Witnesses to War and Exile – General Introduction

May 11, 2009

Finding a living witness to the Spanish Civil War in the 21st century is a rarity. Of those lucky enough to survive the war, many have succumbed to old age. However, surviving civil war witnesses are making themselves and their stories known, including civil war veteran Bibiano Morcillo García. Thanks to the climate in Spain today in which recuperating memory and history of the war is immensely popular, witnesses to war have opportunities to share their stories.

Many families were forced into exile as Franco began to situate himself as dictator and many children were born into exile. Many of these exiles and their children have returned to Spain since Franco’s death in 1975 and are taking part in the recuperation of memory, especially the Association of Descendants of Exile.

General Introduction

May 11, 2009

Article 3 of the 2007 Law of Historical Memory calls for reparations to be given to family members of victims of state repression and assassinations, recognizing on the legislative level the repercussions that persist even today from the atrocities committed during the war and Franco’s dictatorship. Whether they were civilians executed during the war, or political prisoners taken from their cells and killed by the regime during the dictatorship, there are innumerable victims of human rights violations whose families strive to cope with this traumatic past.

Before the law was passed, the Asociación para la Recuperación de la Memoria Plaque recognizing the executions in Almudena Cemetery(http://www.memoriahistorica.org/) began in 2000 with the intent of investigating and exhuming the mass graves holding the bodies of executed prisoners from Franco’s regime. As a part of this movement, several organizations emerged to assist family members trying to find information about their loved ones who died during this era. The Familiares y Amigos de las Víctimas de la Represión Franquista en Madrid (http://www.memoriaylibertad.org/) is an online resource with a database of those who were executed, lists of archives and government agencies which can help in the search for information, and photos and video from recent acts of commemoration. Another organization formed in 2002 called the Asociación de Familiares de Fusilados, Asesinados y Desaparecidos en Navarra en 1936 (Association of Family Members of Those Shot, Assassinated, or “Disappeared” in Navarra in 1936), which also works to recognize the family members of those who were killed during Franco’s military uprising and his dictatorship. Click here for the association’s website.

Marcos Burgos

May 8, 2009

Marcos Burgos in front of wallThere is an inconspicuous wall in the middle of Almudena Cemetery with a tiny framed photo at its center. The photo is of Marcos Burgos Salcedo, the father of Marcos Burgos (in the photo to the left). Burgos Salcedo was a captain in the Republican army during the Spanish Civil War and was executed against that wall in Almudena Cemetery (in the photo above) on July 12, 1939.

Two months before, Marcos had been born. As a child, naturally he asked his mother where his father was. Her response was always that his father died during the war; she knew exactly how his father died, but shared nothing of her husband’s execution or involvement in the Republican army, because of her fear of reprisal under Franco’s dicatorship. Read the rest of this entry »

Bibiano Morcillo: A Veteran’s Story

April 17, 2009

Bibiano Morcillo García is a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, 94 years old at the time of our March 2009 interview with him. Our GEFREMA tour guide and GEFREMA president, Antonio Morcillo, arranged for us to meet and interview his father. On March 9, 2009, Bibiano shared with us his amazing story as a 21 year-old soldier in the Spanish army during the first moments of civil war in Madrid.

Bibiano’s Story Read the rest of this entry »

Almudena Cemetery

March 8, 2009

Marcos Burgos will be turning 70 years old this May and he never knew his father. According to his wife, he talks often of his father, but quickly becomes overcome with emotion. We saw this emotion first-hand today when we visited Almudena Cemetery and saw the wall against which his father was executed.We met Marcos and his wife outside the cemetery and entered, stopping by the capilla (chapel) and a small gravesite Read the rest of this entry »