Making Memory Matter: The Asociación para la Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica and Spain’s Efforts to Reclaim the Past

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2019-04-10

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The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) left many Republicans fearful under the dictatorship of Nationalist Francisco Franco (1939-1975). The Franco regime executed over one hundred thousand Republican victims, often without identifying them, and contributed to a one-sided narrative that honored the Nationalist heroism while delegitimizing and invalidating Republican ideologies. Following Franco’s death in 1975, the next generation of Spanish government officials, attempting to quiet concerns of unrest in Spain after almost forty years of extreme conservatism, agreed to forget the past and move forward. Without any opportunity to reckon with the past, families of Republican victims felt a sense of injustice at their inability to find closure amidst a system that overwhelmingly executed those supporting liberal reforms. Living in a persistent state of fear, Republicans and their families affected by this terror struggled under the Spanish government that quickly established the importance of democratization efforts over justice and dignity. In 2000, the grandson of a Republican victim spearheaded an exhumation that recovered his grandfather’s remains, unleashing pent up demand for a genuine reckoning with franquista authoritarianism. This episode launched the Asociación para la Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica (ARMH) to validate Republican victims’ narratives against an official story that did not recognize this past. The ARMH, led by activists looking to reclaim memories of forgotten victims, has spent the past nineteen years archiving and legitimizing the narratives of Republican victims of Franco’s regime to prevent their erasure by the one-sided telling of history.

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Goldberger, Tyler (2019). Making Memory Matter: The Asociación para la Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica and Spain’s Efforts to Reclaim the Past. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/18326.


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