Graves of silence

The victims had been brutally killed and thrown into a mass grave. It was 1937, and the Spanish Civil War was already over here, in the northern Asturias region. The atrocities were committed by General Francisco Franco’s troops as they were persecuting left-wing opponents. Among the illegally executed victims were the Republican staff at a psychiatric hospital in the village of Valdediós. One of the nurses was Antonio Piedrafita’s father. At the age of 67 today, Antonio only wants to find his father's remains and bury him in dignity. After four decades of dictatorship and 30 years of democracy, Spain is finally looking into its past crimes and repression under the military rule that until recent years have been pushed away from the public debate. The story is a personal account as the author participated during two weeks in the voluntary team – with grandchildren of the victims of Civil War and Franco's regime – searching and finally exhuming the grave that contained the remains of 17 executed bodies. The article also examines the fears and taboos among the local people concerning the controversial exhumation and the dark history that would be brought into daylight.
Published in Turun Sanomat in 2004