408- Valley of the Fallen
This is ninety nine percent invisible. I'm Roman, Mars. About an hour north west of Madrid, an enormous stone crucifix rises five hundred feet out of a rocky mountaintop. It's so big you can see it from miles away beneath across. There's a sprawling Benedictine monastery, and a basilica carved out of the mountain. This place is called the valley of the fallen, and it's likely the most controversial monument in Spain, the valley, synonymous with Francisco Franco the general who ruled Spain from the end of its bloody civil war in one thousand nine. Nine hundred eighty nine until his death in nineteen, seventy five. That's reporter Jennifer Omani. When Franco died, he became the valley's most notorious inhabitant. His body was buried under a huge stone slab, but as the decades passed after his death anger about the monument grew people began to push for the removal of Franco's Bonnie. They argued there was no place in a democracy for a monument exalting a man who had tortured and killed thousands of Spaniards in the name of fascism. And then in October of twenty nineteen. Now the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco died forty four years ago today his remains were moved from the Valley of the fallen. Franco's body was disinterred coffin packed into a helicopter and then flown to a graveyard on the outskirts of the city to be reburied. Next to his. Wife and as you can see from here, there were some protests. Despite his torturing and murdering Franco's still has fans in Spain. Him as the emblem of a traditional Spanish Catholic life in some actually like his fascist ideology, and would like to see make a comeback, and so when his body was removed, hundreds of his supporters gathered at the new cemetry, two-wheeled swastikas and Franco era flags, and to perform the fascist salute in his honor. On your. Goal is I. Don't vice not. Ivy Your Song. Yourself artists. One into protesters told me she'd live. In nineteen years under Franco and that Spain was a marvelous country back then, but I'm Christmas was. INVITED NOT GONNA. Dakota She said the dictators spirit would always be into valley and in her heart. Even, if you're not familiar with Franco, this story might sound familiar to you. You cut your fascist. You got your anti-fascists and there's this monument honoring a very bad man from the past that people are arguing about, but this story is different, because the valley of the fallen isn't just a monument, it is also a mass grave. There are tens of thousands of other bodies still trapped in the basilica beneath West Franco used to lie. Many were ordinary civilians killed by Franco security forces during the height of the civil war. And for years, their families have been trying to get them out. The story of the Valley of the fallen can be traced all the way back to the mid nineteen thirties when Spain found itself torn in two different political directions. That public. Anaemia Benita. The beautiful. Joyful demonstrations throughout Spanish greeter the proclamation of Republic. In one, thousand, nine, hundred, eighty, six, the country was in New Democracy. Just a few years removed from monarchy when a group of left-wing anti-clerical Republicans when the elections. This horrified the right wing Catholics in the country. That included Francisco. Franco a general in the Spanish army. After the Election Franko banded together with other right wing military leaders to carry out a coup. They believed they were on a divine crusade what began as a military coup. At almost three years of civil war. The right winger is gradually seized control. Of Spain, their death squads rounded up suspected leftists, and then paraded them through villages and shot them for both sides. Political opponents became enemies. To be hunted down. And killed. All. In Khuda is still good LMS Still this specific African Hanya. Grandfather Manuel and great uncle Antonio were among Franco's victims. When I met her. She showed me photos of them as handsome young men back in the night's low thirties. Manuel worked as village Vet Caring for the animals of local farmers. His within Idaho. Others hunting values the his brother Antonio was an ironworker. Both men had supported leftist who won the elections I'm both had joined the union making them targets for the right wing nationalists. Manuel was working in the field one day in July, nineteen, thirty six, when a group of Franco's men rolled up in a truck. BUSHELL got milk. What TV. Go here me, grab perfect Afghans grandfather and the other workers and took them to a nearby jail. Immune. Talk. Will you are? To Lena. In. Her grandfather was killed and left in a ditch. Her great uncle was murdered a few months later. Over the years word spread through the village ravine, women well was killed, was filling up with bodies, but it would take a long time for the family to find out exactly what happened. And they weren't. The only ones left without answers. Something somewhere was playing out for families across the country that Spanish civil war. I? Am these the passions of centers of hatred. Kidding was restrained. By Nine, thousand, thirty nine, the civil war was over in Spain was in ruins. At least four hundred thousand people had died. Have them were civilians who face torture SAS, nation, and the unexplained disappearances of their family, members and Network of mass graves now Scott Spanish landscape. Some contained thousands of bodies. It's estimated that Spain still has a hundred fourteen thousand missing people dating back to that time. But bring wasn't interested in what happened to the bodies of his enemies, at least not at first he was busy, consolidating his power as the great superpowers of the world upsides and World War Two. He decided not to fight focusing his energies on fully crushing his opposition at home. Run. Official Declaration Generalissimo Francisco Franco states that his government will not join the German Italian Japanese. Alliance against Communism. But he says that he will extirpate communism in Spain. Your country now, single political party and protest was effectively banned. Franco known as El Cow. The supreme leader. And in a very savvy move, he continued to cultivate the backing of the Catholic Church. Franco was not particularly religious. But he adopted the idea very cleverly. The war effort was a religious crusade. This is Paul Preston he's one of leading scholars of the Spanish civil war and Franco's regime. On guaranteed him. The support of the Catholic Church internationally, which meant Franco could operate with relative impunity. He went about taking away. Many of the rights that Spaniards had gained during the nineteen, Thirties. Women for example lost the right to divorce their husbands and have abortions, and they could no longer work outside the home without permission. Men On the other hand could kill their wives for adultery. The government banned regional languages like Basque and Catalan the church ruled over every aspect of most Spaniards lives the ideas of frank who is being pumped out. From Church pulpits they'd be pumped out. In School for the people who had principle Nelson's deposit traco basically. Either accept these ideas or go into what we call in exile. To go into a world of silence, and now that Franco had gained absolute power over the country, he wanted a monument to immortalize his great triumph eight days to be for him, what the Pyramids was the Faeroe. Franco, commissioned the value of the full in in one, thousand, nine, hundred forty, the building he said would rival the grungy of ancient monuments, and then because he was Franco, he went about building the monument in the most fascist way possible relying on the forced labor of his political prisoners, the three camps where control of by brigade of the city guards. We were counted every three hours to make sure that nobody has escape. Is Nicola. Alabama. Back in the nineteen forties, he was a college student in Madrid and he got involved in anti-franco organizing. Getting cool handing out pro democracy pamphlets. Nicholas was sentenced to what at the Valley of the fallen. Asleep in Enviro virus. An Seven rage. Supposed to be working. Because of losses, university education he was put to work in the office, shuffling papers around for prison officials and filling in forms, but as he walked to and from his barracks each day he saw men carving rock on pitiful rations of food and working with dynamite without protection very. Harsh words. Of. Some people that were kid. The construction of the Valley of the fallen took an enormous human toll. An estimated forty thousand prisoners worked on the project. Some died from exhaustion. Others inhale pulverized granite I'm were killed by lung diseases many years later. Franco had initially conceived of the Valley of the fallen as gravesite, much less a mass grave, but it would become one thanks to Franco's twisted response to pressure from one of Spain's main allies. The Americans relied on Spain as one of European partners during the Cold War. And when they heard about Franco's plans for the valley of the fallen. They started to get nervous. The monument was shaping up to be pretty confrontational and divisive. The Americans hoped Franko would dial it back a bit to make it. A place that memorialized the country's war dead, not just the Catholic Crusaders. And so frankly declared the valley of the fallen to be a place of reconciliation, a place where the dead for both sides of the civil war would be laid to rest. But then once again Franklin about making that happen. In the most fascist way possible wasn't the sparkling though put. A. To. View on what if he caffeine Lithuania says that Franco ordered his people to bring him bodies from mass graves and seven trees all over Spain. They dug the bodies up without permission and jumbled them together in boxes in those most. Of Your Movie Caucus on which in Breaststoke, Then, they drove them to the valley when they were buried in the crypt near the basilica. Finally completed. Valley open to the public in one, thousand, nine, hundred, eighty nine. Nearly two decades later when Franco finally died of heart failure, he too was buried at the valley, the fallen, he was laid to rest in grand basilica above the bodies of the Spaniards he had tortured killed, and then reburied in a mass grave, where their families couldn't find them, and we've Franco on Spain suddenly confronted in you future without L. Cardio. Look tragic died. We very happy to get rid of him. We would expect that. The freezer full of from. The three years between Franco's death, and the signing of a new constitution became known as the transition, the country move from fascist dictatorship to multi-party democracy and starting in the late nineteen seventies Spain. Finally got to do what the US Britain. And France had done more than a decade before they got to have fun. A new revolutionary movements sprang up in Madrid. became known as Lambada Melania. Vida has consumed Madrid. Transforming the capital into Europe's new moveable feast. Suddenly sponges a drink dance. have sex outside of marriage and make music about it. The transition seemed to have ushered in New Spain. But the elation felt after Franco's death was temporary. It's only. Several years that you realize that. New Democracy as solve all the problems that were brought by the date. For one thing that were reminders of dictatorship everywhere that were statues of Franco onus collaborators in central plazas all over the country. His name was on street signs. Of course, the Valley of the fallen served as a colossal reminder. How can you have? The she and the same. The huge volume. To the glory of dictatorship. Billed by by political prisons. Perhaps the biggest hurdle to fully addressing what had happened to the country under Franco was an agreement that became known as the back though they'll all be though the pact of forgetting. BLOOMINGTON. The Puerto. Rico, the doors, but at all. As one politician said the pact would be an amnesty for everyone agreed to by everyone. At the heart of the pact of forgetting was legal forgiveness for all Ranko era crimes. It was a deal agreed to buy parties on the right in the left. It was a mess of compromise. The whole process of transition democracy was transaction. It was a deal negotiation hall press. Alteration Compromise sacrifice was the league chance of getting even a glimmer of democracy. So, that's the context. The left agreed to the pact because they wanted that political prisoners freed political parties legalized. They wanted to be able to live in this new democracy without fear of being tortured or murdered. His time went on. They had to grapple with the fact that the amnesty applied to people on the right to. Vocal could ellen and Can ls was a left wing activist back the late seventy s when the of forgetting went into effect. Then! His father had disappeared during the civil war when Fausto was just two years old, and he says that instead of making sure people on the left wouldn't be persecuted for their political views. The Amnesty Law was primarily used to shield those on the right could killed civilians. With The they bundle. Look at the end of the. Moraga here, but he. reveled them did. Faustus says when he realized what had happened. He put his head in his hands. He felt he'd been tricked. The pact created a culture of silence around the atrocities Spain's Pasta. It suppressed conversations about the killing of civilians during the civil war, and the long years of repression that followed the pact basically said. Let's just not talk about what happened. Let's move forward instead. An as for the valley of the fallen, it became something like a shrine to Franko Fascist would visit it from all over Europe to pay their respects and would mark his death with flowers every year. Franko was remembered even as the pact ensured that his crimes were slowly forgotten and raced. People like Purificacion. The packages just didn't work. It was impossible to move forward without knowing exactly what happened to her relatives. As time went on her family and many others. Began to resist the taboo against speaking up. They began to talk about what they've been through. For note by New Okay No. Record number. Two I. Put if he on says that during the nineteen eighty s discussions that had long been kept quiet, started to come out into the open I give. King located king. School today. And, even if people didn't want to listen. At least it was no longer unthinkable for families of victims to make that grievances known. And his family's began to talk more about what happened to them. They also started to organize around an important goal. They wanted to find the bodies. They're missing. Family members that ended up in the mass graves around the country. and. They weren't going to wait for the government to give them permission. They began hiring forensic specialists and eulogists to help him find and dig up the bodies themselves. Yet. Those much either understand or the man that wiscon- Selah. Teams neath again and. Capi works for an organization called Abgal it carries out private. For families who want to find them murdered relatives Porno Pushtun. Dollars has mcgann showed me around the headquarters. The will of boxes. And ask what they contained. told me that inside with skeletons. Some broken into pieces by torture, and the years spent underground. Now waiting to be washed and identified. He allows. I asked him how families typically react to seeing these broken bodies emerge from the ground. After waiting for answers for so long. Just spending levels. The last one from me that it broken. Dig Digging started on this damn. It's everything. He says most especially when they spent years trying to learn loved ones were buried. Having a real funeral makes a huge difference to people joked in bull not lower turns up. For a long time, the work of people like Miguel happened below the radar, and without support from the state, but then in two thousand seven, a new law went into effect. The gave a boost these efforts to uncover the crimes of the past. The new law was called the historical memory law, and it broke the pact of forgetting for the first time victims of Franco era crimes received official recognition. The law called for the removal of Franco symbols from public places and lots of new money flow to the exclamation efforts happening at mass grave sites across the country. But if you got your Panya and her family sees chance. They contacted Edwato round for a human rights lawyer who was helping to investigate crimes dating back to the Franco. ERA Eduardo started looking into the case of perfect athlons, grandfather and great uncle. You'll remember the all that does. Is The all commercial who? Bothers a wonderful deal. And it's the forces. You know standard. He learned the perfect Afghans. Relatives were not in a mass grave near the town where they'd been killed. Instead they were among the bodies that had been moved to the valley of the fallen before it opened in Nineteen fifty-nine. They've been jumbled together inboxes with other remains, and then transferred into the crypts of the basilica when reburied their names had not been written down and Purificacion. Family wasn't the only one hearing this. All told around thirty three thousand bodies had been reburied at the monument. Little. Moved minnows. Get your periphery on eventually banded together with more than thirty families, they filed a series of legal complaints that wound their way through regional national and European courts over the course of many years, but if you you spend enough at the new all been. And then in twenty eleven, government asked a panel of experts to consider the future of the Valley of the fallen. Expenditure Signal Gobierno. Peres to. By either separate. Recommended that Franco's body be removed from the valley. Small victory for those Long said that the valley was a monument to fascism with Franco's body moved to another cemetery. At least the fascist pilgrimages would stop. But the panel also said that identifying and removing tens of thousands of other bodies was not practical. Put if he catherine was once again denied the chance she'd hoped for doping It's been so many his. She says the date would. She laments the fact that her father is ninety five years old and has lost his memory. He'll never know what happened to his own father. Anybody at Boston. And this is true for thousands of Spaniards of all those buried in the valley, twenty one thousand could be identified. The other twelve thousand people remain nameless. The only thing known is where their bodies came from in Spain offering a small sliver of hope for families, still searching for their loved ones. The efforts to address baynes fascist past remain patchwork, not just at the valley of the fallen, but across the country there still Franco era statues and street signs, and recently more insidious reminders of the dictatorship have been reemerging in the country, a new far right party known as vox one seats in parliament last year. That's Logan. Ferre SPAGNA grandee or Travis. Makes Spring great again? Fox would never actually claimed be fascist, but policies aligned with what Franken represented. They want a border war with Morocco. They want to take away the power held by Spain's regions in favor of national unity. They would deport all documented migrants, and they're totally opposed to agenda violence law that would tackle Spain's shamefully high levels of domestic violence. The rapid rise has been driven by instagram memes and youtube videos. A recent election spot showed the party's leader Santiago of a skull, striding through Castilian landscape, and talking about honoring national pride in about refusing to live among traders. But. They will be for me what? Can I get. But. I can okay Anouk Anil. Box on a bench, which attract a lot of young people who have never voted before and many of them. Don't even know who Franko is. In a lot of ways, the pact of forgetting actually worked reason. History isn't taught in Spanish school, which means that young people are more susceptible to Fox's appeal. They don't understand the party's connection to Spain's bloody history. Fausto Canal less the left wing activist. says. His own father is believed to be in the Valley of the fallen. But every attempt to get him out has been blocked. Off The living with the pain of his father's murder, his entire life. Fausto has watched Fox's rise with increasing dom. Pays the lower motor. It'll be that all Grow. TV Oh, he says Spain is the country of Amnesia. So much tragedy. A genocide has been forgotten. After, Franco's body was removed from the valley. Vox accused the government of using the exclamation to score political points ahead of an election, drowning out the calls from families to take their own loved ones out of the monument. Meanwhile Pro Franco protesters gathered at the valley and Sang Spain's old national anthem, which is peppered with fascist lyrics. The anthem was retired after Franco died in favor of a wordless melody. You just not along team. But now they're singing the lyrics again. But then is now divided on what the future of the valley should be. The government has been spending a lot of money to to be in good shape the. Stomach. Now that I'm more. Once all the bodies out. Mykonos would leave nature to take its course. Just let the monument fall down. The only pro- river! Nature Works. That works progress slowly, but if they got the on, says the most important thing is to get the rest of the Bundy's Alad Valley, not just Franco's. Ugly. Up to. This getting. As she knows either says what I want is every family with mud victims in the valley of the fallen? In ditches. I want them to dig up. All of these people buried all over Spain. Because! Spain is a mass grave. My idea would be to zoom them all and for them to be given back to the families. And dignified with burials cemeteries where they should be. The story of what really happened should be known and taught in schools so that everyone knows the real history of what happened. In two, thousand sixteen, a judge ordered an exclamation, put a seal family members. It was the first and only time that had happened in Spain. But it still hasn't been carried out. But if it caffeine and Fausto would told the with Franco's body gone. This might be the year. Wall the not getting their hopes up. It's true that in Spain. The dead have a way of surprising living. Coming up after the break Nicolas Sanchez Alber Nas the student who is sentenced to work at the Valley Lynn well. He eventually escaped, and the story of how that happened. Is Pretty Wild? Stay with us. So as a reminder, Nikola Sanchez Bernas was the student who is imprisoned at the Valley of the fallen for a few months during its construction eight into do hard labor. He worked in an office job there, but it was an awful place, and a lot of prisoners tried to escape. It's estimated. There are fifty attempted escapes between nineteen, forty and nineteen, fifty nine, but the only. To escape the succeeded, those of my friends and Mesa, the rest were caught and how Nikolas did. It is pretty crazy stories. We want to bring back Jennifer Omani to tell us a bit more and so Jennifer. Tell us what happened with this escape. So to begin with there were a few things that made escaping from the Valley of the full in difficult, the valley wasn't actually really heavily guarded, but it was set very deep in a forest, and if anybody managed to walk out, they get picked up as soon as they go to the nearest road. And in Spain at that time, the roads were really heavily policed and Spaniards needed special permission to just travel around the country. So if an escaped prisoner even made it out to the road, there was little chance. They be able to make it any further. Because of all the guards, it would be very difficult so Nicholas understood that context on he reached out to a a good friend of his architect who drafted him some fake travel permits and the next thing Nicholas did was write a letter, some of his friends who exiled in Paris and he asked them if they could help him get out of the valley. And those friends just happen to be connected to Norman Mailer. The author. I mean, was he? was He already famous at this point? Yeah, this was just before his debut novel came out. See wasn't quite famous yet, but he was just on the cusp of it, and he was one of a number of rights is in office from the US who got very interested in the anti-fascist Movement in Europe. Just, goes back. To our infancy in our child. We were always told how to live. We'll do this. Don't do that no! No yes, you do that. No, you may not do that. That's very norman mailer. Take on fascism. How did he get connected to nick losses? Friend, well according to Nikolas, apparently male was on holiday in France, and he'd had a chance encounter with his friends. Mayland mention he be going back to the US quite soon that he bought a car and he was trying to get rid of it before he left. For said. You. And, he said well. Give it to your, but. I also will give you my sister to drive. So, that would be mailers sister Barbara, who had also been in France and she was also interested in the anti-fascist movement, and she began corresponding with Nicholas via his friends. They route less back and forth, and eventually they agreed on a day in time when she'd come to the valley in Manila's call driven by one of Nicholas's friends to take him away. Sounds kind of surprisingly easy. Yeah, so the the fact. The Barber was an American and the they were in a call in a strange way. -ympia aroused much less suspicion. It's seems like the benefits of being American in that situation. Yeah, well this time. Almost any foreigner really had a set amount of in that respect, so on the appointed date Nicholas and a friend of his from university, who was also jailed for per democracy activities, snuck out of his barracks and found barbro waiting for them with the mutual friends. They were parked in front of the monument. Is just like sitting outside the beep couple times they come run. Yes according to how he tells it, he. The, fellow prisoner hopped into the car, and then Barbara drove them to know these in Spain and drop them at the border with fronts. then there was a hard part. Nicholas had to hike with his friend The pyramid mountains for three days walking only at night and hiding out sleeping during the day to avoid police, they were trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. I'm finally on the third day. They saw road sign written in French. Who is Britain and France Foden all freshmen? We've along with Spanish. That, we began to talk with him, he said. Savior in France. Is it typical for people fleeing Franco's Spain to go into France seeking safety where lots of people hiking to the needs, just as Nicholas do well, Nicholas was following re established by hundreds of thousands of political refugees actually when the Republican forces lost their last battle to Franco's nationalist army in one, thousand, nine, thirty nine, so at that time, men, women and children made their way into France through the mountains, but by the time Nicholas made that journey. It was a lot less common. Spain wasn't a totally closed country like North Korea, but he was a fugitive, so it was a bit different him, and so would it make laws do once? He got into France. Well as any of US would I guess. He got in touch with his family and his father, a diplomat who was in exile, for his own safety told him to come to Argentina, so necas flew out and reunited with his family there. and. He wouldn't return to Spain until Franco's death. This is a cool story. All Right? Thanks so much Jennifer appreciate it excellent Roman. Ninety nine percent invisible was produced this week by Jennifer money and edited by senior producer Delaney Hall mixed by Brian Barnes Music by Sean. Riyal crooked is the digital director of the rest of the team is Vivian Lay, crisper Ruby. Joe Rosenberg and Fitzgerald Katie Mingle, Abby Madan Sophia, class car and me Roman Mars. We are project and ninety one point seven Klw in San Francisco and produced on radio row, which is now distributed in multiple locations around North America, but in our hearts will always be in beautiful downtown Oakland California. We are proud member of Radio Topi from PRI. Separately independent collective of the most innovative listener supported one hundred percent artist own podcast in the world. Find, mall and Radio TOPI DOT FM. You can tweet at me at Roman, Mars, and the show at nine nine Pi, oric on instagram and read it to. You can find out how preorder ninety nine percent invisible book that we announced last week and ninety nine P I dot org slash book, and for all your other ninety nine I need look no further, deny dot org. Radio to. X.