Spanish dictator Franco’s mass graves uncovered


This video says about itself:

Exhumations, Memory, and the Return of Civil War Ghosts in Spain

21 May 2014

Francisco Ferrandiz, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

Since 2000, the exhumation of mass graves from the Spanish Civil War and the Post-War years, mostly involving the largely abandoned graves of civilians killed in the Francoist rearguard by paramilitary groups, has become a central element in contemporary social and political debates in the country about the nature of the armed conflict and the dictatorial regime following it. Although exhumations have become a crucial tool for symbolic reparation and have triggered claims for justice for the crimes committed and now unearthed, the social process unleashed by their opening is way larger, and relates to the emergence of a fragmented and heterogeneous political culture focused on the memory of the defeated in the war. This emergent political culture is expressed in multiple acts of ‘memory recovery’ and ‘dignification’ of the diverse victims of Francoism beyond exhumations, in political acts such as concerts, homages, book publishing, street renaming, battleground tourism, pressure over Francoist monuments, or even academic conferences.

In this talk, the complexity and dynamism of this process is analysed, including from political and legal initiatives of great social and media impact to local actions on the ground, at times failed, ephemeral or almost imperceptible, but no less crucial. Regional differences, associated to uneven public memory policies, will also be considered. In the last few years, the politics of dignification of those defeated in the war is increasingly incorporating elements drawn from international law, such as the concept of ‘crimes against humanity’ or the category of ‘forced disappearence.’ This revitalization of the memory of the defeated in the Civil War has also been accompanied by a resurgence of winners in the war, which have inaugurated an active brand of neofrancoism.

Dr. Ferrandiz is a staff researcher interested in the anthropology of the body, violence and social memory (in Latin America and in Spain), with focus on the analysis on the current process of exhumation of mass graves from the Civil War (1936-9). To cite only a few, his ranging interests include cultural memory, human rights, forensic archaeology, forensic anthropology, to crimes against humanity.

Session 8 in the public, one-credit course Reframing Mass Violence: Human Rights and Social Memory in Latin America and Southern Europe.

Organized by the IAS Reframing Mass Violence Research Collaborative. Cosponsored by the Human Rights Program, and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. This talk occurred on May 8, 2014, from 3:00-4:30pm in 1-109 Hanson Hall.

By Alejandro López in Spain:

Mass graves from Spain’s civil war uncovered

18 August 2014

The Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory has found mass graves in the Estépar Mountains on the outskirts of the Spanish northern city of Burgos.

A team consisting of 50 Spanish archaeologists, anthropologists and forensic scientists estimates that four mass graves could include between 300 to 400 corpses.

Archaeologist Juan Montero told El Diario, “We have managed to contact sixty families. Everyone is well aware that given the large number of mass graves and the lack of economic resources, due to there being zero government involvement, the tasks of identifying the victims are going to be tremendously complex.”

This music video from Spain is called Ave Maria, Antonio José, BURGOS 2012 03 10.

Among those who are said to be buried there are the composer Antonio José Burgos and his brother Julio, and the father of the writer Francisco Ayala, the last representative of the poets and writers of the Generation of 1927. …

According to local historian José Ignacio Casado, most victims come from those who were arrested and then released. Waiting for them were Falangists, soldiers and members of the Guardia Civil, who would execute them in what were known as “sacas” or “paseos” (“strolls”). Many of these prisoners were released from jails and concentration camps, driven to isolated places at dawn and shot.

The number of bodies in each grave matched the number of released prisoners who stayed in Burgos prison. Ignacio explained to El Diario, “I can tell you that it is those who left prison on September 29 and 30, 1936. Some cases may vary, but we can know who they were by identifying them and their ages with the documentation on those released from the prisons.”

Witnesses described to the Internet daily Público how the victims were executed. After being arrested, and to prevent them from cheering liberty and republic, they were gagged with straps, which were then washed in vomit and saved for the next execution. The executioners forced them to dig their own graves. They were shot at close range, and finished off with rifle butts.

Burgos witnessed one of the most notorious repressions during the Civil War. It is estimated that 2,500 people were executed, mainly consisting of members of the trade unions UGT and CNT, local politicians and mayors of Izquierda Repúblicana, and members of the Socialist Party (PSOE), and in some cases peasants and workers whose crime had been to claim unpaid wages.

According to Paul Preston’s The Spanish Holocaust, 200,000 people were executed between 1936 to 1945 by the fascists.

The regime of General Franco and post-Franco revisionist historiography have justified the repression as a response to the “red terror”. In fact, the fascist repression was planned well in advance, targeting the organised working class and any whom they deemed oppositionists.

In May 1936, two months ahead of the coup, General Mola, in charge of the northern sector, passed instructions to the military bases: “The action must be extremely violent as soon as possible to reduce the enemy, which is strong and well-organised. Of course, we will arrest all the leaders of the political parties, associations or unions that are not affiliated with the [National] movement, applying exemplary punishment to those individuals in order to strangle rebel movements or strikes.”

On July 19, two days after the coup, Mola sent another order: “It is necessary to spread terror, eliminating without scruples or hesitation all those who do not think as we do…. All those who oppose the victory of the movement to save Spain will be shot.”

Since the death of Franco and the end of the fascist dictatorship in 1978, successive governments have attempted to cover up the crimes of fascist regime.

After its election in the 2011, the Popular Party (PP) government of Mariano Rajoy reduced by 60 percent the budgets dedicated to the Law of Historical Memory (LHM), passed by the previous Socialist Party government, and abolished the Office of Victims of the Civil War and the Dictatorship, which coordinated the exhumation of the remains of those that disappeared. For 2013-2014, the budget for LHM ceased to exist, forcing the associations dedicated to recovering the remains to rely on donations.

Last September, the Popular Party government refused to extradite four fascists indicted by Argentinean judge María Romilda Servini, who declared that under universal jurisdiction they could be charged under international law if the Spanish judiciary did not carry out prosecution.

This came four years after judge Baltasar Garzón, who began an investigation into Franco-era crimes, was subjected to an intense campaign of vilification that led to his prosecution and being barred from practising as a judge for 11 years.

Against Servini, the PP and the opposition PSOE closed ranks in defence of the 1977 Amnesty Law, passed during the transition from fascism to bourgeois democracy following Franco’s death in 1975, which prevents any reckoning and investigation into the crimes committed during the Spanish Civil War and the dictatorship. In response, the former leader of the Stalinist-led United Left, Gaspar Llamazares, called for a mere modification of the law.

The government has remained completely silent on the latest list of recommendations sent in July by the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, which call for a “schedule indicating the measures that will be taken.”

While the recommendations are not binding, Madrid has an obligation to reply.

The efforts to conceal the past crimes are not motivated only by historic concerns. Under conditions where the economic crisis and austerity have caused 21 percent of the population to be classified as poor, where 2.3 million children—27.5 percent of the total—live under the poverty line, and where 25 percent of workers are unemployed, the same conditions that led to the revolutionary explosions of the 1930s and the ruling class’s pre-emptive counter-revolution, are being created.

The ruling class sees the need to justify past dictatorships in order to set up a new one and to smash any opposition to austerity and imperialist war.

Dutch World War II anti-nazi returns Israeli medals because of Gaza war


This video from the USA says about itself:

Maurice and Netty Vanderpol, WWII Holocaust Survivors

21 May 2012

Dr. Maurice Vanderpol (b.1922) was born and raised in Amsterdam. In medical school when the Germans invaded and occupied Holland in 1940 and persecution and deportation of Dutch Jews began, Ries and his family spent two years in hiding until liberation on May 5th, 1945. After the War, he came to America, finished medical school and married Netty Swartz Vanderpol. He had a private practice as a psychiatrist and was a staff member at McLean Hospital for 35 years.

Netty Vanderpol (b. 1926) was born and raised in Amsterdam. During the German occupation of Holland she was forced to attend a school for Jewish children. One of her classmates was Anne Frank. In 1943 her father was imprisoned by the Nazis for assisted [sic; assisting] Allied pilots. Her father and family spent over a year in Terezin Concentration Camp in Czechoslovakia. In February, 1945 her family was with a group of inmates from the camp that was the only exchange of Jews for German POWs. As a needlepoint artist Netty has exhibited widely. Beginning in 1984, for some years she dedicated the focus of her needlework pieces to the Holocaust and its affect on her life. She then branched out to other designs and themes. Ries and Netty are both very active with Facing History and Ourselves. They established the Walter Suskind Memorial Educational Fund, an outreach arts program at the Citi Center for the Performing Arts, in Boston. They live in Needham and Edgartown.

Listen to Maurice and Netty Vanderpol speak about their experiences in hiding in Amsterdam and in Terezin Concentration Camp in Czechoslovakia.

From daily Haaretz in Israel:

Dutch nonagenarian returns Righteous Among the Nations medal after six relatives killed in Gaza

Henk Zanoli, who helped save a Jewish child from deportation to concentration camps, said holding on to the medal would be an ‘insult to the family.’

By Amira Hass

A 91-year-old Dutch man who was declared a Righteous Among the Nations for saving a Jew during the German occupation on Thursday returned his medal and certificate because six of his relatives were killed by an Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip last month.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today:

The victims are relatives of a niece of Zanoli. She married a man who was born in Gaza. His parents still lived there until July 20, when their house was bombarded by the Israeli Air Force. His mother, three brothers, a sister and a nephew of him lost their lives. Also someone who was with the family for a visit did not survive the attack.

Zanoli did not hesitate when he heard about the attack. He wrote a letter and sent to [Israeli] ambassador Daivon the honour ‘Righteous Among the Nations” back by courier. He sent the medal awarded to his mother as well. In the letter Zanoli wrote that it would be treason to his mother and to his family if he’d keep the medals.

“Shocking and tragic”

Zanoli and his mother hid Jewish boy Pinto from the nazis from 1943 to 1945. The father of the family had been deported two years earlier because he was openly against the nazis. He died in 1945 in Mauthausen concentration camp. A brother of Zanoli’s, who was in the resistance, was executed by the nazis.

It is not clear, according to Haaretz, why the house of Zanoli’s family was bombed. The newspaper has asked the Defense department if it was a target or that it was a mistake, but the armed forces would not react.

See also here. And here. And here.

From the New York Times in the USA:

Resisting Nazis, He Saw Need for Israel. Now He Is Its Critic

THE HAGUE — In 1943, Henk Zanoli took a dangerous train trip, slipping past Nazi guards and checkpoints to smuggle a Jewish boy from Amsterdam to the Dutch village of Eemnes. There, the Zanoli family, already under suspicion for resisting the Nazi occupation, hid the boy in their home for two years. The boy would be the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust.

Seventy-one years later, on July 20, an Israeli airstrike flattened a house in the Gaza Strip, killing six of Mr. Zanoli’s relatives by marriage. His grandniece, a Dutch diplomat, is married to a Palestinian economist, Ismail Ziadah, who lost three brothers, a sister-in-law, a nephew and his father’s first wife in the attack. …

Mr. Zanoli said he could envision a situation in which he would take the medal back.

“The only way out of the quagmire the Jewish people of Israel have gotten themselves into is by granting all living under the control of the State of Israel the same political rights and social and economic rights and opportunities,” he wrote. “Although this will result in a state no longer exclusively Jewish it will be a state with a level of righteousness on the basis of which I could accept the title of ‘Righteous among the Nations’ you awarded to my mother and me.”

In that event, he concluded, “be sure to contact me or my descendants.”

Under a coalition of Israeli left-wing political parties and organizations, thousands gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square in the largest anti-war demonstration since the outbreak of violence in Gaza: here.

World War I start, don´t celebrate, interview


This video from England is called No Glory – Remembering World War One in Music and Poetry – St James’s Church London – 25.10.13.

From Red Wedge magazine in the USA:

Never Over the Top: War, Art and Modernism

The No Glory campaign seeks to highlight the art of the Great War to remind us of its madness.

Jan Woolf — August 5, 2014

Jan Woolf is the cultural coordinator of the No Glory In War campaign, a group that seeks to counter the celebratory narrative of the British government’s commemorations of World War One. She recently answered some questions for Red Wedge about the campaign’s use of art and media — both past and present — to communicate its message.

Red Wedge: Why was No Glory started?

Jan Woolf: The anti-war and peace movement would have commemorated the outbreak of World War One anyway in our various styles (I say our, as this is a diverse movement with ideological nuances) but our government’s style of national commemorations brought us together to form the No Glory campaign and our position that World War One was a “species crime” waged by rulers with imperial interests, and not the interests of those who did the suffering and fighting. No Glory is an alliance of Stop the War, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Quaker groups, Members of Parliament, writers, historians and artists. We are having extraordinary success in our population’s relationship with World War One as we are striking a chord of knowledge and sensibility that is there anyway, as recent attempts to justify it as a just war by Government and revisionist historians just “smell wrong.” We are also pointing up the link between then and now, and the similarities in war making propaganda.

RW: How does the British government’s narrative of the First World War differ so much from the actual reality of the conflict?

JW: I’m going to refer you to the open letter on the NoGlory.org site. Many prominent people signed it, and its gathered thousands more signatures, as they are disgusted with the way this particular government have appropriated the World War One commemorations, to celebrate the “British spirit” (whatever that may mean) and comparing it with the queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations. Of course, our government mourn the dead and recognize it as a horror — and I believe they feel and mean this — but the turn around from our mass national consciousness after World War Two (when, significantly we had a welfare state) that World War One should not have happened and would have spared us World War Two — to the current jingoistic celebrations of a “victory” is deliberate revisionism.

An example of the government’s work is the laying of over 400 paving stones (or hero stones) in the home towns and villages where Victoria Cross recipients were born. This may sound OK, but at the time, VCs did not want to stand out from their fallen comrades and we see this current “ripping yarns” version of history to be sacrilegious. We have to be careful here though, as many relatives of the VC are rightly proud and we do not want to upset anyone. Our careful response to this is outlined in my next answer — as care and emotional intelligence is an important principle in the No Glory campaign.

RW: Was there a conscious decision from the outset that there would be a strong cultural component to what No Glory should do? And if so, why?

JW: Yes. Cultural expression was and is very important and links us with those who brought back the stories of horror through their art. The British war poets were and are very important to us and to world literature as they made us understand what had happened physically and emotionally to millions of young men. Their artistic achievement was in showing us just enough without making us turn away. There is only so much the human psyche can tolerate without switching off — so their language was never gratuitous or (excuse the following pun, but we do have a sense of humor) “over the top.” There has been a recent attack on the war poets, with a revisionist historian referring to “Sassoon and his kind” wallowing in self pity and spreading doom and gloom. No Glory had a recent poetry event (also on the site) where we honored “Sassoon and his kind,” with readings of the war poets by contemporary poets, who also read their own poetry. It was magnificent and moving but also encouraged us to struggle against warmongering now, and to recognize it as on the same political trajectory as World War One and the disastrous Versailles settlement that carved up the world.

This is what good art does, it tells you like it is and was but is life affirming. I’ve concentrated on poetry as this is No Glory’s most recent event but there were and are paintings, novels and films. I might refer you to my recent review of the Great War in Portraits at the National Portrait gallery. Look under articles, and then reviews. Check out my thoughts on the “top down” aspects of that exhibition and the portraits of disfigured soldiers by Henry Tonks. Current art activity by No Glory includes a poster-leaflet download put together by our artists’ group. This will be used by local groups to put details in the communities of names and numbers of men who died, and is in response to the government’s Hero Stones.

RW: Art history generally sees World War One and the art that came out of it as a major leap for modernism. Could you describe the confluence of political and artistic developments that artists during World War One were operating with?

JW: A very interesting question and one fraught with contradictions. Part of the government’s commemoration are to celebrate modernism, i.e. it was all very terrible but at least it gave us modern art etc. (“I would rather have my son back than a Picasso on the wall,” a bereaved woman might have said). World War One also gave women the vote and led to various social change, but it shouldn’t take a major trauma to achieve this. But yes, trauma does lead to new ways of looking at the world — it has to, and artists’ sensibilities and vision was shaken up big time. The world would never be the same again.

Explosion, by George Grosz, oil on composition board, 1917

The marvelous German school of expressionist painting grew (in part — its complicated) out of the horrific images of George Grosz. While the Germans were painting it like it was, the British retreated to a form of nostalgic sentimentality, like a soothing balm (except Paul Nash of course).

We are Making a New World, by Paul Nash, 1918

But these are generalizations. Modernism challenged the way we looked at everything, yet art couldn’t really help nerve and body shattered soldiers returning from war who had been promised a “home fit for heroes.” Many came back to appalling poverty, watching the world build up to another war. Our brilliant writer Johnathan Meades said recently on TV “Necessity is the adoptive mother of invention, but war is its birth mother.” This is a true and desperate statement, and we would all wish that the marvelous art forms that sprang from modernism could have been achieved through peace and development.

RW: Per your last response, I’d like to try and parse out exactly how the war spurred on the aesthetic leaps in modernism. World War One is often referred to as the first industrial and technological war, and due to this was certainly the most brutal up to that moment in history. You referenced earlier how a great many of these artists and poets “showed us just enough,” but do you think there was a shift in how they showed it to us that was also spurred forth by the utter senselessness of what the artists were seeing?

JW: War as trauma shakes us up in art, science, social relationships — everything — and we have to look at life in a new way — hence modernism, we had to incorporate the new images of the machinery that made death as well as life in our aesthetic. An artist with good understanding of psychology and his or her art won’t show us too much. It’s “less is more” if you like, but neither must we turn away. The impact made through art is in the resonance between artist and viewer. To shock us into questioning? The need to make a better world? Honor the recent dead?

RW: Tell me a bit more about what these writers slamming “Sassoon and his kind.” How much do you think these writers are running cover for a deliberate political agenda? Do you think this reflects something about governments’ attempt to rehabilitate empire?

JW: “Sassoon and his kind” was referred to by Max Hastings, a right-wing historian who has a huge World War One tome out just now. He and others that we call the revisionist historians are toeing the Governments line that — despite the suffering — World War One was justified in that we had to stand up to a bully. That the British empire was also a bullying entity is not mentioned as part of this curious thing “Britishness” being touted by the establishment right now. It is nonsense.

RW: When most young people of a left bent think of art and war, there’s a good chance that the first thing coming to mind is the music and aesthetics around the Vietnam War. But I’d imagine that No Glory sees there being an evolutionary through-line of sorts between the art that came from the First World War and that which came in subsequent wars?

JW: Again, war is trauma, whether you are directly caught up in or just imagining how it is for others — this imagining, or empathy is what drives us to oppose war and is a part of our enduring humanity. But, if you have vested interest in war, i.e. you can profit from it or want to defend or expand empire then that humanity is overridden and something else takes over — maybe a hardening called “greed.” This is a gross generalization and of course it is more complex than that – and does not take into account the liberation struggle — we had to fight the Nazis in World War Two, etc. The artist steps back from all this and contributes by helping people see things outside the propaganda jingo that the war makers perpetuate.

RW: Any final thoughts?

JW: I would add that I have answered your questions primarily as an individual and campaigner with knowledge and an interest in art history. If I was a doctor my answers might have taken a different perspective — or a shop worker — or a cleaner. i could have any of these backgrounds — but as a working class woman who had the benefits of the post World War Two British welfare state — a state that was set up by an enlightened population that had to fight Hitler — I have a clear sense of what is a necessary and what is a wrong war. My sensibilities and the work I do with friends and comrades has been honed collectively. We know, and thanks to the impact that NoGlory.com has had on our population, that many many others know that World War One was an international atrocity that should not have happened. This is the predominant position in our country now, and, vitally, gives us the analysis and clarity to oppose war-mongering today as we can see the relationship between then and now.

Jan Woolf is a writer and artist in the UK. She is the author of Fugues on a Funny Bone, and is currently the cultural coordinator of the No Glory campaign. She can be reached through her website.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave a bellicose address last week on the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War—an address aimed at politically and ideologically conditioning the population for Canada’s participation in future imperialist wars: here.