Thursday, August 18

This is how Franco looted the goods to the Reds, who endured reprisals against those defeated in the Civil War

The dictatorship of General Francisco Franco not only shot and packed thousands of political prisoners into jails. A law allowed the Francoist repression to plunder the assets of the defeated Republicans during and after the Civil War. “Outside the University, the problem that we are seeing over time is the reductionism of the repressive phenomenon; it is still understood as executions and prisons and that prevents us from understanding it in all its complexity and gravity,” explains researcher Mélanie Ibáñez to , author of We are still guilty. The Law of Political Responsibilities against women in Valencia (1939-1948), edited by Publicacions de la Universitat de València.

The work, based on the historian’s doctoral thesis, traces the scaffolding of the economic repression of the Franco regime, focusing on republican women in Valencia with fewer resources. “There was a special cruelty,” says Ibáñez, who points out in his book: “In many cases, women were the main victims of actions such as looting, as the men of the family were fled or detained.” The law of political responsibilities was approved on February 9, 1939 as “culmination of the prosecution of the plunder that had been taking place since the first moments of the coup d’état.”

Thus, the law “complemented and completed in its economic aspect the multifaceted repressive phenomenon, especially the work carried out by the military courts.” Since the beginning of the Civil War, the previous step of the seizures of assets has been produced to finance the uprising against the democratic order of the Second Republic. Branded as a monstrosity or legal aberration, due to its retroactive nature, the law punished the vanquished republicans with the looting of property; in some cases the responsibilities of the war councils go back to the 1910s. “I have seen cases of teachers who go back to all their work activity,” says Mélanie Ibáñez, who has been tracking the files cataloged in the Arxiu for years. of the Regne de València.

The researcher has followed the line of studies on gender in the matter of Franco’s repression in the Valencian Country initiated by the historians Ana Aguado, author of the prologue, or Vicenta Verdugo. “Normally, when talking about political responsibilities, the studies have taken as reference groups the republican authorities, generally men,” explains Ibáñez, who argues that with the study of the case of women the complexity of the repressive phenomenon is better understood.

The law set too tight deadlines that led to a collapse of the cases processed: there were many more pending issues than those that could be resolved. In 1942, the regime reformed the legislation to reduce the number of political leaders and abolish special jurisdiction. “The collapse of justice means that the procedures are lengthened to brutal extremes, years and years, when ridiculous deadlines are contemplated,” says the author.

Stigma and corruption

The book also reviews the effects on daily life of the economic aspect of Franco’s repression. “On the most tangible level, the local authorities would haunt your house to ask for reports, they pointed to you, with the fear that it could generate, and on the most intangible level, but which should not be overlooked, there is the issue of stigma and fear to a fine that you cannot pay, “declares Ibáñez.

The procedures to locate and plunder property lasted for decades (it was the case of the writer Max Aub). The stolen goods were later auctioned and, in some cases, relatives managed, “taking advantage of breaches of the law”, to bid and thus recover them. Also, in the context of the systemic corruption of the Franco regime, there was an advantage by the new authorities for their own benefit. “I would put my hand in the fire because there was corruption, sure, at least on a small scale. Or, within corruption, prevarications such as warning of what was going to be put up for sale,” says the researcher.

A paradigmatic case is that of Gandia’s pharmacist Ángeles Malonda. After the execution of her husband, her pharmacy was looted and she had to buy it back many years later, after being released from prison. Mélanie Ibáñez has also published, together with Antonio Calzado, the study Economic repression and social control. The Llei de responsabilitats politiques i la seua applied to Gandia, Beniopa and Benipeixcar, edited by Afers. “Adjusting the microscope allows you to see things that when you apply the lens in a larger space is more difficult to perceive”, explains the historian.

Thus, the life trajectory of Ángeles Malonda, portrayed in her memoirs That happened like this (PUV, 2015), illustrates the phenomenon of taca (stain in Valencian): “The stigma of fear and persecution that does not end and the feeling of always being under surveillance.” Furthermore, Mélanie Ibáñez’s approach also serves to “challenge the official figures”. “The lists of reprisals lie, there are women whose names never appeared in a file,” explains the author.

“In the absence of their husbands, children or parents, it was they who took care of everything related to the files and the ferocity of political responsibilities fell on them. Today, a systematic study would be needed to gauge to what extent the women took charge of the open files “, laments the researcher.