‘Some students don’t even know who Franco was’ says 97-year-old Civil War veteran

Miquel Morera is one of the last remaining witnesses of a brutal conflict that left half a million dead and forced nearly as many to flee the country

Miquel Morera, 97-year-old Spanish Civil War veteran
Miquel Morera, 97-year-old Spanish Civil War veteran / Alan Ruiz Terol

Alan Ruiz Terol | Les Borges del Camp

July 20, 2017 12:07 PM

It’s been more than 81 years since the Spanish Civil War erupted on July 18, 1936, following a military coup against the democratically elected left-wing Popular Front government. Yet, Miquel Morera, now 97 and still completely lucid, seems to remember everything from the moment he received an unlikely offer from his father: to join the Catalan government’s Macià-Companys column and fight side-by-side with him to defend the Republic. Morera said yes, even though he was only 16 at the time.

The Spanish Civil War lasted three years. Some 500,000 people from both sides were killed, mostly civilians, while some 450,000 refugees fled Spain. The Second Spanish Republic government was defeated by the military insurgents, leading to General Francisco Franco’s 40-year-long dictatorship and a systematic repression in which the losers were persecuted, imprisoned and killed.

Morera shot to kill, and was almost killed several times. He was bombed by Nazi-German planes. After the war ended, he and his father were arrested by Franco’s secret police and jailed in Barcelona’s Model prison for eight months --there were two beds for 12 people. He still doesn’t know why.