Another televised revelation, yesterday morning. Josep Cuní went live to the cemetery in Vallfogona de Riucorb, in order to document a mass grave there in which dozens of unidentified young soldiers were buried during the Civil War. On screen, the gravedigger explained right there that during construction work, the power shovel dug up the dirt and "there were arm and leg bones, skulls, bones everywhere." Cuní asked what happened to those bones. The gravedigger answered, "We threw them with all the other stuff in the dump in the ravine over there. What were we going to do, Mr. Cuní?" Mr. Cuní's face was frozen in shock and he had no answer. The law is one thing, crude reality another, as TV reveals.
The gravedigger was almost certainly Ramon from Cal Matruqueu, the town's builder and odd-job man, who is 75 if he's a day. He buried Rosa: that is, he opened up the niche, removed Remei's father's coffin and bones, put Rosa's coffin inside, put a plastic bag with Remei's father's bones back in, and sealed up the niche again. He was a friend of Remei's father; they grew up together. As Remei says, they're country people around there and they're not squeamish about death.
I had no idea there was a Civil War mass grave in Vallfogona. The soldiers would have been Republicans, probably wounded brought to a makeshift hospital in one of the hotels at the spa during the Battle of the Ebro in late 1938. The Ebro was the fiercest battle of the war, and the only place anywhere near Vallfogona that saw serious fighting.
Actually, I don't know much about the Civil War in Vallfogona; they don't talk about it much. I do know: 1) the hotels at the spa served as a CNT officers' school, at least for a time 2) the priest was not murdered, he escaped with the help of some locals, supposedly including Remei's father's family 3) the medieval statue of Saint Peter atop the church was pulled down; Remei's grandfather saved the middle section in the basement, and Remei donated it to the county museum a while back 4) the local teacher was a CNT member and he fired up at least some townspeople; he somehow survived the war 5) Remei's father's family were conservative Catholics and Carlists, like many of the townspeople; most townspeople were landowning peasants, kulaks in Stalinist jargon 6) I have heard nothing about any executions in the town, whether by Republicans or Nationals.
I am going to have to investigate this. Also, I think something needs to be done in order to give these people a decent burial, and I'm going to find out what I can do.
Manuel Trallero says today, also in La Vanguardia, that commemorating the 70th anniversary of the 1938 Italian bombing of Barcelona and its victims is a good thing, but that other victims need to be commemorated too:
"We have a historical deficit and a debt to pay," declared counsellor Saura* at the Palau de la Generalitat. The victims of the bombing of Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War were first hidden by Francoism and then completely ignored by democracy. Now, with the 70th anniversary of the famous bombing of the Coliseum cinema by Italian aircraft, which caused a massacre because it blew up a passing truck loaded with explosives--a fact conveniently hidden by the Republic--ceremonies are held, books are published, films are premiered.
It doesn't matter that there is no documentary evidence of Churchill's alleged words to the House of Commons ("I do not want to undervalue the severity of the damage falling on you, but I trust our citizens will be capable of resisting as bravely as the valient people of Barcelona.")
Barcelona also has "a historical deficit and a debt to pay" to the victims of the "checas."** Many of them, victims because they went to Mass or were anarchists. The reasons are varied. But victims of that axiom from Miguel Mir's "Diary of an Anarchist Gunman": "Our job is to kill and your duty is to die." Let nobody fool himself. It was not the work of mere rioters...All the Republican parties, in addition to the feared SIM,*** had such establishments. This is not an attempt at Fascist propaganda...We have a debt to these victims, just as much victims as those of the bombings of Barcelona.
*Joan Saura is the leader of the Catalan Communists, ICV.
**Secret Republican prisons where prisoners were tortured, interrogated, and killed. The Anarchist checa was at Gran Via and Paseo de Gracia, while the main Communist checa was on the Calle Sant Elies.
***Servicio de Inteligencia Militar, the Military Intelligence Service, the NKVD in Spain.
Trallero's wrong about one thing. Churchill said, "I do not at all underrate the severity of the ordeal which lies before us; but I believe our countrymen will show themselves capable of standing up to it, like the brave men of Barcelona, and will be able to stand up to it, and carry on in spite of it, at least as well as any other people in the world," in his "Their Finest Hour" speech on June 18, 1940, to the House of Commons.