Catalan Historic Memory policy is "exemplary", says historian Paul Preston

The Catalan Observatory of the London School of Economics hosts a joint conference with the Memorial Democràtic de Catalunya (Democracy Fighters? Memorial) about the victims of the civil war and the Franco dictatorship.

Laura Pous

July 2, 2010 08:47 PM

London (CNA).- The Memorial Democràtic de Catalunya (Democracy Fighters’ Memorial) is an exemplarily model of the groups and institutions that work to promote the investigation of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship. It also aims to honour all of the victims of the Civil War, especially those that were forgotten by the winners, according to British historian Paul Preston. The Catalan memory policy was presented in a two-day conference at the London School of Economics, in an event chaired by historian Paul Preston and Miquel Caminal, director of Memorial Democràtic.

The Catalan historic memory policy is the only one of its kind in all the Spanish state. This institution promotes the investigation of the Civil War and the subsequent fascist repression, as well as the judicial review of all rulings that were against human rights during Franco's years. The Memorial also encourages publicly-funded excavations in common graves to identify those soldiers and ordinary people who disappeared during the conflict and the post-war repression.

During the conference, Caminal argued that the Republican victims of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship should be honoured and remembered in full if Spain wants to fulfil its commitment to democracy and reconciliation. According to Caminal, this implies declaring null and void all the rulings of the fascist dictatorship, including the death sentence of Republican Catalan President Lluís Companys. Caminal said that the Spanish law for Memory, which was passed in 2006, was “necessary” and has proved “useful” in some aspects. However, he argued that the law should go “one-step further” in order to allow a complete reconciliation in the country.

Miquel Caminal and Paul Preston said that there are some “worrying” situations in today's Spain that highlight the need for a more extensive historic memory policy. They especially criticised the fact that the Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón is facing trial for alleged abuse of power in his investigation into human right abuses during the dictatorship. Caminal said that a “true” democracy should avoid these “concerning” episodes and should advocate for a complete review of its more recent and sorrowful history.