“In his last letter he asked his wife and daughter not to hold a grudge against anyone.” Marta Soler has on her mobile phone the photo of the letter that her grandfather, Ramon Blasi, wrote before being shot by Franco’s authorities in May 1939 at Camp de la Bota. The yellowed paper that collects the last words of the mayor of Taradell, a town in the Barcelona region of Osona, between 1936 and 1939, is one of the documents that the family has managed to keep about the end of Blasi’s life.
Marta Soler, together with her sister Elisenda, have come to Taradell this Saturday to receive, from the hands of the Minister of Justice, Lourdes Ciuró, the legal reparation documents for the relatives of forty-five people born or resident in Taradell during the war and that they were retaliated by the Franco regime.
The town had just over 2,000 inhabitants when the coup led, among others, by Francisco Franco. The ‘crime’ to which Blasi was condemned by the dictatorship was that of joining the military rebellion with political responsibilities. They actually killed him as a Republican. Marta Soler remembers that at home they explained to her that despite the warnings from some neighbors, Blasi had refused to leave town with the end of the war. “He said he was not leaving because he thought they would only catch those who were stained with blood,” he recalls.
After the war, a neighbor denounced Blasi, who was a member of ERC. “Envy, jealousy, in a town where everyone knows each other, you know,” says Soler. Two armed men went to look for Blasi at his home. They took him to the City Hall and then to Vic, where they took a statement from him. The next times that his wife was able to see Blasi they were already in the Modelo prison in Barcelona, where he remained until his execution.
The repression for the Blasi family did not end with the imprisonment and subsequent execution of Ramon. The Falange wanted to take away the house. And if it weren’t for some neighbors who notified them of a search, Soler says, his mother and grandmother would not have had time to take some furniture out of the backyard. This did not prevent the Falangists from keeping animals and wood that they kept at home.
The stigma for the family remained in the first years of the dictatorship. “My mother asked for a job at a Taradell factory but they didn’t give it to her because it was red. She sewed very well and offered to sew blankets for the Blue Division to the nuns in the town, but they didn’t want to either,” Soler recalls. The testimony of the experience passed from the widow to Blasi’s only daughter, and from her to her two daughters.
“He was a good man, he even hid priests during the war,” says Soler. In his last letter, Blasi, in addition to saying goodbye “forever” to his wife and daughter after telling them that he had been given the order of execution, asked them to forgive their accusers. Relatives and neighbors asked the bishopric of Vic for help, but it was unsuccessful.
More than 70 years after his murder, the granddaughters receive a document from the Generalitat that certifies the nullity of the case and Blasi’s court martial. These are victims who were tried by Franco’s courts and sentenced to long prison terms or, in the worst case, sentenced to death and executed after a summary trial. This happened with a dozen residents of Taradell, including Blasi, in turn one of the 45 Catalan mayors sentenced to death by Franco.
In Taradell, in addition to its mayor, the town teacher, Anastasi Aranda, was convicted, tried twice, imprisoned in Valencia and later excluded from the educational service by the Franco regime. Another former mayor, Adolf Roca, and the town sheriff, Fulgenci Sánchez, also served prison terms. Throughout Catalonia there were more than 69,000 military judicial processes for political reasons during the dictatorship, according to data from the National Arxiu of Catalonia.
Since 2017, the Generalitat intends to carry out an exercise of justice and reparation with the victims by delivering to their families a document that proves the nullity of the cases and where the name and surname of the person prosecuted by the illegal military courts of the dictatorship is recorded. At the moment, 5,641 family members have received it. “It is positive that this recognition arrives, the pity is that my mother and my grandmother have not come to see it,” laments Soler.