Category Archives: dataset-en

posts directly related to new datasets included in our database – en

The Stanbrook: The Last Ship Out of Alicante

We have for the first time included data relating to some of the many people who became exiles as a result of the Civil War and the subsequent repression. Thanks to an agreement with the Fundación Pablo Iglesias, which has in PDF format the passenger list of the British merchant vessel Stanbrook which left Alicante at the very end of the civil war, we have been able to include details of these passengers in our database which now has 1,423,082 records, all of which are referenced to archives. Here is our description of this dataset.

Late in the evening of 28 March 1939 the Stanbrook, a British registered cargo steamer (1,383 tons) left Alicante carrying 2,638 passengers to exile. She was the last vessel to leave before Italian forces entered the harbour. Thousands of terrified refugees remained in the port and were taken off into hastily-established camps. 

Built in a shipyard on the River Tyne in 1909 and originally registered as the Lancer, the Stanbrook was a very old vessel with a maximum speed of twelve knots and accommodation for 24 crew. In 1937 she was bought by the Stanhope company of London which had been established in 1934 by Jack Billmeir. Before the outbreak of the Civil War, Billmeir’s fleet consisted of two vessels only, but he, like other British shipowners, spotted the opportunity presented of carrying goods to and from Republican Spain. Within a year the Stanhope company owned over twenty ships.  Trading with the Spanish Republic was an increasingly hazardous business due to the activities of the rebel navy and airforce and those of its German and Italian allies. Shipping insurance for vessels trading with the Republic was expensive, especially for new vessels which were costly to replace. Along with other shipowners Billmeir bought up and re-registered old ships: almost all were given names which began with “Stan…” Patterns of trading were complex: vessels might, for example, transport goods to Spain, then sail to North Africa to pick up cargo for France, before sailing elsewhere or returning to Britain. Many of Billmeir’s ships made one voyage only to or from Spain and were then sold off, usually at a profit. 

By March 1939 the Stanbrook had been carrying cargo to and from the Republic for about two years. This had not been without incident. In April 1937 the vessel was one of three ships to defy the rebel attempt to blockade Bilbao. The British journalist George Steer described their reception in Bilbao as they steamed up the Río Nervión accompanied by two armed Basque trawlers:

enormous crowds cheered as the procession of three red dusters [Red Ensigns flown by British merchant ships]  passed slowly up river. They carried a cargo of 8,500 tons of food of which the most important element was 2,000 tons of wheat. Men in the patrol boat which preceded them up the Nervíon shouted ‘Pan! Pan!” and the women on the shore were mad with joy.

George Steer, The Tree of Guernica, 1938, pp. 207-8

In August 1938 the Stanbrook  sank after being attacked twice by aircraft while lying at anchor at Vallcarca, south of Barcelona. The crew were safely evacuated but her cargo of cement was ruined. She was refloated a few days later and repaired. On February 9 1939 she was hit by shrapnel from an air raid while unloading foodstuffs in Valencia. 

In March 1939 the Stanbrook’s captain, Archibald Dickson, was ordered to sail from Marseilles to Alicante to collect a cargo of oranges and saffron. Although she arrived in the harbour on 19 March, her cargo did not arrive until a week later. By then there were large numbers of refugees in the port, fleeing the advancing Francoist forces. The port authorities asked the captain to evacuate as many civilians as possible to Oran in the French colony of Algeria. In a letter written a few days later to the Sunday Dispatch, a popular British newspaper, Dickson described the refugees:

Amongst the refugees were a large number of women and young girls and children of all ages, even including some in arms. Owing to the large number of refugees, I was in a quandary as to my own position, as my instructions were not to take refugees unless they were in real need. However, after seeing the condition of the refugees, I decided from a humanitarian point of view to take them aboard as I anticipated that they would soon be landed at Oran.

Among the refugees were all classes of people, some of them appearing very poor indeed and looking half-starved and ill-clad and attired in a variety of clothing ranging from boiler-suits to old and ragged pieces of uniform.”

Dickson wrote that within ten minutes of leaving the port “a most terrific bombardment of the town and port was made and the flash of the explosions could be seen quite clearly from on board.” The voyage across the Mediterranean to Oran took 22 hours, sailing without lights to avoid attack from Francoist ships or aircraft. Since the British government had recognised the Franco regime on 27 February, the British navy was not prepared to intervene to protect the vessel. Dickson described conditions on the ship:

The number of refugees on board made it almost impossible to move on the vessel itself, as the hatches had been opened ready to load the cargo and consequently the refugees could only stand on deck.

On arrival in Oran the French authorities were reluctant to allow the refugees ashore: the women and children were allowed to disembark after a few days but the remainder were forced to wait several weeks. Most of the refugees were sent to Camp Morand near Boghari in the Sahara. The facilities at the camp were so poor that its closure was recommended at the International Conference for Assistance to Spanish Refugees, held in Paris on 15/16 July 1939, but this did not occur.

Spanish republicans disembarking Stanbrook in Oran, 30 March 1939. FOT-029271. Fundación Pablo Iglesias.

Three days after the departure of the Stanbrook Italian troops entered Alicante, followed by Franco’s forces. The fate of the thousands of people left behind in the port has been described by Paul Preston:

Families were violently separated and those who protested were beaten or shot. The women and children were transferred to Alicante, where they were kept for a month packed into a cinema with little food and without facilities for washing or changing their babies. The men – including boys from the age of twelve – were either taken to the bullring in Alicante or to a large field outside the town, the Campo de los Almendros, so called because it was an orchard of almond trees.

Paul Preston, The Spanish Holocaust, 2012, p. 480

Later in 1939, after the outbreak of the Second World War, the Stanbrook was sunk by a German submarine while sailing from Antwerp to Britain with a loss of all twenty members of her crew, including Archibald Dickson. In 2018 a plaque was unveiled to Dickson in his home city of Cardiff by Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales and on 28 March 2019, the 80th anniversary of the Stanbrook’s evacuation, a bust of Dickson was unveiled in the port of Alicante.  There is also a street in Alicante named after the vessel – “Calle Buque Stanbrook” . 

More information about camp Morand here and about the Campo de los Almendros here (both in Spanish).

PHOTO: The Stanbrook in 1909, then sailing as the Lancer. Clive Ketley, Public domain, vía Wikimedia Commons

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International POUM volunteers in the Spanish Civil War

In a previous article we reviewed The International Brigades: Fascism, Freedom and the Spanish Civil War, Giles Tremlett’s exhaustive and wide-ranging account of the 34,000 foreign volunteers who fought in the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War. Hot on the heels of Tremlett’s book comes this latest volume, Voluntarios por la Revolución: La Milicia Internacional del POUM en la Guerra Civil Española, by Andy Durgan (Laertes, 2022), currently published in Spanish only, on the foreigners who fought in the militia of the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM). By comparison with the International Brigaders, the foreign volunteers who served in the militia of the POUM have received little attention. To mark the 87th anniversary of the founding of the POUM – 29 September 1935– we are publishing this review of a book which fills this gap in the literature on the Civil War. At the same time we are adding to our database a further 1,174 records which are drawn from Durgan’s extensive research.

The story of the POUM during the Civil War is usually seen through the eyes of Eric Blair, the English writer who wrote under the name George Orwell and whose experiences in the party militia were recounted in Homage to Catalonia. Orwell was a member of the only group of volunteers which has received much attention from historians, namely those from the British Independent Labour Party (ILP). Andy Durgan, a British academic long resident in Barcelona, is excellently suited to his subject-matter: his previous work has included a study of the origins of the POUM

Following the street-fighting in Barcelona in early May 1937, known in Catalan as els fets de maig, the POUM was accused of being a Nazi-front organisation.  On 16 June 1937 it was declared illegal by the Republican government. One of its leaders, Andreu Nin, was arrested and later murdered by Soviet agents, though it was claimed, bizarrely, that he had been rescued from prison by Nazi agents disguised in International Brigade uniforms. Other party leaders were arrested, the Hotel Falcón in Barcelona – the headquarters of the party’s military committee –  was turned into a Communist party prison and its other offices were closed. Numerous members of the POUM militia were arrested, in some cases after returning on leave to Barcelona after serving on the front line in Aragon.    

At the time of the outlawing of the POUM, the accusations against the party of being agents of the Nazi state were repeated in foreign media and widely believed.  Orwell, who returned to Barcelona from the Aragon front on 20 June, was forced to go into hiding until he escaped to France with his wife. Later, in Homage to Catalonia (1938) Orwell set out to expose the preposterous allegations against the POUM and its members. In 1938 seven prominent leaders of the party were finally put on trial: the charges of being Nazi agents collapsed and, instead, five of the accused were convicted of attempting a revolutionary seizure of power in Barcelona in May 1937. As Durgan points out, the Republican state and its legal system were not under the control of the Soviet Union or the Spanish Communist Party and the kind of show trial which occurred in Moscow in 1936-1938 was not possible in the Republic. 

Despite the acquittal of the party leadership on charges of being Nazi agents, much of the mud thrown at members of the party and its militia has continued to stick.  Among the common accusations which have been regularly levelled at the POUM militia, two stand out: that of playing football against the enemy in no-man’s land on the Aragon front and that of large-scale desertion of the same front during the fets de maig. Durgan provides evidence to refute both of these charges. With regard to the allegations that the POUM was a nest of foreign spies, Durgan accepts that there were probably spies in all military units, but dismisses the idea that they played an important role in the POUM by pointing to the extensive pre-war experience of many of the foreign volunteers as militant revolutionaries.  This, effectively, is one of the fundamental points of Durgan’s volume: by detailing, as he does, the backgrounds of the foreign POUM volunteers, he challenges the reader to believe that such people could be Fascist spies or counter-revolutionaries. 

The exact number of foreigners who served in POUM military units between the military coup of July 1936 and the outlawing of the party in June 1937 is unknown. Durgan puts the number at about 500, of whom he has managed to trace 367; these form the basis of much of the book. The brief biographical notes on each of these which are provided in an appendix give a picture of the extraordinary lives of many of these hitherto-overlooked revolutionaries and will be of use to researchers. 

Not surprisingly the POUM volunteers shared many characteristics with members of the International Brigades: most were manual workers, only a minority had any previous military experience and a significant number were Jewish. There were, however, differences: Poumistas tended to be older than Brigaders.  Whereas the latter included volunteers from around four-fifths of the total of independent states in the world, the POUM volunteers were drawn from a smaller range of countries and they were more likely to be anti-fascist refugees. Some 60 per cent of POUM volunteers came from countries with authoritarian governments, with the largest groups, not surprisingly, from Germany (about 30 per cent) and Italy (another 20 per cent). Most of these were already living outside their home countries when the Civil War began, often in France or Belgium. However, a significant number foreign Poumistas were already living in Spain before the outbreak of war: Durgan identifies 79 such foreign residents, 34 of them German, 25 Italian. Most of the Germans were living in Barcelona, where, even before the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, there was a large German community. By 1934 this was estimated by the police at 15,000-18,000, many of them illegal immigrants. One of the features of interwar Europe underlined both by Durgan and by Tremlett is the large number of displaced people. 

The common background of German and Italian volunteers as refugees from dictatorship in their home countries led to one, possibly predictable, difference between the two groups. The earlier establishment of the Fascist regime in Italy meant that most Italian volunteers had left the country in the 1920s, making the average Italian poumista noticeably older than their German counterpart – and older than the overall average of POUM foreigners.  

Predictably many of the POUM volunteers had been active in left-wing political circles in their own countries, either in dissident Communist groups and parties critical of Stalin or in left-wing Socialist parties, such as the German Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands (SAPD) and the British ILP.  Durgan helpfully provides both background material on these parties in an early chapter as well as an alphabetical list which many readers will find particularly useful. 

The focus of Durgan’s book is, however, not only on the foreign volunteers: he also sets out to examine the military policies of the POUM, an aspect which, he argues, has been badly neglected by historians. This involves detailed accounts of the establishment and development of the POUM militia units and their military activity during the first year of the war, above all on the Aragon Front. 

Historians seem to have accepted too readily Orwell’s picture of Aragon as a stagnant front where little fighting occurred. This picture fitted easily into accounts of the war written by opponents of the POUM including supporters of the Communist party. The Aragon Front was clearly a backwater in comparison with the battles around Madrid in the winter of 1936-1937 and those in the Basque provinces and Asturias in the summer of 1937. However, Durgan shows that the POUM units were far from inactive, particularly in the attempts to seize the Francoist stronghold of Huesca. Indeed, on the very day that the POUM was declared an illegal organisation, 16 June 1937, troops from the 29th Division, the party’s militia unit which had until shortly before been known as the Lenin Division, captured the strategically important hill “Loma de las Mártires” on the northern outskirts of Huesca. 

While most of the POUM forces were deployed in Aragon, Durgan also details the experiences of the party’s unit on the Madrid front, including the role of the Argentine Mika Etchebéhèhere, who, despite being a woman, commanded a company of the POUM militia and later served on the General Staff of the (Anarchist) 36th Brigade, before dedicating her remaining time in Spain to working with the Anarchist women’s organisation Mujeres Libres

Mika Etchebéhère, who was born in Argentina in 1902 and died in France in 1992 . Here at the Guadalajara front in 1936. PHOTO: Wikipedia

The POUM is often seen as a marginal party which enjoyed an ephemeral existence between its founding in 1935 and its suppression. Durgan challenges this, citing a membership of 30,000 during the winter of 1936/7, mainly in the most revolutionary zones of Catalonia, Valencia and Aragon. While it is often assumed that the outlawing of the POUM in June 1937 spelt the end of the party, Durgan also shows that this was clearly not the case: it continued a shadowy existence in Valencia and Madrid until mid-1938: clandestine editions of La Batalla, the party’s newspaper, continued to appear and Durgan quotes the paper’s editor, Josep Rebull, who claimed that 8,000 to 10,000 members remained active in December 1937.     

After the party was outlawed the fate of the POUM’s foreign volunteers varied. Durgan argues that most of the volunteers who came from countries with democratic regimes were able to leave Spain, though in many cases this was after periods of detention. The situation for the remainder was much more difficult as they could not return to their home countries. Durgan lists 104 volunteers who were arrested after the fets de maig, 31 of whom were expelled. Many of the others stayed on, whether to enlist in anarchist units, in the International Brigades, in regular units of the Republican army, or, in some cases to work in factories. 

Readers of Homage to Catalonia may recall that, prior to the fets de maig , the author, along with some of the other ILP volunteers, was attempting to transfer to the International Brigades. The events in Barcelona made this unthinkable and Orwell returned to the POUM militia on the Aragon Front until he was wounded. Transfers between military units seem, however, to have been relatively common: Durgan identifies 51 volunteers who served in both the International Brigades and in POUM militia units. In some cases former Poumistas had limited alternatives: the Italian Giuseppe Leban, for example, was expelled from Spain in August 1937, but was then expelled from France two months later and returned to Spain to join the Brigades.

The situation of many of the volunteers emerges from the biographical details in Durgan’s appendix. The German Hans Reiter, for example, a former member of the French Foreign Legion, served in the POUM militia and, after being detained in July 1937, became an officer in the Republican army. Detained in a camp in Algeria between 1939 and 1942, he joined General Philippe Leclerc’s famous 2nd Armoured Division which entered Paris at the head of allied liberation forces in August 1944.  Otto Towe, also German, served in the POUM militia before transferring to the Anarchist Durruti Column in December 1936 and subsequently, in July 1937, enlisting in the International Brigades in which he served until the end of the war (despite being briefly arrested in August 1937). His experiences afterwards included being interned in France, returning to Germany where he was detained by the Gestapo, being sent to Greece as part of a German penal battalion, escaping and joining the Greek People’s Liberation Army (ELAS), the largest of the Greek forces fighting the German occupation. 

Towe’s option of joining the International Brigades, however, does not seem to have been available to many of those volunteers who had been members of the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (Opposition), the dissident German communist party: Durgan notes the role of the KPD-Abwehr, the security organisation of the pro-Moscow German communist party, which accused all German POUM volunteers of being Gestapo agents and was able to prevent most of them from enlisting in the Brigades. 

As the cases of Otto Towe and Hans Reiter indicate, the fate of those foreigners who served in the POUM was often very harsh after the victory of Franco. The relatively large numbers of German and Italian volunteers were, almost inevitably, destined for concentration camps, initially in France, where their prospects worsened after the Fall of France in 1940.  Of the 52 POUM volunteers whom Durgan lists as having been interned in French camps, 28 were Italians and 18 Germans. Their situation can be compared with many of their compatriots from the International Brigades. Like the latter many were sent to the concentration camp at Gurs in South-west France. Here, according to Durgan the Poumistas suffered the additional hardship of being treated as Nazi spies and sympathisers by members of the Communist party. 

How should we assess the contribution of the relatively small number of foreign volunteers who served in the military units of the POUM? Durgan argues that their importance should not be overlooked. He lists 36 volunteers who served as officers and/or political commissars in POUM units and argues that the units in which they served were the most effective assembled by the party. Their role, like that of the POUM itself, has been marginalised in many of the accounts of the Civil War. Few historians have believed the charges levelled at the party and its militia of being a Nazi front organisation, but, as Durgan indicates, many of the other frequently repeated accusations made against it were unwarranted and false.  One of Durgan’s conclusions, indeed, is that:

the main difference between the foreign fighters of the POUM and the members of the International Brigades was the vilification and, in many cases, the repression to which they were subjected

Voluntarios por la Revolución: La Milicia Internacional del POUM en la Guerra Civil Española (p. 485)

As indicated earlier, this book’s focus on the foreign volunteers of the POUM fills a vacuum in our knowledge and understanding of aspects of the Civil War. While much of the material on the party itself may already be found in specialist literature in Spanish and Catalan, Voluntarios Por La Revolución makes this available to a wider readership and is to be recommended to readers interested in the internal politics of Republican Spain during the Civil War. Readers of the English edition of this blog must hope for the early publication of an English-language edition.  

With thanks for Enric’s work on the database.

This post has been updated on 4 October 2022.

Mantenemos una base de datos con 1,4 millones de registros de la Guerra Civil y el franquismo. Suscribete a nuestro boletín de noticias aquí y considera la posibilidad de hacer una donación aquí. ¡Gracias!

PHOTO: POUM’s militia members being instructed about shotguns. Lenin headquarters in Barcelona. Biblioteca Digital Hispánica. Imágenes procedentes de los fondos de la Biblioteca Nacional de España.

The Bodies in the Valle de los Caídos: An Analysis of their Origins By Municipality

Text: Concha Catalán / Laura Cuesta. Data and maps: Alejandro Zappala. With the assistance of Martin Virtel and Marta Martínez.

The year 1958 witnessed the beginning of a macabre exercise as lorries transported the remains of people killed during the Civil War along the roads of Spain. The objective was to use them to fill the largest mausoleum in the history of Spain, the Valle de los Caídos (Valley of the Fallen) which would be inaugurated on 1st April 1959, the twentieth anniversary of the formal end of the Civil War.

Today we begin a short series of articles dealing with the process of transferring these corpses to the Valle de los Caídos.  

In 2018 we added to our data base the names of over 20,000 victims whose remains were transported to the Valle de los Caídos and we identified the provinces from which they were transferred. For details of this see The People Buried in the Valle de los Caídos: Where did they die?

Today we are taking a step further and providing new information about these people, namely the municipality from which their remains were transferred and the exact location of the original grave in the municipality if this information is included in the mass grave map which can now be found on the website of Memoria Democrática at the Ministerio de la Presidencia, Relaciones con las Cortes y Memoria Democrática [it was previously at the Ministerio de Justicia].  A description of the dataset is available via this link.

The analysis of this data is possible as a result of the work of our colleague Alejandro Zappala, to whom we are also grateful for using QSIG software to produce maps showing the population size of municipalities. 

Click on the map to enlarge it

We think that this first map deserves some explanation, as it constitutes a real metaphor of the wounds exposed by the exhumation of the mass graves to transfer the remains of the victims to the Valle de los Caídos. The roads, shown in red on the map like human veins, run across Spain and, alongside them are indicated the locations from where corpses were exhumed before transportation. Each municipality where exhumation occurred is indicated by a brown colouring, the shade of which provides an indication of the number of victims whose remains were transferred. This means that the areas marked dark red, the colour of a bruise, indicate locations where the greatest number of corpses were exhumed.

The graph (below) provides data on the mass graves in the municipalities from which the remains of the largest number of victims were exhumed (it covers a total of 50 mass graves located in 47 different municipalities). The number of corpses which have been identified is indicated in green; the number unidentified is indicated in grey. 

Click to enlarge

The data reveal that, in total, the remains of 33,840 people were moved to the Valle de los Caídos from 500 mass graves in 460 municipalities located throughout the territory of the Spanish state. It  includes, for example, Ramon Piñeiro Jiménez and Francisco Ramos Rubio, from Ceuta, and Alfonso Prendes Estrada, from Melilla. The ten municipalities from which most corpses were exhumed and transported were as follows: Zaragoza (4,024 bodies), Griñón, Madrid (3,180), which was the location of rebel army field hospital; Teruel (2,916), Madrid (2,124), Getafe, Madrid (1,552); Bot, Tarragona (1,194); Oviedo (1,040), Gandesa, Tarragona (923); Grado, Asturias (920); and Huesca (855). 

Not all of the corpses transferred were identified. The ten municipalities from which the largest number of identified corpses were taken were as follows: Zaragoza,(3,769); Griñón (2,217), Madrid (1,639), Bot (1,194), Teruel (1,142), Grado (870), Gandesa (863), Batea, Tarragona (835), Cella, Teruel (635) and Horta de Sant Joan, Tarragona (576). 

There are a total of 11,688 people whose remains have not been identified.  In the case of some municipalities, such as Bot or Batea (Tarragona), unidentified remains were not transferred. A high percentage of identified remains also came from Zaragoza (93%) and Gandesa (93,5%). One obvious factor in the variations in identification rates was the orders given to the rebel forces who were instructed to bury corpses with a glass bottle containing a sheet of paper listing the dead person’s name and military rank. 

Identification documents found in glass bottles alongside Francoist soldiers buried in the cemetery of
Batea. From the Archivo Municipal de Batea (Tarragona). Cited in The valley of the fallen: a new El Escorial for Spain, por Queralt Solé

Read also (pending translation)

PHOTO: Document belonging to el Patronato. “List of the honoured remains of members of the National Crusade which were sent to lie in eternal rest in the National Monument of Santa Cruz of the Valley of the Fallen at Culgamuros”. Photo by permission of Queralt Solé.

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New Search Engine Using Place of Birth

We are always looking for different ways of communicating information about the victims of the Spanish Civil War and the postwar repression under the Franco Dictatorship. Today we present a geographical search engine which incorporates diverse sets of data.

This new resource was announced last month at a round table event on open data and archival heritage held as part of the Datos abiertos y patrimonio documental at the XVIII Congreso de Archivística y Gestión Documental de Catalunya and we are making this announcement on the occasion the International Day of Archives (9 June) to draw attention to the importance attached to the publication of historical data in an open and accessible format.

Martin Virtel and Guillermo Nasarre have located on a map all of the people who were killed, disappeared or who suffered retaliation for whom we have been able to trace their place of birth. This amounts to the personal files of over 82,000 records. This will make it possible to carry out geographical searches for these people. This will enable you to carry out a search using family names and place of birth. With family names we recommend that you try a variety of spellings, and especially that you try both with and without accents.

“We particularly liked working with Datasette developed by Simon Willison,” said Martin. “It is excellent for publishing data: well thought out, easy to understand and to adapt”.

“We were able to use the time which we saved by using Datasette to publish an R package to which we have given the name “limpyr”,  added Guillermo [R is a programming language]. “It includes a variety of cleaning functions, such as converting the names of places, in some cases where there is more than one version of the name, into geographical coordinates.”

Geographical Search by Place of Birth 

By following the link above, also accessible on our main page, you will see a map followed by a list of names.  On the map there are a maximum of one thousand dots, representing people’s records. The locations are not necessarily exact and there may be more than one dot for a person if they appear in more than one dataset. The place of birth has been automatically generated based on the place name used by the author in order the increase the chances of a search being successful. We have also produced an online tutorial on how to carry out a geographical search of our database with music by Piano Accompaniment

The people represented by the dots on the map are listed below the map. The left-hand column (columna ID) provides a list of identification numbers; if you click on one of these you can directly connect to all of the information on that person which we have in our database. If you click “Referencias” in any personal file you can find out how to access the information and/or documentation.  

We think that the ability to search using family names and birthplaces will be useful in enabling many people to find out about relatives who were victims of retaliation which is frequently something of which the descendants of victims are unaware. 

If you want to search for someone by first name and family names you will find that it is better to search for them using, which provides access to all of the personal files (over 1.4 million) which are on our central database, or the new search engine which we introduced in our previous article  (Nuevo Buscador de Represaliados de la Guerra Civil).

Article translated by Charlie Nurse.

Mantenemos una base de datos con 1,4 millones de registros de la Guerra Civil y el franquismo. Suscribete a nuestro boletín de noticias aquí y considera la posibilidad de hacer una donación aquí. ¡Gracias!

The making of the Ministry of Education records

If you read this article and find it useful please consider making a donation to enable us to continue our work by following this link Thank you!

La base de datos de los expedientes del Archivo del Ministerio de Educación que incorporamos a es útil para el objetivo por el que se creó: encontrar en el Archivo el expediente solicitado entre más de medio millón. El Archivo pasó años elaborándola.

Hemos querido calcular cuánto tiempo se tardaría únicamente en teclear la información que contiene.  Los casi 30 millones de caracteres que la conforman suponen un mínimo de tiempo de 340 días laborales tecleando a un ritmo de 36 palabras por minuto, la velocidad media para acceder a un puesto de la Administración Pública que implique esta tarea. Es decir, solo introducir los datos habría ocupado más de un año de trabajo. No estamos teniendo en cuenta la tarea de traslado de los expedientes para su consulta y laboriosa descripción. El trabajo con esta documentación histórica se llevó a cabo de forma adicional al trabajo diario del Archivo.

Igual que cada registro se refiere a una persona -y nunca olvidamos esto-, quien introduce cada registro desde un archivo también lo es, y todas las personas podemos cometer errores. 

Limpiar los datos nos permite analizarlos y extraer nuevas conclusiones. En asignamos género a cada uno de los registros, aunque este trabajo no es visible en la base de datos. 

Para asignar género a cada uno de los nombres, hemos utilizado una base de datos de uso interno, elaborada por Carla Ymbern con datos del Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE) y el Institut Català d’Estadística (IDESCAT). Esto nos permite concluir que es muy superior el porcentaje de hombres con un expediente de titulación, mientras que el número de expedientes de depuración a hombres y mujeres es paritario.

Porcentaje de expedientes por género

La descripción del siguiente trabajo de limpieza de los datos no tiene como objetivo la crítica, sino explicar una parte de la actividad de con los conjuntos de datos que integramos en la base de datos centralizada de la Guerra Civil y el franquismo. 

El número de registros era inicialmente 565.218, y acabamos con 562.298. Se eliminaron casi 3.000 porque se detectó que eran duplicados. Nadie sería capaz de crear una base de datos uniforme  La tecnología avanza rápidamente y los criterios pueden cambiar, así como las personas que dirigen el trabajo y quienes lo llevan a cabo.

Errores tipográficos que no tienen importancia en otros contextos cobran importancia en el caso de una búsqueda en una base de datos con tantos registros.  Por ejemplo, existían nombres con caracteres imposibles, como números o símbolos diferentes al guión o el apóstrofe, o bien espacios y signos de puntuación adicionales.  También había palabras incompletas o escritas incorrectamente. 

Se reemplazaron expresiones como  “Mª” o “Antº” por María o Antonio, aunque a veces no fue posible por su ambigüedad. Por ejemplo  “Fº” podría ser “Fernando” o “Francisco”, incluso otros, y se optó por transformarlo en “F.” 

Las máquinas que nos ayudan a limpiar los datos tenían que recibir instrucciones claras. Por ejemplo, 

  • Todos los apóstrofes deben tener caracteres alfabéticos antes y después. 
  • Todos los puntos deben ir precedidos por una mayúscula y seguidos de un espacio. 
  • No puede haber mayúsculas en el interior de una palabra. 

Asimismo, en el campo de nombres y apellidos, no puede haber ni dígitos, ni interrogantes ni guiones sueltos para indicar que “no consta”,  ni espacios extra en blanco, porque esto dificulta la búsqueda. 

Nombre y apellidos con mayor número de expedientes

Núm totalDepuraciónTitulación
josegarcia garcia33231
manuelfernandez garcia27423
josesanchez garcia25223
josemartinez martinez25124
franciscogarcia garcia25223
maria del carmengarcia garcia21021
maria del carmengarcia fernandez16016
josefagarcia garcia14212
maria del carmenperez garcia11011
maria de los angelesgarcia garcia11110

Utilizamos la existencia de la serie de caracteres “depura” en Tipo de expediente y Especialidad para separar los datos del Ministerio de Educación en

Hemos creado un notebook para explicar este proceso de limpieza y está disponible aquí.

We hope you liked this article. We keep a database of 1.2m records of the Spanish Civil War and Francoist Spain and help promote access to information in Spain. Please consider making a donation to enable us to continue our work by following this link Thank you!

IMAGEN: Título de Maestra de primera enseñanza elemental de Tomasa Sevilla Aranda (1913). Cedido por su bisniesta Raquel Herrera, quien estudia la depuración de sus bisabuelos en el proyecto difundido como #maestrosyrehenes en la red social twitter.

Correction: Ministry of Education data

In our work we value highly the accuracy of information and therefore we consider it important to correct mistakes. The following is a correction to our previous article entitled Data from the Ministry of Education – our database now has over one million case files .

We have discovered that the files containing more than half a million personal records from the Ministerio de Educación which we received described as records of teachers screened for their political reliability and – in some cases purged from the teaching profession – are, in fact, mainly records of those awarded teaching or professional qualifications.

This was discovered by making a request for the file of a person who had, supposedly, been politically screened to the Archivo General de la Administración (AGA). 

The Archive of the Ministerio de Educación has provided this explanation: “When the databases of records of screened teachers and qualifications were merged, they were mixed in a way that made it impossible to separate both categories” (*)

In the original database the word “depuración” (screened) appears in a total of 49,045 personal files, usually in the field listing “Tipo de expediente” (category of file). Therefore, from now onwards, you will be able to find in our database two sets of datasets:

Both types of personal file may be found in the Archivo General de la Administración (AGA), where they were transferred from the Archivo Central del Ministerio de Educación (ACME). 

50% of those names against which there is at least one record of political screening refer to people for whom there is also a record of a teaching qualification.  

According to the Archive, in some cases the records of screening and of qualification may be included in the same personal file. We have only retained personal files covering both screening and qualification in a dozen cases, where we have established that the first names, family names, folder number and file number are the same and where the record covers both screening and qualification.   

We think that it is a good idea to continue to provide access to all of these personal records in order to facilitate the work of anyone who has an interest in reconstructing their family roots. 

(*) Text has been modified after obtaining further information from the Archivo de Educación (27 April 2021)

 “He who has made a mistake and doesn’t correct it makes an even greater mistake.” 


Data from the Ministry of Education – our database now has over one million case files

If you read this article and find it useful please consider making a donation to enable us to continue our work by following this link Thank you!

To mark the fourth anniversary of the establishment of Innovation and Human Rights we have added a total of 562,298 personal files from the Ministerio de Educación to our database. We have divided them into two separate datasets. 49,045 are records of teachers who were screened for their political reliability in the Francoist repression and – in some cases – expelled from the profession, and 513,253 are the records of people who were awarded teaching or technical school qualifications This means that the database now includes 1,282,626 personal records which may be accessed by first name and family name. 

[Note 9 March 2021: In the previous version of this article a higher number of people was given and reference was made to only one dataset. For an explanation of this change follow the link to this article]

The personal files of people purged in this process is now much more accessible than previously. The dataset itself is the result of the efforts, over a period of many years, of the staff of the Archivo Central de Educación (ACME) . The files themselves were subsequently transferred to the Archivo General de la Administración (AGA) in Alcalá de Henares, where they are now housed. 

The purge was not restricted to teachers at primary and secondary levels: it also included staff in the Universities, the Colleges of Engineering and of Architecture,  the Technical Colleges, the Business Schools and the Escuelas Taller (Vocational Training Centres). Neither was it restricted to the teaching profession as it also covered teaching assistants, auxiliary staff, administrators, caretakers and anyone else involved education, all whom were liable to be removed from their posts and to have a file opened on them. 

In total there are over half a million personal files and they include people from a variety of professional backgrounds: not only teachers but also industrial experts, teachers of commerce, engineers, architects, veterinary surgeons, fitters, machinists, overseers and many others. We are carrying out an analysis of this data and hope to be able to provide more information soon.  

The importance of education for the early governments of the Republic was pointed out in a previous article The Mission of the School is to Transform the Country. A generation of teachers identified with this mission and with the Republic. The key aims of the early Republican governments, namely freedom of the individual, teacher’s initiative, solidarity and citizenship were reflected in the educational system. The rebel military officers and their civilian allies were determined to prevent the promotion and encouragement of these aims in the educational system.

The Spanish Republic was a pioneer in promoting two reforms which at the time were very controversial but which today are taken for granted not only in Spain but also in neighbouring countries: an educational system which is public, secular and mixed; and the equal role of women in society.  As a result the dictatorship was particularly brutal in its treatment of the educational profession.

As Maria Antonia Iglesias explains in her book Maestros de la República. Los otros santos, los otros mártires (La Esfera de Libros, 2006), an unknown number of teachers were executed, above all during the Civil War but also during the early postwar period, often in the cruellest and most arbitrary fashion. These include the following:  Argimiro Rico Trabada (Baleira, Lugo), Ceferino Farfante Rodríguez, Balbina Gayo Gutiérrez (Cangas del Narcea, Asturias), Bernardo Pérez Manteca (Fuentesaúco, Zamora),  Miguel Castel Barrabés (Sant Bartomeu del Grau, Barcelona) José María Morante Benlloch (Carcaixent, Valencia),  Gerardo Muñoz Muñoz (Móstoles, Madrid), Severiano Núñez García (Jaraiz de la Vera, Cáceres), Teófilo Azabal Molina (Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz), Carmen Lafuente (Cantillana, Sevilla) and José Rodríguez Aniceto (El Arahal, Sevilla). 

During the Civil War, as the rebel military forces advanced and occupied new territory, they imprisoned not only soldiers but also leading local political and social figures. In addition they sacked teachers and other educational staff, initially banning from the classroom all staff who had been involved in teaching in the Republican Zone during the Civil War. 

Decreto 66 , a decree issued as early as 8 November 1936 established Committees for the Purging of Educational Staff (Comisiones Depuradoras del personal de la Enseñanza). There were four types of these committees, specialised as follows : (1) University Staff; (2) Colleges of Engineering and Architecture; (3) Secondary teachers, Teaching Inspectors, Teacher Training College staff and Administration Department staff; and (4) Primary Teachers. For each of the last two categories there was one committee for each province, while for the first two there was one nationwide committee. 

A landmark in the historical study of the purging of the Spanish educational profession was achieved in 1997 by the doctoral thesis of Francisco Morente Valero, currently Professor at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Entitled La escuela y el Estado Nuevo. La depuración del magisterio nacional (1936-1943), this included an appendix which listed 20,000 names, although this was only a sample of the total number of staff affected.  More recently, in 2017, in his thesis on the purging of the teaching profession in A Coruña entitled La depuración del Magisterio nacional en A Coruña, Jesús Manuel García Díaz provided a summary of the historical studies of the purging of the educational system at both national and local levels up to the date of publication  (pages 24-62). 

This dataset is the largest so far to be included in the database. All of the files in the database can be accessed by inputting first name and family name.  Among the other datasets included in the database are:

If you read this article and find it useful please consider making a donation to enable us to continue our work by following this link  Thank you!

Photograph: A school in Spain before 1936, showing a teacher with her pupils.  Photographer unknown. Wikipedia. 

485,136 military proceedings opened against so-called «reds»: the big data of the repression

At the not-for-profit organisation Innovation and Human Rights  we think that access to information is a fundamental right. Recognised as such in international law, as well as by many constitutions  and in the national law of over 80 countries across the world, it implies that everyone has the right to request and receive information from public organisations. 

Today we are announcing that we are making available access to the data on nearly half a million summary military judicial procedures which were opened in a total of eleven Spanish provinces  between 1936 and 1975, during the Civil War and under the Franco Regime, according to data from the Ministry of Defence.  We are working on making available this kind of data for additional provinces.

«Access to information is of fundamental importance in order to break the silence and the lack of knowledge which still exist in relation to our recent history.»

Since 2016  Innovation and Human Rights   has been compiling and republishing data which has hitherto been scattered across different sources and integrating this material into a Central Database on the Civil War and the Franco Regime.  This may now be searched merely by the click of a mouse.

Our database now consists of over 700,000 case files, each of which provides a reference to the documentary source on which it is based as well as a page which outlines the source of the dataset, its authorship and how to acquire access to the original documentation or other source of information.  Usually, the datasets are based upon indices assembled by the archives themselves, but we also include data from historical research which has been carried out in some regions of Spain, namely La Rioja, Aragón, Catalunya and Madrid, and which their authors have generously shared with us for this project (For more details search the section Datasets on our home page). 

«A lot of people do not even know that their relatives were victims of reprisals; they are surprised to find their relatives’ names in the database and, as a result of discovering this, request the source documentation. »

So far we have included data about eleven provinces from the following Territorial Military Tribunals (into which Spain was divided at the time): 

  • From the First (Primero), data about Madrid, Albacete, Alicante, Castellón and Valencia; 
  • From the Third (Tercero) data about Barcelona, Girona, Lleida and Tarragona
  • From the Fourth (Cuarto)  data about León and Zamora

These were already available to the public via the pages of the following archives, respectively: the Archivo General e Histórico de Defensa, the  Arxiu Nacional de Catalunya and the Archivo Intermedio Militar Noroeste.  

Searches may be carried out by first name and surname. Each case file provides information on how to gain access to the original documentation and also clarifies whether the source is in an archive, or is contained in a reference in a book,  doctoral thesis or academic article. In the case of data on the repression in Catalonia, Innovation and Human Rights has also produced a virtual exhibition on Summary Military Proceedings Against Women which you may consult.  

Important:  485,136 refers to the number of case files of military proceedings which were opened, not to the number of individual people. An investigation could group together dozens of people. Equally, one person could have been the subject of 2, 3, 4, 5….proceedings. In the majority of cases the records do not specify what the result of the prosecution was or the sentence imposed.

Innovation and Human Rights has an interdisciplinary team of workers, mainly female, with  professional backgrounds in journalism, computer science, history, archivism and statistics.  

Our work, which has been disseminated at conferences in Spain like International Symposium Traumatic Past, History and Collective Memory in the Digital Society, at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, has three objectives:

  1. To provide access to information on people who were victims and/or were subject to reprisals.
  2. To publicise the work carried out by archives, in order to increase understanding of their importance as well as of the importance of access to documentation.
  3. To contribute to historical research, by means of sharing and cross-referencing data.

«One of the users of our database wrote to us to say that, while searching for data on one of their relatives, they found data on six. Another user told us that they wouldn’t find anyone in their family, until they typed in the family name, which was an unusual one, and found someone.»

In addition, the database includes – among other things – the names of the following:

Photograph: Surrender of Republican militiamen at Somosierra, Madrid province, following the Battle of the Guadarrama in July 1936. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía [Google Arts & Culture].

Human Rights, the case of La Rioja: the database continues to grow

Our database has recently grown with the addition of a dataset which is very special because it includes data about all of the people killed in an entire autonomous community, that of La Rioja. For this we are grateful for the generosity of Jesús Vicente Aguirre, who has contributed the data gathered in his three-volume study, which began under the title  Aquí nunca pasó nada. La Rioja, 1936 (Editorial Ochoa, Logroño). In this work of over one thousand pages he summarizes the events, village by village, with names, personal records, documents and, wherever possible, photographs, of the two thousand people killed in La Rioja, most of them between the months of July and December 1936.  The entire work is based on  extensive documentation and oral testimony.  His study is of particular importance because La Rioja was not at any time in a war zone,  having fallen into the hands of the military rebels within hours of the military coup of 18 July 1936.

His study covers both people born in La Rioja and residents of the province born elsewhere;  it includes not only those killed in the province but also those who died at the battlefront “the great majority of them in the ranks of the national army [ie the Francoist army], in which it was their fate to serve (in most cases merely because of where they were living, though some of them due to their right-wing convictions, while others were attempting to escape the fate for which they had already been identified by their past republican or left-wing sympathies,” in the words of Jesús Vicente Aguirre.  Also included are those people from La Rioja who died in the Republican rearguard, obviously while in other provinces, and those deported to the Nazi camps.  

We should always remember that behind every item of data there is a person and a family. We should also bear in mind the contrast between the official account of these events and the reality. The photo which illustrates this article shows a scene from a military ceremony in Logroño, the provincial capital of La Rioja, on 2 October 1938 at which Franco decorated the Italian Legionary troops which, along with the German forces, made such an important contribution to the triumph in the Civil War of the forces which had provoked the outbreak of the conflict with their attempted coup d’etat in July 1936.  By October 1938, when –as seen in the photo– Franco’s daughter, Carmencita, was hanging decorations on a banner, in La Rioja alone 1,966 people had already been killed, the majority of them victims of the fierce repression. It is important to remember that in La Rioja there had been very little fighting during the Civil War because Gen Mola’s troops entered Logroño on 19 July 1936, shortly after the attempted military coup.

Logroño, 2 October 1938

Statistical analysis of the data reveals that in La Rioja the number of women killed was 43, a small percentage (2%) of the total number. 96% of the victims were residents of La Rioja; only 82 people were non-residents – 56 of them from Navarra and 16 from Burgos. In 30% of cases the data indicate where people had been born.

Although the majority of the victims had been born in La Rioja, of the 175 victims living in the province known to have been born elsewhere, 62 were natives of Castilla y León, 33 were from the Basque Provinces and, for example, five were from Catalunya.

175 residents of La Rioja killed who were born outside the province, according to place of origin

With regard to the places where death occurred Innovation and Human Rights has categorised by municipality the 2,006 people who were either born in La Rioja or who were residents of the province born elsewhere.  394 people are recorded as having been thrown into the mass grave of La Barranca, converted into a Civil Cemetery in 1979.  This is situated in the municipality Lardero, seven kilometres south of Logroño, where the victims were taken “from September 1936” according to Aguirre “because by then there was no room in the cemetery of Logroño.”  In other municipalities we know of the existence of mass graves, as in Logroño (La Grajera), Calahorra (Cuesta de la Gata) and Villafranca Montes de Oca (La Pedraja), amongst many others. From the data available, there are 108 people whose place of death is unknown and, in 164 cases, it has been impossible to distinguish the municipality because the place referred to is larger than one individual municipality. 

Municipalities registering the largest number of people killed

The research carried out by Jesús Vicente Aguirre also lists the names of the 21 natives of La Rioja who were members of the so-called Tercio Sanjurjo who were murdered in Zaragoza and the six who died as a result of the escape from the prison of Fuerte de San Cristóbal in Pamplona, carried out by 795 prisoners in May 1938. During the escape “207 men were murdered by military forces, members of the Falange [the Francoist official party], requetés [members of the Carlist forces] and irregular forces including people from the surrounding villages, who climbed the hills with their shotguns and their dogs as though they were going on a hunting party” in the words of the researcher Koldo Pla. The mass grave where their bodies were thrown was only discovered last year.

The past 12 months have been special for this non-profit Innovation and Human Rights.   We recently marked two and half years since our foundation on 10 December 2016, a date chosen to coincide with the International Day of Human Rights.  Shortly before the first anniversary of our establishment, in November 2017, we published our online central database of victims of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco regime which then included over 200,000 individual case files backed by reference to archives and historical research. If you follow this link you can see the  presentation which took place in the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB).  During our second year we fully exceeded our objective which had been to double the number of individual case files included in the database; the number now stands at over 700,000 individual case files.   

The data base allows you to search for people (by first name and family names); each finding is accompanied by a description of the dataset from which we have obtained the information, along with the author(s) of the research, which may consist of an archive, a book, a thesis….We will be including new datasets in the near future.

Photograph: Military celebration to mark the award of decorations by Franco to the troops of the Italian Legion. Carmencita Franco adding decorations to a banner. Source: Biblioteca Digital Hispánica. Biblioteca Nacional de España

Neus Català in Ravensbrück – and who else?

As a means of paying homage to Neus Català, we are including in the  database of victims of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco Regime a dataset of the 8,263 Spanish people who were deported to Nazi extermination camps.  We are also doing this because there are still people such as Lola, who, thanks to 15MPedia, only discovered a year a year ago that her grandfather had died in the camp of Gusen –part of the Mauthausen complex– in 1942, rather than at the battlefront in 1937. This data comes from a list taken from the Base de datos Españoles deportados a campos de concentración nazis (1940-1945) of the Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte which is in turn based on the contents of the publication Libro Memorial. Españoles deportados a los campos nazis (1940-1945) , which was edited by the Ministerio de Cultura in 2006,  following extensive research by Benito Bermejo and Sandra Checa [for a description follow this link here].  This data brings us to a total of 680,000 individual case files all of which are referenced to archive sources or research material.

We are publishing this data because this is what we have been able to obtain. We are aware that this list is in need of updating. According to Carlos Hernández, an expert on the subject: “The number of Spanish who were held in Nazi concentration camps, of whom there are documental evidence, rises to 9,328.  Of those 5,185 died, 3,809 survived and 334 count as having disappeared.”  Our numbers  are lower than this in all of these categories. In addition we account for only 68 women, of whom 29 were in Ravensbrück. 

We are also aware of the existence of another relevant database; this was put together by the Generalitat de Catalunya, the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and the organisation Amical de Mauthausen. This is in the hands of Memorial Democràtic de Catalunya under the terms of an agreement signed in October 2015, according to which it was going to be made available to the public .  However, so far this has not happened.

Neus Català

When Neus Català was aged sixteen she experienced the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic (1931).  Her death, on 13 April this year, at the age of 103, occurred on the eve of the anniversary of republic.  Born in Guiamets (Tarragona province), during the Civil War she worked as a nurse. In 1939 she crossed the French frontier with 180 orphan children from the children’s home Las Acacias de Premià de Dalt.  She joined the French Resistance and, in 1943, was arrested by the Nazis and deported, in 1944, to Ravensbrück. She was transferred to Flossenburg, where she was part of a work brigade responsible for making munitions, which she and others attempted to sabotage.

Following the liberation, she stayed in France where she continued the struggle against the Franco Regime.  Having been affiliated to the Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas (the United Socialist Youth)  during the Civil War, she afterwards became a member of the Partido Comunista de Cataluña (PCC) and, later of Izquierda Unida y Alternativa (EUiA).

In 1978 she was interviewed (in Catalan)  for Radio Televisión Española (RTVE) in the programme Personatges by the journalist Montserrat Roig,  the author of Los catalanes en los campos nazis (for our review of this book follow this link)

Here are a few extracts:

– Why were you deported?

– It was a miracle that they did not shoot me –said Català with half a smile-  . That was the strange part. I was sentenced to life imprisonment […] When we joined the (French) Resistance we knew the risk we were taking, we were fully aware; we knew what we had to do, and we did it.

– What was your first impression of Ravensbrück?

– No one could ever explain that. It was indescribable. We arrived at Ravensbrück as one thousand women at three o’clock in the morning when the temperature was 22 C degrees below zero. The guards drove us out of the train by beating us with clubs. We got out of the wagons with the women who were ill because if they had not come with us they would have been killed by the blows from the two lines of SS [officers].  As we passed the huts we could see women leaning out of some of the windows and we thought that they were the dead falling out of their tombs. Only their eyes showed any life. The rest of them were cadavers. I recall the camp in black and white: the camp was black and everything was covered in snow. The cold was terrible. (…)  I have one vision of Ravensbrück: a woman electrocuted.

If you wish to find out more about the life of Neus Català you may consult her archive , which is catalogued in the CRAI Biblioteca del Pavelló de la República of the Universitat de Barcelona.

Picture Women working at the Ravensbrück concentration camp CC BY-SA 3.0