Timoteo Mendieta was killed more than 75 years ago, thrown against a wall and shot at point-blank range by soldiers of the Franco regime, who suspected him of being a village union leader. Now, his body has been exhumed from a mass grave in Guadalajara cemetery – one of hundreds of victims of the Spanish dictator buried in the cemetery who will at last be granted a dignified funeral, following a judicial order. A long shadow is still cast from the event that defined 20th-century Spain: the civil war that began 75 years ago, when General Franco mounted an army rebellion against the democratically elected government of the republic. Officially, the Spanish civil war ended in 1939, but its estimated more than 200,000 Spaniards died in the ensuing 36-year repressive dictatorship that followed. 100,000 victims are still missing. The Historical Memory Law was the product of several citizen-based efforts to come to terms with the repression and terror of the Franco regime. One leading group, The Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH) was formed in 2000 by some fifty archeologists and forensic scientists who had the basic goal of gaining access to mass graves and identifying the remains of victims. The effort to identify victims, chronically underfunded, is moving forward slowly (a union of electricians of Norway cover all the expenses). To date some 2,000 individuals have been positively identified, exhumed from mass graves and reburied.
ZUMA Press Launches this week: zReportage: “Franco’s Forgotten Victims” Photography by Nacho Guano.