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CARRETERO: [00:00:00] Well, I started, I was born in Barcelona because of life circumstances. My father was an anarchist and when they threw the--, the king got married, Alfonso XIII’s father, it was my father, they came at him like a gang and since he was an anarchist and he had thrown the bomb, they chased him and he fled to Barcelona, which is why I was born there. I was there for 2 years, and when I was 2 they brought us here. I was on my way here and we already started to struggle with life. My father died when I was 6. My-- my grandparents picked us up and we went through difficult times. I started going to school at 6 years old, but even though I was going to school, I wouldn’t study because I saw the needs of my house. Already from a very young age I saw the necessities. So, my teacher, when she no longer had a maid--, she only had one maid left, wants me to run errands, wash her pots and pans. Concha Carretero here offered her services right away so that she could earn 2 reales and a sandwich of bread and chocolate. And that’s how it began, because as you see, I already began to see life up close and the great social injustices. Then, well, we became independent, we went to live in Tetuan and went through difficult times. My mother fell ill, and we had to struggle with life, the three remaining siblings, my brother Pepe, who was 9 years old when my father died, the little one who was 15 months old, and me, who was 6 years old. And we started to struggle with life and to see everything, all the injustices. And then, when they put me to work as a babysitter, to make money to bring home, that’s where we started.
DAVIS: [00:02:02] In what year was that?
CARRETERO: [00:02:02] Well, then I was 10 years old and 11 years old. When I was 11, I was selling churros, which I ate half of [laughing], and then I started babysitting in houses. And then at 14 years old, well, one day I go to a dance, which at home they wouldn’t allow, but I snuck out and a boy took me out to dance, a boy took me out to dance, and he said to me, “I’ll walk you home.” “Well, come with me,” and he accompanied me from Cuatro Caminos to Chamberí, as we lived in the plaza, the church, and along the way, well, we began to talk about many things, and the next day, 2 or 3 days, he says “How do you see life?” “Well, I see that in life there is a very great social injustice.” I say that the rich have a lot, that the rich can study. My brothers can’t study. They are very intelligent, but there are no opportunities to study. We have to be working because my brother Pepe was already working at the college for masons. I say, “And they have to -- we have to work to take our lives somewhere, to earn a living, and the rich have it all. That’s not fair.” And then, “No,” he says, “but that can be fixed.” But before that we had -- my brother had organized a group at home, a group of 40, 20 boys and 20 girls, and we had an artistic group that was doing plays, rondalla and playing guitar, and things like that. And there were, we had meetings. And in the meeting, my brother, who was very, very much a leader and a great speaker, my brother Pepe, well he would give a political talk to the people, he was already getting us into politics, but I refused to tell the other boy, because, I mean, I don’t know how he’s going to understand-- how he thinks and because we kept it all secret, because I’m talking to you about the 1930s. I’m talking about the 1930s and all of that was illegal.
DAVIS: [00:04:18] During the Republic or during the war?
CARRETERO: [00:04:22] I’m talking about before the Republic, during the Republic and before the war. Then he says, “Well, I have a group that we are organizing to go against what you’re talking about, about social injustice.” I say, “You don’t say! What’s that group called?” “Well, this group is called the MAOC,” which was Milicias Antifascistas Obreras y Campesinas. I say, “Well, all right,” I say, “what do you have to do to get in there?” He says, “Well, you sign up.” I say, “Oh, then sign me up.” He says, “Well, tomorrow I’ll sign you up,” and he signed me up and I started putting up posters in the street, selling the newspaper Juventud and La Hora [La Hora: diario de la juventud], and at the time, selling it, then starting to fight. Apart from those who were already fighting in my house with other groups. And from there, we started. But that group fell apart, it fell apart that evening, and became JC, Juventudes Comunistas, and I became a member of the Juventudes Comunistas when I was 14. In 1936 the Juventudes Socialistas and the Juventudes Comunistas unified, which became JSU [Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas]. The one that I love with all my soul and to which we have given our lives, the lives of many, and people have supported us, and I would continue to support the JSU [Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas]. Because there’s no other-- there is no other youth as beautiful as that of solidarity with all that there may be of the beautiful and the good. Here is when the war begins, when we are already with the JSU [Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas], because the war is coming, they mobilize, they send me to organize with the father of Marcelino, pan y vino [The Miracle of Marcelino], Asquerino Calvo, who was from the northern sector, and I belonged to Radio 9 from the northern sector and so he sent me to Cuatro Caminos to organize workshops to make clothes for the soldiers. The war was already here. [phone rings] Come on, man! [recording paused] And we started organizing clothing workshops for the soldiers. They made me responsible for the jersey shops, because I was very good at knitting. And I organized a workshop with 100 women who made 50 sweaters a day and I was responsible for that. But even the needle unions centralized those and it became, that is, I was sent to lead the Pioneros. The Pioneros were the children who were, their fathers at the front, their mothers at work, and those children were loose on the street. So, I set up nurseries. We started to learn how to teach school so we could organize all those children, have them collected and give them classes in general culture, culture, exercise and all that stuff. But then my brother says that, around the year, in 1938 my brother says he wants to get married, well, that was okay with me. Ultimately, I went to the Comité Provincial de la Juventud of the JSU [Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas], where the general secretary was Felipe Muñoz Arconada, central leader. And he sent me to the factory of experienced industrialists, where I was the first woman to enter a factory to make war supplies. And there I became the number one Stakhanovist with Aurora Bautista, who was another artist. And that’s where we started working for the war, making primers for the--what’s it called now? For the--the thing that bombs dropped, no, not bombs, it was--oh, what was it called? I don’t remember. But without that piece it didn’t explode and that was very important. When I remember, I’ll tell you once it comes to mind. After the war began, the war ended and when the war ended, that same day we see that there is an uprising at the company headquarters that wants to surrender to Spain and we did not want that, we wanted to continue fighting for the Republic, which was ours and they had taken it from us and we wanted to reclaim it again and we wanted to make the Juventud strong and we were fighting for that. So, when we went to remove members from the uprising, Adela Sánchez and I went to pick up my friends Aurora Bautista and Carmen Cerviño, who were the ones who led the Pioneros with me. We went to take the Juventud’s files to burn them, so that they did not catch the Juventud, but on the way out they took them and took us. The first time I went to jail in Ventas, in 1939, it was a very nice jail. It had made history, that one, and it was jail. It was better than my house because everything was very nice, everything very good. And I tell you. But then we escaped the night before Franco came to power, they freed many of us. Others freed us and others had escaped back to where they left off. That’s the regret we all have. That the people who got them out of there didn’t escape. Then, we began to go underground. To fight. When I had contacts with the young people who lived in Cuatro Caminos, I had Federico Bascuñana, with Rubén Arconada. I had contacts to work underground. When they took them in May and we were caught in a secret meeting in July, we moved on to police stations. Not to take it in La Plaza del Ángel, which started all that, don’t you know it? Do you know it, the Plaza del Angel? It’s by the Puerta del Sol, over there, very close. From there we were caught in a meeting, 4 of us. A Pionero, who they were looking for, one that we introduced, a certain Joaquín Peña, who we presented as the general secretary of the Juventudes. But since the others had fallen, we had to seek a general secretary and we took Joaquín Peña. There was a Visco who was there, an Emiliano Martínez Blaz, who was the police informant, which I didn’t know. And since we arrived early, he says, “Why don’t we go to sit on a bench,” which we did, and, while waiting, I started to sing all our songs: El Verde Río y Dorados Llanos, La Joven Guardia. All our songs. And when he says to me, “How happy you are, Concha,” because I was very cheerful. Now I’m not sad, but I was very cheerful, and I was always singing. “Look, she’s always singing,” he says. “Look, what if we arrive and they arrest us?” And I say, “Stop kidding around, why are they going to arrest us?” He says, “Because of these things.” When, just as we arrive at the appointment, we shake hands with the others, and are surrounded by the police, they arrest us and they took us to the Carrera San Jerónimo, right in front of the Congress of Deputies. Now it’s called that, it was one of the guerrillas, they called the guerrillas there. And then they detained us there from the month of June until the month of July. The month of July, no, until the 4th of August, until the 4th of August. And there we were beaten up. All they wanted. But they took-- when they didn’t hit me, they would send me to clean the blood of my other companions who had been beaten over the head. And that was very bad--I preferred them to beat me instead of them beating the others and having to see them. Destroyed. That was the worst. Horrible. No, you can’t find words to say how you felt, because you also felt for your comrades, your friends, those who were fighting for a reason, which wasn’t anything bad. We fought for a reason, for what was ours, for what they had taken away from us and what we wanted to reclaim, and for our well-being and for a better world that even today we continue to fight for. A place where there is no war and where there is no hunger, and even today we continue to fight for it. And there, my companions were in those conditions for that cause, but they were there now, and maybe in a while you were there, too. What did it feel like? You can’t find words to say what you felt in those moments, you can’t find them. Because it was so, so hard, so horrible, that, well, I tell you, there are no words for all that they put us through. But from there, on August 4 early in the morning, from August 4 to August 5, on August 4 they took me to Ventas, but they took me, they threw me because I was unconscious, not feeling anything. Then they took me to the 4th right and on the 4th right there were some friends of mine who were Diego’s sisters, who lived in the same neighborhood as me and took care of me and then they didn’t tell me anything about the girls because they saw how I was doing and that the girls had fallen that night, but that later I could also fall. And they didn’t tell me that they executed the girls and the boys because it wasn’t all girls. They executed 13 out of the 15 girls, who I call Las Trece Rosas, but freed 2, and 42 boys, who I call Los Claveles. When I talk about the boys, I say the 42 Claveles Rojos because they were dear to me. They were the best we had. They send us hardworking, attentive and honest youth, and they took their lives because of it, because they thought and defended their own thing. No more, no less. And when I recovered, they told me. It was also a thing that, well, by thinking, thinking that I could go back to what had been them, and tomorrow it would be you. Apart from the sorrow that you knew all of them. If we didn’t know each other personally, we knew each other from fighting together, we knew that we were fighting for the same cause and that they took them away from you. It was so hard. Such a shame, such a shame. A lot happened. A lot happened. Then I was-- since I-- they took my statement and I said that I-- since I didn’t know how to read and write, why would I do that because they told me there that I was the party’s link to the Juventud. And the truth is that I was, but I said, “That’s what I wanted to be, it’s me. But for that, you would have to know how to read and write. And I don’t know how. How are they gonna put that on me? I go there [to the Juventud] because I like the boys.” “But is there one you like better?” “No, I like them all.” “You are frivolous.” I say, “Well, what is that?” He says, “Well, frivolous, you like all the guys.” And I say, “Well, I do like them, I want some really nice guys and some really handsome guys, really nice guys, and besides, they danced and everything, oh, very well. If I went there, I had a great time with them.” But with that we saved many. I played dumb, I played the whore, but we saved a lot of them. But then, that same day they took me to start the proceedings, they took me to the military government, to the Paseo de María Cristina, to General Carbonell, who is the one who asked me why I was going to the Juventud and I told him, “What, am I going with the Juventud,” because I laugh. “Well, I have been told that you are very bold.” I say, “Well, I guess I’m bold.” He says, “Do you know Madrid well?” and I say, “Yes.” He says, “What’s that right across the street? I say, “Well, that’s el Cerro de Los Ángeles.” He says, “What’s that down there?” I say, “Those are the Madrid, Zaragoza and Alicante offices.” I say, “And that’s where the clay drinking jugs are put. Didn’t you see it!? You ask so many questions.” He says, “Oh, how bold you are! You’re bold, yes, yes.” “But why are you there?” “Well, I was walking down the street with my boyfriend.” But when we got arrested, I told the guy who denounced us, I spoke with the informer, and I said, “You and me, we’re dating.” Then the police say, “Shut up!” I say, “Hey, no,” I say. “Look, I’m talking to my boyfriend,” so that the other one would realize that I was going to say we were dating. And I say, “I was going with my boyfriend and we’ve been arrested, I don’t know anything else, I don’t know anything else.” He says, “Then what do you think about leaving, leaving to the street.” I say, “But I shouldn’t have had to come in in the first place.” He says, “But you’re leaving this afternoon, at 4:00 you’re going out.” But they let me go so that I would go out to the street and if I would see someone, to trap them, to whomever I said hello, anyone who I saw or came to see me, trap them, like a bait, they called it, a bait, and it didn’t happen like that, because I would see someone and with my gaze, I would say no, no. Ultimately, they begin to start the proceedings again and Emiliano is coming. They ask him, “And the military suits, who altered them-- fixed them?” And he says, “Well, Concha Carretero.” “And who took her to Aranjuez prison?” Because the one we were going to present as secretary general had escaped from Aranjuez prison and came home. And I was at my friend Carmen Cerviño’s house, and I-- so they sent me to Aranjuez with a letter to give him money, to help him, because there were many children in that house who could not, and to ask for help from his family, who managed the factory, where Mr. Eloy worked, as he was our responsibility. Well, I learned, I say, “Oh, my alibi is that I’m going to ask for a job.” So, when we get there with some other person that had escaped, someone called Lamianco, who they split his head, and was bringing one of the military suits I had provided. Then I sewed for the quartermaster and-- he says to me-- when I get there, I’m arriving at the house, which is all cordoned off with cops, I say, “Get lost.” I say, “Get lost, get lost.” And he leaves, I say, “You could wait for me at the station or around there. If you see anything, you go.” So, when I get to the door, they say, “Where are you going?” I say, “To see Mr. Eloy,” I say, “Can’t I come in?” He says, “Yeah, which tea did you want?” I say, “No, nothing, I’m here to ask you for a job.” He says, “Oh, well, come in,” but a cop came in with me and on going in-- and I ate the letter I was carrying along the way. They didn’t catch me with the letter, I ate it and then he says, “Come on, come on,” I mean, I go in and with my gaze I told him that I came for something else. He said, “Well, look, Concha, I don’t have a job because the factory hasn’t opened.” But I was visiting it recently, and they all welcomed me. He says, “It hasn’t opened,” he says, “If it opens, I’ll call you.” I say, “Well, call me.” That’s where we left it and when we left, he says, “So what, now, Concha?” I say, “Well, nothing, because they haven’t opened the factory yet, when they open it, they’ll call me.” And then he says, “What about the guy who came with you?” I say, “He’s a pain who’s been bothering me. Good thing I don’t have to tell him to go away. Good thing he’s leaving me alone.” And that’s how it ended. It ended there. Then, 2 days later, at the meeting, they caught me. They caught me and all that came out when they brought coaches for Emiliano and he told them everything. And so, I went back to Ventas on January 17, 1941, they came back for me at my grandparents’ house. Since I wasn’t there, they told my mother that if I didn’t show up, they would take the whole family away. My mother’s whole family was not a political family at all. They were very honest workers, very good people, but not at all political. Then they told her that they were going to take them, they were going to [undecipherable]. And what was going to happen to these people [unclear]? “Mother, be calm, I’ll turn myself in.” Then I showed up at the station in Fernán Flor Street, which was also next to Congress. Right around the Marquis of Cuba. And he says, when I get there I mean, “Good morning. Good morning.” It was 11:00 in the morning. I never forget it. He says, “What did you want?” I say, “No, look, they’ve been looking for me at my grandparents’ house.” And he says, “And who are you?” I say, “Well, Concha Carretero.” Slap! A couple of slaps that threw me on the floor, the slaps. I say, “Well, we’re off to a good start.” And, so, it’s happening. A while passes, they put me in a room, a while passes, and he comes in. And finally, he says, “Well, come here,” and they take me down to the basement of the police station. I’m completely stripped, the ruined clothes that my mother has had many years in storage and recently, not so long ago, just before she died, I told her, “Mother, take that away. Now, every time I see it, it brings back memories, throw it away!” “No, someday it might be worth something.” My mother didn’t know what, what would happen to me if she knew and was seeing it. She says, “I’ll-- I’ll-- I’ll throw it away.” In the end, they put me in the cells that day, they strip me completely. And I began to, it was so cold that it got deep inside you, on January 17, you see. And I started doing exercise, moving around, right? Exercise because I did not know what to do except to move around. And it appears that they saw me and say, “What’s wrong with you, you’re cold?” I say, “Yeah, a little.” They say, “Don’t worry, you’re going to warm up now.” And indeed, when they came down, I got warm. They hosed me down 4 times that day, they threw another bucket of water at me because I lost consciousness. And then, and then he says, “Okay then, don’t talk.” I say, “Well I can’t talk if everything you’re telling me--.” [phone rings] Let her answer it. Everything that--[phone rings] It’s ringing there. [recording paused]. I say--”Everything you ask me, I can’t answer, because I don’t know. I don’t know anything about that. I’ve already said it 40 times, I go there because I like the boys.” He says, “Well, you’re not going-- you’ve talked to us. But you have to talk, you have to talk.” So, they took me, put me in a car. And we passed about 2 more hills. And I see that it is taking a very, very ugly path. And we’re almost at Ventas. And we have already reached the walls of the cemetery, have you seen the civil cemetery, in the cemetery of Almudena? The carving--you haven’t seen it, you don’t know it, do you? Well, the plaque of the girls of the Las Trece Rosas is now put in this spot, but now on this spot, well, another plaque has been placed for the boys that we’ve put [unclear] and at this plaque, at the turn, at the street, they get me out of the car, they get me out of the car with a flashlight, they show me the walls, they say, “Do you see this wall, all the holes there are?” I say, “Yes, sir.” He says, “All these are your comrades who have fallen,” he says. “Now one more will be yours.”I say, “Well, I was already looking forward to ending up however I’d end.” I thought of nothing more than my mother. How displeased she’s going to be. Poor thing, how upset she’ll be because my mother already had my brother Pepe also in prison and my brother Luis, 14 years old, in prison and my mother was alone in the street.
DAVIS: [00:25:43] Were all your siblings belonging to the JSU [Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas]?
CARRETERO: [00:25:45] Yes, they also belonged to the JSU [Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas], all 3. And my mother was sleeping in the street, in the porches in the Plaza de Toros. And begging for spare change to eat. That’s what hurts me the most. Then they had me there for a while, I thought about my mother, thinking that I was finished and also, from my heart wishing for it because I was already desperate, because they had beaten me so many times, well I have scars all over my body. And they said, “No, you haven’t spoken, but you still have to talk.” Then they took me to Ventas again to the Ventas jail, solitary confinement, to the punishment block. Then I was there in one place. It was very-- a very small room. Where there was no water, there was no-- there was a toilet and I lived without a bed or anything there. There went the nun, the mother of [the order of] the Seraphim, a German nun who was the worst who prayed to me every night, at midnight. I knew it was 12, because she would pray with the rosary and bring me a soldier’s plate, those made of aluminum that we made [unclear], but this was dirtier than, as I say, a cow’s tail. And they gave me acorn water, acorns from Pardo, which are caught as they are a fruit that falls. They boil it and it was as if she were giving us malt, but it was dirty water. It was so bad, but you had to swallow it because she forced you. And they gave me a bread basket, bread, like that, for the whole day, until the morning, 12:00 at night. And that’s how the story went until-- seeing that I wasn’t talking, that I wasn’t talking, well, they released me.
DAVIS: [00:27:51] How many days were you inside?
CARRETERO: [00:27:51] How old I was?
DAVIS: [00:27:51] No, how many days were you in isolation?
CARRETERO: [00:27:54] I was in isolation for 4 months there. I was there for 4 months. I got used to not eating. I got used to not going to the toilet. When I was taken down to the blocks, my friends, Esperanza Guado, the active state of the first block, cell number 13, were good with me. The solidarity there was great. Helping one another. Some helped more than I did. I couldn’t help anyone because I didn’t have any help for myself and my mother couldn’t send me anything. And then they moved us to the school of Santa Maria, which was the department of minors and they were all studying. I could have studied and learned something, but I crocheted, I crocheted tablecloths for my mother to sell so she could eat. She took them out when she came to see me, I gave them to her so that she could sell them and eat.
DAVIS: [00:28:54] Did you do that a lot? Work inside the jail?
CARRETERO: [00:28:57] Oh, yeah. And the others were studying, as if they left through studying. Well, my brother Pepe was in Burgos and left with a building engineer career because he liked to study, it was worth a lot to study so he took it. But when he got out, he lived little, he could not do anything because he was already left with liver cirrhosis he did not last very long and the little one, who left with tuberculosis, also lasted very little. The little one himself got out 44 years ago and was buried alone. Look at how hard this history has been.
DAVIS: [00:29:33] Those of you in prison, were you in contact with others, the others?
CARRETERO: [00:29:36] With the brothers? Yes, because of my mother, I could not write because I couldn’t either, but because of my mother when she came to see us, and the boys, well, they were fine. Besides that, Pepe was in Santa Engracia, where I had been-- to organize the workshops, they were so much, and Luis was in Carabanchel, Santa Rita and the three of us communicated on the same day and my mother was beating herself. If there’s anything in life that hurts me, it’s that my mother didn’t know anything about anything. She was a woman who was, as I said, in the world because the world needs a little bit of everything. But it made life even harder, like only a mother can know, to see her three children as she said, decent and honest workers and because of nothing but fighting for their ideas they were stuck there. For fighting for what was ours. So, ask me what you want to know, because my narration--. Then I left. I left in 1942, I left. And I saw the-- the guy who introduced himself to me, who met me at the dance. We started dating, we decided-- he also left, he was in Porlier, he left, we got together, we had a daughter, my daughter Diana. And when-- they tried me. I sat on the bench with my daughter Diana. They read me the charges in Prado 6, in the Masonry and Communism court [Tribunal Especial para la Represión de la Masonería y el Comunismo] and read everyone the death penalty, me among others.
DAVIS:[00:31:15] In what year?
CARRETERO: [00:31:15] In the year 1942, 43. They judged me. And my daughter was born-- the year-- I was-- we were judged on March 6, 1943, and my daughter was born the year, 40-, March 10, 1943, she had 4 days to go until her birthday, and it was such a beautiful moment, that the girl turns a year old because she was very pretty, and she gave kisses to everyone. She even blew kisses in the court, “handsome, handsome.” And when they read the final sentence, everyone had the same, and me, well, the first. When they take us down to a room, well, I was saying goodbye to my daughter, because my brother Luis was already in the street and was hiding, but he risked it all, just to take the girl because he was still living in Toledo, to take Diana to Toledo with my mother. When they come, I was saying goodbye to my daughter, giving her the last hugs when the doorkeeper comes or the usher, they call it, said “Concha Carretero,” I had already given my daughter one last hug and I do this [makes a gesture], and when I am doing this for a while, giving her to my brother, he comes and says “Absolved”. I say, “What about the others?” He says, “30 years and 20 years and 12 years.” So, I stayed calm. If they tell them that they have the death penalty, I don’t accept the commutation, I continue with the death penalty, I would have gone with my companions. I don’t say it with this [she touches her mouth], I say it with this [she touches her chest]. Because they were my companions, we had fought for the same cause and we would continue to fight and even today we continue to fight. With that, that’s the story. Now ask anything, and I’ll answer you.
DAVIS: [00:33:11] Okay, so back to the JSU [Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas], well, before you had the organization in the family, of 40 youth, during the Republic. You said you were in custody, because youth cannot gather in the Republic?
CARRETERO: [00:33:31] Well, not yet. There was still a lot of--, the Republic was still not consolidated. The Republic began to consolidate, and we began to take certain freedoms, certain freedoms for the years 1934, 1935, and 1936. But it was proclaimed in 1931, or in 1932 and 1933, the thing was still-- that-- because look, when we made that group, which my brother did, we had to report it, well, not report it, how do you say it. So that the police would-- legalize it, legalize it, and even when we had meetings, the police came to control the meeting. Then my brother talked about how we are going to have a meeting to do a play, because when we were doing the plays, when we knew that someone in the neighborhood was going to be evicted, because of lack of money, that they didn’t-- they hadn’t worked in so long and had no money for food, that was a normal day, at every moment at the beginning of the Republic. And then we’d gather and do a play. Everything we collected was for that family or if someone needed a leg up or a peremptory need for, whims no, but for good needs, yes. And we did that. And then, when the cops had-- saw that we were meeting to raise funds to help people they would leave, we’d put someone to guard the door and my brother would give a political talk because my brother had the best political teachers he could have, who were Luis Cabo Giorla and Isidoro Diéguez who met him in the Ciudad Universitaria as a construction worker and they were already masonry masters and taught him the trade and taught him politics. And he was a great politician. A great politician and a great leader. If you read the book of, which has come out recently, which is that-- La Lucha de la Vida [The Fight of Life], which is my granddaughter’s poetry, which I’m going to tell you now, because it has my brother, my brother’s activity, all of it, and mine is also there, that of the three siblings, because the writer who has seen it, Carlos Fernández, says, “I find Carreteros everywhere.” There was not one thing that the Carreteros were not there for and that poetry that you see there, one is dedicated by one of my granddaughters, Davinia, who is the daughter of the one, of the son that died. I’ll tell you. It says, “One day in August I was born and from that day I learned one thing, struggle, life, my grandmother told me one day.” It says, “But I didn’t know what my grandmother was saying. Until the other day, April 14, 1996, I saw my grandmother cry and for once it was joyful. They gave her a party she never thought she’d have. They reminded her of life and of the things from yesterday.” It says, “Grandma, I dedicate this to you, for I can never forget that you taught me the meaning of fighting in life.” How pretty, I put it there. I put that frame on it and there I have it, every time I dust it, I read it, and I know it by heart. You’ve seen that.
DAVIS: [00:37:08] Let’s pause here because the tape ends.
DAVIS: [00:00:00] Well, in the organization you held in the house with the 40 people that helped people, did you have any contact with the Church?
CARRETERO: [00:00:11] Yes, there were people who helped, but. There was-- we were helped by few people. Few people, but I knew that, within the organization I have been helped by a lot of people, a lot, a lot of people, Esperanza Taguado. “Well, I’ll help you find something to eat because the best of the packages, they were for me.” And I said, “No, your family sacrifices itself, it’s for you,” and I did it because my stomach did not allow anything. I threw up everything. “Something will stay inside you, Conchita,” they said, “Something will stay inside you. Eat it and don’t worry about anything, eat it.” And so, little by little, a lady who was 80 years old, whose name was Ana de Cercedilla, would lay out irrigation for me to go to the bathroom because I couldn’t even go because I didn’t eat. And there they helped me a lot. Yes, there were many people, but we were all in the same conditions. Since no help came from the outside, but from here inside people really were all, those who weren’t in jail or missing. And there was-- they helped you, but with little things, because they needed help too. They had-- there was always some prisoner. It was strange if there were no prisoners. Of course, no, you couldn’t do big things, but what we could do, we would do, because we were very supportive, all of us.
DAVIS: [00:01:44] And in the formation of the JSU [Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas]. I wanted to ask if the jobs women did were different from what the boys did.
CARRETERO:[00:01:55] Everything was the same, all the same, we had the same rights, the same duties. That’s right, so we did the same thing, same job. We had to put up posters, so we went out and put them up and the boys did too. We had to sell the newspaper, the boys were behind us selling it because those from Fuerza Nueva would come, the Falange, behind us, they were, “They are the youth, members of the Juventudes Comunistas” and the falangists would come with batons, they came and hit us. Then the boys came, our guys, and there was a fight there. They helped us a lot, a lot, a lot. I certainly am telling you the truth. I loved the Juventud very much. Very much. And I still love it, and when I go places, because we go to many places, look. Last week, on Saturday, we were in a town here, the province of Guada- of Alcalá de Henares, I remember-- that by the way, I was going-- wasn’t-- with a granddaughter of mine, and I don’t remember the name and there was the Juventud and Veronica came with me, I say, “Come with me so you can see how it is. Show you how, how the Juventud treats us old people, treat us with affection and kindness so that”-- look at that plant they gave me. Here it is on the table. They’re the best. The Juventudes of today? Great. It is not JSU [Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas], but JC [Juventudes Comunistas] and JS [Juventudes Socialistas], but we will fight so that I would die happy being part of the JSU [Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas], and now you will see the poster they made me, the cake for my birthday. The poster, the same one that was made at a conference, the same poster that was made for the conference with the JSU [Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas]. The same, the same letters and the same everything, the cake, besides that, they put “Concha Carretero” on it, but now at least the posters, they put it on the cake, and from the cake they made the poster, I have it there, well, like a relic. He told me, the one who finished it, any day I can take them.
DAVIS: [00:04:08] And after the war, the-- there was-- inside the jails, the JSU [Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas] was still organizing or following--
CARRETERO: [00:04:19] In the jails? Yes. We organized the party, we organized the Juventudes, yes, of course, we couldn’t stop working. There they brought us the Mundo Obrero. We carried the newspapers there, which were little sheets of transparent paper, which were very small. And when they went to the Salesas, to the trials, inside the curlers they were wearing, they put the notes, and then we came and gave them to the boys, they gave them to them, because when they judged me-- not anymore, there wasn’t that.
DAVIS: [00:04:58] And now in this-- there was communication between the boys and the--.
CARRETERO: [00:05:03] Girls, yeah. That’s why I tell you about the note. Look, because of the note, at war, I got angry with the boy, the one who took me out to dance and we got angry at each other, he followed his life, I followed mine, and after the notes, going through the Salesas by sending a note, see how fate is marked everywhere, the note they gave to him arrived and he saw the handwriting. It turns out that they told him that they had killed me, that Concha fell. And when he saw my handwriting he wrote quickly, “Tell me if this is the handwriting of the person I think it is.” And when I saw his, I said, “Well, I’m the soul, and you are the same as me.” I know the handwriting because he had been at the front of the brigade, the 36, he was there and knew-- we wrote to each other and knew each other’s handwriting and there by reading our handwriting we knew about each other. I was released early, I went to see him, and then he was released. I placed myself in a house to work and I got my brother out for the gentleman. I told him about how I was feeling because my brother wasn’t on trial. They were, well, they had taken them during the Casado uprising. And then, when I said he wasn’t on trial nor had they taken a statement from them or anything and I wrote to him about the conditions in Madrid, they left. And so, since mine was also the same, well, they released him. Then we got together. Then things went well for us. Everyone had problems. And there they are.
DAVIS: [00:06:40] And after they got out of jail, did they keep organizing the JSU [Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas] in some way or something that was against Franco in these years?
CARRETERO: [00:06:51] Yes. La Juventud, the JSU [Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas] has always been organized secretly and taking risks, because it was always organized. Now the JSU [Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas] and JC [Juventudes Comunistas] are here, but they are very nice, the same as each other. I, the JC [Juventudes Comunistas], I love it so much. When I was 14, I started to fight. It’s a shame I don’t have any documents, so you could see it and take it. Let-- I don’t have any, but Julio does, ask him. Tell him, “Concha asked for you to give me a documentary.” So, the one about my name won’t be erased from history. In the letter written by one of the girls, Julita Conesa, we were very good friends, she says goodbye to her mother and then at the end, she says “And I ask only one thing, Mother, that my name is not erased from history.” It cannot be erased. It’s right there. The idea is that I give it to you, and I will then give it to him. Because I-- my son [unclear] who fell and dislocated-- “Let’s go, he’s broken his arms.” I went to the doctor and he took off the plaster, and as soon as she can, she records him. I already told her, “Don’t worry, I’ll record you,” and I don’t have anything. If I had anything, I would give it, but tell Julio to give it to you, I will give it to him. So, you can see that it’s the real truth and the difference there is from the movie, because it’s not even like the song, the song that you’ve heard, the song that the girls sing, which is Cárcel de Ventas, which we kids invented, and I’m going to sing it to you, so you can see the difference. [singing Cárcel de Ventas] “Ventas Jail, wonderful hotel, full of hygiene and luxury for total comfort, where there is no water, no bed or food, you’re better off in hell. There’s an atrocious line in the toilets, rich cement they give for bread, lentils are the only food and one dish a day they will give you. Luxurious tile I enjoy as a mattress, and when I get up I have a damaged kidney. People of Spain, us prisoners are calling to you let your justice not wait any longer, that scabies begins to wreak havoc, and it is a general evil.” They don’t sing it like that. They sing it to-- sing it to get money out of it. And we sang it or invented it because we felt it, we felt it, doing it for money changes things a lot.
DAVIS: [00:09:53] Of course. And in prison, you never had trouble singing or anything?
CARRETERO: [00:09:57] Well, we had problems, we risked--, we were punished for-- look, we-- the kids, we couldn’t escape from our apartment, but I told you before that I had a very cheerful character and I made people laugh. And Anita Hidalgo came, the mother of Marcelino pan y vino [title of a film], not sure if you’ve heard of that film, of Marcelino. The parents, we were very close, they were my daughter Esther’s godparents. We were friends in the 1930s, well, she would come and say, “Carretas,” she’d call me Carretas. In such and such a place there’s one who is very sad. You have to go and raise their spirits. My father died when I was 6 years old and I had no experience with my father, but where we lived, in Chamberí, we had a friend whose name was, by the way, Concha Quintano, and had a father who liked drinking very much and she told us stories about her father. You know, because we laughed. Because her father, who had drowned, who wanted to drown himself in the toilet, he wanted to throw himself somewhere, that he put a rope on a tree, things so you had to laugh. Well, I told all those experiences that this friend of mine told us, I told them in prison to the others, but I told it like it had been my father. That it was my father, Uncle Roque, my father’s name was Roque, and he was-- I saw the effect this had, and people were laughing. What mattered to me was whether I saw that smile and that at that moment that girl was cheerful, the rest didn’t matter. If it were true, if it were false, I didn’t care. And then I came again and told them, “What’s wrong with you, why are you so sad?” “Because, Concha, we’re going to die, here-- we won’t get out alive, because we can’t get out of here anymore.” “We’re gonna-- that’s impossible. Listen to what I’m saying and keep it in mind. The English squadron is coming through the Manzanares. Pay attention, they’re already on the street. Yes, the English squadron is there, we are already on the street in Manzanares.” She was so uneducated, more than me, that she believed it. And then she’d go down by the block. She said, “Be strong, I know some things for a fact.” “What do you know? We’re already here.” She says, “Because the girl who doesn’t join is radical. Isn’t it true? Because she never tells me lies, she tells me and it’s true.” She says, “And who told you?” She says, “Well, Concha Carretero,” she says, “Well that’s where the wind is blowing.” Now we know which way the wind is blowing. That had to be it, how can there be an English squadron in Manzanares, girl! Because they believed it, they laughed, well they laughed. I made them have a good time and what did I care if I wanted to see people with high morale, with high morale, that was very difficult to have there. When you saw that they were taking out 40 today, tomorrow 100, 30 after that, and every day taking out, according to the days at the bottom. But you had to get up and get out. And say “Forward,” and not let yourself be intimidated. And that’s what we did.
DAVIS:[00:13:05] And were there others that also-- there were others that did that too?
CARRETERO: [00:13:14] Yes, yes. Well, I tell you because it’s my character too. Again, when they said, “They won’t pass,” and I said, “What if they pass by talking to them?” Well, people laughed, and what did I care, if that’s what I wanted. Make people laugh. That’s how my life was.
DAVIS: [00:13:32] And did you have a hard time, when you were sad, and it was more difficult to do those topics [unclear]?
CARRETERO: [00:13:40] What?
DAVIS: [00:13:43] If there were times when you were trying to make other people happy, but you were having a hard time.
CARRETERO: [00:13:52] Man, we were all having a hard time. But it had to be done, as I say, from gut to heart, to encourage others. You couldn’t see people sunk and the whole jail sunk, no, you’re already inside, you felt so bad. You felt bad because you saw everything that was going on and what we were living, but you couldn’t give in to the pain. You had to take it in steps, just like right now. I’m having a hard time right now with the loss of my son, very hard, but instead, I’m singing. The other day I went there to testi- and I was singing, wherever I go, because I am not going-- my other children arrive and I am sad, but I am not going to make them sadder because they have enough sadness with the loss of their brother, if they see me sinking the more they will sink too. So, I have to draw strength from where I don’t have it, well, it was the same back then. And this one is very hard. The loss of a child is very hard. The worst thing that can happen to you. The worst. And instead, what I have to do when they come is to raise their spirits, and what are we going to do? Well, even we feel it. I look and I cry. But only when they don’t see me, when they see me, I don’t cry. Because it’s like that. At least I believe it has to be that way. My brother taught us to be tough because my brother was our father. Because I already told you that he died when I was 6 years old, he was 9, but he was a responsible boy since he was born, since he was born, he was born already with responsibility in him and he brought us forward with great courage and when we started to deal with politics and we got into the Juventudes, both the little one and me, as it was illegal, well, he told us very clearly that we could be arrested and that it would be torture and that there would be certain things and that we had to be prepared and he looked for our mother’s book entitled The Mother of Maxim Gorki, have you read it? Well, so we could read it. And every time I feel low, I read it because it lifts me up and he taught us to read it and to take the strength that we had to draw from ourselves and to not fall and to never let anyone see you cry and that they never see you. Contrary to everything, with strength and courage, I’m still like that. I go places and nobody says, “This woman has a broken heart.” Well, it is broken, because I’m wearing a pacemaker. But I go ahead, and I don’t forget about that bravery for anyone, it just has to be that way. For that fight you have to be brave, because cowards, I tell my grandson, have written history for us.
DAVIS: [00:16:59] And do you talk to your grandchildren about what you went through? Do you talk to your grandchildren about your story?
CARRETERO: [00:17:05] Yes. Besides, I don’t even have to tell it now. Since everyone has the internet, they can see it there. If I didn’t know and say to the other, “[unclear] you don’t come to see me,” they say, “Grandma, but we see you every day on the internet,” and me, “What are you saying?” and they say, “Every day!” and I say, “Come on. We swear You prefer--.” Since I’ve been on TV several times, I’m also on the Internet, so I don’t have to tell them anything, they already know. There are some who carry it better. Some people don’t, but they’ll realize they’re wrong. And they will go back. I am sure and convinced that what I do is the truth. And what I’ve done all my life is the truth and that’s why the working class has to fight for that truth and for that world, and that’s why I’ve been convinced since I was 14, I’m not going to erase it at 90. Yeah, like I say, I signed up for the march and I’m going to keep marching on. And I will take-- when the Republic comes, I will carry the flag. I hope I see it soon. But well, it’s a little-- it comes on skates, it’s coming slowly, but it’s coming. We’ll have to fight, but it’ll have to come. So, what I just told you I don’t know if it will be worth something or not. This is the reality. If it does, it will be a great pleasure for me and if not, I will be sorry, but the truth of the life I have led, of what I lived and of what I went through. No more, no less.
DAVIS: [00:17:40] And now you are very involved in the recovery of historical memory?
CARRETERO: [00:19:01] Yeah, we’re going-- well, that, we take the, the documentary, and I’ll talk and tell the story. I take stock of all this; I confirm what is said with historical memory and we have to do it. Some people are upset, but it’s just that people need to know. It’s just that people have been-- it’s just that for me I had to, as I said before, it should have been done before, because now a lot has been lost. I, myself, you’ve seen, you’ve noticed that many times I lose my train of thought and I am one of the ones that has the best head, pay attention to how the others are, such as Mari Carmen Cuesta, Nieves Torres and Maruja Borres, we are the 4 that have stayed as we were. And the 4 of us, we have our heads, as I say, ready for the scrapyard. But there we are. But it should have been done before, all of this, because there were people very [unclear] and there were many more people, many more people and now we are 4 that no longer make a strong front, but we have to follow the 4 that we are, put up a fight, make it known that we are here and that we have not gone nor been taken, they have not been able to deal with us. That’s how it is.
DAVIS: [00:20:32] If there is one more thing you want to tell, add it.
CARRETERO: [00:20:40] I don’t remember anymore. Because, besides that, I have everything very well written, it’s already been said, well, it’s already coming out of-- you already see it. It comes out because there are many, already many testimonies that have been given and we are doing many things, because the other day, last week they came-- well, a little girl that Julio also sent, really nice, by the way. They’re always bossing-- they call me, “Concha, you could do this.” Whatever I can manage to do, I do it, with soul and life. If people, if it’s necessary that they find out and know about it, about what happened, that they’ve hidden, that it should have been in schools, in the history of Spain, because that’s history of what happened, it’s history. And that can’t be erased. Not because of what already happened to us, because we are already here with one foot and the other foot on the other side and at any time but let those who want to know that there was something else there that they did not want to tell. They’ve never been interested in saying it or for people to know it. And people need to know. And it needs to be known, that’s the origin. Apart from the fact that there’s no fight for it to not happen again, that it does not happen again to anyone, anyone, not just in Spain, but in the whole world. Because what’s happening in Iran already happened in Iraq, it’s been a total crime, a total crime. And that’s what we can’t allow. It happens again and you have to fight against it. And because they are children who are asking for-- that the flies are eating them, that they are given food there. No, teach them not to receive a plate of food, but to earn it. To not give them a fish but teach them how to fish. That they don’t have to live-- that they live with dignity, that’s the least we can have as a worker, dignity. And that’s what we can’t lose. My way of thinking is that. I do not know if I am wrong or not, but I believe that dignity should not be lost and if we have to-- those who have lost it, make them recover it. How? With all these things. With this memory project, a lot of people are finding out about what they didn’t know. And she who feels very bad, alas, whoever feels very bad, as I say, let them flout it. Because it’s the truth of what happened, you can’t hide it. You can’t hide the walls of the cemetery where everything is, where the plaque for the men was placed the other day, that the government had been asked for a monolith and it has given us a little plaque. And then Esperanza Aguirre talks so much about giving a lot of money to historical memory and that we are making a lot of money. Not even one duro. Nobody earns even one duro. No one. Besides, I tell you one thing, I get one, for example, we--. You can’t do this, yeah, listen and you-- no. If they offer me a duro, I won’t do it. I do it because my heart tells me. And because it’s my duty. It is my duty, not for earnings or for profit. I didn’t get the pension. Well, I manage as I can, but I don’t exploit. And to the party and to nobody, because that’s from the people in the party and all those people their whole lives, because we’re here the way we are today. Which is what people don’t value. That’s what people don’t value, and I value it very much. Very much. He who walks his life for a weak democracy, weak, protest, weak. It is not what we want, but little by little we will fix it and we will do it as we want. But we have, that is, removed the dictatorship. And we have all those below to thank for their blood, they have brought this and that is what we cannot forget, for anything in the world. We can’t forget. So, I have told you the story. You say whether it’s good or not.
DAVIS: [00:25:27] Oh, of course it’s good.
CARRETERO: [00:25:27] Well, I’m glad. If it’s worth anything to you, I’m happy with life. Would you like a beer? [recording paused]. [singing La Joven Guardia] “We are the young guard who is shaping the future. We’ve been tempered by misery; we’ll know how to win or die. Noble is the cause of freeing man from his servitude. Perhaps the road must be watered with the blood of youth. Young guard, young guard, insatiable and cruel and cruel bourgeois, young guard, young guard, give no peace nor barracks, no peace nor barracks. In the final struggle that begins, the revenge of those who crave bread and in the revolution that is underway, the slaves, they will reach triumph. Young guard, young guard, young guard. Tomorrow masses will march through the streets in triumph. Already before the Red Guard, the powerful will tremble. We are the children of Lenin, and our fierce regime, communism must come with a hammer and sickle. Young guard, young guard, young guard.” Another one? [singing] “We fight one day and another day and fight endlessly until Spain is the source from where freedom shines. The division of workers, that the struggle has distinguished itself. We go joyfully into battle because we have to win. Forward, farmer, stand firm to fight. Go ahead farmer, long live our freedom! The blood that is red and proletarian waters the land with courage, so that at the end of our war the working people will triumph. Always forward, the steel battalion. Children of the people, alone who go in it, with courage and a vigilant spirit to put an end to the cruel nuisance. All of us that were silenced, we will soon have to avenge. They didn’t die for us; they were born for freedom. Steel to fight, steels, fight, dying is better than slavery. Our flag, the republican, and our arms will defend it. All of Spain claims us. To fight, to fight, to fight.” [singing Cárcel de Ventas] “Ventas Jail, wonderful hotel, full of hygiene and luxury for total comfort, where there is no water, no bed or food, you’re better off in hell. There’s an atrocious tail in the toilets, rich cement they give for bread, lentils are the only food and one dish a day they will give you. Luxurious tile I enjoy as a mattress and when I get up, I have a damaged kidney. People of Spain, us prisoners were taken from you, let your justice not wait any longer, that disease begins to wreak havoc, and he is an evil general, general.” Another?
BOEHM: [00:30:24] If there’s another one, and if not--.
CARRETERO: [00:30:26] [Singing] “Let’s all live alert and on guard, alert, alert like a sign. We are an indelible flag that heralds the great victory of our freedom. As a youth I’m alert, I watch, and I defend what others believed greater, conquered. The free homeland, peace and strong and laughing life, what is our illusion?”
BOEHM: [00:30:55] Thank you very much.
CARRETERO: [00:30:55] Thanks to you, for listening because every time I sing here-- [recording paused]. [singing Verdes Ríos y Dorados Llanos] “Green rivers and golden plains, big, giant, cheerful in my country. That in the world there is no land where man lives happiest, that in the world there is no land where man lives happiest. From Leningrad to Siberia, from the Caucasus to the glacial sea, man walks as owner of pure and free immensity. Run Volga, run freely, run free Volga [if you escape?] For the young one, paths open towards the old tranquility. It finds us at the end of our plain, he finds us at the end of our sea. There is no word like comrade that is so human or so fraternal. Black spring wind. Clear winds of freedom that in the whole world no one can call as our homeland can. But if someone tried to attack us, black winds would raise our joyful life, our bride, our loving mother, our peace. Our joyful life, our bride, our loving mother, our peace.” Very pretty, I love this one.