Spain takes new step in the Valley of the Fallen

by Deborah Cater
The Valley of the Fallen. Image:Richard Mortel on Flickr.com under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
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Spain takes a big step towards exhuming the victims of the Spanish Civil War from the Valley of the Fallen. On Monday, the Spanish government applied for a permit to exhume and identify the bodies.

On October 24, 2019, the body of dictator Francisco Franco was exhumed from the Valley of the Fallen and reburied in the Mingorrubio cemetery in El Pardo.

Worthy goodbye to victims by next of kin

Shortly after Franco’s exhumation, the Spanish government promised that all victims of the Spanish Civil War and Franco dictatorship would be exhumed from the memorial. Furthermore, they would do everything they could to identify the victims and return them to their next of kin for a worthy goodbye. Previous investigations showed the remains of about 60 more victims buried here.

Spanish Council of Ministers budget €650,000 

The permit is a necessary step to gain access to the basilica’s crypts. On March 30th this year, the Council of Ministers approved a budget of €650,000. This is for both the exhumation of the victims and the identification of the remains.

Cumbre Villas

Approach work on the Valley of the Fallen

Forensic scientist Francisco Etxeberria tells Spanish newspaper El País several experts will work on the excavations. Forensic specialists, archaeologists and mortuary personnel will participate. In addition, security people and construction engineers will ensure the crypts and basilica remain undamaged.

New name for Valley of the Fallen

Since enactment of the Law on Historical Memory in 2007, the government has received requests from more than 60 relatives to exhume their loved ones. The exhumation of dictator Franco was the first step towards a renewed purpose for the Valley of the Fallen.

Franco created the memorial to celebrate and immortalise his victory in the Spanish Civil War. On the day of Franco’s exhumation, Prime Minister Sánchez spoke of the shame of victims buried without consent. In September 2020, the government announced the glorification of Franco is forbidden. They also said the Valley of the Fallen will have a different name and purpose.

The Spanish government expects to receive an official green light in the near future. The work will take several months.

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