The debate at Salamanca University took place in front of Carmen Polo de Franco, the wife of the leader of the Nationalists, General Francisco Franco.
The content of
the debate is now disputed, but it is generally accepted that Unamuno, the
Basque rector of the university, told the nationalist audience that while they
would eventually conquer Spain by brute force, their victory would not have
convinced everyone of their cause: "You will win, but you will not
An enraged Astray, the officer who founded the Spanish Foreign Legion, is said to have denounced Unamuno and called for the "death to all intellectuals".
Known as "Glorioso Mutilado" because of war wounds which claimed one of his eyes and an arm, Astray uttered his famous phrase "Viva La Muerte!"
A Spanish-Argentinian film on Unamuno at the time of the military rebellion that led to the Spanish Civil War was released in 2019. It culminates in the debate involving Unamuno and Astray.
© Adeyinka Makinde (2022).
Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.