The assassination of Federico Garcia Lorca: 80 years on

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ON August 19 1936 one of Spain’s greatest poets and dramatists was believed to have been murdered on the orders of National generals allied to Franco at the beginning of the civil war. 

The true fate of Federico Garcia Lorca, a renowned playwright and outspoken socialist, remains a mystery to this day, with echoes of verbal evidence and shards of correspondence suggesting fascist responsibility. 

Decades of reluctance to reopen old wounds have, however, muddied the waters of history and a 2009 excavation of a site near Granada where he was thought to have been buried found no traces of the writer, whose life has since inspired countless films, documentaries, books, plays and songs. 

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Earlier this week an Argentinian judge began an investigation into Lorca’s death at the request of a Spanish human rights organisation heavily involved in uncovering crimes against humanity committed during the Franco era. 

Although Franco and his Falangist regime was clearly not enamoured with Lorca, banning his work for 17 years after his death, there is significant controversy over the motivations behind his assassination and no indication that he was specifically targeted by high-ranking fascist officials. 

Some historians believe he was simply swept up in a violent cleansing of suspected communists, while others suggest a more personal motive, noting Lorca’s distinctive character and homosexuality. 

Whatever the reasons for his murder, in his prime at just 38, it has taken Spain almost a century to gradually shed civil war taboos, and begin to properly analyse and appreciate the uncommon life, and even rarer talent of its prodigious native son. 

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