About the Project
The digital Archive of the Spanish Civil War and the Francoist Dictatorship is an initiative of UCSD in collaboration with several Spanish civic associations, such as the ARMH (Asociación para la Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica), the Asociación de Ex-presos y Represaliados Políticos, the Federación Estatal de Foros por la Memoria and others. With the assistance of these human rights organizations, since the summer of 2007 several teams of graduate students have been recording audiovisual testimonies of militants, witnesses, and victims of the Spanish Civil War and the Francoist repression.
As is widely known, General Francisco Franco, together with other generals, and with the military support of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, headed a coup d’état in 1936 that interrupted the democratically elected government of the Second Republic (1931-1936). Since the coup d’état faced stiff opposition from many loyalists to the Republic, it gave rise to a civil war that lasted from 1936 to 1939. After the victory of the rebellious generals, Franco took power thus inaugurating the longest dictatorship in the history of Europe (1939-1975).
In the seventy years since the end of the Spanish Civil War scholars of the period have studied the conflict from several perspectives using different methodologies. Although some of these studies refer to the political repression implemented by Franco and the Falange (the Spanish Fascist Party), the magnitude and the scope of the repression is not yet fully documented. This absence in the historical record is the result of a “pact of silence” established by the Spanish policymakers in charge of the transition to democracy. The legal expression of this “pact of silence” was the Amnesty Law of 1977. This law grated amnesty to political prisoners, but also explicitly prohibited any legal proceedings against perpetrators of human rights violations as well. It also blocked the formation of Truth Commissions as was common in other post-dictatorial societies, such as in Argentina, Chile, and South Africa. In addition, during the transition to democracy, Francoist officials destroyed thousands of written documents pertaining to the implementation of repression both during the war and the dictatorship.
Since the year 2000 an increasing number of human rights organizations have attempted to reverse this process of amnesia and impunity through the exhumation of mass graves and other initiatives. The Spanish Civil War Memory Project seek to join forces with these organizations in order to create an audiovisual record with the testimonies of those who suffered and resisted the systematic violence implemented by the Francoist regime. As such, it aspires to constitute itself both as an archive of the repression and as an archive of the multiple political cultures (communism, anarchism, socialism, republicanism, etc.) that opposed the fascist politics of Francoism. Accordingly, the objectives of the archive are the following:
- Create a safe institutional space in order to validate the experiences of those who survived the violence implemented by the Fascist forces during the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent dictatorship.
- Create and preserve an oral record of significant events pertaining to the Spanish Civil War and the Francoist repression. The oral stories of these victims are an alternative mode of historical knowledge. As such, the testimonies of these men and women present a different version of the past, one that is extremely important, because, as pointed out before, the majority of the written records of the dictatorship were physically destroyed during the transition to democracy.
- Record and preserve the audiovisual dimension of these historical testimonies. The audiovisual component of the archive is essential, because it shows the non-verbal dimension of a traumatic testimony. By filming the testimonies we have access to body language, silences, pauses, and other non-verbal elements. These elements provide important information about the affective dimension of the testimony. Furthermore, the images of the testimony show the process of memory in the making, as an open process rather than as a closed product.
- Make the stories of the victims of the Spanish Civil War and Francoist repression available on the Internet. This will be an invaluable tool to educate future generations about the traumatic events that took place in Spain during this historical period. In this sense, the archive attempts to recover and to disseminate the multiple political legacies of the men and women who defended our first democracy and opposed the Francoist dictatorship.
The interviews included in the Archive are based on a protocol that tries to empower the witnesses by listening emphatically and actively. This implies that the interviews are open-ended and that the interviewers are historically informed so that they can assist the interviewees in the process of reconstructing their memories. For this reason, the testimonies are minimally edited to “clean” external interruptions, noises, and other irrelevant footage. In sum, we understand the recording of testimonies as a “story telling” process that, as such, involves pauses, repetitions, and a non-linear approach to history.
Download Flash to view sample video
Download Flash to view sample video
Report from the Field
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We hope that you find the stories included in this archive a useful and inspiring resource to further your knowledge of the Spanish Civil War and the Francoist dictatorship. If you or any of your relatives are interested in donating your testimonies to the collection, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spanish Organizations Collaborating in the Project
ARMH (Association for the Recuperation of Historical Memory)
Asociación de Ex-presos y Represaliados Politicos Antifranquistas (The Association of Former Political Prisoners and Anti-Francoist Fighters)
Asociación Memoria y Justicia, Andalucía (Association Memory and Justice, Andalusia)
Federación Estatal de Foros por la Memoria (State Federation of Forums for the Recovery of Memory)
Psychologists without Borders (Spain)
Ángel del Río. Anthropologist, University Pablo Olavide, Seville (Spain)
Francisco Ferrándiz. Anthropologist CSIC (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas), Spain.
Cristina Moreiras-Memor Romance Languages (University of Michigan)
Pamela Radcliff. History (UCSD)
Güenter Schwaiger. Filmmaker and President of the Collective Images Against Amnesia
Emilio Silva. Spanish Journalist President of the ARMH, Spain.
Carlos Aguero (ARMH)
Guillermo Fouce (Universidad Carlos III/PSF)
Scott Boehm (Literature)
Jessica Córdova (CILAS)
Andrea Davis (History)
Jodi Eisenberg (Literature)
Viviana Macmanus (Literature)
Elize Mazadiego (Visual Arts)
Omar Pimienta (Visual Arts)
UCSD Undergraduate Student Collaborators
Volunteers in Spain
Coordinator of the Project (P.I.)
Luis Martín-Cabrera, Assistant Professor of Literature