Recuerdos de España: Confronting Memory and History in Spain and the Monumental Decision to Exhume Francisco Franco

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2020
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Sobitz, Steffanie
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Hoffenberg, Peter
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History
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
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The purpose of the research was to develop a better understanding of the ways in which a nation’s collective memory and history is shaped by Civil Wars and the monuments built to commemorate them. Civil war ravaged Spain from July 1936 until Spring 1939. It was a war of ideologies – conservative, ultra-religious factions rebelled against a newly elected Republican government determined to institute reforms and modernize the nation. The rebels, led by Francisco Franco, were victorious. What ensued was a brutally repressive dictatorship that lasted for nearly 40 years. At the end of the Franco regime, a pact of silence was agreed upon in the spirit of moving forward as a democratic nation. That pact lasted another 40 years, until 2007 when a new law was passed – The Law of Historical Memory. The law aimed to ease the pain families of victims of the war, who had refused to remain silent. At the top of the agenda was to remove all public symbols of Franco and ban public commemorations. The exhumation was proposed, and a fight dragged through the legal system and media for another decade. On September 24, 2019, Spain’s Supreme Court approved the exhumation, and a month later it was done. This paper addresses how the exhumation was affected by and affected the collective memory in Spain, as well as the traditions and beliefs that fueled the debates for decades.
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39 pages
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