Sociedad Estatal de Conmemoraciones Culturales

May 12, 2009

The Sociedad Estatal de Conmemoraciones Culturales, within the auspices of Spain´s Ministry of Culture, organizes cultural exhibitions and events to commemorate a vast spectrum of Spanish cultural topics, including those related to the II Republic, the Spanish Civil War, 1939 exile, and the postwar period. For more information on the SECC and its exhibitions, or to contact the organization, visit their website here.

“Las Presas de Franco”

May 12, 2009

The “Presas de Franco” exhibition was held at the Centro Cultural Conde Duque in Madrid from March 4 to May 9, 2009. For more information click here.

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.

Archivo de Escrituras Cotidianas

May 11, 2009

The Archivo de Escrituras Cotidianas (Archive of Everyday Writings) in Alcalá de Henares is a part of the Red de Archivos e Investigadores de la Escritura Popular (Network of Archives and Investigators of Popular Writing) which is a group of six archives across Spain that work together to conserve and study personal documents and materials from Spanish history in order to bring to light the importance of the collective memory of the people. This organization aims to recuperate the history that has been ignored by historians who only study and collect official records. While the official history is an important part of the story, these archives look to complete the historical record with personal materials that represent an essential part of the history of Spain that has never been written down and recorded. These historians also emphasize that personal testimonies show a different view of the past and create a history of peoples’ experiences, as opposed to one of just facts. Sample document from archive

More specifically, the Archivo de Escrituras Cotidianas was founded in 2004 in the Department of History and Philosophy at the University of Alcalá de Henares through the funding of the Interdisciplinary Seminary of Studies of Written Culture (SIECE). The objectives of this research center are to conserve, study, and publish the history of the common people that would otherwise be lost forever in personal records. Included in this archive’s growing collection of materials are personal letters, war-time diaries, school notebooks, songs, poetry, and much more. This archive also aims to develop an interest in this history among the younger generations by creating educational materials for them to use in their own studies of this personal history. The historians and archivists at the university also organize publications, expositions, conferences and round tables as a means to share their research and promote the significance of the common people’s everyday writings in the process of recuperating memory. Source: Presentation Booklet from the Red de Archivos e Investigadores de la Literatura Popular which can be found here.

Current Research

May 11, 2009

Fernández, Álvarez and José Ignacio. Memoria y trauma en los testimonios de la represión franquista. Barcelona: Anthropos, 2007.

Gil Pecharroman, Julio. Con permiso de la autoridad: La España de Franco (1939-1975). Madrid: Temas de hoy, 2008.

La memoria de los olvidados: Un debate sobre el silencio de la represión franquista. Valladolid: Ambito, 2004.

Santos, Julia. Víctimas de la guerra civil. Madrid: Temas de hoy, 2004.

Sierra Blas, Verónica. Palabras huérfanas: Los niños exiliados en la guerra civil. Madrid: Taurus Editorial, 2009.

Witnesses to War and Exile – Current Research

May 11, 2009

Duarte, Ángel. El otoño de un ideal: Los valores del republicanismo español y su declive en el exilio de 1939. Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 2009.

Herrmann, Gina. “The Witness in the Classroom: Survivor Oral Histories of the Spanish Civil War.” Teaching Representations of the Spanish Civil War. Ed. Noel Valis. New York: MLA, 2007. 385-397.

Juan, Nana De. La generación del silencio. Barcelona: Debate, 2009.

Silvia Mistral, José. Exodo: Diario de una refugiada española. Barcelona: Icaria, 2009.

General Introduction

May 11, 2009

Valley of the Fallen, inaugurated by Francisco Franco in 1959, rests in the Cuelgamuros Valley outside of Madrid. Its structure boasts of a cross 150 m high, a crypt 262 m into the mountain, and a dome 33 m in diameter. Several common graves, both of Republican and Nationalist soldiers, lie beside the bodies of Franco and the founder of the Falange, José Antonio Primo de Rivera. Catholic Masses take place here every Sunday as there is a Benedictine Abbey on the other side of the cross as the entrance to the crypt.



The Valley is dedicated to everyone who died in the Spanish Civil War, but in reality, the monument is more one-sided than it claims to be. It is covered in Falangist symbols and slogans, and is the final resting place of two of the greatest champions of Nationalist Spain. Every November 20th before the Law of Historical Memory was enacted, there were memorial celebrations commemorating the deaths of these two leaders.

The Law of Historical Memory seeks–however polemically– to address the ideological bias present in this place of remembrance, a site ostensibly constructed in the name of all the war´s fallen. No longer are the celebrations of November 20th allowed, nor are any pro-Franco symbols or flags. For many observers, these measures–rather than resolving ideological tensions–have fanned the flames of controversy and heightened the debate that surrounds the Valley of the Fallen as a long-contested site of national memory .

Almudena Cemetery – Bibliography

May 11, 2009

Alvarez, Miguel. Cementerios de Madrid. Memoria sepulcral de la ciudad. Madrid: Ediciones la librería, 2006.

Trece Rosas Rojas

Cuevas, Tomasa y Mary E. Giles. Prison of Women: Testimonies of War and Resistance in Spain, 1939-1975. Trans. Mary E. Giles. New York: SUNY Press, 1998.

Fonseca, Carlos. Trece rosas rojas. Madrid: Temas de hoy, 2008.

Fundación Trece Rosas. 19 Oct. 2008. <>.

García, Jorge y Fidel Martínez. “Ballad of Ventas Prison.” Trans. Anna Kushner. Words Without Borders: The Online Magazine for International Literature.

Hernández Holgado, Fernando. “Las trece rosas, Agosto de 1939: Un diálogo entre el documento y la fuente oral.” Las prisiones franquistas. 32-47. <>.

Almudena Cemetery – General Introduction

May 11, 2009

Chapel at Almudena CemeteryThe size of Almudena Cemetery, the largest cemetery in Madrid, perfectly reflects the scope of its contents, containing more graves than there are citizens in the city. However, there is definite evidence of who were the victors and losers of the Spanish Civil War, something Francisco Franco made well-known throughout his dictatorship.

There are several imposing monuments to commemorate the Nationalist dead. There is a monument to the División Azul, those Francoist soldiers sent to fight for Hitler against Russia in World War II. The visitor will also find  the graves of members of the German Condor Legion, the division that bombed the town of Guernica in 1937, inciting Pablo Picasso to paint his famous Guernica for the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris.

The commemorations to the Republican dead are modest, including the site of the deaths of the “13 rosas rojas.” These 13 young women were incarcerated shortly after the end of the civil war for their involvement with the Communist Party of Spain (the PCE) or the Unified Socialist Youth (JSU). They were pulled from Ventas Prison in the middle of the night and executed by firing squad in Almudena Cemetery in August of 1939. The site, a simple wall, is marked by several plaques, including one that that says, “They gave their lives here for liberty and democracy the 5th of August, 1939.”

Also in Almudena, one can find the grave of La Pasionaria, Dolores Ibárruri, who was a champion of workers’ and women’s rights through her positions in the Republican government and Communist party. Madrid fended off the three year siege by Nationalist forces with the help of Ibárruri’s famous cry “No pasarán!” (“They shall not pass!”). After the war, Ibárruri went on to become Secretary General and then President of the PCE. Also, after Franco’s death in 1975, she was appointed to the Spanish government as a representative of the Asturias electoral district.

These commemorations in Almudena Cemetery serve as an interesting counterpart to the veneration for Franco and his fallen at Valle de los Caídos, since the size of the cross alone physically dwarfs the commemoration for fallen Republican soldiers, which in one instance consists of a single photo against a cemetery wall.