Spanish Judge Balthasar Garzón has ordered government and religious authorities across Spain to turn over information about those killed at the hands of Francisco Franco’s fascist forces following his 1936 military uprising. Garzón hopes to draw up a comprehensive list of victims in a bid to document human rights abuses outside of the theater of war. There is no official record of how many died on the Republican side during the three-year Civil War, which claimed the lives of some 500,000 Spaniards. More were killed for opposing Franco during his 36-year dictatorship. While the Franco regime honored its own dead, those of the losing side remained buried in unmarked graves across Spain.
Even in the decades following Franco’s death in 1975 there was a tacit agreement among Spaniards not to examine the past, but the last few years have seen a growing movement by families of the victims for exhumation of mass graves dating from the Civil War. The move by Judge Garzon could lead to the creation of a “truth commission” and eventually allow survivors of victims to seek compensation from the Spanish government.
“This is a dream come true—it is great news,” said Emilio Silva, president of the Association for the Recuperation of Historic Memory, who lost his own grandfather in the conflict. “For years this country has been unable to talk about these things, yet there are very many people affected. This is the beginning of a process that will produce results. Wherever [Garzón] pokes around he will find something.” (The Telegraph, Sept. 3)