orders to assist Jews in Europe to escape from the Holocaust.

My authority is the late distinguished poet and ambassador Aurelio Valls, who was serving in the Spanish Foreign Office at the time. He told me that embassies abroad were asked to issue Spanish passports to Jews who could produce some sort of documentation showing that their familes had left Spain in the 16th century at the time of the Reconquest.

As the Nazis' transportation to the camps accelerated in central Europe, he said that the embassy authorities waived the requirements for Spanish origin documents and issued passports more freely.

It is of interest that there exists a tradition among Spanish modern historians that the Generalisimo, while a 'most Christian gentleman', was of Jewish origin. The name Franco is not uncommon among 'converso' families - those who became Christians at the time of the Inquisition.

Yours sincerely,


London, SW3

5 May