In addition to helping the families of the victims to gain access to documentation about their relatives, we have other aims; to promote wider public knowledge and understanding of the purpose of archives; to encourage greater public access to the archives; and, by republishing material from the archives, to make their contents more widely available.
These objectives are furthered by this agreement, which was signed by Montserrat Balagueró, Director of Teaching Services at FUAB, and Concha Catalan, co-founder and Chairperson of IHR in a ceremony held in ESAGED on 21 November 2019. Among those also present was Dr. Joan Pérez Ventayol, Director of ESAGED, who underlined the importance of promoting the use of archives to correct injustices.
At the end of July we published the first of two articles which attempt to clarify some doubts raised about thecentral database of victims of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco Regime which is being established by Innovation and Human Rights. As mentioned in the first of these, if you have any queries about this you are welcome to contact us via email to email@example.com.
The data you publish are of a personal nature. Is it legal to publish them?
All of the data included in this project are either already publicly available in another format or, in cases where they are covered by copyright, we have obtained the authors’ permission for their use. Spanish legislation is, apparently, very protective in relation to the availability of data and restrictive in terms of permitting access to information, despite the fact that, in theory the law, like the Constitution, emanates from “the people”. A proposed reform of the 1968 Official Secrets Act, presented by the Basque Nationalist Party (Partido Nacionalista Vasco) is currently being blocked in the Spanish Congress by the Popular Party (Partido Popular) and the Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Español). Secrets appear to be eternal and access to some archives is denied.
We plan to continue adding datasets to the database, thus increasing both the volume and type of data included.
What is the ultimate goal of the project?
Our aim is that anyone who suspects or knows that one (or more) of their relatives was a victim of the Civil War or during the Franco Regime should find assistance here which will enable them access more information or documentation.
What difficulties have you encountered?
Sometimes it is difficult to explain that our aim is altruistic and has the same objective as other public and private initiatives. We present the database to show how we work and hope that it puts us into contact with other people with similar aims among those who work as professional historians or archivists or in the cultural industries or in data sciences or in fields concerning transparency and open government….We believe in interdisciplinarity.
Don’t you think that most people don’t care what happened in the past?
We think that there are people who care what happened in the past. Our project is aimed at those people who do care what happened in the past. Maybe as a society, we should be concerned that a lot of people don’t care that, for example, the families of over 100,000 dead people in Spain cannot leave flowers at a grave in a cemetery because their relatives remains lie in an unmarked mass-grave.
Aren’t you taking unfair advantage of the research carried out by other people?
We want to put together in one place the results of hundreds of research projects and databases, many of which cover a limited geographical area or which suffer from limited distribution. We consider that putting the data together in this way will enable it to be cross-referenced in a way which has not hitherto been possible and will facilitate further historical research.
Is this a research project?
It is a project which aims to contribute towards research, because our objective is to provide the data in a fashion which will enable users to make more elaborate searches for information simply by imputting a person’s name.
Is it easy for you to obtain data from the archives?
The archives hold datasets which are the fruit of thousands of hours of work by professional archivists and we think it is important to make this information available to a wider public as well as to make their enormous efforts more widely recognised. Sometimes, when they publish data, it appears in a format which is not very helpful for our purposes. However, they have to follow the instructions of their legal advisors and, apparently, under current legislation, they are not allowed to share an important part of their work.
Has the archive data which you present been sent to you by the archives?
We have obtained most of the archive data by searching on the internet for documentation on the Civil War and the Franco Regime. In some cases we have not needed to seek permission to use the data because the documentation which is available online has been presented by public archives and financed by public money.
Will you include the names of those responsible for the killings?
We have no plans to include those responsible because this is a database of victims. There are, however, precedents for this: in Poland a database was posted on the internet with the names of 10,000 members of the SS who were connected to the concentration camp at Auschwitz.
How is the association financed?
It is financed by membership fees paid by our very small number of members and by the finances of the founding members.
If anyone wants to help how can they do so?
They should write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
How can I find the name of a relative?
The database is organised in datasets which come from archives (for example https://scwd.ihr.world/es/dataset/18) or from research projects (for example https://scwd.ihr.world/es/dataset/30) which always refer back to the original sources. At the moment we are not including personal files on individuals but, if you care to send us the name of your relative, we will help you to search. We would also be interested if you wish to share your relative’s story o any documentation which you may have. Write to us at email@example.com.
This is the first of two articles in which we attempt to clarify some issues about the base de datos or central database of victims of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco Regime which has been set up by Innovation and Human Rights. We hope this will be useful. If you have any queries please about this contact us via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
How did the project begin?
The project began with the idea Guerra Civil Opendata while designing a web presentation on the bombardment of Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War. In the spring of 2016 Concha Catalán sent this idea of the project to the organisers of the IV International Conference of Open Data. It was accepted and Guillermo Blasco and Concha jointly prepared the presentation which was given at the conference which was held in Madrid in October 2016, after which they decided to develop it further.
What if someone cannot find the name of their relative(s) in the database?
The database is being continually updated, both in relation to the number of people included and in relation to the the quality of the material available. From time to time we will be announcing via our blog the inclusion in the database of new files and we will outline what these files contain.
What kind of information does the database include?
The basic information: apart from the person’s first name and surname, it will list the documents available in which the person appears and data about the origins of these documents. In cases where this is a book or article a reference will be included. Where reference is to a document or an archive, a specific reference will be included as well as information on how to request access to the archive.
Have the team from IHR visited any archives?
Yes, on numerous occasions. Among the archives visited are the Archive of the Third Regional Military Tribunal (Archivo del Tribunal Militar Tercero) in Barcelona where we have consulted the records of the Military Judicial Proceedings of the Franco Regime and the records of the Modelo Prison in Barcelona which are held in the National Archive of Catalonia [Arxiu Nacional de Catalunya]
How does the database work?
You type in a name and you will find a list of the documents where this person’s name appears. It is important to note that spellings of names can vary. Therefore try entering several different variations and spellings of the name. We are working to try to improve the search process as well as to provide responses which are similar – but not the same as – the names which are entered. We use software specially developed for this project, which allows files in a spreadsheet format to be put together in the database in response to the click of a button. Then, we provide a description of the information available in each dataset.
Why are the archive references of such importance to IHR?
Archives are not only important to IHR. Archives are fundamental to historical research in general. When people look for information and find it, they need to know where this information comes from for two important reasons: (1). for credibility; (2) for reliability. If you don’t have the document or you don’t know where the document is then you do not have the information.
How is the IHR database different from other similar databases?
1- We have a clear aim – to put together the documentation available from public sources and from published research in order to recover the memory of the victims and to assist their families. We wish to include all of the victims of the Spanish Civil War and of the Franco Regime without any geographical or other limits:
People killed whether Spanish or from overseas – for example members of the International Brigades.
People who were victims of enforced disappearance – numbering over 100,000. For years the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances of the United Nations has repeatedly called upon the Spanish government to establish a public database of these people.
Those who were victims of retaliation or repression, such as members of forced labour battalions, people held in concentration camps or prisons, people deported to camps run by the Nazis, people forced in exile….IHR considers the babies stolen under the Franco Regime to be victims also. [Read about stolen babies on this June 2018 BBC report].
2- IHR aims to make the sources of the information accessible by giving references which enable the user to find information at the click of a button.
3- IHR aims to help encourage public awareness of the fundamental importance of archives for the establishment and maintenance of a democratic society.
Will IHR include details of supporters of the 1936 military coup who became victims?
Why is IHR including victims who were supporters of the 1936 military coup or who supported the Francoist side in the Civil War?
Because in the context of the outbreak of the Civil War and of the social revolution which followed in some parts of the territory which remained loyal to the Republic there were also people who were victims – people such as murdered priests and businessmen…. or youths in areas where the military coup succeeded who were forced by the local authorities to enlist in the Francoist armed forces.
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In 2017, the Parliament of Catalonia passed a law which annulled all of the sentences imposed by the military tribunals of the Franco Regime. As a result, the National Archive of Catalonia issued the llista de reparació jurídica de les víctimes del franquisme, which includes cases dealt with by summary military proceedings from 1937 onwards. 5,502 out of the almost 70,000 summary military proceedings in that list were opened to women. It amounts to eight percent of the total.
In 1939, at the end of the Civil War, anybody who was denounced as having been a member of a political party or a supporter of the Republic could find themselves facing a firing squad. A few insubstantial and unverified allegations related to the crime of “rebellion” could lead to the opening of summary military proceedings leading to a sentence within weeks.
This was Carme Claramunt‘s sad fate. She was the first woman to be executed by a firing squad at the Campo de la Bota in Barcelona. Claramunt, aged 41, was a single housewife who had been born in Roda de Barà in the province of Tarragona. She lived in Badalona, near Barcelona, where she worked in a shop which sold fashion accessories. Angelina Picas, who ran the shop and who was called “auntie” by Carme, was childless and wanted to leave the shop to her. Claramunt was tried on charges of having denounced and thus caused the deaths of several right-wing people during the Republic. According to the work of the historian Emili Ferrando in his book Executada, some of the accusations against her were made by the nephews and nieces of Angelina Picas, who wanted to inherit the shop.
The victorious leaders of the military rebellion occupied Barcelona on 26 January 1939 and quickly established tribunals which could carry out summary trials within a matter of hours. On 2 March Carmen Claramunt, after being “arrested by members of the Falange Española,” was put into preventive custody. Within a week five of her neighbours had testified.
The summary of her case includes two statements: one from the Falange and the other, written in a similar style, from the Civil Guard (Guardia Civil). There is also a summary of the indictment describing her as “Dangerous extremist. Enemy of the nationalist regime.”
According to the prison records for 1939, cited by Fernando Hernández Holgado in his doctoral thesis “La prisión militante”, Carmen Claramunt pleaded not-guilty to all of the charges and was sent to the Corts de Barcelona women’s prison on 13 March. On 27 March her case went before a consejo de guerra sumarísimo (summary military court) accused of the offence of “military rebellion.” Later the same day she was sentenced in a joint hearing along with seven other people. Along with one of the men she was sentenced to death. (For further details see case summary No 58 in the Archivo del Tribunal Militar Territorial Tercero de Barcelona). The record contains two errors: her second surname is given as ‘Bonet’ instead of Barot and her age is given as 28 instead of 41 as stated by Ferrando.
However, executions could not be carried out without being expressly authorised by the Generalísimo from his Headquarters and this authorisation (known as an “enterado”) was not received by the prison until 17 April . Claramunt would have known her sentence but she would not have known her fate until she was informed that the death sentence was to be carried out the next morning. By then she had spent over a month in the women’s prison of Les Corts. A few hours before being executed she said goodbye to her “auntie” in a letter which Ferrando reproduces and transcribes in his book: “you already know that they are killing an innocent person (…) my only regret is to leave you but be assured that God wants this; from heaven I will ask that you will not lack anything”. Carme Claramunt was executed by firing squad at five in the morning on 18 April 1939, only five weeks after her arrest.
The same month two other women came to the same sad end: Elisa Cardona Ollé, in Tarragona, on 22 April and Encarnación Llorens Pérez, in Barcelona, on 26 April. In total, 17 women were executed in Catalunya after the Civil War. We now have more information about the others.
The Repression against Women: Some Statistical Data
The repression carried out by the military authorities by means of summary proceedings was at its most intense immediately after the end of the Civil War: 86% of the total of 3,362 executions were carried out in 1939.
Of the nearly 70,000 cases handled by summary military proceedings 5,502 cases were brought against women, which amounts to nearly eight per cent of the total.
Analysis carried out by Innovation and Human Rights of the data on all of the women included in this list of victims of the Francoist summary judicial system allows us, for the first time, to consider the summary military proceedings from the point of view of gender.
Three of every four of the 5,319 women tried by the Military Authorities up to 1978 were tried during 1939. All of the seventeen women executed by firing squad on the orders of the courts were shot during 1939. Another 24 women were condemned to death; however, they were not executed.
In one case – that of Carmen Lopez Cano – three different sets of military judicial proceedings were opened in 1939. In addition there are 181 cases of women for whom two separate proceedings were opened.
In 40% of the cases, following early investigations, the women were not detained or were subsequently released; but they acquired the stigma of having been investigated and had often suffered a period of imprisonment. For the others, the most common sentence was one of imprisonment for between twelve and twenty years. The second most common sentence was of between six and twelve years imprisonment. For details follow this link.
Minors, the Elderly and the Waiting
In 1939 alone a total of 795 women were condemned to between 12 and 20 years in prison. Even those who were, in legal terms, still minors, were subject to the repression. Until 1972 the age of majority was 21 years, but, under Article 321 of the Civil Code, all women under the age of 25 were prohibited from living outside their family without parental consent, unless it was to get married or enter a convent. Once they had married, all women were obliged to present what was called the “marital license” in order to work, to carry out a trade, to occupy a public office or to obtain a passport.
Nevertheless, during the postwar period, 6 fourteen year old girls and 5 fifteen year old girls were charged. Between 1939 and 1975, 87 girls under the age of eighteen and 466 women aged between eighteen and twenty-one were also charged. [see the data here]. Moreover, one legal minor, Eugenia Gonzalez Ramos, was even executed by firing squad at the age of twenty.
In 1939 also, one of the two youngest women to be found guilty, Encarnación Cano Cano, who was aged 16, was given a ten-year sentence. She had to wait four years for the sentence to be given because of the delays in the system.
People awaiting sentences were detained in prison. In the case of Barcelona this was in the prisión de Les Corts, which continued to function as a prison until 1955. The site of the prison is now occupied by the branch of El Corte Inglés on the Diagonal; the location is currently only marked by a sad-looking plaque. It was in Les Corts that the other woman tried in the same summary proceedings as Carme Claramunt, namely Teresa Vila Castellví, a 57 year old widow who had been condemned to 15 years imprisonment, died two weeks after the execution of Claramunt, on 5 May 1939.
Her case, however, does not end there, and, as presodelescorts.org comments “Some idea of the efficiency of the judicial-penitential system of the regime is indicated by the fact that in 1944 her prison sentence was to be commuted from one of fifteen years to one of five, without the corresponding military court being aware of her death” which had occurred five years before. Only the archives now provide a record of such deaths of people held in prison.
Charges were also brought against elderly women, including eleven who were over the age of 75 years [see data here]. The eldest of these was Antonia Castán Viu, who in 1938 received a sentence of 39 years imprisonment when she was already aged 79! This was later reduced to twelve years.
The five longest running military judicial proceedings were only finally closed after between 27 and 32 years. [see data here]. Finally one curiosity may be of interest: the most common first names of the women charged were as follows: Maria, Teresa, Carmen, Dolores y Josefa, in that order [data here].
The analysis of the data of all of the women included in the reparation list for the victims of the Franco Regime, drawn up by Innovation and Human Rights, enables us to analyse the outcomes of the summary military courts for the first time from the point of view of gender. This analysis has been possible thanks to the Law to Annul the Trials of the Franco Regime of 2017 and to the fact that, following its passage, the Arxiu Nacional de Catalunya published the database of the summary trials in a reusable format, which itself is the result of ten years work on the documents in the Archive of the Tribunal Militar Tercero.
A jupyter notebook produced by Innovation and Human Rights complements this Investigation of the summary military trials: Some Detailed Cases of Women in Catalonia. This provides access to the open source code and to the raw data which we have used to provide this information.
Grateful thanks are owed to Martin Virtel, Professor of Journalism BCN_NY, founder of the data consultancy Datenfreunde and member of dpa-Newslab, the innovation unit of Deutsche Presse Agentur, the German press agency.
[Translation by Charlie Nurse]
Photo: Militiawomen, 1936. Author: Gerda Taro. Public domain.
To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March we have added the following two items which you can find elsewhere on our website:
Firstly, we have included in the Innovation and Human Rights database the first set of data dedicated exclusively to women: in this case to the women murdered in the Aragón (mujeres asesinadas en Aragón) which is based on the research of the historian Antonio Peiró of the Universidad de Zaragoza, which was published under the title Eva en los infiernos: Mujeres asesinadas en Aragón durante la Guerra Civil y la posguerra. (“Eva in the Depths of Hell: Women murdered in Aragón during the Civil War and the Postwar Period”). Although it is impossible to establish the total number of women killed, Peiró has tracked down a total of 780 and has built up profiles of them: 593 of them died at the hands of the insurgents and another 187 at those of the Republicans.
In addition, we are publishing the results of previously unpublished research based on extensive analysis of the data on the military judicial procedures between 1938 and 1975 with specific reference to women who were subjected to retaliation. This has been made possible by the cooperation of Martin Virtel, Professor on the Master’s degree in Journalism BCN_NY and also thanks to the publication in a reusable format by the Arxiu Nacional de Catalunya of the list of those people sentenced by the judicial system of the Franco Regime. We have used the first version of this list which was published in July 2017. Follow this link for access:
Military Justice in the Spanish Civil War and under the Franco Dictatorship (1936-1980)
The military coup of 18 July 1936 led to a Civil War which lasted until 1 April 1939. The victorious Nationalists, led by General Franco, established a dictatorship which continued until after Franco’s death in November 1975. In those years, Military Justice was applied also to civilians.
We calculate that in the whole of Spain, military judicial proceedings (usually known as sumarísimos) were opened on over one million cases between 1937 and 1978, although no precise figures exist. So far we have included 485,136 records of such proceedings from 11 Spanish provinces. In Catalonia alone the figure was around 70,000, as a result of which 3,362 people were executed, the last of these in 1975. Follow this link to gain access to the IHR central database.
What were the summary military judicial proceedings?
The summary military judicial proceedings, known in Spanish as sumarísimos, were the only form of official justice which applied once the Spanish Civil War had ended. They became one of the most important instruments by which the post-war repression was carried out. Under this system cases began either in response to a denunciation or as a result of the official actions of the police forces. The Military Authorities were responsible throughout – from the first investigations right through to the execution of the sentence.
The testimonies and reports provided by la Falange – the single party of the regime-, the Civil Guard and the municipal council played a decisive role in the investigations. While the investigation was carried out, those accused could be detained or imprisoned for years without knowledge of why they had been detained and without procedural guarantees such as: the legality of their detention, the presumption of innocence, equality before the law or the right to legal defence.
If the decision was made to proceed to trial, a Consejo de Guerra (military judicial tribunal) was established. In Catalonia 60,561 Consejos de Guerra were held between 1937 and 1978, according to the data [ see the data here]. In the majority of cases the Consejo adjudicated on what was called a ‘causa acumulada’ – a trial of a group of accused, whose cases at times bore no relation to each other. The defence lawyer was always a military officer – at least until 1944 – who was only given access to the summary of the case one or two days before the court proceedings.
In Catalonia the Consejos de Guerra were held in the form of a public hearing in the Gobierno Militar de Barcelona (the Military Government Headquarters). Consejos de Guerra were also held in a number of other towns including Terrassa, Manresa, Mataró and Vic. Divisional courts were also established in Girona and Tarragona, the latter of which also covered the province of Lleida.
Once the Consejo de Guerra had been held, the sentence was reported to the auditor de guerra, an officer who give his approval, and then to the juez militar permanente, another officer whose role was to implement the sentence once it had been ratified by higher military authorities. In cases where the death sentence had been passed, this was not carried out until the Captain-General of the Military Region or Franco himself had signed his approval and had sent his authorisation, known as “the enterado” (meaning “informed or aware”).
Photo: Barcelona Central Prison: La cárcel Modelo (1941) Author: Pérez de Rozas – Arxiu Fotogràfic de Barcelona.