Rizal and Unamuno. The October 1936 Incident at the Universidad de Salamanca.

Jose Rizal (1861-1896) & Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936)

In his "Epilogo" for Jose Rizal's biography written by Wenceslao E. Retana, Spanish poet/philosopher Miguel de Unamuno mentioned about the possibility of him having seen Rizal, that their paths must have crossed each other many times in the Universidad Central de Madrid, where both have been students. Unamuno wrote: 

"Rizal estudió Filosofía y Letras en Madrid por los mismos años en que estudiaba yo en la misma Facultad, aunque él estaba acabándola cuando yo la empezaba. Debí de haber visto más de una vez al tagalo en los vulgarismos claustros de la Universidad Central, debí de haberme cruzado más de una vez con él mientras soñábamos Rizal en sus Filipinas y yo en mi Vasconia.”

October 1936 Incident at Universidad de Salamanca

On October 12, 1936, in a gathering to celebrate "Dia de la Raza" inside the walls of the Universidad de Salamanca, Unamuno then rector of the said university, found himself in a heated debate against a formidable front of Spanish Falangists, supporters of Gen, Francisco Franco among them were former Spanish Army officer José Millán-Astray y Terreros, Falangist writer José María Pemán, included also was the wife of Francisco Franco. The confrontation started after a speech of the Falangist, praising Fascism as the only hope of Spain. To this, Unamuno rose to his feet, gave an impassioned speech rebuking José Millán-Astray and his group. In that speech, he also mentioned Jose Rizal. 

According to one account of the incident, Unamuno prepared a speech for the gathering. But when he found out that this event will be graced by Falangists and when statements came praising the movement, Unamuno suddenly improvised and added the praise to Rizal. Gen. Jose Millan Astray suddenly interrupted him and shouted.... "puedo hablar?..puedo hablar?..(can I speak,, can I speak..) it was interpreted as an insult to Millan Astray because he fought in the Philippines serving the Spanish forces during the 1896 revolution and one of the prominent victims of the Spanish military was Rizal; whom they sentenced with a firing squad. But Jose Millan Astray could not interrupt Unamuno. When the general noticed that he could not get the attention of Unamuno , he then shouted these words that became famous: "¡Muera la intelectualidad traidora! (death to the traitorous intellectuality), probably a shout of threat against intellectuals, support us or else...  A prelude of how things will be for the intelligentsia in Francoist Spain?

The gathering was becoming unruly, Unamuno decided to leave, and while heading outside the halls, there were still shouts of insults and threat from the Falangist group. He had to be escorted out by people that includes Franco's wife. Ten days later, Franco removed him as rector of the Universidad de Salamanca. Unamuno died the last day of that year, 31. December 1936.

Unamuno being escorted out of the halls of the Universidad de Salamanca. October 12 1936.

Francisco Franco with Jose Millan Astray


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