Thousands of letters, books, maps and all sorts of other official and personal documents were pillaged from individuals, associations and institutions in Catalonia during the war and subsequent dictatorship. Most of these records are still being kept in a register in the Spanish city of Salamanca. There has been a long-running campaign in Catalonia to reclaim the documents, which came to be known as the Papers de Salamanca. Although some parts of the archive have been returned under a set of agreements reached in 2011 between the Catalan government and the Spanish Ministry of Culture, there’s a sizeable proportion of the archive which has not been restored yet.
The Comissió de la Dignitat [Commission for Dignity], which has led the campaign, was dismayed this week by the news that the authorities in Salamanca refuse to send back at least half of the remaining batch of documents:
Comissió de la Dignitat | Outraged statement concerning [Culture minister José Ignacio] Wert’s refusal to restore the remaining documents [in Catalan]
“The Comissió de la Dignitat denounces the attitude by the Ministry of Culture for unashamedly ignoring the law for the return of the documents. […] The Ministry’s objective is non other than trying to keep the spoils of war perpetrated by an occupation army 75 years ago. In other words, carrying on the job started by Francoism.
It is meaningful that this is taking place precisely 75 years after the original looting was being completed and the last wagons were being loaded with the documents requisitioned from institutions, associations and individuals in our country. It is a true slap in the face of the victims and against Catalonia, a country which, just as 75 years ago, the minister wants to humiliate again”.
The Catalan government has announced it will challenge the decision [in Spanish].