Among the bibliography recommended for the students of the General Military Academy (AGM) of Zaragoza, the future officers of the Spanish Army, there are books as innovative at the time as The end of the story by Francis Fukuyama, The revenge of geographyby Robert Kaplan or The age of information, of the current Minister of Universities, Manuel Castells. On the other hand, there is none on the Spanish transition and the coup of 23-F, which is now 40 years old. Neither does any work specifically dedicated to the Civil War or the Franco regime.
“23-F is a taboo subject and it is avoided to touch it”, affirms a general with long experience in military training. The explanation of Lieutenant General Amador Enseñat, director of Army Education between 2016 and 2020, is different: the history of Spain is not a matter of university education that is taught in military academies, but of secondary or high school. The current Zaragoza cadets had not been born when Tejero stormed Congress. For them, 23-F is history.
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Since the launch of the Defense University Center (CUD) Zaragoza, the teaching load of future officers has multiplied. In addition to military training, there is a degree in Engineering from the Industrial Organization, which is awarded by the University of Zaragoza. Of the 333 credits that must be completed to receive the lieutenant’s office, 240 correspond to the university degree and the rest to the specific military training, although some subjects overlap. Civilian and military students from the University of Zaragoza study the same degree: the former do the business branch; and the second, defense. Some attend the La Almunia de Doña Godina campus; and others, to the General Academy of Zaragoza. They study separately, although they mix in extracurricular activities (sports, debate tournaments) and all participate in elections to the rector’s office.
General Enseñat defends the segregation of civilians and military, claiming that cohesion and esprit de corps is essential for the formation of the latter, which is forged with coexistence in boarding school and under military discipline. The CUD professors attached to the military academy are paid by Defense, but their hiring requires the endorsement of the University of Zaragoza. The director of the center is Colonel Francisco José Gómez Ramos, engineer and physicist doctor, on whom a staff of around 100 professors depends, more than 90% civilians, for about 1,200 students in total.
The pedagogical program of future officers, technically very demanding, barely leaves room for humanistic training, although there are three subjects in the fourth year, semester in nature, that connect more with the socio-political reality they will have to face: International Relations, World Current and Law. The second, which spans from the world wars to the post-cold war, includes in its bibliography the books by Fukuyama, Kaplan or Castells, and has a section dedicated to “totalitarianisms”, although it depends on the academic freedom of the professors that the they teach (a military and a civilian) to include or not in that category the Franco dictatorship.
More concrete is the Law program: future officers of the Army study the constitutional history of Spain since 1812, the Constitution of 1978, the State of the autonomies or the role of the Armed Forces, as well as the rights and duties of the military and international law of armed conflict.
General Enseñat maintains that “military education transmits democratic values, not only in regulated education, but in all activities, both academic and extra-academic. It is not a specific subject, but they are an integral part of the training ”. When the role of the Armed Forces is studied, he alleges, it is explained that they are an instrument of the State at the service of citizens and, when dealing with international military organizations, it is seen how they are subject to political control.
On January 8, the Undersecretariat of Defense published an instruction in which it recalled that the “daily orders, ephemeris and historical references, as well as the talks and public activities” of the military educational centers, should adhere to the “constitutional values” , after the head of studies at the Naval School of La Graña (Ferrol) was dismissed for glossing over an episode of the Civil War referring to the Republican squad as “the reds” and to the rebellion as “the nationals.” Both this fact and the reproduction, in the magazine of the academy of Zaragoza, of articles praising Franco, whom they alluded to as “the Caudillo”, can be attributed to the persistence of some nostalgic or the weight of inertia: Franco was the first Director of the Zaragoza Academy and his statue was not removed until 2006.
More disturbing is that, at a party held in 2018 at the Naval Military School, several students chanted an anthem of the Blue Division, the same one that young soldiers from the Parachute Brigade base in Paracuellos sang on December 8. del Jarama (Madrid). They can always claim that no one taught them that the Blue Division was a Francoist unit that fought under Hitler’s command.