Because of Arab protests, Spain's state-controlled television has indefinitely postponed showing the American-produced series "Holocaust," Spanish government and television sources said.
The American production, which depicts the massacre of Jews in Nazi concentration camps, was recently shown in West Germany where it sparked some controversy. It is to be telecast in France in the near future.
Thousands of Spaniards, mostly Republicans, Socialists and Communists who fled to France after the 1936-39 civil war, were sent to concentration camps by Nazi and French officials. An estimated 10,000 Spaniards perished in Buchenwald concentration camp. King Juan Carlos paid homage to Spanish victims of the Nazis during a visit to the camp.
Arab nations wield unusual influence in Spain, at least partly because this country is dependent on Arab oil supplies and on Arab purchases of Spanish goods. Spain has steadfastly refused to recognize Israel despite increase official tolerance toward Jews and contacts with Israeli officials.
The behind-the-scenes Madrid dispute over "Holocaust" -- which was bought by government television and dubbed into Spanish -- began after American author Leon Uris' "QB VII" was shown here. "QB VII" is a story about a Jewish writer and a Nazi torturer in a World War II concentration camp.
Spanish officials said the program led to Arab displomatic protests, that "QB VII" was a work of imagination and "too one-sided." Arab diplomats reportedly leveled the same charge against "Holocaust, saying it was "fiction" that would arouse sympathy for Israel. As a result, Spanish television officials were pressured into shelving the NBS-produced special, sources said.
Another factor influencing the "Holocaust" decision, according to officials, is that the program will raise questions here and abroad about a number of German and European Nazis who found refuge, protection and jobs in Spain. They have the support of military officers who fought alongside Hitler's forces against the Soviet Union.
The late dictator Francisco Franco, who sided with the Axis powers in World War II because of their support during the 1936-39 civil war in Spain, gave asylum to prominent European Nazis after their defeat.
A Spanish official said that the showing of "Holocaust" could "open a divisive debate" in Spain on what to do about former Nazis living in Spain, embarrass the "government, which has enough problems, and strain our relations with the Arabs."
There are deeper issues, said a Roman Catholic priest who saw "Holocaust" in the United States.
"The program may lead to a demand for answers on the role of Spain and the Spanish church during the world war on the Nazi extermination of Jews, Catholics and Spanish exiles," he said.