Old Count Romanones is one of the few Spanish grandees with the courage of their convictions. Perhaps the only one. He did not desert the sinking ship of Bourbon dynasty. When the queen followed Alfonso into exile, he was the only aristocrat on the railroad platform to bid her farewell. Which took guts at that moment. When Alfonso was tried in absentio by the Cortes, Count Romanones was the only Right deputy who spoke up for the deposed monarch.
His place in the public mind of Spain may be estimated from the fact that neither his liberty nor his Madrid palace nor his lands were taken away from him despite such Bourbon gestures in the face of Republican sentiment.
Short, fat, crippled in one log so that he limps grotesquely, with an enormous nose in an enormous bald head, there is a gargoyle quality in the man’s physical make-up. He showed me through many chambers in his musty palace one afternoon in Madrid. Portraits of ancestors with Romanones noses watched our progress. We talked of many things and came, inevitably, to the Jews. Before going to Spain I had spent a few weeks in Germany and the old count was interested to know how the Jewish problem was working out there.
GERMANY AND OLD SPAIN
“After all,” I baited him mildly, “the Nazis are only trying to do today what your ancestors did in 1492 when they drove out the Jews.”
“True,” he replied, “quite true. And for the same reason, it seems to me. Spain at that time was beginning to feel itself a national entity. It could not brook alien elements. By reason of their racial history the Jews can never be true nationals. Their sympathies and their world outlook are international, no matter how hard they try to merge themselves with the majority race and no matter how they may protest their patriotism.
“Yes, I imagine that Germany today is in a state of mind not unlike ours in 1492…. The external excuse, religious in one case and racial in the other, is not so important. It is national unity that is involved.”
“Well,” I interposed, “you Spaniards have had more than five centuries to think it over. What do you think of Spain’s policy in expelling the Jew?”
REICH POLICY A BLUNDER
“I think that from the economic point of view it was a great disaster for my country,” the monarchist replied. “We’re still staggering from the blow. Politically it was understandable, maybe it had to happen. But it deprived my country of Jewish brains and Jewish commercial genius. We are still paying the price for that blunder. In a way it marked the beginning of the end for Spain as a world power.”
He then went on to draw the German parallel:
“I am sure Germany in the long run will realize that it has made the same sort of blunder. Maybe a bigger one. In the first place, this is a new world. Things which could be done with relative impunity and good grace in the Fifteenth Century cannot be done in