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Perpetrators, Ordinary People and Violence during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939): the case of Galicia

Final Report Summary - PERPEGAL (Perpetrators, Ordinary People and Violence during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939): the case of Galicia)

The main goal of PERPEGAL project was to use the perspective of studies on genocide to account for the acts of violence in the area occupied by the insurgents in Spain during the Civil War. The violent practices that caused the death of thousands in the rearguards of the front lines during the years of the Spanish Civil War and in the early forties obviously differ from any previously known and subsequently existing form of repression in the case of Spain. This distinguishing nature emerges not only from the casualty figures it caused, but also from the traits of the violence itself. Given the lack of terminological consensus, it seems appropriate to resort to those definitions that are furthest away from being morally or politically charged, and closest to the aim of an objective definition of the facts.
Genocide thus serves to reorganize society according to certain new premises, one must not lose sight of the added implications of the development of a systematic process of professional replacement in different social, politic and economic sectors, and of economic retribution from the dispossession of the victimized social groups. Those who benefitted from the vacancy in certain job positions automatically crossed over to find themselves on the side of the executioners and, as a result, to distance themselves from being victims. This radical separation between one side and another is itself another of the stated objectives of genocidal practice, guaranteeing alignment of the population with the perpetrators
PERPEGAL uses historical research generated by the project, to change the perspective and includes new subjects as perpetrators and ordinary people in the analysis of the Civil War and the Franco Regime. The project examined almost all the documentation related with the public nominations made by the new Francoist authorities in Galicia during the Civil War years. It examined also the participation of people directly in the violence, thought the Military Trials and the rearguard militias, researching in the documentation avaliable in Galicia andabroad. These includes at least the analysis of the Military Causes of the Intermediate Archive of the Military Region Northwest. Archive of the IV Military Court (Ferrol), Work in local Archives (case of Bueu, Santiago de Compostela, Betanzos...) documentation referred to the economic situation of the individuals selected before and after de military coup of 1936, a complete examination of the Official Bulletins of the provinces of A Coruña, Ourense, Lugo and Pontevedra in the period of 1936-1939, “Archivo General de la Administration” and “Archivo General Militar de Ávila”, for information about the voluntary participation in the military coup and the reargard violence and work with the documentary heritage and of oral interviews in the “Names and Voices Project” of the Department of Contemporary and Americas History of the USC, with the goal to cross the different data and personal reports of the documentation of archive with the informations provided by the oral source.
The project generated a big amount of records stored in the database PERPEGAL. The database registered two kinds of data: first, referred to the names and personal data of diverse individuals that in the period 1936-1939 occupied in Galicia roles of responsibility in diverse fields: professional, civil or military; secondly, the role played by those individuals and the career before and after de military coup of 1936. PERPEGAL had collected up to 5000 names, corresponding to the documentation above mentioned. Among them, the project could make a complete biobiographic approach of 1179 individuals. That work make possible to know the political and social background of the first political elites of the Dictatorship in Galicia, if any. PERPEGAL can assure that only a 14% of the above mentioned new political elites of the Dictatorship in Galicia had a previous political past. Regarding the question of the age that represent these charges, the absolute average situates in the 43,79 years, far as of the estimate of “newcomers” generation. The process takes place in the context which concentrate the greater part of the murders perpetrated by the rebels in Galicia. One of the more relevant conclusions of the PERPEGAL project is that the genocidal practices involved some enormous empty of power in different fields of the public and professional life, that required a process of active replacement. We have showed through the analysis of the data that the greater part of the personnel of replacement lacked a past prominent politician and not assure them a prominent future.
PERPEGAL helped to create synergies with other institutions in this field in Europe and Latin America. It is important to underline the special relationship with centres and/or Projects as the “Centro de Estudios sobre Genocidio” (University Tres de Febrero, Buenos Aires), the “Human Rights Consortium” in the School of Advanced Studies (University of London) and The Cañada Blanch Centre for Spanish Contemporary Studies (The London School of Economics and Political Science). The researcher has developed a scientific network with researchers of the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero (Buenos Aires), Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, University of Leeds, Universidad del País Vasco, Universidad de Granada and University of Barcelona.
The project produced five articles in peer-reviewed journals, 7 book chapters, one edited book and two monographies. The fellow was invited to present his work about PERPEGAL project in national and international conferences, as the Conference of the Spanish Contemporary Historians Association (Granada), the Historical Memory Chair in the University Complutense (Madrid), the Biennial Conference of International Association of Genocide Scholars (Siena-Italy), the Seminar of Researchers on Francoism (Granada), among others. Related to PERPEGAL research progress, the fellow was part of several public talks, training courses and interviews in the media.
PERPEGAL organized an academic seminar in May 2015: “Research Seminar: Social attitudes in massive state violence contexts. Comparative Perspectives”, with eight top researchers from three different countries. There were six papers presented and discussed during the Seminar, analysing different aspects of the social participation in the violence of the rearguard of the Spanish Civil War. The project is co-organizing also an International Conference: “New discourses on the Coup and the Spanish Civil War 80 Years on From 1936 Between History and Memory”, which is going to held next july 2016 and a public exhibition around the Coup and the Spanish Civil War in Santiago de Compostela.
The fellow is developing his work at the Department of Contemporary and Americas History in the University of Santiago de Compostela, where he is fellow researcher, fully integrated in the different activities of the Department. He was awarded with a in 2015 with a 5 years 308600 euros “Ramón y Cajal Grant”, funded by the Spanish Government to ensure the reintegration and stabilization of researchers in the Spanish University System.