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Ernesto Giménez Caballero
Ernesto Giménez Caballero
2 August 1899
|Died||15 May 1988 (aged 88)|
|Alma mater||Complutense University of Madrid, University of Strasbourg|
|Known for||Film maker, polemicist|
|Genio de España, La Nueva Catolicidad|
|Political party||Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las JONS|
Ernesto Giménez Caballero (2 August 1899 in Madrid – 14 May 1988 in Madrid), also known as Gecé, was a Spanish writer, film director, diplomat, and pioneer of Falangism. His work has been categorized as being part of the Surrealist movement, while Stanley G. Payne has described him as the Spanish Gabriele d'Annunzio.
Educated at the Complutense University of Madrid and to doctorate level at the University of Strasbourg, he initially espoused socialism. Influenced by José Ortega y Gasset's critique of democracy, however, he became a nationalist in the vein of Miguel de Unamuno.
He performed his military service in Spanish Morocco, although his 1923 book on the experience, Notas Marruecas de un Soldado, which was influenced by Charles Maurras, caused such outrage amongst the generals that he was imprisoned for a time before being pardoned by General and Dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera.
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As literary critic for El Sol he went to Italy in 1928 and struck up friendships with such fascist thinkers as Giuseppe Bottai, Giovanni Gentile, Curzio Malaparte, and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, eventually becoming an adherent of fascist beliefs himself.
Having had already made a name for himself as an aesthetic writer, he announced his conversion to fascism in 1929 in an article in La Gaceta Literaria, a journal he had founded in 1927. Dubbed the "Spanish d'Annunzio", his conversion saw him cut off from Spain's high culture which was dominated by Liberals, becoming what he described as "a literary Robinson Crusoe".
Being married to an Italian, daughter of the Italian Consul at Strasburg, Giménez Caballero's fascism was largely derived from the Italian model of fascism whilst also including an international dimension in which he saw fascism as the future of the Latin Roman Catholic world. He had little sympathy for National Socialism, which he saw as too Protestant and northern, even going so far as foreseeing war between fascism and national socialism.
Writing extensively about the decadence of modern society and fascism in his book 1932 Genio de España, Giménez Caballero called for a re-establishment of the Spanish Empire to its former glory under a Mussolini-led Latin union. His follow-up, La Nueva Catolicidad, underlined his commitment to Roman Catholicism within a fascist framework.
Gimenez Caballero declared his support for the plans of Ramiro Ledesma Ramos and became involved in his Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista. However the writer was no political organizer and generally left control of the movement to Ledesma. He went on to join the Falange Española y de las JONS and served on the council of the movement. However he was at odds with many of the ideas of José Antonio Primo de Rivera, son of his former redeemer from jail, General Miguel Primo de Rivera. He was expelled from the Falange in 1936 after he began to work with the Mallorca banker Juan March Ordinas in the Partido Español de Patrones y Empresarios. Later readmitted to the Falange, he fled to Italy during the Spanish Civil War, but from abroad encouraged Francisco Franco to merge the Falangists with the Carlists. He was rewarded for his encouragement with the post of Vice-Secretary for National Education in Franco's inaugural cabinet.
One of the most bizarre of Giménez Caballero's actions was perhaps his unsuccessful attempt to marry Primo de Rivera's sister, Pilar, to Adolf Hitler, as a way to "soften" and "catholicize" the latter.
After the Spanish Civil War he spent most of his time abroad, holding positions in the Spanish embassies in Paraguay and Brazil before being appointed ambassador to Paraguay in 1958, a position he held for 14 years. In later life he continued as a writer, winning his final writing prize, Premio Espejo de España, for his work Retratos españoles (bastante parecidos) in 1985 whilst also directing a series of documentary films.