Malaga mass graves grow

LAST UPDATED: 30 Dec, 2011 @ 12:32
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MORE than 900 bodies have so far been dug up in Malaga in what is, so far, Spain’s largest civil war mass grave.

Last month, investigators announced that they have begun looking for at least six more burial sites at the San Rafael cemetery in Malaga city.

Over a dozen volunteers have already found 12 communal graves within the cemetery, which was formerly a sweet potato plant.
But last week the team of investigators found a document that mentions “grave number 18” so further digging continued.

Among victims of Franco’s firing squads during the civil war, they have found a larger than normal percentage of youths and women.

Alarmingly, this also includes a number of babies and small children.

According to the chief of the local Association against Silence and the Recovery of Historical Memory, Francisco Espinosa, 50 children’s remains have so far been exhumed.

“But it is yet impossible to confirm whether they were shot, or perhaps died from an illness such as typhoid,” he said.

New bodies are found each week and most correspond to paperwork of those shot in 1937, as Franco’s forces finally seized the city from its Republican defenders.

It is understood that at least 4,100 bodies are buried at the site on the outskirts of Malaga.

The work, organised by the Junta de Andalucia regional government, is being carried out with collaboration with Malaga University.

So far, 300 mass graves have been found across Andalucia, of which 49 are in Malaga.

One Malaga-raised woman, Prioleau Huellin, 69, who was evacuated to the UK during the war, said such graves were “no surprise.”

“Everybody knew there were a number of places in the city where people were taken out and shot, we just didn’t talk about it.

“My mother used to say; ‘leave the quiet alone,’ and we got on with our lives.”

The former Málaga airport announcer, who lives close to the parador, continued: “We always knew the cemetary as La Batata – the sweet potato factory. It was on the outskirts of town and it was common knowledge that people were shot there.”

She continued: “My grandfather was shot in another place on the road up towards the Montes de Málaga. We never found his body and he was buried in a similar mass grave.

“It is a tragic part of our history.”

 

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