New names of local and international fighters added to Civil War memorial
Justice minister warns of rise of far-right and defends policies of historical memory
The Camposines Civil War memorial in La Fatarella added 62 new names of fighters from the Battle of the Ebre, one of the biggest and most significant battles of the civil war.
These names of the militia fighters and International Brigaders are people who have been registered in the Census of the Disappeared in the Spanish Civil War.
An emotional ceremony featuring red carnations was held on Sunday to add the new names, attended by family members of many included. Fighters from countries such as Ireland, the United States, and the Netherlands were added to the memorial site.
During a speech, Catalonia's minister of justice, Gemma Ubasart, warned of the danger of the rise of the far-right in Europe and defended the policies of historical memory in order not to repeat the past.
With the addition of the names, there are now 1,752 people who are remembered at this site, of whom it is known or can be assumed that they died or disappeared during the battle.
Among the attendees was Liam McGregor, the nephew of an International Brigader from Dublin, Ireland. Liam's uncle was 22 years old when he arrived at the front in April 1938 and was politically involved in the fight against fascism. Five months later, in September, he died near Corbera d'Ebre.
His story was not forgotten thanks to the hundred letters he sent to Ireland day after day. It was from here that McGregor began to learn about his uncle. "When he was very young, the family talked about him, but not much. Years later, I found all the letters he wrote about his day-to-day life and the people he met here," he said.
"It's very emotional but I'm glad to be here." McGregor is participating in the DNA program to identify his uncle's remains, but if they find him, he has stated that the family's wish is not to move the remains to Ireland, but to leave his uncle to rest in southern Catalonia. "We know he is buried out here somewhere in the ground, where we don't know, but this is his graveyard with his comrades, his International Brigade comrades, and his Spanish comrades."
Beyond the personal aspect, the families insist on the importance of remembering this period. Karla de Lathouder, the granddaughter of two Dutch Brigaders, Willem de Lathouder and Evert Ruijvenkamp, says she came to the ceremony to "close a cycle, something that my father couldn't do because of all the years of this pact of forgetting. But in reality, in society, in humanity, and collectively, we cannot forget."
Eduard Boada, a native of Mont-roig de Camp in southern Catalonia, saw how the name of his grandmother's brother - Miquel Pascual Castellnou - appeared among the thousand people who are remembered at the Memorial.
"It is a way to close the mourning and above all to think of the family, who lived during the Franco regime and could not express what had happened. We don't know how it went, but at least his name will not be lost," Boada said.