Foreign journalists allowed to entered nationalist Spain soon discovered to their amazement that a hysterical relationship with the truth existed there. Anyone who doubted an invention  of nationalist propaganda, however preposterous, was suspected of being a secret “red”. The American journalist Virginia Cowles, who had just been in republican Spain, discovered in Salamanca that people were eager to ask how things were in Madrid, but refused to believe anything which did not accord with their own grotesque imaginings. The degree of political self-hypnosis she encountered was so strong that “it was almost a mental disease”. When she told her questioners that bodies were not piled in the gutters and left to rot, as they had been told, and that militiamen had not been feeding right-wing prisoners to the animals in the zoo, they instantly assumed that she must be a red herself.

Antony Beevor, “The Battle for Spain”.

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