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Volunteers to clean up vandalized Republican trenches

The Civil War dugouts in Montgai were defaced in the last days of 2017 as “harm just for harm’s sake”

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08 January 2018 02:09 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

Trenches still call up memories of the Spanish Civil War throughout Catalonia, for example, in the western town of Montgai near Lleida. While this aforementioned historical landmark was vandalized in the last few days of 2017, volunteers have already stepped up to help clean it up.

A day to visit the memorial and to restore it

Such was the interest in repairing the trenches that town mayor Jaume Gilabert has announced a cleanup day on January 20, beginning at 9am. Gilabert explained that “the recovery must be technical in nature,” requiring the tasks to be correctly designated among volunteers. To facilitate this, the day will also be an opportunity to visit this space as well as the rest of the Democratic Memorial in the area.

The vandalism is thought to have been committed between Christmas and New Year’s Eve 2017, and those responsible have not yet been found. The mayor called the vandalism an “unpleasant surprise” to start the year off, and filed a report with the Catalan Mossos d´Esquadra police force to find the culprits for the act, which Gilabert stated was “harm just for harm’s sake” adding that he doesn´t believe it to be politically motivated. The Town Hall closed access to the trenches to avoid any risks to visitors and to assess the damage done.

Hundreds of euros of damage

According to the Segre newspaper, among those volunteers who stepped up there are members of the civil society group the Committee for the Defense of the Republic (CDR). The Montgai mayor noted that since the article came out on Monday, many people called the Town Hall to offer to help.

The Montgai Town Hall estimates that the damage totals in the hundreds of euros, as what will cost the most is clearing the rubble to access the space, which can only be done through manual labour and not with heavy machinery.

Seven months in the trenches

A Civil War aficionado in Montgai, Aaron Pujalt, explained that the trenches were part of the Republican defense that never entered into combat but recorded important activity for those who lived in the dugouts for more than seven months, through the cold of the winter and the heat of the summer. Luckily, some of the elements more emblematic of the soldiers’ stay weren’t damaged, like a star which reads, in both Catalan and Spanish, ‘Long live the Spanish Republic.’ 

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  • Rubble blocks the entrance to one of the hideouts in the Civil War trenches in Montgai on January 4 2018 (by Oriol Bosch)

  • Rubble blocks the entrance to one of the hideouts in the Civil War trenches in Montgai on January 4 2018 (by Oriol Bosch)