Civil war graves

The family of the Spanish poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca have dropped their objection to the excavation of his grave. Lorca was executed, along wth a teacher and two trade unionists, by General Francisco Franco’s nationalists at the start of the civil war in 1936.

Judge Baltasar Garzon is considering a petition by two of the families to open a grave presumed to contain the remains of their relatives. The case is symbolic of a widespread desire by many in Spain to come to terms with the civil war and subsequent repression under Franco, although there is still a certain amount of opposition to what some see as a re-opening of old wounds.

Judge Garzon has also asked local government and churches to open their files on the thousands of people who disappeared during the 1936-1939 war, and, in general, under the dictatorship of Franco.

Until very recently, the civil war was not something that was talked about in Spain, certainly not openly, being more regarded as a shameful episode in Spanish history which should never be repeated.

Families of some of the others who were shot alongside Lorca want their relatives’ remains to be exhumed, identified and given a proper burial. Lorca’s family have always resisted the digging up of the grave, but have now relented and say they will not stand in the way of the other families’ desires.

In Málaga, work is in process to identify the many thousands of bodies buried in mass graves in the city. At the San Rafael cemetery, exhumation work began in October 2006 and it was thought that around 2,500 people were buried in mass graves there, but 4,400 bodies have so far been documented.

For many years, local residents were totally unaware of the sheer numbers of people who were taken to the cemetery and summarily executed by the Nationalists. Málaga was occupied by the Nationalist forces in February 1937 and, although the period 1937 to 1939 is considered the most barberous, the executions continued right up until 1951.

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