SPANISH CIVIL WAR AIR RAID SHELTER, HIDDEN SINCE 1938, DISCOVERED IN MADRID

 

RECENTLY DISCOVERED DURING DEMOLITION WORK, THE UNDERGROUND COMPLEX HAD NOT BEEN SEEN BY HUMAN EYES SINCE 1938

(Translation to English by D.Breatnach from article by Daniel Ramirez in El Espanol on line on 14 May this year — link given at end of translation.  Photos reproduced and article translation published by kind permission of El Espanol)

A hole in the ground, in the entrails of the city. Dry earth covered with mud. It had rained. The American girls and those dressed up run in search of a taxi when the Raimundo Fernández Villaverde street dies, just as they rise in the Nuevos Ministerios area. Noise from horns, ambulances, shouts. And in the middle of it all, the big hole.

It is surrounded by cranes and scrap metal. Also building workers and architects in yellow vests. In the centre, five or six metres deep, a door of cement and brick. It may not be interfered with. In the guts of the Artillery Workshop, recently demolished, the financial heart of Madrid has just discovered an air raid shelter, built in 1938. That’s the reason for the dug earth, the mud, the emptiness.

The Condor Legion was a Luftwaffe air force unit supporting Franco)
(Image source: Internet)

The demolition of this neomudéjar-style building to make room for a block of housing split the Madrid City Council of which Carmena is Mayor. Those who wanted to keep it lined up against the rest, but few knew what was hidden by the floor of the now defunct first concrete construction of the city, built in 1899 by the Ministry of War. It belonged to the state – in military use for decades – until 2014, when it was sold to a real estate cooperative for 111 million euros.

“It’s the first visit after its discovery”

Steps descending from entrance.
(Photo Jorge Barreno, El Espanol newspaper)

Just beyond the open door, stairs. The cement benches that allayed the fear of death appear six metres down. Virgin earth for camera and notebook. “This is the first visit after its discovery,” says Isabel Baquedano, archaeologist of the General Directorate of Heritage of the Community of Madrid, which froze the work permit until the survival of the shelter had been ensured.

One last look at daylight. Baquedano brings to life the race to the basement. The hole in the earth was then an inner courtyard in the Artillery Workshop. On the floor, a door. Then another, like the one that we are now going through.

Photo showing entrance to air-raid shelter in a demolition/ building site (Photo Jorge Barreno, El Espanol newspaper)

HEMINGWAY AND THE AERIAL BOMBING

Hemingway said that, at the beginning of the war, the citizen would quickly see the enemy plane and the sirens would soon be screaming. Then they flew much higher and the deaths multiplied. A bomb was “that growing whistle, like a subway train that crashes against the cornice and bathes the room in plaster and broken glass.” The American, with lively irony, used to joke: “While you hear the glass tinkle as you fall you realize that, at last, you are back in Madrid.”

The stairs and walls are brick. “Like those of almost all shelters,” explains Baquedano. The archaeologist who acts as a guide for this visit outlines a universal, institutionalised architecture, fruit of necessity, constructed in a race against time. “The International Red Cross came to draw up a map of the air raid shelters in Madrid,” says Javier Rubio, a historian whose brother was hiding in Madrid at the time.

The shelter, when built, had an electricity supply.
(Photo Jorge Barreno, El Espanol newspaper)

Small steps for the flashlight to illuminate. In 1938, a filthy, rusty cabling gave light to the whole refuge. There were also subterranean armchairs and red velvet, but this is not the case now.

The chroniclers wrote that seeing a drunk and desperate man who pushed and jumped over elderly people and children was not unusual. Here is a quick but military descent. It is believed that this basement only sheltered the military of the Artillery Workshop, when a few meters away, in the Glorieta de Cuatro Caminos, a hospital had a similar space.

One of the galleries
(Photo Jorge Barreno, El Espanol newspaper)

The lightbulbs, intact, but empty. The shelter is a labyrinth of intersecting galleries. The photographer and Javier, one of the construction workers, leads the route with lanterns. The cement benches show some marks, made by the archaeological study commissioned by the Community, which confirmed the finding. They are almost at ground level. “Capacity is estimated for between 80 and 100 people,” says Baquedano.

WHAT DID NOGAL KEYS SAY?

In 1938, Madrid was the epic of a lost war. General Miaja, a Republican hero, defended the trenches exposed to gunfire. Gun in hand, he shouted for men who knew how to die. Strips of paper were stuck to shop windows to prevent the bombing’s vibration from shattering them.

“Everybody went scared to his hole. Life had fled streets and squares; not a light, nor a noise in the ghostly environment of the big city,” said journalist Manuel Chaves Nogales. “This little bourgeois liberal”so he described himself – who predicted the birth of a dictatorship regardless of the colour of victory, saw in the bombings a sort of lottery in which Madridians participated unconcerned: “Insensate and heroic, Madrid learned to live with joyful resignation. “

Little is left of that daily fear in these difficult tunnels, sometimes too narrow, fresh, guardians of absolute silence, still oblivious of the shopping centres that have grown up around them.

Intersection of galleries in the underground complex (Photo Barreno)

SÁNCHEZ MAZAS AND TALES TO FORGET

Some spoke, others were silent. Close or open your eyes? Different ways of coping. The fearful Rafael Sánchez Mazas, in the words of those who dealt with him then, wrote a novel to the rhythm of the bombs. For evasion and for other reasons. Chapter by chapter, he read it to his Falange colleagues at the Chilean embassy, where Carlos Morla Lynch, the diplomat in charge, provided refuge for them.

In the famous photo, Sánchez Mazas in the middle, several refugees listen to that unfinished novel of the title Rosa Kruger. Here the benches, in a row, do not invite conversation. Only recollection, although it may be the lack of habit.

In line with what Chaves said, Agustín de Foxa, in his “De Corte a Checa”, reflected: “At five o’clock in the morning, the local people commented on the bombardment by eating churros and drinking glasses of anise.”

“To leave a trail, not to disappear at all”

At the doors of the shelter, or perhaps inside, in these benches unequivocal proof of the finding, the tears of farewells ran. “Like those insects that perform the nuptial flight before they die, the men who were being sent to the Sierra or those who awaited in agitation their execution were longing for female presence and love so as to leave a trail, so as not to disappear altogether.”

Old cabling from 1938 (Photo Jorge Barreno, El Espanol newspaper)

“Little is known of this shelter,” Baquedano continues on this path of short steps. Archaeologists found no traces beyond the benches. The soldiers who arrived after the war used the subway as a shooting gallery. That is the reason for the gouges that bullets have left in the brickwork.

THE NOISE OF THE BOMBS

Suddenly a noise. Loud, deafening. The conversation ends abruptly. The cameraman and the journalist look at Javier, who laughs. “Calm down, the cranes are moving the scrap and it will have fallen up above.” It is a noise to make one cower and which makes the legs tremble.

A cosmopolitan and naive noise, which has nothing to do with the thunder of the shell that haunted Arturo Barea. In his “Forging of a Rebel” he confessed to having nightmares about the impact. He imagined the mutilation of bodies, their rotting, the limbs torn off the sidewalk … When the sirens began to sound and the danger became true, Barea reported feeling “a deep relief”, a result of the return to reality, the only way out then from that spiral of madness.

“My mouth was filled with vomit”

“We would go down to the basement, sit there with other guests, all in pajamas or gowns, while the antiaircraft barked and the explosions shook the building, sometimes my mouth filled with vomit, but it was a comfort because everything was real, I was deeply asleep,” he wrote.

On leaving, the light, and a city that beats, has nothing to do with that Madrid that, in Foxa’s words, turned off the lanterns for fear of bombing, while the last trams passed on their routes with their tragic, blue-green painted lights.

At the fence, several curious people approach the hole. Office workers, clerks, consultants, lawyers … In 1938, Barea said, there were neighbors of distant neighborhoods who came to see up close what a bombing was. “They left happy and proud with pieces of shrapnel, still hot, as a souvenir.”

Additional notes from translator, D. Breatnach:

There were a few words and phrases with which I had difficulty since the apparent translation from dictionaries did not seem to make sense in the article and I converted them into what seemed to be the sense in the text and context.

The future of the archaelogical site by law requires protection from the owners of the site in which it is located.  It may or may not be open to limited or full public access.

In the original article there was a lovely version of the Viva la Quinta Brigada song, about the 5th Brigade of the Republican forces (not Christy Moore’s wonderful song which, despite the original title is about the 15th International Brigade).  I tried to embed it here but failed but you may find it on the original article link below.

LINKS

Original article: http://www.elespanol.com/espana/20170513/215728433_0.html

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BOMBING OF BASQUE TOWN OF GERNIKA COMMEMORATED IN DUBLIN

Clive Sulish

The bombing of Gernika during what is sometimes termed “The Spanish Anti-Fascist War” and more often “The Spanish Civil War”1 was commemorated in Dublin by a weekend of events organised by the Gernika 80 — then and now committee. The event featured a launch of a commemorative pamphlet, including talks by Spanish Civil War historian Enda McGarry and by Irish socialist, republican and civil rights activist Bernadette McAliskey; a ska music event; talks and a planting of a “Gernika Tree” at Glasnevin cemetery.2

People in attendance at the talk in Wynne’s Hotel (chairperson’s reflection may be seen in the mirror).
(Photo source: Gernika 80 event page)

The pamphlet was on sale for €5 a copy in the large function room of the historic Wynne’s Hotel where the well-attended launch was held. The pamphlet has articles by Richard McAleavey, Enda McGarry, Stewart Reddin, Brian Hanley, Aoife Frances, Sam McGrath, Fin Dwyer, and Goiuri Alberdi.

Enda McGarry was first to speak and in a clear voice, with only an occasional glance at his notes, began by giving the background to the Gernika bombing – the military rebellion against the elected government of the Popular Front and the military campaigns that followed. General Mola was in charge of the fascist forces’ “Northern Front” while battles were taking place elsewhere, including in the suburbs of Madrid.

McGarry outlined the waves of air attack on 26th April 1937, the dropping of incendiary bombs and the strafing of running men, women and children by fighter planes and gave details of some of the horror experienced in the town. The bombing was one of the first aerial bombings of civilian population centres and Gernika, of particular historic-cultural importance to Basques, was hit on a market day. It had no anti-aircraft defences, not surprisingly, since it contained no features of significant military interest.

Going on to describe the lies told by the fascist leaders, McGarry related how in turn the communists, anarchists and Basque nationalists had been blamed for burning the town. Subsequently, apologists had tried to excuse the action by claiming that the Renteria bridge had been the target, in order to cut off the Basque nationalists’ retreat or lines of reinforcement from the northern Basque Country (i.e within the French state).

The speaker pointed out that this line of argument is still being peddled by some, including a fairly recent historian. Demolishing this falsehood by analysing the planes that were used, Heinkels, a Dornier, Junkers 52 bombers, Italian SM 79s and Messershmidt 109, along with the bombs and armament, McGarry showed how this could not be consistent with a bombing run to destroy a bridge. At Burgos airfield sat a number of planes that would have been ideal for destroying the bridge – Stukas, the most advanced dive bomber in general production of the time. They did not use them because neither was the Bridge the target nor pin-point bombing required – what those planning the attack wished to do was to carpet-bomb the area with high-explosive and incendiaries, then machine-gun civilians fleeing the bombing.

Ultimately, the historian continued, of course Generals Franco, Mola and other fascist military leaders were responsible. However McGarry believed that the Spanish fascist leaders, needing to crush Basque resistance but keep the conservative Catholic Carlist troops (from Navarra) and other right-wing Basques on board, would have been unlikely to agree to the destruction of Gernika (a holy historic place to the Carlists as well as to the Basque Nationalists). Oberstleutnant Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen was the commanding officer of the Condor Legion, Nazi Germany’s “loan” of airforce to the Spanish fascist forces – he, along with others including commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe, Herman Göring, wanted to use the Spanish conflict as a testing ground for warfare from the air and the tactic of terror-bombing a civilian population, which they later employed at Warsaw, Stalingrad and other cities.

The talk ended to strong applause and the chairperson of the meeting introduced Bernadette McAliskey, a long-time socialist and Irish Republican, campaigner for civil rights and in support of migrants.

The chairperson could also have alluded to her survival of an assassination attempt by Loyalist paramilitaries the “Ulster Freedom Fighters”, in which she was shot 14 times and her husband shot too, and that she had before that twice been elected a Member of the British Parliament. Of course McAliskey herself might have requested the omission of those details.

Bernadette McAliskey speaking; sitting R-L, Finn Dwyer, Enda McGarry. (Photo source: Gernika 80 event page)

McAliskey began by praising the inclusiveness of the pamphlet, which has contributions from many different writers. She then moved on to expounding what kind of people are fascists, a term she believed too widely applied, and what kind of people fascism serves. In a rather long discourse, entirely without notes, the speaker went on to analyse what Republicanism is, rejecting a definition which said the basic unit of a Republic is the State, insisting instead along with Thomas Paine that the basic unit is the individual. Believing otherwise, she declared, makes one a nationalist rather than a Republican, á la Gerry Adams.

At times one could be forgiven for assuming that McAliskey thought she was addressing liberals, saying for example that “we don’t think enough about what goes on in other countries”, or “we don’t think about what is happening to certain groups”, such as migrants, Travellers – those considered “non-people”; or when she declared that she had no understanding of what was going on in Syria because neither her background nor experience could help her to understand it. McAliskey seemed unconscious that this is a line which was also commonly disseminated in Britain about the war in the Six Counties.

But then, McAliskey would switch without warning, as in her mischievous assertion that one should deal with liberals by throwing them in at the deep end: “they either learn to swim or they no longer give you any trouble.” Or when later, she pointed out that those in power never give up their weapons, and that one day we might present ourselves to our exploiters and insist that they step aside, as “there are more of us than there are of you”, to which they will reply: “Maybe so, but we have the weapons.”

When Bernadette McAliskey finished her talk, to sustained applause and cheers, the chairperson invited questions, of which there were three and a comment. The first question was whether McAliskey thought Gerry Adams was a psychopath, to which she discoursed on the question of insanity and on the number of lies that were told by politicians such as Gerry Adams. One of the big lies was that the IRA had forced the British to the negotiating table, which McAliskey emphatically denied was true, insisting that the reality was that the IRA went to the negotiating table because they could fight no longer, the rate of attrition was too great.

The next question, by a woman who announced that she had a USA background, in the context of her declaring that racism is about white supremacy, was about how to make the Irish aware of their role in this supremacy. Bernadette said it was an important question and that the process by which the oppressed can become the oppressors was one observed on a number of occasions in history.

This reporter thought that the questioner’s statement about the nature of racism being white supremacy might also have been questioned, a proposition disproved for example by the experience of the Armenians under the Turks, Jews and Slavs under Nazism, the Irish in Britain or at home under British rule, Irish Travellers in Irish society, etc.

The last question enquired what Bernadette would say to Basques, as some had said to the questioner, that the Irish were “lucky to have a peace process”, given that we were now approaching the second decade after the Good Friday Agreement. McAliskey replied that Ireland did not have a peace process but rather a pacification process, and that the ‘new dispensation’ divided up the Six Counties between political parties along sectarian lines, with cuts to services being imposed by those in power and substantial unemployment and unfair treatment of the “other minorities”: migrants, Travellers …. And that jails in the Six Counties today contain “about as many political prisoners as they did when the Good Friday Agreement was signed but the prisoners with less politics than had their fathers.”

End.

FOOTNOTES

1Neither term sitting well with probably most Catalans and Basques, who do not consider themselves Spanish, having a different cultural identity, most aspects of which were suppressed by the victors of the War, the General Franco dictatorship regime but had been suppressed by others before them too.

2Gernika’s historic importance to the Basques before the bombing was based on the fact that Basque nobles met there to discuss their administration of Basque lands and it was there that a Spanish King had stood, under the ancient Basque oak tree, Gernikako Arbola, the “Gernika Tree”, promising to respect their rights to rule within their territory.

A SALUTE TO A CABRA BRIGADISTA! FROM EASTER 1916, DUBLIN, TO CHRISTMAS 1936, CORDOBA: CABRA’S DONAL O’REILLY – A VOLUNTEER FOR TWO REPUBLICS

 

Manus O’Riordan

J. K. O’Reilly (1860-1929) of 181 North Circular Road, Dublin, was author of of the patriotic ballad, “Wrap The Green Flag Round Me, Boys”. Not alone did he take part in the 1916 Rising but so did all his sons: Kevin (1893-1962), Sam (1896-1988), Desmond (1898-1969), Tommy (1900-1985) and Donal O’Reilly (1902-1968). J. K. and Kevin, Sam and Desmond served in the Irish Volunteeers, while Tommy and Donal served in Fianna Eireann.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgN4_DjAxEw&sns=em for Luke Kelly and https://lyrics.wikia.com/…/Wolfe_Tones:Wrap_The_Green_Flag_… for full lyrics.

This November 7th saw over 200 people turn out for the launch by the Cabra 1916 Rising Committee of a marvellous 156page historical publication. Among the Cabra residents honoured in “Our Rising: Cabra and Phibsborough in Easter 1916” are the O’Reilly family.

IN THE 1916 RISING AT 13 YEARS OF AGE

In March 1966 the “Irish Socialist”, publication of the then Irish Workers’ Party (now the Communist Party of Ireland), brought out a special issue to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Rising. A highlight of that publication had been Party veteran Donal O’Reilly’s memories of how, as a 13 year old boy, he had followed his father and brothers into the Rising, to the horror of Rising leader Tom Clarke, who considered him far too young to be involved in war. It was subsequently republished by my father, Micheal O’Riordan, in his 1979 book, “Connolly Column”.

Included in Donal O’Reilly’s memoir was his own day-by-day account of Easter Week, 1916:

Monday, Easter Week: In our home it was the ordinary week-end mobilisation. There was the cancellation order by McNeill in the “Sunday Independent” of course, but somehow we didn’t seem to pay much attention to newspapers then. Certainly all the adult members of my family went on parade. At two o’clock, I knew there was a difference. A barricade was up at the Railway Bridge in Phibsboro, which was just a few hundred yards from our home. Houses were occupied and all sorts of guns were in evidence. 
Down I went into O’Connell Street.

“The Proclamation was up. The windows of the G.P.O. were barricaded. The looting had already started and despite efforts by a few Volunteers, shop after shop was destroyed. How fires were prevented by the few Volunteers that were on the streets seemed a miracle. 
Back through the barricades of Phibsboro I went home with wondrous tales to tell! Nobody was at home; all were out on their barricades!

“Tuesday, Easter Week: There was a silence that I had never known before or since. Nothing moved on the North Circular or Old Cabra Roads. I wanted to go into the city centre again, but how could I get across the barricade on the Railway Bridge? I knew Jim O’Sullivan, the officer in charge, but that would be of little value. I hung around and eventually nobody knew which side of the barricade I should be on. I discovered my own private route into O’Connell Street; down Mountjoy Square, into Hutton’s Place, across Summerhill, an area that was then teeming with life, all living in big and small tenement dwellings.

“I got to the G.P.O. The looting had ceased and the only movement now was of determined men that came and went. A few groups were gathered around the Post Office trying to get in, but were rejected. 
At three o’clock there was a movement at the side door in Henry Street and the “War News” made its appearance. I duly appointed myself as official newsboy to the Garrison. Within an hour-and-a-half, the “War News” was sold and I was back in the G.P.O. with my my official status and the money. I got into the main hall.

“Tom Clarke, whom I had met in his shop and at the lying-in-state of O’Donovan Rossa at the City Hall, saw me and was horrified. I was sent to Jim Ryan and he sent me off to Purcell’s with a parcel of bandages. At the Purcell’s post I stayed and there I met Cyl MacParland, a man who was to be very close to me for many years afterwards.

“Wednesday, Easter Week: The silence had gone. The occasional crack of a rifle had given way to the boom of artillery.
“Back at G.P.O: Thursday, I returned to the G.P.O; there was no difficulty in getting in now. The guns were battering away and all the women and youth were being prepared for evacuation. It was proposed that we should go via Princes Str
eet, Abbey Street and Capel Street. I left, crossing O’Connell Street, Marlborough Street and then up by Hutton’s Place. Eventually I got to old houses in Berkeley Road, and stayed there until Sunday morning.”

20 YEARS LATER, FIGHTING IN SPAIN

So ended Donal O’Reilly’s memoir. He went on to fight in Ireland’s War of Independence (1919-1921), and on the Republican side in the Civil War (1922-1923), serving in the Four Courts garrison and, on surrender, being imprisoned in Mountjoy Gaol. But Donie, as he was known among friends and comrades, went on to fight for a second Republic, accompanying Frank Ryan in the first group of Irish International Brigade volunteers he led out to fight in the Spanish Anti-Fascist War (1936-1939). If Easter 1916 in Dublin had been Donie’s baptism of fire for the Irish Republic, Christmas 1936 on the Cordoba front was to be his baptism of fire for the Spanish Republic.

Photograph taken of some of the Connolly unit in Spain

Photograph taken of some of the Connolly unit in Spain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(See http://www.irelandscw.com/part-IrDem3709-10.htm#371002Cordoba for his account of going into action, which was published in the “Irish Democrat” on 2 October 1937. In the opening two paragraphs the editor introduced Donal O’Reilly to readers, while his own account began with “Christmas time”).

Donal O’Reilly’s life both began and ended in the Cabra area of Dublin, and he ultimately resided at 31 Cabra Park. As the son of his fellow International Brigader Micheal O’Riordan, it was my privilege to have personally known Donie O’Reilly during my 1960s teens, and to have attended his 1968 funeral in Glasnevin Cemetery. Full military honours were rendered to this veteran of Ireland’s War of Independence, as the Irish Army fired a volley of shots at his graveside, before veteran Irish Republican Congress leader Peadar O’Donnell gave an inspiring funeral oration. Peadar was at that juncture Chair of the Irish Voice on Vietnam, on whose Executive I was the representative of the Connolly Youth Movement.

1966 Arno Herring GDR uniform veteran XI (Deutch) Brigade salutes Frank Ryan remains & 3 Irish veterans XV (English-speaking) International Brigade Donal O'Reilly Micheal O'RiordanFrank Edwards

This photograph of Donie O’Reilly was taken in 1966 in the German Democratic Republic, at the grave of Irish International Brigade leader Frank Ryan, in Dresden’s Loschwitz Cemetery. (Frank Ryan’s remains would subsequently be repatriated to Ireland, in 1979, for reburial in Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery). In this photo, Arno Herring, in GDR army uniform, a veteran of the XI (German-speaking) International Brigade, salutes the memory of Frank Ryan, as three Irish veterans of the XV (English-speaking) International Brigade stand to attention: Donal O’Reilly, on the far left, and Mícheál O’Riordan and Frank Edwards, on the right.

FENIANS, SCHOOLBOY STRIKE, LOCKOUT EVICTIONS, SPANISH CIVIL WAR – ALL ON EAST WALL WALKING HISTORY TOUR, WITH MUSIC & SONG AS WELL

Introduction with some very little additional text by Diarmuid Breatnach


Main text from East Wall History Group

Among the many events packed into History Week by the East Wall History Group was a walking history tour of the area on Sunday 27th September. Over a score of people took part in “East Wall and the Irish Revolution” to hear Joe Mooney, a long-time community activist, outline the relevant events of history at various points along the way, covering

Paul OBrien Merchants Road Mural playing

Paul O’Brien performing his 1913 Lockout song in front of mural marking the eviction of 62 families from Merchant’s Road in December 1913 by the Merchant’s Company.  (Photo: EWHG) 

local connections with the Fenians, docks and migrants, the Lockout, 1916 Rising and the Spanish Civil War. Appropriate songs and music accompanied the tour, Paul O’Brien performing compositions of his own at some of those points and Diarmuid Breatnach singing verses from Viva La Quinze Brigada at another.

Joe Mooney, the tour guide

Joe Mooney, the tour guide.  Photo: D.B

The East Wall History Group has been in existence for a number of year; they may be contacted through https://www.facebook.com/eastwallhistory and http://eastwallforall.ie/?tag=east-wall-history-group and it would not be a bad idea to get on their mailing list. The following account has been shamelessly looted from their FB page:

We set out from St Joseph’s School, originally opened in 1895. The first Principal of the Boys’ school was J.F. Homan, who served as a St. John’s Ambulance Brigade volunteer during the Rising and also during the Civil war. A number of former pupils from the school were involved in the revolutionary events of the time (the following decades) and of course in 1911 a schoolboys’ union was declared and a short strike ensued (complete with pickets!). Their demands included a shorter day and free school-books.

Part of crowd at the starting point

Part of crowd at the starting point.  (Photo: DB)

Our first stop was Merchants Road, where during the 1913 Lockout 62 families (almost the entire population of the street) were evicted by their employer the Merchants Warehousing Company (their yard was Merchant’s Yard on East Wall Road, just before the T-junction by the Port Authority. At the fantastic mural (erected by the community) Paul paid tribute to the families and the workers struggle with his song “Lockout 1913“. Amongst the evicted families were the Courtneys from number 1 – their son Bernard was a ‘Wharf’ school pupil and fought with the Jacobs garrison in 1916, before succumbing to TB in 1917.

Joe Mooney pointing out Jack Nalty's house

Joe Mooney pointing out Jack Nalty’s house.

Jack Nalty's house

Jack Nalty’s house.

Joe & Crowd from above

(Photo: DB)

Next we visited the East Road, where Diarmuid set the tone with a stirring rendition of the Christy Moore song “Viva la Quinze Brigada(explaining that Christy incorrectly called it “Quinta” but had since corrected it – as the lyrics in English make clear, it was the FIFTEENTH Brigade). Gathered opposite the family home of Jack Nalty, we heard the story of another former ‘Wharf ‘ school-boy who became an active Republican and Socialist, eventually losing his life fighting Fascism in Spain in 1938. Jack (who was also a champion runner) was amongst the last of the International volunteers to die, while his friend and comrade Dinny Coady was amongst the first. Many of Dinny Coadys relatives still live locally, and we plan to commemorate them properly in the future.

Jack Nalty in uniform of the 15th International Brigade

Jack Nalty in uniform of the 15th International Brigade. (Photo: Internet)

 

Next was a quick stop at the junction of Bargy and Forth Roads, which along with Shelmalier, Killane and Boolavogue were the names given to streets of Corporation houses erected here in the 1930’s and ’40s. They are of course synonymous with places in Wexford in the 1798 Rebellion.

At the rear of the former Cahill printers premises we learned how an innovative glassmaking factory (Fort Crystal Works) once stood there, perhaps the first industry in the area, but by the early 1800’s lay in ruins. As reported in newspapers as far away as New York, in 1848 a hundred men gathered here and spent an entire day in musketry practice, even setting up a dummy of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (the Queen’s representative) to practice on. These were members of the Young Ireland movement, preparing for rebellion.

Joe speaking at the 'Scotch Block'

Joe speaking at the ‘Scotch Block’ — some of the crowd are out of shot, as is Paul O’Brien, who is just getting ready to play.  (Photo: DB)

On Church Road we remembered former resident Edward Dorin, a Sergeant in the IRA who was part of the operation to burn the Custom House during the War of Independence. Another former ‘Wharf’ school pupil (he started there the same year as Jack Nalty), he was shot dead alongside a young volunteer from Ballybough when they engaged a lorryload of Auxillaries at Beresford place (just by Liberty Hall). (They were covering the attacking party). There had been a suggestion in the 1950’s to rename Custom House Quay as Dorins Quay .

A short stop at the “Scotch Block”, Fairfield Avenue, where Paul played two songs recalling Glasgow immigrants to the area and also Edinburghborn James Connolly. An incident in 1918 when Union Jackwaving residents from these buildings attempted to disrupt a Sinn Féin election rally also got a mention.

Diarmuid Breatnach singing Viva La Quinze Brigada opposite house.

Diarmuid Breatnach singing “Viva La Quinze Brigada” opposite Jack Nalty’s house. (Photo: EWHG)

As we passed Hawthorn Terrace its most famous resident Sean O’Casey was briefly discussed, as was his former neighbour Willy Halpin, the diminutive Citizen Army man most famous for almost escaping capture at City Hall by climbing up a chimney.

As we passed Russell Avenue a dishonorable mention was given to those who attempted to raise a 5,000 strong Fascist militia from an address here in the late 1950’s. Thankfully they failed miserably, as did the Italian fascist sympathiser resident of Caladon road who was banned from the U.S.A. during World War Two and eventually arrested by the Irish state and handed over to British authorities via the Six Counties.

At Malachi Place the actionpacked tale of Fenian leader John Flood was recounted. He lived here in the 1860’s as he worked on plans to stage a rebellion against British Rule. After an audacious attempt to seize weapons from Chester Castle was betrayed, he was eventually arrested following a boat chase on the Liffey and deported to Australia on the last convict ship to sail there. A memorial stands above his grave, unveiled there in 1911, two years after his death. This story could be a movie script!

We finished off the day at the base of Johnny Cullens Hill at the block of houses formerly named Irvine Crescent (now incorporated into Church Road). It was here the Scott family lived and in 1916 their 8yearold son was shot from the gun boat Helga. He lingered on for months after his wounding before finally dying, making him the last of the child casualties of 1916. The same year his father died in an accident in the Port, leaving his mother to raise five children on her own while coping with this double tragedy.

Their nextdoor neighbours were the Lennon family. On Bloody Sunday 1913 Patrick Lennon was one of those injured in the baton charge on O’Connell Street. Bloodied but unbowed, he worked alongside Sean O’Casey to raise funds for the relief of strikers families, a project which eventually led to the establishment of the famous soup kitchen at Liberty Hall.

And finally on to Bloody Sunday 1920. Everybody knows the story of how the Squad under Michael Collins (and the Dublin Brigade of the IRA) targeted British Intelligence agents in the City but not many know of the East Wall operation. A house on Church Road was targeted but the agent had left the evening before and was in Cork when the IRA group arrived. The exact location is unknown but we suspect it was within this block here as many of the houses were sub-divided at that time.”

A coincidence in Merchant's Road, opposite the mural (note the date)

A coincidence in Merchant’s Road, opposite the mural (note the date).  (Photo: EWHG)

Even if they didn’t get to tell half the stories of East Wall and the Irish Revolution, it was an enjoyable and informative walking tour … and the weather was beautiful – and there’s always next year!

 

End

THIRTEEN ROSES ….. AND 43 CARNATIONS

MILICIANAS 2

RAFAEL NARBONA

(Translation by Diarmuid Breatnach; original version published in Spanish in Rafael Narbona’s blog August 2013, also republished by kind permission in Rebel Breeze https://rebelbreeze.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/trece-rosas-y-43-claveles/)

On the morning of August 5th 1939 thirteen women were shot dead against the walls of the Eastern Madrid Cemetery.

Nine were minors, because at that time the age of majority was not reached until twenty-one. Ranging in age from 18 to 29, all had been brought from the Sales women’s prison, a prison that was designed for 450 people and in 1939 contained 4,000. Apart from Brisac Blanca Vazquez, all belonged to the Unified Socialist Youth (JSU) or PCE (Communist Party of Spain). Although they had not participated in the attack that killed Isaac Gabaldon, commander of the Civil Guard, they were charged with being involved and conspiring against the “social and legal order of the new Spain”.

The trial was held on August 3rd and 56 death sentences were issued, including the perpetrators of the attack. The Thirteen Roses went to their execution hoping to be reunited with their JSU comrades. In some cases it would have meant a boyfriend or husband but their hopes crumbled upon learning that the men had been shot already.

conesa

The brick wall clearly showed the bullet holes and the earth had been turned dark by blood. Some days, the death toll exceeded two hundred and machine guns were used to facilitate the work. Between 1939 and 1945, four thousand people were shot in the Eastern Cemetery, including Julián Zugazagoitia, Minister of the Interior with Juan Negrín and remarkable writer and socialist politician.

According to Maria Teresa Igual, prison officer and eyewitness, the Thirteen Roses died with fortitude. There were no screams or pleas. In an eerie half-silence, only the steps of the firing squad were heard, the sound of the guns striking the straps and the voice of the commanding officer. Lined up shoulder to shoulder, after the shooting all received the coup de grace, which was clearly heard in the Sales women’s prison. Apparently, one of the condemned (whether Anita or Blanca is not known), did not die immediately and had shouted, “Am I not to be killed?”

Antonia Torre Yela was spared execution by a typing error.  In transcribing her name, the letters danced and became Antonio Torres Yera. The error only postponed death for Antonia, a member of the JSU and only 18. She was shot on February 19th, 1940, becoming the 14th Rose. In her farewell letter, Julia Conesa, nineteen and member of the JSU, wrote: “Let my name not be erased from history.” Her name and that of her comrades has not been forgotten, unlike those of their tormentors, who enjoyed impunity for 38 years of dictatorship and a shameful amnesty which only helped to deepen the hurt suffered by all victims of Francoism.

The PSOE (main social-democratic party — DB) tried to appropriate the Thirteen Roses, concealing that at the time of the executions the PSOE had split from the JSU to found the Socialist Youth of Spain (JSE), with the purpose of clearly distancing themselves from the Communist Party of Spain (PCE). In fact, the Law of Historical Memory of Zapatero’s government (the first PSOE government after Franco — DB) did not even consider overturning the dictatorship’s judicial verdicts. It should be remembered that nearly fifty men were also shot dead that sad August 5th, the “43 Carnations”. Franco showed the same ruthlessness to men and women.

A hell

Sales jail was a hell, with children, elderly and mothers with children huddled in hallways, stairs, patios and bathrooms. Manuela and Teresa Basanta Guerra were the first women executed against the walls of the Eastern Cemetery. They shot them on June 29th 1939 along with a hundred men. Some historians claim that other women preceded them but their names were not recorded in the cemetery’s files. Like others on death row, the Thirteen Roses could only write to their families after receiving confession. If they did not take confession, they gave up the opportunity to say goodbye to their loved ones.

Brisac Blanca was the eldest of the thirteen and active in no political organization. Catholic and one who voted for the Right, she nevertheless fell in love with a musician who belonged to the PCE, Enrique Garcia Mazas. They married and had a son. Both were arrested and sentenced to death in the same trial. In fact, Enrique was in Porlier prison and would be shot a few hours before her. Blanca wrote a letter to her son Enrique, asking him not to harbour ill-will towards those responsible for her death and to become a good and hardworking man.

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In postwar Madrid there was vicious persecution and resentment of any citizen suspected of “joining the rebellion”, the technicality that was used to reverse the law, accusing supporters of the Second Republic of violating the law in force. Only the military, the clergy, the Falange and the Carlists could breathe easily. No one dared to walk around in workers’ overalls or wearing the traditional local bandanna (worn by men around the neck and by women as a kerchief around the head, it is still worn today at festival in Madrid — DB).

The city was a huge prison where “hunt the red” was taking place. The earlier militia-women aroused particular animosity. The Arriba newspaper edition of May 16th 1939, featured an article by José Vicente Puente in which his contempt does not mince words: “One of the greatest tortures of the hot and drunk Madrid were the militia-women parading openly in overalls, lank-haired, with sour voice and rifle ready to shoot down and end lives upon a whim to satiate her sadism. With their shameless gestures, the primitive and wild, dirty and disheveled militiawomen had something of atavism, mental and educational. … …. They were ugly, low, knock-kneed, lacking the great treasure of an inner life, without the shelter of religion, within them femininity was all at once extinguished.”

In this climate of hatred and revenge, denunciations proliferated — they were the best means of demonstrating loyalty to the fascist Movement.

The interrogations …. copied Gestapo tortures

The interrogations in police stations copied Gestapo tortures: electric shock on the eyes and genitals, the “bathtub”, removing fingernails with pliers, mock executions. Women suffered especially because the torture was compounded by sexual abuse, castor oil and hair cut down to the scalp. In some cases they even shaved eyebrows to further depersonalize. Rapes were commonplace.  The testimony of Antonia Garcia, sixteen, “Antoñita” is particularly chilling: “They wanted to put electric currents on my nipples but since I had no chest they just put them in my ears and burst my eardrums. I knew no more. When I came to I was in jail. I spent a month in madness”.

Among those responsible for the interrogations was General Gutierrez Mellado, hero of the Transition and Captain in the Information Service of the Military Police (CPIS ) during the toughest years following the war. He regularly attended executions, seeking last-minute confessions. On August 6th 1939 he pulled Cavada Sinesio Guisado, nicknamed “Pioneer”, military chief of the JSU after the war, out of the execution line. “Pioneer” had been lined up against the Eastern Cemetery wall and was awaiting the discharge of lead along with the rest of his comrades. Gutiérrez Mellado stepped forward and ordered his release. He forced him to witness the executions and asked for more information about PCE clandestine activity. Although he was cooperative and diligent, he was shot in the end on September 15th. Some claim that Gutierrez Mellado witnessed the execution of the Thirteen Roses but I was not able to verify the data.

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The women’s prison in Sales was run by Carmen Castro. Her inflexibility and lack of humanity found expression in the conditions of life of the children in prison with their mothers. No soap or hygienic facilities — almost all had ringworm, lice and scabies. Many died and were placed in a room where the rats were trying to devour the remains. Adelaida Abarca, JSU activist, said the bodies were only skin and bones, almost skeletons, for hunger had consumed them slowly. Another prisoner said: “The situation of the children was maddening. They were also dying and dying with dreadful suffering. Their glances, their sunken eyes, their continuous moans and stench are branded on my memory.” (Testimony given to Giuliana Di Febo in Resistance and the Women’s Movement in Spain [1936-1976] , Barcelona 1979).

The prisoners lived within the shadow of the “pit”, the death penalty. Since the execution of the Basanta Guerra sisters, they knew that the regime would have no mercy on women. On the morning when the Thirteen Roses were shot, Virtudes Gonzalez ‘s mother was at the jail doorway. When she saw her daughter climbing into the truck that was carrying prisoners to the cemetery walls, she began shouting: “Bastards ! Murderers ! Leave my daughter alone!” She chased the truck and fell. Alerted by the commotion, the Sales jail officers went outside and picked her off the ground, taking her into the prison. She was kept inside as yet another prisoner.

“If I had been sixteen they would have shot me too”

No less dramatic were Enrique’s repeated attempts to find out the whereabouts of his parents, Blanca and Enrique Garcia Brisac Mazas. In an interview with journalist Carlos Fonseca , author of the historical essay Thirteen Red Roses ( Madrid, 2005 ), Enrique gave his bitter account: “I was eleven years old when they shot my parents and my relatives tried to conceal it. They said they had been transferred to another prison and therefore we could not go to see them, until one day I decided to go to Salesas and there a Civil Guard Brigadier told me they had been shot and that if I had been sixteen they would have shot me too, because weeds had to be pulled up by the roots.

My grandmother and my aunts, my mother’s sisters, who had fallen out with my mother, ended up telling me that if Franco had killed my parents it would be because they were criminals. They even concealed my mother’s farewell letter for nearly twenty years.”

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I will not end this article by invoking reconciliation, because the Transition was not based on repairing the pain of the victims, but rather on the acquittal of the executioners. In fact, the reform of the criminal dictatorship was designed by those as low as Manuel Fraga, Rodolfo Martín Villa and José María de Areilza. Martín Villa concealed and destroyed documents to bury the crimes of Francoism and the dirty war he organized against anarchist and pro-independence activists of the Basque, Catalan and Canaries areas, from his post as Minister of the Interior between 1976 and 1979. Among his achievements one should list the Scala case (an attack that killed four workers, which was blamed on the CNT), the attempted assassination of Canaries independence leader Antonio Cubillo, the machine-gunning of Juan Jose Etxabe, historic leader of ETA and his wife Rosario Arregui (who died from eleven bullet wounds), also the murder of José Miguel Beñaran Ordeñana, “Argala”.

The impunity of the perpetrators

He is now a successful businessman, who gets excited talking about his role in the Transition. He lives quietly and no one has called for his prosecution. His example is an eloquent one of the impunity of the perpetrators, who continue to write the narrative while demonizing those who dared to stand against the miseries of the dictatorship and false democratic normalization.

No justice has been done. So it is absurd to talk of reconciliation, because nobody has apologized and repaired the damage. Franco committed genocide but today Manuel Gonzalez Capón, Mayor of Baralla (Lugo), of the Partido Popular (the main right-wing party), dares to declare that “those who were sentenced to death by Franco deserved it.” The Biographical Dictionary of the Royal Academy of History, funded with nearly seven billion euros of public funds, says Franco “set up an authoritarian but not totalitarian regime”, although in his speech in Vitoria/ Gastheiz, Franco himself said that “a totalitarian state in Spain harmonises the functioning of all abilities and energies of the country …”. The current scenario is not a reconciliation but instead is a humiliation of the victims and society, obscenely manipulated by a media (ABC, El País , El Mundo, La Razón), playing a similar role to newspapers of the dictatorship (ABC, Arriba, Ya, Pueblo, Informaciones, El Alcázar), covering up and justifying torture cases and applauding antisocial measures that continue reducing working class rights.

Let us not remember the Thirteen Roses as passive and submissive but instead for their courage and determination. With the exception of Blanca, trapped by circumstances, all chose to fight for the socialist revolution and the liberation of women. I think that if they were able to speak out today, they would not talk of indignation and peaceful disobedience, but would ask for a rifle to stand in the vanguard of a new anti-fascist front, able to stop the crimes of neo-liberalism. Let us not betray their example, forgetting their revolutionary status, they who sacrificed their lives for another world, one less unjust and unequal.

rosario dinamitera

TRECE ROSAS …. Y 43 CLAVELES

MILICIANAS 2

RAFAEL NARBONA
(originalmente publicado en su blog Agosto 2013)

(Encabezemientos por Rebel Breeze)
(versión traducido al inglés aquí https://rebelbreeze.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/thirteen-roses-and-43-carnations/)

La madrugada del 5 de agosto de 1939 fueron fusiladas trece mujeres en las tapias del Cementerio del Este de Madrid.

Nueve eran menores de edad, pues en aquellas fechas la mayoría no se alcanzaba hasta los 21. Con edades comprendidas entre los 18 y los 29, todas procedían de la cárcel de mujeres de Ventas, una prisión que fue concebida para 450 personas y que en 1939 albergaba a 4.000.

Salvo Blanca Brisac Vázquez, todas pertenecían a las Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas (JSU) o al PCE. Aunque no habían participado en el atentado que costó la vida a Isaac Gabaldón, comandante de la Guardia Civil, se las acusó de estar implicadas y de conspirar contra “el orden social y jurídico de la nueva España”. El juicio se celebró el 3 de agosto y se dictaron 56 penas de muerte, que incluían a los autores materiales del atentado. Las Trece Rosas acudieron a su ejecución con la esperanza de reencontrarse con sus compañeros de las JSU. En algunos casos se trataba del novio o el marido, pero sus expectativas se desmoronaron al saber que ya habían fusilado a los hombres.

conesa

La tapia de ladrillo visto mostraba claramente los agujeros de bala y la tierra se había vuelto negra por culpa de la sangre derramada. Algunos días, el número de  víctimas superaba los dos centenares y se empleaban ametralladoras para facilitar el trabajo. Entre 1939 y 1945 se fusiló a 4.000 personas en el Cementerio del Este, incluido Julián Zugazagoitia, Ministro de la Gobernación con Juan Negrín y notable escritor y político socialista.

Según María Teresa Igual, testigo presencial y funcionaria de prisiones, las Trece Rosas murieron con entereza. No se produjeron gritos ni súplicas. En mitad de un silencio sobrecogedor, sólo se escuchaban los pasos del piquete de ejecución, el sonido de los fusiles al chocar contra los correajes y la voz del oficial al mando. Alineadas hombro con hombro, todas recibieron un tiro de gracia después de la  descarga, que se oyó nítidamente en la cárcel de mujeres de Ventas. Al parecer, una de las condenadas (no sé sabe si Anita o Blanca), no murió en el acto y gritó: “¿Es que a mí no me matan?”

Antonia Torre Yela se libró de la ejecución por un error mecanográfico. Al transcribir su nombre, bailaron las letras y se convirtió en Antonio Torres Yera. El error sólo aplazó el fin de Antonia, militante de las JSU y con sólo 18 años. Fue fusilada el 19 de febrero de 1940, transformándose en la “Rosa” número 14.

En su carta de despedida, Julia Conesa, diecinueve años y afiliada a las JSU, escribió: “Que mi nombre no se borre de la historia”. Su nombre y el de sus compañeras no ha caído en el olvido, pero sí el de sus verdugos, que disfrutaron de la impunidad de 38 años de dictadura y de una vergonzosa amnistía que sólo contribuyó a profundizar el agravio de todas las víctimas del franquismo.

El PSOE intentó apropiarse de las Trece Rosas, ocultando que en el momento de la ejecución ya se había desligado de las JSU para fundar las Juventudes Socialistas de España (JSE), con el propósito de manifestar su alejamiento del PCE. De hecho, la Ley de Memoria Histórica del gobierno de Rodríguez Zapatero ni siquiera se planteó anular los juicios de la dictadura.

Conviene recordar que ese triste 5 de agosto se fusiló además a casi medio centenar de hombres, los 43 Claveles. El franquismo mostró la misma crueldad con hombres y mujeres.

Un infierno

De hecho, la cárcel de Ventas era un infierno, con menores, ancianas y madres con hijos, hacinadas en pasillos, escaleras, patios y baños. Manuela y Teresa Guerra Basanta fueron las primeras mujeres ejecutadas en las tapias del Cementerio del Este. Se las fusiló el 29 de junio de 1939, con un centenar de hombres. Algunos historiadores sostienen que otras mujeres las precedieron, pero sus nombres no figuran en los archivos del cementerio.

Al igual que otras condenadas a muerte, las Trece Rosas sólo pudieron escribir a sus familias después de confesarse. Si no lo hacían, perdían la oportunidad de despedirse de sus seres queridos.

Blanca Brisac era la mayor de todas y no militaba en ninguna organización política. Era católica y votaba a la derecha, pero se enamoró de un músico que pertenecía al PCE, Enrique García Mazas. Se casaron y tuvieron un hijo. Ambos fueron detenidos y condenados a muerte en el mismo proceso. De hecho, Enrique se hallaba en la Cárcel de Porlier y sería fusilado unas horas antes. Blanca le escribió una carta a su hijo Enrique, pidiéndole que no guardara rencor hacia los responsables de su muerte y que se convirtiera en un hombre bueno y trabajador.

MILICIANAS 3

En el Madrid de la posguerra, se persiguió con saña y encono a cualquier ciudadano sospechoso de “adhesión a la rebelión”, el tecnicismo jurídico que se empleó para invertir la ley, acusando a los partidarios de la Segunda República de atentar contra la legalidad vigente. Sólo los militares, los curas, los falangistas y los requetés podían respirar tranquilos. Ya nadie se atrevía a pasear con un mono de obrero o un pañuelo castizo. La ciudad era una enorme cárcel donde se ejercía la “caza del rojo”.

Las antiguas milicianas despertaban una especial inquina. En el diario Arriba, el 16 de mayo de 1939 aparece un artículo de José Vicente Puente, que no escatima palabras de desprecio: “Una de las mayores torturas del Madrid caliente y borracho del principio fue la miliciana del mono abierto, de las melenas lacias, la voz agria y el fusil dispuesto a segar vidas por el malsano capricho de saciar su sadismo. En el gesto desgarrado, primitivo y salvaje de la miliciana sucia y desgreñada había algo de atavismo mental y educativo. […] Eran feas, bajas, patizambas, sin el gran tesoro de una vida interior, sin el refugio de la religión, se les apagó de repente la feminidad”. En ese clima de odio y venganza, proliferaban las denuncias, pues eran el mejor recurso para demostrar la adhesión al Movimiento.

Torturas copiadas de la Gestapo

Los interrogatorios en las comisarías se basaban en torturas copiadas de la Gestapo: descargas eléctricas en los ojos y los genitales, la bañera, extracción de las uñas con alicates, simulacros de ejecución. Las mujeres sufrían especialmente, pues a las torturas se sumaban las vejaciones sexuales, el aceite de ricino y el corte del pelo al cero. En algunos casos, se les afeitaban incluso las cejas para despersonalizarlas aún más. Las violaciones eran moneda corriente. Es particularmente escalofriante el testimonio de Antonia García, de dieciséis años, “Antoñita”: “Me quisieron poner corrientes eléctricas en los pezones, pero como no tenía apenas pecho me los pusieron en los oídos y me saltaron los tímpanos. Ya no supe más. Cuando volví en mí estaba en la cárcel. Estuve un mes trastornada”.

Entre los responsables de los interrogatorios, se encontraba el general Gutiérrez Mellado, héroe de la Transición y capitán del Servicio de Información y Policía Militar (SIPM) durante los años más duros de la posguerra. Solía ser un testigo habitual de las ejecuciones, buscando confesiones de última hora. De hecho, el 6 de agosto de 1939 sacó de la hilera de condenados a Sinesio Cavada Guisado, “Pionero”, jefe militar de las JSU al acabar la guerra. “Pionero” había sido alineado en la tapia del Cementerio del Este y esperaba la descarga de plomo con el resto de sus compañeros. Gutiérrez Mellado se adelantó y ordenó su liberación. Le obligó a presenciar el fusilamiento y le pidió más información sobre la actividad clandestina del PCE. Aunque se mostró colaborador y diligente, el 15 de septiembre sería finalmente fusilado. Algunos afirman que Gutiérrez Mellado presenció la ejecución de las Trece Rosas, pero no he conseguido verificar el dato.

MILICIANAS 4

La cárcel de mujeres de Ventas estaba dirigida por Carmen Castro. Su intransigencia y falta de humanidad se reflejaba en las condiciones de vida de los niños encarcelados con sus madres. Sin jabón ni medidas de higiene, casi todos tenían tiña, piojos y sarna. Muchos morían y eran depositados en una sala, donde las ratas intentaban devorar los restos. Adelaida Abarca, militante de las JSU, afirma que los cadáveres sólo eran huesos y piel, casi esqueletos, pues el hambre los había consumido poco a poco. Otra reclusa afirma: “La situación de los niños era enloquecedora. También estaban muriendo y muriendo con un sufrimiento atroz. Tengo clavadas sus miradas, sus ojitos hundidos, sus quejidos continuos y su olor pestilente” (Testimonio recogido por Giuliana Di Febo en Resistencia y movimiento de Mujeres en España [1936-1976], Barcelona 1979).

Las presas convivían con la “pepa”, la pena de muerte. Desde la ejecución de las hermanas Guerra Basanta, sabían que el régimen no tendría misericordia con las mujeres. La madrugada en que fusilaron a las Trece Rosas se hallaba en la puerta de la cárcel la madre de Virtudes González. Cuando vio cómo subían a su hija al camión que trasladaba a las reclusas a las tapias del cementerio, comenzó a gritar: “¡Canallas! ¡Asesinos! ¡Dejad a mi hija!”. Corrió detrás del camión y cayó de bruces. Alertadas por el escándalo, las funcionarias de la cárcel de Ventas salieron al exterior y la recogieron del suelo, introduciéndola en la prisión. Quedó ingresada como una reclusa más.

“Si yo hubiera tenido dieciséis años también me habrían fusilado a mí”

No fueron menos dramáticos los reiterados intentos de Enrique de averiguar el paradero de sus padres, Blanca Brisac y Enrique García Mazas. En una entrevista con el periodista Carlos Fonseca, autor del ensayo histórico Trece Rosas Rojas (Madrid, 2005), Enrique cuenta sus amargas peripecias: “Yo tenía once años cuando fusilaron a mis padres y mi familia trató de ocultármelo. Me decían que habían sido trasladados de prisión y por eso no podíamos ir a verlos, hasta que un día fui decidido a las Salesas y allí un Brigada de la Guardia Civil me dijo que los habían fusilado, y que si yo hubiera tenido dieciséis años también me habrían fusilado a mí, porque las malas hierbas había que arrancarlas de raíz. Mi abuela y mis tías, hermanas de mi madre, con quien estaban enemistadas, llegaron a decirme que si Franco había matado a mis padres sería porque eran unos criminales. Incluso me ocultaron durante casi veinte años la carta de despedida de mi madre”.

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No voy a terminar este artículo invocando la reconciliación, pues la Transición no se basó en la reparación del dolor de las víctimas, sino en la absolución de los verdugos. De hecho, la Reforma de la dictadura fue diseñada por criminales tan abyectos como Manuel Fraga, Rodolfo Martín Villa y José María de Areilza. Martín Villa ocultó y destruyó documentos para enterrar los crímenes del franquismo y organizó la guerra sucia contra anarquistas e independentistas vascos, catalanes y canarios desde su cargo de Ministro de la Gobernación entre 1976 y 1979. Entre sus hazañas, hay que mencionar el caso Scala (un atentado atribuido a la CNT que causó la muerte de cuatro trabajadores), el intento de asesinato del líder independentista canario Antonio Cubillo, el ametrallamiento de Juan José Etxabe, dirigente histórico de ETA, y su esposa Rosario Arregui (que murió a consecuencia de once balazos), y el asesinato de José Miguel Beñaran Ordeñana, “Argala”.

La impunidad de los verdugos

Ahora es un empresario de éxito, que se emociona hablando de su papel en la Transición. Vive tranquilamente y nadie ha planteado su enjuiciamiento. Su ejemplo es una muestra elocuente de la impunidad de los verdugos, que siguen escribiendo la historia, mientras demonizan a los que se atrevieron a resistir contra las miserias de la dictadura y de una falsa normalización democrática.

No se ha hecho justicia. Por eso, es absurdo hablar de reconciliación, pues nadie ha pedido perdón ni se ha reparado el daño causado. El franquismo cometió un genocidio, pero hoy mismo Manuel González Capón, alcalde de Baralla (Lugo) por el PP, se atrevía a declarar que “los que fueron condenados a muerte por Franco se lo merecían”.

El Diccionario Biográfico de la Real Academia de la Historia, costeado con casi siete millones de euros de fondos públicos, afirma que Franco “montó un régimen autoritario, pero no totalitario”, pese a que en el Discurso de la Victoria el propio Franco afirmó que “un estado totalitario armonizará en España el funcionamiento de todas las capacidades y energías del país…”. El actual Estado español no es un escenario de reconciliación, sino de humillación de las víctimas y de la sociedad, obscenamente manipulada por unos medios de comunicación (ABC, El País, El Mundo, La Razón) que desempeñan un papel semejante a los periódicos de la dictadura (ABC, Arriba, Ya, Pueblo, Informaciones, El Alcázar), encubriendo y justificando los casos de torturas y aplaudiendo las medidas antisociales que no cesan de restar derechos a la clase trabajadora.

No recordamos a las Trece Rosas por su pasividad y sumisión, sino por su coraje y determinación. Salvo Blanca, atrapada por las circunstancias, todas eligieron luchar por la revolución socialista y la liberación de la mujer. Creo que si hoy pudieran alzar su voz, no hablarían de indignación y desobediencia pacífica, sino que pedirían un fusil para ocupar la vanguardia de un nuevo frente antifascista, capaz de frenar los crímenes del neoliberalismo. No malogremos su ejemplo, olvidando su condición de revolucionarias que inmolaron sus vidas por un mundo menos injusto y desigual.

rosario dinamitera

 Agosto 2013