75 years on, Catalonia is still waiting for the Salamanca documents

Catalan MonitorNews Roundup

catalan-monitor-Papers-salamancaAmong the many ill effects of the Spanish Civil War in Catalonia, one is particularly poignant still today: the failure by the Spanish Government to return thousands of documents –letters, books, maps and all sorts of other official and personal documents– which were looted from the Republicans by Franco’s troops during the war, and which are still being kept in the “General Archive of the Civil War”, in Salamanca. They are known as the “Salamanca Papers” because it was in that city they were amassed and for years scrutinised by the Guardia Civil -well into the fifties in fact- in search of “incriminating” evidence against Republicans, as Toni Strubell told the London School of Economics in November 2006.

Help Catalonia has put together three articles which make an excellent account of what the “Salamanca papers” are, and why it is outrageous that the Spanish government has decided not to restore them to their legitimate proprietors or their descendants:

Help Catalonia | Henry Ettinghausen: A Tale of Two Archives
Referred to familiarly in Spain as the ‘Papeles de Salamanca’ (or Salamanca Papers), this archive is one of the many ugly fruits of Franco’s ‘Crusade’ to purge Spain of all organisations and individuals who resisted his military uprising against the Spanish Republic in July 1936 or who might have challenged his dictatorship after the Republic’s defeat in 1939, at the end of the ensuing Civil War. The Francoist repression included tens of thousands of summary executions, as well as mass forced labour and imprisonment in scores of camps and jails, and exile for those several hundred thousand who managed to flee Spain in time.

The Comissió de la Dignitat (Commission for Dignity) has been pledging for the return of the documents during the last two decades. Its position is expressed in the report The Salamanca blood papers.