The lives of hundreds of thousands of people were devastated by the Spanish Civil War. Many of these individuals were buried in mass graves, highlighting the tragic consequences of the conflict. Recently, there has been a growing interest in exhuming these victims of fascism and identifying the individuals who sacrificed all for the republican cause. Recounting these stories is an essential step towards bringing closure to the victims' families and acknowledging the atrocities committed during the Franco regime. The 2010 interview with Mercedes Iglesias Serrano sheds light on the tragic story of her grandfather's disappearance in 1936. Serrano and her siblings are eager to locate their grandfather's remains, believed to be in Monumento, one of the estimated 2,600 mass graves in San Fernando Cemetery, Seville. While the city council has promised to excavate Monumento in the 2023 budget, the exhumation process is challenging and controversial. The story of Serrano's grandfather is just one of the many that illustrate the complexities and controversies surrounding the Spanish Civil War.
The Francoist regime's use of the Pact of Silence is a highly controversial topic. By preventing people from discussing the acts of brutality committed during the regime, the Pact helped to maintain the regime's power. Mercedes Iglesias's family is a poignant example of the consequences of the Pact's enforcement. Her grandfather, José Serrano Vela, was taken away, beaten so brutally that his eyes came out, and was killed in 1936. Despite her grandmother's account that the fascists killed him, Iglesias never learned much about it when she was young, and her mother was too afraid to speak about it. Iglesias is searching for her grandfather's remains. The challenges and controversies surrounding the exhumation process are illustrated by the Monumento, one of the 2,600 mass graves in San Fernando Cemetery, Seville. Serrano and her siblings are eager to locate their grandfather's remains, believed in the Monumento.
Mercedes Iglesias Serrano's pursuit to locate her grandfather, who was also a victim of the Spanish Civil War, is just one of many stories of families searching for closure and justice. The Francoist regime's use of the Pact of Silence to prevent discussion of savagery of the Franco regime has had far-reaching consequences, with many families left in the dark about the fate of their loved ones. José Serrano Vela, Iglesias's grandfather, was brutally beaten and killed in 1936, a victim of the regime's violence. Despite the passage of time, Iglesias and her siblings are still searching for their grandfather's remains. The excavation process is fraught with challenges and controversies, illustrated by the Monumento, one of the largest mass graves in the cemetery. The search for justice and closure for the victims and their families continues as the Spanish government attempts to address the crimes against humanity committed during the rule of Franco through legislation such as the Democratic Memory Law. However, the law's future is uncertain, and its repeal could derail efforts to bring closure to families like the Serrano’s. As Spain continues to confront the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, the experiences of families such as the Serranos are a poignant reminder of the devastating impact of the Franco regime.
The Francoist regime's implementation of the Pact of Silence has left many families unaware of the fate of their loved ones. As such, exhumation is critical in recognizing the war crimes committed during the rule of Franco and providing historical justice. The Monumento, which happens to be one of the most significant mass graves located in the San Fernando Cemetery in Seville, serves as a poignant example of the controversies and challenges that the excavation process presents. Even though the Spanish government has taken measures to address the regime's legacy, for instance, the Democratic Memory Law, its fate remains uncertain. Its possible repeal could derail attempts to offer closure to families like the Serranos. As Spain grapples with the Spanish Civil War legacy, the Serranos' story is a stark reminder of the ongoing struggle for emotional resolution and the importance of confronting the past to establish a more equitable and fair society in the present and future.
The Spanish Civil War devastated hundreds of thousands of people, with many individuals buried in mass graves, including an estimated 130,000 in unidentified locations throughout Spain. Of these victims, 90,000 were shot during the war, and 40,000 in the post-war period. Many families like Mercedes Iglesias Seranno have recently made efforts to exhume these victims and identify them so they can providing closure to their families while acknowledging the atrocities committed during the Franco regime. Despite the account that fascists killed him, Iglesias never learned much about it when she was young due to the Francoist regime's Pact of Silence. The exhumation process is challenging and controversial, and the story of Serrano's grandfather illustrates the complexities surrounding the Spanish Civil War. Despite the Spanish government's efforts to address the regime's legacy, legislation such as the Democratic Memory Law remains uncertain. Families like the Serranos exemplify the ongoing struggle for emotional resolution and the importance of confronting the past to establish a more equitable and fair society in the present and future.
The exhumation of victims buried in Spanish mass graves is essential for acknowledging the atrocities committed during the Franco regime and providing closure to their families. Despite the estimated 130,000 victims buried in unidentified locations throughout Spain, the lack of DNA analysis has only identified 0.2% in the last 20 years. However, recovering approximately 20,000 individuals from the mass graves that still need to be exhumed is possible. Institutional support could genetically identify as few as 5,000 to as many as 7,000 individuals. The Monumento, one of the largest mass graves in the San Fernando Cemetery in Seville, illustrates the controversies and challenges of the exhumation process. Families like the Serranos continue to search for closure and justice, exemplifying the ongoing struggle for emotional resolution and the importance of confronting the past to establish a more equitable and fair society in the present and future. Despite the uncertain future of the Democratic Memory Law and its potential repeal, Spain must continue to address the regime's legacy to move forward.
Lorraine Williamson, “Seville Plans to Open the Largest Mass Grave in Western Europe,” InSpain.news, January 21, 2023, https://inspain.news/seville-plans-to-open-the-largest-mass-grave-in-western-europe/.
Luis Martín Cabrera, “Testimony of Mercedes Iglesias Serrano,” UC San Diego Library | Digital Collections, accessed April 10, 2023, https://library.ucsd.edu/dc/object/bb7987609b.
“Making Amends: Can Spain's Historical Memory Law Truly Provide Reparation for the Francoist Regime?,” February 16, 2022. https://www.theverdictonline.org/post/making-amends.
Serrulla, F. and F. Etxeberria. "Recommendations regarding the official processes of exhumation and forensic investigation of the mass graves from the Spanish Civil War and the dictatorship." In Democratic Memory. Mass graves and exhumations. Exhumations from the Spanish Civil War and the Francoist Dictatorship 2000-2019. The Ministry of the Presidency Technical General Secretariat edited the current status and future recommendations. Publishing Center. Madrid: Ministry of the Presidency Technical General Secretariat, 2020. Accessed April 19, 2023. https://www.mpr.gob.es/memoriademocratica/notas-informativas/Documents/Exhumaciones_Guerra_Civil_accesible_BAJA.pdf.
“Spain Discovers Two Mass Graves of Civil War Victims in Belchite .” euronews, October 25, 2021. https://www.euronews.com/2021/10/25/spain-discovers-two-mass-graves-of-civil-war-victims-in-belchite#:~:text=According%20to%20experts%20and%20memory,in%20the%20post%2Dwar%20period.