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

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

Women Whose Death Sentences were Commuted

Last year, to mark International Women’s Day (8 March) and International Open Data Day (5 March) we published a virtual exhibition on Women who were subjected to trial under the Summary Military Tribunals established by the Franco Regime  (Summary Military Proceedings Against Women) aand we added the dataset Mujeres asesinadas en Aragón: Eva en los infiernos to our database.

Thanks to the efforts of our team our database now includes over 570.000 personal files. Of those,  470.000 are from summary military tribunals   (which are known in Spanish as sumarísimos) which were held in Catalunya , Madrid, la Comunidad Valenciana y Albacete.   We can establish that, of the nearly 70,000 people subjected to these tribunals in Catalonia, 4,410 were sentenced to death and that 3,358 people were executed.  Through archival work we have found the documentation dealing with the remaining cases, but the sentences imposed in each case have not been made public.  

However, during the past year we have discovered a new piece in the puzzle of the map of victims and of those subject to reprisals during the Civil War: the Archivo General Militar de Guadalajara  (General Military Archive of Guadalajara) has a 363-page list headed Los expedientes personales de penas de muerte conmutadas (personal files of those whose death sentences were commuted). This contains the names of people whose death sentences were not carried out because they were commuted to the sentence immediately below that of execution – 30 years imprisonment under maximum security – directly by the Head of State (Franco) himself, though often they themselves were not informed of this.

This means that we have now included three sets of data which relate to this other type of cruel repression carried out by the Franco dictatorship. Condemning someone to death when they were already in prison meant that on any night they might hear their name called out on the list of “sacas” or people who were to be executed the following dawn. There were some people who spent many months like this without knowing that their sentences had been commuted. 

The three datasets which we are publishing include the names of:

  • The 79 militiawomen whose death sentences were commuted (Milicianas con pena de muerte conmutada) which come from the doctoral thesis of Francisca Moya Alcañiz, Republicanas condenadas a muerte: analogías y diferencias territoriales y de género 1936-1945
  • The more than 800 women whose death sentences were commuted (Condenadas a muerte con pena conmutada) which are taken from the book El perdón de Franco (2009), by Angeles Egido.
  • The over 16,000 personal files of those people whose death sentences were commuted (Penas de muerte conmutadas), which are available as a result of the archive work by the Archivo General Militar de Guadalajara.

The procedure for commuting sentences was as follows: names were proposed at the provincial level by a provincial committee (Comisión Provincial de Examen de Penas or CPEP) to a central commission (Comisión Central de Examen de Penas or CCEP),  which was subject to the Ministry of the Army (Ministerio del Ejército).  The process of revising death penalties began in September 1942, over two years after a similar process had begun for the revision of other sentences which started in February 1940 with the establishment of the Provincial Commissions to Examine Sentences (Comisiones Provinciales de Examen de Penas) under the  Orden de 25 de enero para constituir comisiones provinciales .
In its prologue, this Order indicated recognition of the arbitrary nature of the military judicial system by referring to the “lack of uniformity in the criteria for judging and sentencing crimes of similar gravity” 

Innovation & Human Rights is aware that in our database there are 79 cases of women whose names have been included three times and a further 832 cases where women’s names have been entered twice.  We have done this in order to fulfill our objective which is to compile as much information as possible about every single one of the victims of the Civil War and of the Franco Regime.   If someone finds their grandmother amongst these names, they will be able to obtain information about her from more than one source, even though, this will be, at least partly, based on the same documentary sources. 
For example, the only militiawoman subjected to a court-martial in Catalonia and sentenced to death who is included in the Archivo Militar de Guadalajara as having had her death-sentence commuted is Adela Trilles Salvador.  If we search for her in the database,  we will find four references  all of which are based on one documentary source. These references are to:

  • Her court martial, in the llista de reparació jurídica de víctimes del franquisme,  a list of people whose sentences by the Francoist military judicial system were cancelled under Llei 11/2017 of the Catalan Generalitat, published by the Arxiu Nacional de Catalunya,  which may be consulted in the archives of the Tribunal Militar Territorial Tercero de Barcelona.
  • The commutation of her death sentence in Penas de muerte conmutadas, a list published by the Archivo General Militar de Guadalajara.
  • The book El perdón de Franco,  by Angeles Egido on the repression of women during the post-war period which discusses detention, interrogation, torture and confinement in prison, as well as the “policy of supposed clemency the theoretical basis of which has its roots in redemption, following acceptance of guilt, and which is wrapped (…) in an ideological layer of pardon or amnesty, connected to religious ceremony.”
  • The doctoral thesis  Republicanas condenadas a muerte: analogías y diferencias territoriales y de género 1936-1945 by Francisca Moya Alcañiz.  This lists 79 militiawomen which includes not only those who were physically at the battlefronts, but also those who, according to their sentences, dressed as militiawomen and carried weapons while they were actively participating in the Republican rearguard during the war.

For example, in the thesis, Adela Trilles  is described as follows: “she was 33 years old, married, was a railway ticket-office clerk, was affiliated as a socialist, dressed as a militiawoman and was named head of the Juventudes Femeninas [the Socialist women’s youth movement], being condemned to death in Tarragona on 30 May 1939 as a propagandist and for having frisked women who looked suspicious in the station”.

After being condemned to death and following the commutation of her sentence, Trilles was granted a conditional release from the Las Corts Women’s Prison in Barcelona in 1946, as listed in the Boletín Oficial del Estado (BOE), the official state gazette, on 6 March 1946 .

We are continuing to work on datasets and more will be included as soon as they are available.

Photo: Militiawomen CNT-FAI (public domain)

Promise Kept: 654,000 case-files included in the Database!

At the end of November 2017 Innovation and Human Rights held the official presentation of its centralised database of victims of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco Dictatorship in the Barcelona Centre of Contemporary Culture (Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona – CCCB). During that event, entitled Defending the Right to Know: Data Journalism and the Spanish Civil War,  we explained that we had entered the first 220,000 case-files into the database and we made the commitment to increase this to reach a total of 500,000 case-files within a year. You can find a summary of what was included in the database at that stage by reading the article Data for the Collective Historical Memory.

Today we are able to announce that not only have we reached this target of half a million case files, but that we have exceeded it. The database now contains 654,000 case files, all of which are supported by references to archives and historical research.

Now is the time to consult the database again.

Meanwhile the team at IHR are working to increase further the number of case-files in the database with the following three aims:

  • To assist the relatives of the victims and people who were repressed
  • To spread knowledge about the archives
  • To contribute to historical research

Thank you for following us on:





The People Buried in the Valle de los Caídos: Where did they die?

This entry served as the basis for the article Estos son los otros muertos del Valle de los Caídos published by Juan Miguel Baquero  in on 1 September 2018.

The so-called “Valle de los Caídos” (Valley of the Fallen), built to commemorate the Spanish Civil War and opened to the public on 1 April 1959, the twentieth anniversary of Franco’s Victory in the War, is largest mass grave in Spain. It contains not only the remains of Francisco Franco but also those of over 33,000 other people; in many cases the remains of the victims were transferred without the consent or even the knowledge of their families. While this was the case with victims from both sides in the conflict, it particularly affected republicans, as pointed out earlier in Who else is buried in the “Valle de los Caídos”?

Innovation and Human Rights has now analysed data on the origins of 20,324 identified people whose corpses were transferred to the Valle de los Caídos, whose details have recently been added to our Central Database of the Victims of the Civil War & the Franco Regime – which now includes a total of some 252,000 case-files (*). Of those people identified only 157 are women.

Of the 20,324 corpses, 4,083 came from Madrid, a number which is the equivalent of seventy coachloads of people; another 3,902 came from Tarragona. What is really noteworthy is the unequal distribution of victims between different areas of Spanish territory. Nearly 70% of those transferred whose remains have been identified came from only four provinces: Madrid (20%), Tarragona (19%), Zaragoza (18%) and Teruel (12%).

There are three other provinces – Asturias, Lleida and Castellón – from which over 1,000 identified corpes were transferred. By contrast, according to these lists, there are no identified corpses registered from the provinces of Orense, Pontevedra or Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

This analysis corresponds to the dataset in our central database Víctimas enterradas en el Valle de los Caídos. This contains the case-files of over 20,000 people whose names were documented in the Libros registros de la Abadía de la Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos, which is a record of victims whose remains were received between 17 March 1959 and 3 July 1983. It should be noted that the website of the Abadia admits to not knowing the exact number of victims whose remains were transferred.

Years later , an inter-university research project on the Civil War and the Francoist repression in Galicia, obtained this list by analysing the map of mass graves published by the Ministry of Justice (see  Mapa de Fosas del Ministerio de Justicia.)

Innovation and Human Rights is working to establish access to all of the documentation which exists on the Civil War and the Franco Dictatorship. It currently has signed agreements with the following organisations: the Associació d’Arxivers i Gestors Documentals de Catalunya; the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela (in respect of ) and the CRAI- Biblioteca Pavelló de la República. It is also a member of the Coalición Pro-Acceso.

(*) When we published this article on 25 September 2018 we had 252,000 case-files.

Who else is buried in the “Valle de los Caídos”?

If the current plans are implemented, the remains of the Dictator Francisco Franco will soon be exhumed from the so-called “Valle de los Caídos” or “Valley of the Fallen.” The mausoleum, erected to commemorate the Spanish Civil War,  is the largest mass-grave in Spain. It opened to the public on 1 April 1959, on  the 20th anniversary of Franco’s victory in this war. It contains not only the remains of Franco but also those of more than 33,000 other people who had been killed during the Civil War. In many cases these were transferred without the consent or even the knowledge of the victims’ families; this affected victims and their families on both sides of the Civil War, but especially for those who had supported the Republicans.

Even today, there are families which have throughout their lives taken flowers to graves without knowing whether they were empty or not. To help them, we have included the dataset Víctimas enterradas en el Valle de los Caídos (Victims Buried in the Valley of the Fallen) in the  database – which now contains more than 700.000 personal records (*).

This dataset contains the personal records of more than 20,000 people whose names are documented in the Registers of the Abbey of Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos. These books contain the names of people whose remains were transferred to the mausoleum between 17 March 1959 and 3 July 1983. The Abbey’s website, however, admits that the exact number of people whose remains are buried here is unknown (admite desconocer el número exacto de restos). 

Work on the construction of the “Valley of the Fallen” began in 1940 and continued until 1959. The labour force included about 20,000 Republican prisoners who had been sentenced to forced labour. It was originally planned as a commemorative monument in honour of those who had been killed in the “glorious crusade”, as the victorious campaign by Franco’s forces during the Civil War was described. However it was later redesignated as a “symbol of reconciliation” and, as a result, the remains of victims from the Republican side were transferred to be reburied here.

The monument is characterised by the 150 metre-high stone cross, which is considered to be the “highest Christian cross in the world”. Visible from a distance of 40 kilometres, it is a similar height to, for example, the Mapfre Tower in Barcelona, the Picasso Tower in Madrid or the Iberdrola Tower in Bilbao. It belongs to the Patrimonio Nacional, which is part of the Ministry of Culture.

In her book, Els morts clandestins. Les fosses comunes de la Guerra Civil a Catalunya (1936-1939) [“The Clandestine Dead: The Mass-Graves of the Civil War in Catalonia”] the historian Queralt Solé has published the results of her research into the transfer of the mortal remains of Civil War victims, both supporters of the Republic and those who supported the military coup from mass-graves in Catalonia to the “Valley of the Fallen.” In addition the Catalan documentary  Avi et trauré d’aquí  [in English: “Grandfather I will get you out of here”] (Sense Ficció, CCMA, 2013) records the testimonies of families, the remains of whose relatives transferred without their permission or even their awareness.

The dataset “Victims Buried in the Valley of the Fallen” is taken from a list derived from the Mapa de Fosas del Ministerio de Justicia by , which is a joint-university research project on the Civil War and the Francoist repression in Galicia.

(*) When we published this article on 13 September 2018 we had 252.000 personal records.

Summary Military Proceedings against Women

Some Detailed Cases of Women in Catalonia

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.

Summary military proceedings, usually known as “court martials” (sumarísimos), were part of military justice and, after the war, all justice was military justice (What were the summary military proceedings?)

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.

Photograph: Carme Claramunt. Credit: Emili Ferrando, author of Executada (ISBN 978-84-606742291)  

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.

Death certificate of Carme Claramunt. The cause of her death is given as ‘internal hemorrhage’  (The certificate uses a form originally printed for use by the Popular Tribunals of the Second Republic)

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 Canothree 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.

The percentage of women prosecuted only exceeded 10% of total prosecutions in the years 1957, 1958, 1960, 1970 and 1978.

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.

Photo: Textile workshop in Les Corts prison. Memoria del Patronato Central de Nuestra Señora de la Merced para la Redención de Penas por el Trabajo (PCNSM), 1952 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.5 ES)

Her case, however, does not end there, and, as 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.  

The other sixteen-year old girl sentenced was Maria Angustias Mateos Fernández [see the data here], who received a five year prison-sentence in 1973. She was tried on terrorism charges along with her partner Jose Luis Pons Llobet in the same military trial as  Salvador Puig Antich.  Both Mateos and Pons were pardoned in 1977.

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.

In the chart above each of the women sentenced is represented by a dot. The colours of the dots indicate the sentences which were imposed. The vertical columns indicate their ages. The most common sentence was of 12 to 20 years imprisonment while the second most common was of 6 to 12 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.

Read on our website what the sumarísimos were and find out how many records we have included in our database so far.

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.

Human Rights and Women: Data and Summary Military Proceedings

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:

Summary Military Proceedings against Women

The Francoist Reprisals against Minorcans

On 30 July we published an article in the Minorca daily newspaper ‘Menorca’ under the title Minorcan Victims of Reprisals, with a list of names (follow the link en castellano)

This was based on the open data provided by the National Archive of Catalonia, which was discussed in the previous article ‘Victims of Francoism en Catalonia finally available on #opendata’.

Minorca remained loyal to the Republic throughout the Civil War. It was the site of one of the last battles of the war, between 4th and 9th February 1939. Hundreds of Republicans were able to escape to Marseilles in the British cruiser HMS Devonshire following British mediation and another 75 left for Algeria in the yacht Carmen Pico. However many more waited in vain in Maó for a ship which never arrived. Antoni Pons Melià has compiled a list of those killed in the repression in Minorca in his book Victimes del silenci while stories of the reprisals on the island have been collected by Bartolomeu Pons Sintes in Memorias de un preso político.

The people listed in the article in ‘Menorca’ were not the only victims during the Civil War and the Francoist period. It is also clear that the repression was not limited to these judicial procedures. The data published by the National Archives of Catalonia are based on the archives of the Military Tribunals of Region Three [Tribunal Militar Territorial Tercero] but are not exhaustive. As a result the Innovation and Human Rights continues to work for the establishment of a central database which includes all the victims.

Photo: Trench and artillery post in Cavalleria, Minorca [C. Catalan]