THE EXCAVATION of the Porreres mass grave is well underway and at least ten full skeletons have already been discovered. There are thought to be around 120 bodies at the central Mallorcan site where Republican prisoners of war were lined up and shot in 1936 by Nationalist forces under the control of General Franco.
As reported in last week’s edition, the exhumation began after All Saints day as a mark of respect for the dead. There are estimated to be more than 2,000 unidentified victims of the Spanish Civil War buried in unmarked graves across Mallorca and tens of thousands more on the mainland.
The Porreres site is the largest mass grave ever discovered on the islands and the excavation process is expected to last around a month. It follows similar efforts across Spain where some 500 mass graves have been uncovered.
Re-opening the wounds of the vicious civil war has been a subject of extreme controversy in Spain for decades. The move towards democracy after Franco’s death rested to a large degree on the passing of an amnesty law for crimes committed during the dictatorship and an understanding that ‘the past was the past’.
That has changed in recent years as both the scale of Franco’s crimes becomes known and families of victims demand not justice, but simply an awareness of what happened to their relatives.
There is also a growing movement to tear down monuments to the dictator and replace street names and other testaments to his regime, especially in Catalonia.