Martín Arnal’s mission accomplished: the dignified burial of 26 trade unionists assassinated in 1937 | Spain


Tribute to 26 members of the CNT assassinated in 1937 in Angüés (Huesca)
Tribute to 26 members of the CNT assassinated in 1937 in Angüés (Huesca)ARICO

In January 1937, in the midst of the Civil War, 26 residents of Angüés (Huesca) were assassinated for belonging to the CNT. They were taken from the provincial prison and executed without trial or sentence. The youngest was 19, the oldest 55. Among them were five groups of brothers. This Sunday, their relatives have been able to bury them in a decent place, with their name and surname, in the Huesca cemetery thanks to the ARICO association, which promoted, together with the Manolín Abad Republican Circle of Huesca, the exhumation of the seven mass graves in those that were found and above all, thanks to the will of Martín Arnal, anti-Francoist guerrilla, historical reference of Aragonese anarcho-syndicalism and the first to request the opening of these clandestine burials. “He died a few months ago, about to turn 100 years old,” explains Javier Ruiz, an archaeologist. “He accompanied us throughout the exhumation process. He knew all the victims, he wanted to find them so that they could all be buried with dignity, and having him there while we dug up the grave telling us what they were like was impressive. It’s a shame he missed today’s event.”

Martín Arnal observes archaeologist Javier Ruiz working in the mass grave where his brother Román lies, among 25 other victims.
Martín Arnal observes archaeologist Javier Ruiz working in the mass grave where his brother Román lies, among 25 other victims.ARICO

Arnal, like many other relatives of the victims, ended up in exile in France. This Sunday, his daughter and granddaughter have been present at the tribute. Román, one of Martín’s brothers, was in the grave. Another brother of his, José, was also assassinated in August 1936, but his remains have not been recovered.

See also  Boy, 6, given 5 per cent chance of surviving brain cancer taking life day-by-day after operation

A sculpture with 26 perforations has been erected next to the tombstone, one for each of the victims who were riddled with bullets in January 1937. The event was attended by representatives of all levels of the Administration: the Provincial Council, the City Council of Huesca and Angüés and the Ministry of the Presidency. Diego Blázquez, general director of Democratic Memory, recalled that the search, location and identification of the disappeared during the Civil War and the dictatorship “represents an urgent debt” that Spain must pay “for reasons of humanity and coexistence”. Blázquez praised the dedication and generosity of the memorial associations to promote the exhumations and close wounds and regretted that Martín Arnal died before seeing the result of his effort. “Unfortunately, in cases like this, we are very late.” The general director of democratic memory closed his speech by remembering María Domínguez, “the first democratic woman mayor, an illustrious Aragonese woman who also lost her life and her name buried under anonymous ground” and whose memory was recently restored by the Government of Aragon.

Portraits and small coffins with the remains of the 26 victims of Francoism buried in the Huesca cemetery.
Portraits and small coffins with the remains of the 26 victims of Francoism buried in the Huesca cemetery.ARICO

“It has been a very emotional act”, summarizes Javier Ruiz, vice president of Arico. “The first time we started talking about this was in 2017. We really wanted to give the remains to their families so they could close their mourning.”

What affects the most is what happens closest. To not miss anything, subscribe.

subscribe


elpais.com

Related Posts

George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.