Go ahead for exhumation of victims interred in the Valley of the Fallen

by Deborah Cater
exhumation of victims from the Valley of the Fallen. Image by Beth Tribe on Flickr.com uncer creative commons license

Finally, there is a green light for the exhumation of victims from the Valley of the Fallen. They died as a consequence of the Spanish Civil War and Franco dictatorship. The work starts very soon. For years, relatives have been fighting for a dignified goodbye to their loved ones.

After years of political tug-of-war and legal conflicts, the municipality of San Lorenzo de El Escorial (Madrid) issued the permit for exhumation of victims interred in the mass graves of the Valley of the Fallen.

Proceedings started in Spain in 2016

The court of San Lorenzo de El Escorial already ruled in 2016 the victims’ relatives have the right to exhume the bodies in order to rebury them in their own way.

In April, the Spanish government asked for permission to exhume and identify the victims. This is a wish the relatives have had for years. In March, the Spanish government announced they will release €650,000 for this.

Casa Las Dunas Spain

Half the victims in Valley of the Fallen without identity

According to the Ministry of Justice, the mass graves contain the remains of 33,833 victims. The identity of almost half of these is not yet known. Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister tweeted on Thursday the municipality has given its approval and the exhumation and identification of the victims will start soon.

The deputy PM, Carmen Calvo, wrote it is only natural the victims of Franco regain their dignity in this way.

Franco removed from Valley of the Fallen in 2019

The Valley of the Fallen with the controversial monument and the basilica are located in a protected area. It was also the resting place of dictator Francisco Franco from 1975. However, on October 24, 2019, his body was transferred to the Mingorrubio cemetery in El Pardo to be reburied next to his wife. From 1959, the Franco administration transferred the remains of mass graves throughout Spain to the Valley of the Fallen.

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