Digging Into Franco’s Bloody Reign
Posted on Oct 17, 2008
An acclaimed Spanish judge has ordered the unearthing of some of the unmarked graves of the tens of thousands who were killed during the first two decades of Gen. Francisco Franco’s fascist rule of the country, formally declaring the repression by Franco and associates as a “crime against humanity.”
The years of Franco’s dictatorship under investigation begin in the 1930s, when fascist forces defeated Republican coalitions in the Spanish Civil War, and end in the early 1950s when Spain joined the international community and began a strong relationship with the U.S.
A Spanish judge yesterday ordered the grave of poet and playwright Federico García Lorca dug up as, for the first time, the repression unleashed by the dictator General Francisco Franco was formally declared a crime against humanity.
In a controversial reversal of Spain’s traditional refusal to seek out those responsible for the killings of Lorca and more than 100,000 other people, Judge Baltasar Garzón also asked investigators to provide him with information on Franco’s chief henchmen and generals. Franco and his chief collaborators, Garzón said, had been responsible for “mass killings, torture and the systematic, general and illegal detentions of political opponents”.
Death squads, military courts and other tribunals sent 114,000 people to their deaths during and after a three-year civil war in the 1930s that traumatised Spain for generations, according to the judge.
By his actions, Judge Baltasar Garzón is challenging an unwritten “pact of forgetting” that underpinned Spain’s rapid transition to democracy after Franco’s death in 1975.