Lorca's grave awakens other ghosts

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."

The biggest mass grave of the "ravines" is in a vast pit where bunches of freshly cut flowers are strewn over a two-metre long pile of stones. Nearby plaques commemorate the deaths of some victims – one for a group of 23 individuals, another for Jose Diaz Morales, killed two days after learning of the execution of his 19-year-old son in the same place.

But handwritten pleas pinned on pine trees to respect the area as an unofficial cemetery go largely unheeded.

A mountainbike trail cuts through, and local teenagers assemble nearby for outdoor drinking parties.For years an "out of sight, out of mind" attitude has prevailed in Spain towards the 120,000 Republican sympathisers killed. Lorca's alleged grave is only being dug up after the justice department of the regional government of Andalucia intervened.

Whether Lorca is found or not, his potential disinterment has encouraged other victims families to finally come forward. Manuel Jimenez, 81, believes his father, killed by Nationalist gunmen on 16 August 1936, is buried next to Lorca. It has taken Jimenez 70 years to summon the courage to talk formally to officials about his father. But as he said, "we still don't know who accused him, or of what".

Federico Garcia Lorca: 'Disappeared'

*Arguably the greatest Spanish poet of the 20th century, Lorca was born in 1898 in a small village near Granada.



*His early work was influenced by flamenco and gypsy culture, and he later joined a group of poets and artists known as the Generation of 27. The group included the surrealist painter Salvador Dali and filmmaker Luis Bunuel.



*On the outbreak of civil war in 1936 Lorca was arrested by soldiers of the Franco regime. He was shot dead on 18 August of that year, and his body dumped in a mass grave.



*After a long- running dispute, Lorca's family have dropped their opposition to excavations at his assumed burial site.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss