Testimonies collected from the families victimized by Franco during and after the Spanish Civil War are a crucial part of understanding the historical memory movement. I hope to continue my research focused on the difficulties that surround projects of historical memory in Spain. As we transcribe and analyze the interviews of those in Cádiz who lost family to Franco’s dictatorship, I hope to add on a new dimension to my understanding of the difficulty of preserving the memory of an era that was forced into the periphery of Spanish society. While I focused nearly exclusively on the exhumation project at La Sauceda in my research project for the study abroad program, I hope to now shift the focus of my studies to the process of gathering testimonies. As the historian Santiago Moreno pointed out to me during our interview in Cádiz, “exhuming mass graves isn’t the only part of remembering, maybe the most striking.”
It’s probably pretty obvious, but I’ve been putting off the last blog post. It’s sad! I’ll try to cover as much as I can.
When we visited Benamahoma, well first it took us a few hours to learn to pronounce the town’s name. Beh-Na-Ma-OH-Ma. But in all seriousness, it was only meant to be a stop-off point on our way to Grazalema to speak with the mayoress about her town’s history of repression and about the fosa de las mujeres or “mass grave of the women” that was linked to Grazalema. Ana María and her companions had spoken to us about that site a little that Monday and this was Friday and we were supposed to learn more.
Ángeles García-Madrid is an impressively strong 95 and a half-year-old woman who survived years of injustice torture, and pain in the jails for Republican women under Franco’s cruel regime. In the seminar Megan and I took with Professor Cate-Arries in the fall, we read excerpts of her writing and watched her give her testimony in various documentaries. At the time of the course, both Megan and I were drawn to García-Madrid’s work and experiences and chose to write about them in our essays. We had no idea what was to come, and we never could have imagined that we would get to meet her!
I need to start with a little background information. Our first interview was with a man named José, whom we learned about from his daughter, who is a professor working with the students on the W&M Summer Abroad Cádiz program. He came and spoke with us about his family’s story. Being the incredibly kind person he is, his help did not stop with allowing us to film and photograph him. He offered to pick us up from the bus station in his town to drive us to a little town nearby that would be difficult to get to by public transportation: Jimena de la Frontera. It was there that we were to meet an interviewee and guide on Wednesday the 12th.