The excavation of a mass grave on a Granada hillside where the poet Federico Garcia Lorca was murdered during the Spanish Civil War has reinforced calls for the area to be investigated. “Lorca was just one of 4,000 executions on a roadside just a kilometre long,” says Juan Antonio Lopez Diaz, a Granada University professor. “There are so many bodies there that pine trees were planted just to stop them being uncovered by rainfall erosion.”
After years of debate, digging finally began last week at the mass grave where half a dozen men, possibly including Lorca, were killed and buried on 18 August 1936 by hitmen from General Franco’s right-wing Nationalist forces. A huge white tent has been erected, surrounded by a two-metre high metal fence, to ward off the media during the two-month investigation.
There are no such restrictions on area less than a mile away known simply as “the ravines of Viznar”. This is where mass executions of hundreds of other sympathisers of the doomed Spanish Republic were summarily executed.
“We had our desaparecidos [disappeared] way before the term became famous during the 1970s South American dictatorships,” Diaz Lopez added. “During the war in Granada anybody with even the slightest connection to the ‘wrong’ side risked illegal execution. And that went on well into Franco’s regime.”