This paper compares diverse cases of secret police in Eastern European with the case of the Spanish political police institutions under Francisco Franco’s dictatorship. In all cases, the secret police performed a "negative" function: repression of real, potential or imaginary enemies. On the other hand, these organizations used this repression to build a specific social reality, as a "positive" instrument of elites that needed organized violence for their purposes of social transformation.This is what seems to differentiate the communist political police agencies from the secret police of the Franco regime. The communist police were a substantial part of the system whereas the Francoist political police represented only an appendage of a repressive regime. This also explains why, unlike in post-Franco Spain, in the post-communist countries the unmasking of the wrongdoings committed by the secret police has become so important. However, new research shows how modern the beginning of Franco’s surveillance system was. These aspects raise questions about the similarities and differences between right-wing and left-wing dictatorships.
José M. Faraldo is a professor at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain), where he was the former Ramón-y-Cajal Researcher from 2009-2015. He received his Ph.D in history with an emphasis on Russian nationalism. After further studies in history and cultural studies in Moscow, Frankfurt/Oder and Poznań, he worked at the European University Viadrina, in Frankfurt/Oder (Germany) from 1997 to 2002. From 2004 to 2008 he was research fellow and project coordinator at the Center of Research on Contemporary History (ZZF) in Potsdam (Germany). His recent publications include: Las redes del terror. Las policías secretas comunistas y su legado, Barcelona 2018; La Revolución rusa: historia y memoria, Madrid 2017; Reconsidering a Lost Intellectual Project. Exiles’ Reflections on Cultural Differences, CSP 2012 (with Carolina Rodríguez-López,eds.). La Europa Clandestina. La Resistencia contra las ocupaciones nazi y soviética (1938-1948), Madrid 2011; Europe, Nation, Communism. Essays on Poland, Frankfurt 2008; Europe in the Eastern Bloc. Imaginations and Discourses, Vienna/Cologne 2008 (with Paulina Gulińska-Jurgiel and Christian Domnitz, Eds.)