Invented memory

Since the publication of Memories of Hell in 1978, radical trade union leader Enric Marco has represented for many the suffering Spanish prisoners underwent in Nazi camps. Now it turns out (via Teresa Amat) that, like “Binjamin Wilkomirski” (although he lacks Bruno Grossjean’s research skills and literary bent), he made up the concentration camp experiences which led amongst other things to his comparison of Mauthausen with Guantánamo being taken seriously.

In a version B of Marco’s life, historian Benito Bermejo says that he has confirmed with the foreign ministry that Marco voluntarily left Marseille in 1941 to work in Germany (there being no forced labour transports at that stage from Vichy France), and that he returned to Spain in 1943. It would be interesting to know what kind of documentation there is to support this, because it was around this time that Jacques Doriot, a charismatic ex-communist, was putting together the Légion des Volontaires Français contre le Bolchévisme, whose recruits apparently included Republican as well as Nationalist veterans of the Spanish Civil War, and which was destroyed by death and desertion during its first Russian winter.

I’m not saying Marco fought for Hitler on the Eastern Front, but it’s the kind of thing one that one could imagine appealing much more to a man with such a strange and powerful sense of duty than humdrum factory labour in Germany. His revised autobiography will be read with interest.

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