Memory and History: Transforming the Narrative of the Spanish Civil War and Francoist Repression

About the Project

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Background

General Francisco Franco, together with other generals and the military support of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, headed a coup d’état in 1936 that interrupted the democratically elected government of the Second Republic (1931-1936). Since the coup d’état faced stiff opposition from many loyalists to the Republic, it gave rise to a civil war that lasted from 1936 to 1939. After the victory of the rebellious generals, Franco took power and inaugurated the longest dictatorship in the history of Europe (1939-1975).

In the seventy years since the end of the Spanish Civil War scholars of the period have studied the conflict from several perspectives using different methodologies. Although some of these studies refer to the political repression implemented by Franco and the Falange (the Spanish Fascist Party), the magnitude and the scope of the repression is not yet fully documented. This absence in the historical record is the result of a “pact of silence” established by the Spanish policymakers in charge of the transition to democracy. The legal expression of this “pact of silence” was the Amnesty Law of 1977. This law grated amnesty to political prisoners, but also explicitly prohibited any legal proceedings against perpetrators of human rights violations as well. It also blocked the formation of Truth Commissions as was common in other post-dictatorial societies, such as in Argentina, Chile, and South Africa. In addition, during the transition to democracy, Francoist officials destroyed thousands of written documents pertaining to the implementation of repression both during the war and the dictatorship.

Since the year 2000 an increasing number of human rights organizations have attempted to reverse this process of amnesia and impunity through the exhumation of mass graves and other initiatives. The Spanish Civil War Memory Project seek to join forces with these organizations in order to create an audiovisual record with the testimonies of those who suffered and resisted the systematic violence implemented by the Francoist regime. As such, it aspires to constitute itself both as an archive of the repression and as an archive of the multiple political cultures (communism, anarchism, socialism, republicanism, etc.) that opposed the fascist politics of Francoism.

Objectives

Accordingly, the objectives of the archive are the following:

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