Current research

May 12, 2009

On the forefront of recent scholarship about the Valley of the Fallen is Fernando Olmeda’s 2009 book, Valle de los Caídos: Una memoria de España (Valley of the Fallen: A Memory of Spain). Olmeda’s stated objective with his book is to provide a glimpse of Spain’s history “without preconceived ideas,” in an effort not to open old wounds, he says, but to heal them. An El mundo book review references the articles of the Law of Historical Memory relevant to Valley; click here for the review, Valle de los Caídos: Una memoria de España



The End of Silence, 2008, is a Swedish documentary.  The filmmakers Martin Jonsson and Pontus Hjorthen, propose to uncover the past “swept under the carpet by a pact of silence.”  Jönsson was a television news reporter and editor at TV4 before working as an investigative journalist from 2003 to today. He has a degree in journalism from Gothenborg and is the founder and editor of philosophical magazine The Nausea 1992-1998. Pontus Hjorthén got is degree in Spanish language and Culture and society of Ancient Rome and Greece at Gothenburg as well. He has worked as a translator for BCT, Babel lingua as well as Bonniers as well as a writer and journalist for many Swedish newspapers. Since 1997, Pontus works as a translator, bricklayer and journalist in Granada. The following link Mari Carmen España–The End of Silence features a 9 minute clip, in which the directors interview an abbot at the Valley of the Fallen about the polemics that now seem to define the memorial. (The End of Silence was produced by:Tussilago, Linnegatan 5, 41304 Göteborg, Sweden, tfn: (+) 46 31 711 7555, fax: (+) 46 31 775 9232, E-mail:, Co-produced by SVT-Göteborg, WestDeutscher Rundfunk.)

The following link El Follonero vs Francisco Franco is a YouTube video clip of a popular late night comedy TV show in Spain, Buenafuerte. In the clip, a regular character on the show, aka El Follonero, travels to the Valley, lightly making fun of Fascist ideals, at one point even teasingly whispering img_2583.JPGto Franco’s grave that gays can now marry one another in Spain. In another clip from the program, actors impersonating gay Falangists dance on the grounds of the Valley, Gay Falangists . The irony here (homosexuality was condemned by the Franco regime) is evidence that Spain has broken its pacto del olvido, that the Spanish people can openly confront the legacy of the national past of war and dictatorship, even making jokes about formerly taboo topics, twisted into comic relief on formerly sacred ground.

Asociación de Descendientes del Exilio – Related bibliography

May 11, 2009

Fabela, Isidro. Diplomáticos de Cárdenas. Madrid: Editorial Trama, 2007.

Martín Casas, Julio and Pedro Carvajal Urquijo. El exilio español (1936-1978). Barcelona: Editorial Planeta, 2002.

Mateos, Abdón. De la guerra civil al exilio. Los republicanos españoles y México: Indalecio Prieto y Lázaro Cardenas. Madrid: Biblioteca Nueva, 2005.

Quiñones, Javier. Sólo una larga espera: Cuentos del exilio republicano español. Palencia: Menos Cuarto, 2006.

Schwarzstein, Dora. Entre Franco y Perón: Memoria e identidad del exilio republicano español en Argentina. Barcelona: Editorial Crítica, 2001.

Carabanchel Today

May 6, 2009


Carabanchel was once a symbol of Franco’s repression. But somewhere along the way, the prison was transformed into a symbol of survival, of sustainability, of endurance. The working class neighborhood surrounding Carabanchel was subject to Franco’s regime, suffering punishments and mandates from the General. During the war, and the years after, the people in the area watched as lines formed of people waiting to visit their family inside. And as the years passed, those lines became queues of 21st century immigrants waiting to legalize their status. As the times changed, the neighborhood and the prison itself changed.


When the prison closed in 1944, it served as housing for other activities. Carabanchel was put to use by marginal groups, graffiti artists, and other residents of the surrounding town. The graffiti at the site was an integral part of its structure, sustaining a dialogue, an emotional link, with the former prison. There was even a rendition of Picasso’s Guernica on one of the walls reading “for a world without bars.” Through its use as a palette for graffiti artists, Carabanchel became an exhibition for the townspeople’s connection to the prison as well as a testament to their perserverance throughout the years of the dictatorship.

When the building was abandoned, its place in history and the collective memory still lived on in the ruins that remained, physical spaces which allowed a visitor to follow the same path as the prisoner did throughout the course of a day. One could walk the same hallways, enter the same mess hall, stand in the same cell. The connection was still alive between Carabanchel and the memory of postwar repression and survival. But when the prison was destroyed in 2008, that “memory site” was in grave danger of being forgotten.


But the people fought. They demanded that the site of Carabanchel be used for social purposes for the betterment of the community, such as a hospital or municipal buildings.  The government is now working with local activists to build a structure to serve the community.  Soon, the site of the prison, the symbolic object of Spain’s recent memory, will become a symbol of hope instead of dictatorship, of sustainability instead of authority. The new building on the site of Carabanchel will be the source through which memory of the war and years afterward flow.