The Spanish government on Thursday exhumed the remains of the dictator Francisco Franco, who died in 1975, from a mausoleum in the Valley of the Fallen near Madrid and took them to a city cemetery where Franco’s wife is buried. It may give Spain’s caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who is fighting for re-election, a boost in the polls, but it won’t really put anything right.

Franco’s old resting place was probably the most ostentatious of any 20th-century tyrant’s in Europe. The mausoleum is one of the world’s biggest Catholic basilicas, located at the foot of a hill crowned with a 15m granite cross. Franco himself planned the memorial to honour the fallen, on his side, in the 1930s Spanish civil war, which he won with the help of Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy. While the American, French and British governments refused to intervene, the Soviet Union backed the leftist Republicans who fought Franco. Pope Pius XI designated Franco’s war a crusade and his successor,...

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