A documentary investigation included in the project for the exhumation of the Pico Reja mass grave of the Seville municipal cemetery, where the remains of 1,103 people retaliated by the rebel troops since the beginning of the coup d’état of July 1936, would rest, supports the “hypothesis” that a son of Otto Engelhardt, the emblematic German engineer director of Sevillana de Electricidad y Tranvías de Sevilla and honorary consul of Germany in the Andalusian capital, who was executed by the forces of General Queipo de Llano, was also buried in said grave.
On the trail of the remains of Blas Infante: a needle in the haystack of the great grave of Pico Reja in Seville
The researcher Fernando Sígler has explained that this approach derives from the result of the work carried out in archives as “documentary support” for the excavation project of the aforementioned mass grave, initiated in January 2020 by the Aranzadi Society of Sciences at the request of the Seville City Council .
Until last July, the team led by the physical anthropologist Juan Manuel Guijo, the archaeologists Jesús Román, Juan Carlos Pecero and Juan Carlos Mejías and the anthropological techniques Esther Moragas and Marina Cuevas had located in the grave the bone remains of 520 people with clear signs of violence, such as perimortem breaks, wrist ties, and projectile holes.
In that sense, let us remember that among the victims buried in the Pico Reja grave would include members of the Seville municipal corporation of the time, some mayors of the area and even deputies. It could be, in fact, the grave where the remains of Blas Infante would rest, executed in August 1936 and declared the Father of the Andalusian Nation.
To this end, Fernando Sígler has recalled that one of the people probably also buried in this mass grave would be Otto Engelhardt, a prominent man of Seville prior to the Civil War and executed on September 14, 1936 by the troops of the coup general Gonzalo Queipo de Llano, within the framework of the repression of the rebellious forces.
And it is that said documentary work linked to the project of excavation of the common grave of Pico Reja has provided clues about the whereabouts of one of the sons of this notable engineer and honorary consul of Germany in Seville, also called Otto.
Specifically, the documentary investigation included the search for information in the Municipal Archive of Seville about the bodies collected by the Charity and buried in the common grave of the Seville cemetery between July and December 1937 and between January and July 1938: 128 being counted corpses in the second half of 1937 and 180 in the first half of 1938.
It was, according to Fernando Sígler, “people without resources who died in reception centers, private homes or the public thoroughfare, whose bodies were taken to the common grave of the San Fernando cemetery by the Municipal Charity.”
One of the documents found regarding these corpses, as he explained, is an order from a court to the funeral company that was awarded the collection of deceased received at the Charity, to transfer the corpse of Otto Engelhardt Holtz (son of Otto Engelhardt and his first wife, Ana Holtz) to the San Fernando cemetery on January 7, 1938.
This “documentary finding”, as detailed, specifies that the body of Otto Engelhardt Jr. was collected on the second floor of number 9 Ximenez Enciso Street and reflects that already in January 1938, after the execution of his father, the family He lacked the financial resources to pay for the burial, undertaken under Charity.
The documentation collected, as is abundant by Fernando Sígler, shows that the body of Otto Engelhardt Holtz would have been collected by the company Pompas Fúnebres Ponce, Fernández and Alcántara SL “in a coffin”, warning that not all the bodies collected by Charity they were by means of a coffin.
Was the Pico Reja Trench still being used well into the war?
Starting from the premise that the corpses collected by Charity were destined for the common grave of the San Fernando cemetery, this researcher recalled the possibilities that after receiving the bodies of the people retaliated from the coup until the end of August In 1936, the Pico Reja grave was later reused for the burial of more corpses.
For example, in the first excavations carried out in the pit, a fragment of a Bohemian crystal setting was found with the inscription of the official name of the Second Czechoslovak Republic during 1938 and 1939.
“If it is confirmed that this grave was continued to be used well into the war, it could be the case that father and son, both Otto Engelhardt, were in the same collective burial, buried two years apart, the father as murdered, probably without a coffin, and the son as welcomed by the Charity, probably in a coffin “, summarizes this researcher, about this” hypothesis “that, as he well defends, has a whole” documentary basis “.