On 19 July 1936, the Spanish Civil War reached the island of Mallorca. The supporters of the democratically elected Popular Front government of the Second Spanish Republic could not stand long against the Fascists under General Franco. Mallorca had been a peaceful island to this day, but from one day to the next, under the blue sky of the summer sun, a lust for murder broke over the people whose long shadow has remained palpable to this day.
„At that time people were silent out of fear. The generation afterwards was silent out of shame and today one says to oneself: You are fine. Why do you want to stir up the old muck? „Asks Maria Antonia Oliver, chairwoman of the Associación de la Memória de Mallorca, and gives the answer immediately afterwards. „On the island, 1611 people were shot dead and hardly anyone got a fair trial. From the point of view of the Fascists, they were rebels and traitors, but from the point of view of the people, they were brothers, fathers or uncles. Every name that can be dragged out of the darkness of oblivion makes us happy and sad at the same time! “
Maria Antonia, who has made the struggle for memory her life purpose after she lost family members herself, explains the cynicism with which the authorities went then. Historians today know that the Fascists executed prisoners sorted by town, often not far from the small cemetery of Porreres, where bullet holes in a surviving church wall testify to it. The family members, who of course were concerned about the fate of their loved ones, were often told that they had been released and might have left the island. For the bereaved, these were the excesses of an indescribable cynicism, which seldom breaks out in man and how he leaves deep wounds in the souls of people.
In total, about 114,000 people have been buried in mass graves in Spain, and only a small proportion of these were later opened and examined. Why is Spain not more open about its own history? Why can no one pronounce what happened in this time and make it forgivable, I ask Maria Antonia in my Protestant naivety. Her eyes sparkle as she answers: „After the death of dictator Franco, the country was transformed into a democracy. The ruling families made a deal with the exiled Spaniards and the Socialists. Everything changed so everything could stay the same. There was a pardon, but for the wrong ones. My mother has suffered a lot and no one has ever asked her for forgiveness for what has happened to her.
This is the Spanish social contract and it still works today. „Her words sound unforgiving. Nevertheless, good news is coming. In early October 2016, Mallorca’s largest mass grave, located near the Santa Creu church in Porreres, will be opened by a Basque expert team. Even if many family members are already dead, so remains the hope. The hope for the names of those who will not forget.
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