BackgroundGeneral 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.
ObjectivesAccordingly, the objectives of the archive are the following:
- Create a safe institutional space in order to validate the experiences of those who survived the violence implemented by the Fascist forces during the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent dictatorship.
- Create and preserve an oral record of significant events pertaining to the Spanish Civil War and the Francoist repression, understanding that the oral stories of these victims, militants, survivors, and witnesses constitute an important mode of historical knowledge.
- Record and preserve the audiovisual dimension of these historical testimonies. The audiovisual component of the archive is essential, because it shows the non-verbal dimension of a traumatic testimony. By filming the testimonies we have access to body language, silences, pauses, and other non-verbal elements. These elements provide important information about the affective dimension of the testimony. Furthermore, the images of the testimony show the process of memory in the making, as an open process rather than as a closed product.
- Make the record available online to educate future generations about the traumatic events that took place in Spain during this historical period. In this sense, the archive attempts to recover and to disseminate the multiple political legacies of the men and women who defended Spain's first democracy and opposed the Francoist dictatorship.