German official, Lothar Lahn: Spain’s King knew of coup plot

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SPAIN’S king allegedly “understood and possibly sympathised” with plotters behind the attempted coup d’état of February 1981.

This, at least, was the view of Lothar Lahn, at that time Germany’s ambassador in Madrid, claimed German daily, Der Spiegel.

His opinion radically opposes Spain’s perception of the coup, popularly known as 23-F, whose failure is directly attributed to King Juan Carlos’s intervention.

But according to Lahn, a Spanish speaker, the King told him during a private meeting in March 1981 that the plotters “only wanted what we all want: restored order, discipline, safety and tranquillity.”

The King intended to intercede with the government and military judges on behalf of Antonio Tejero and the other conspirators to ensure that “nothing too bad” happened to them, Lahn reported to Bonn. Juan Carlos showed neither indignation nor repulsion, wrote Lahn, who expressed surprise at the King’s reaction to the plot. Spain’s head of state instead blamed the attempted coup on the then president, Adolfo Suarez, for snubbing the Army.

The King, always according to Lahn, said he had warned Suarez about the Army which eventually took matters into its own hands. But he was allegedly disappointed by the involvement of General Alfonso Armada, one of his tutors and later his secretary.

He hoped that the coup attempt would be forgotten as soon as possible and was convinced that there would be no more similar episodes, Juan Carlos supposedly told Lahn.

The entire contents of Lahn’s cable to the German government will be published later this month, but the Zarzuela has already been quick to respond.

It was necessary to look at the reasons for Lahn’s cable and examine earlier and later despatches to establish if he changed his mind, maintained a royal household statement.

“The King’s role in defending the Constitution and democracy on behalf of Spanish society is clear,” it stated.

By Linda Hall

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