When it rains, fish will appear, part 11 Franco and the shelters

Door San Daniel gepubliceerd in Verhalen en Poëzie


"Franco's time was an eventful time, a time when Spain was being taken back from the Civil War to a more or less normal existence but with an iron hand. A civil war that became a chessboard of political and ideological movements. Spàin suffered from the civil war, but Andalucia with her eight provinces suffered most of all.

A people torn by battle

Beautiful Andalucia pearl of Spain, land of beautiful sunsets and tropical beaches. Land of hard-working farmers with friendships that reach to infinity. How you have suffered from the civil war and its aftermath. With your cities that were destroyed by the arrogance of a leader who was Hitler's equal. Where people could not gather with more than two people outside because it would be seen as a meeting or a gathering or conspiracy.

Then you were arrested and after a while you made statements about events that you had not even known had taken place. Where if you exchanged a kiss with your wife or fiancé in public, you were beaten to pulp by the military police. Where you feared the knock on the door at night because you might be picked up never to be seen again. A fate that also struck the poet Lorca after he had written a critical poem about the dictatorship. Picked up and executed in a forest and buried.


Andalucia, the pain lives on in the stories by the fire and at the tables in the pub. Stories from grandparents where the military police took the last pig or the few chickens they kept. The firewood meant to heat the farmers' homes was taken without mercy. The wine and the olive oil and actually everything of value and whatever it was that they wanted to take. Because Andalucia was populated by farmers, and they, the Guardia Civil only answered to Franco.

Andalucia was and is in many ways feudal. We have the caciques, those who make up the top layer of society, the church and the peasant population. The distinctions are not as defined anymore as in days of old, but still well-present. How had it come to pass that complete villages slaughtered each other off?

The civil war broke out as a response from a group of right-wing generals under the leadership of Jose Sanjurjo on the 2nd Spanish Republic, which, by the way, was a democratically elected government. A republic that had its birth at the resignation of King Alfonso de XIII. The Republicans won the elections and yes in a republic there is no place for a king. It was an extremely charged time that lasted only 3 years but had its toll on the dead. 1,000,000 people died in those few years. I million are the estimated figures and historians are in doubt if even that figure is not too low, the respective governments have had(deliberately?) lower estimates. The subject is rather controversial.

There were communist groups with help and support from Russia, support in the form of weapons. Anarchist movements, which were simply anti-authoritarian, Monarchists, Nacionalists who were a bundle of all kinds of right-wing groups and who ultimately decided the war in their favor and the international brigade. '


Franco's role in it all

When Spain was torn apart by all sorts of brigades led by generals or local commanders who all wanted a piece of the  kingdom, General Franco and his army were in Africa. He was a hard and ruthless leader and a great analyst. He organized the first airbridge known in history, to Spain, to move his army in no time. This happened with the help of his fascist friend Mussolini, who made his air force available for this. He could move his entire army in a few hours, giving him a great advantage over the other warring parties.


From 1936 to 1939 the battles took place over and over again with an intensity and cruelty that can barely be described, now we would speak of war crimes. A brigade enters a village and takes everyone from the other party outside, forces them into trucks, drives them outside the village, kills them and buries them in mass graves along the roadside. Over and over again .. and reprisals at a later time out of revenge  because of what had happened. "


Franco seeks a faster conclusion of the war

'The Andalusian province of Almeria with the capital of the same name holds out against Franco and the Nationalists, they remained loyal to the democratically elected republicans and they would suffer for that. Franco had the habit to slaughter or to put in labor camps, read concentration camps, anything which he found deviated from the norm, and he was the norm. Spain, concentrated those with different ideologies in these camps where people were starved and forced to perform hard labor until they dropped dead. They were not only political opponents, but also gypsies, homo sexuals, freemasons and non-Catholics. In short, people who were in communities he could not control. As a rule, you did not leave such a camp alive.

Franco had been turned down in Morocco when applying for membership of a freemasonry lodge, after which he always tried to exterminate them. By ruthlessly prosecuting non-Catholics, he wanted to gain the support of the Catholic Church. Gypsies were also communities over which he had no control. He had been seriously injured by a shot in his genitals in an African battle and therefore impotent, perhaps explaining his frustration with sex or sexual excesses, and homophilia was severely or severely punished.

He set the standard and what did not meet the standard was removed.

The fascist friends help Franco again
The Andalucians fully realized how the battle would end, but they are simply just not the sort of people that can be cowered into surrender. if you make the mistake of thinking so, than you don't know the  making of the "Andaluz". Franco invited the German Air Force and the German Navy to use Almeria as a target practice. The Germans jumped at the chance to test their war machine. So before Rotterdam was bombed, sparking off the war with the Netherlands, it had already happened 52 times in Almeria. Before the 2nd World War ever started, Spain already had concentration camps and Germans bombed our cities. How is it possible that the rest of Europe had not noticed that. I suppose it was an inconvenient truth.


The German navy first exterminated the port complexes and cities, but soon targets were bombarded without preference. The German Air Force and the German Navy bombed civilian targets, that is to say, the city. There were dead, lots of dead and Hitler was pleased with the testing grounds that had been offered. Franco wanted to break the morality of Almeria and its people, but a peasant population has its own standards and values and they persisted in opposition and did not accept the display of power of someone who had not been elected. You can also say, that they remained loyal to the democratically elected republicans. The Andaluz is a bit like that, white is white and not a bit white and black is black and one does not compromise.

Poor Andalucia pearl of Spain, meeting point of cultures, genocide was your part, your cities raped and destroyed and you stood firm because you had what the opponent did not have, honor. It was below your honor to bow to Fascists!


My daughter Daisy who studied in Almeria asked me if I had ever heard of the refugio. The shelters under Almeria. "No," I said, "I have no idea what they are ." 'Shall we go there this weekend, "she suggested," you can visit it, I've been told about it at the University. " I agreed immediately thinking it might be interesting and I decided to read up on it.

A piece of history that I had not known about revealed itself to me. About an underground city with a hospital and the entrances through the capital to come into the 'shelter city'. A brilliant project that Delft University of engineering would have been proud of, but performed out of necessity by men with shovel and pickaxe. A Hercules job performed for the preservation of life.

Every problem has its solution

The municipal architect Guillermo Langle Rubio came up with a proposal to protect the population. Building an underground city. The plan was executed, an underground system of rooms and corridors with longitudinal brickwork and air ducts at a depth between 8 and 12 meters below the street surface. With a length of 4 and half kilometers an architectural masterpiece, with reinforced concrete and stairs to it from different locations in the city. There are only 67 entrances. Under newspaper kiosks, in a theater "Cervantes", from the town hall, from the library, indicated with arrows in private houses ... where that door to the hallway was never locked. "


I met my daughter downtown and we had a cafe solo before we descended the stairs to the hiding place. "I read about it," I began, and she nodded after a sip of coffee and said "Me too." "You never heard anything about this in high school," I wanted to know. "No," she answered me. I did have history at school, of course, 'and she had a distant look,' but the Spanish Civil War is treated very formally and analytically.' I could understand that, in Spanish we say 'un pueblo tienes mucha memoria' (pueblo can mean village or region) A region has a long memory and you do not want to discuss the war too much. It is still forbidden by law to investigate the events (crimes) of that time.

We descended the stairs and a feeling of Claustrophobia overtook me, but everything is better of course than being blasted to bits.

"Today, 70 years after the war, you can visit it. It is called the "refugios", the refuge. You will have to be able to walk well and speak Spanish because nothing has been translated. You descend and enter the large hallway with rooms and waiting rooms where 40 000 people easily fitted in, please note that we are talking about something that was built in the 30's. You pass an operating room. . and there is a story that you read from place to place where you walk. It is a follow-up story. It is about a grandfather who with his grandson quickly entered the Refugio when the air alarms sounded.


It is the little boys birthday and he asks: "grandfather, what kind of gift have you got for me". The grandfather is with his head at other things, the bombing, his family and what he will find when it is over. "You have to have to practice patience, boy, I have something beautiful for you". . and to kill the time he sings with his little boy's hand in his, songs to distract him. The boy asks again, "Grandpa, what am I getting?" The grandfather says, "if we go outside later, you will receive your gift."

The trip through the tunnels takes quite a long time and you see another sign with the sequel of the story the grandfather with his grandson.


After four hours the signal "city safe" was given and everyone started walking up the stairs. The grandfather as well with his grandson. Outside the boy asks: "Grandpa my gift, what is it". The grandfather kisses his little boy and says "your life"

My daughter and I came out in the open again and we were sad and the images of the bombing still clung to us. We sat down again at the same terrace and ordered a cup of coffee. We drank it in silence. 'I really shoud be going,' I opened the conversation, 'and thank you for taking me along.' "Do you know Dad," she said, "that little boy ... he?" "Yes," I replied, "what about him?"

She looked at me, "I hope he had a happy life." "Dear child, I love you," I thought and gave her a hug and we went our separate ways.

also read part 12

San Daniel 2019


-stories and eyewitness reports form my fellow farmers.

  • Buchanan, Tom (1997). Britain and the Spanish Civil War. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-45569-3.
  • Casanova, Julián (2010). The Spanish Republic and Civil War. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-73780-7.
  • Cleugh, James (1962). Spanish Fury: The Story of a Civil War. London: Harrap. OCLC 2613142.
  • Howson, Gerald (1998). Arms for Spain. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-24177-1. OCLC 231874197.
  • Jackson, Gabriel (1965). The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931–1939. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-00757-8. OCLC 185862219.
  • Jackson, Gabriel (1974). The Cruel Years: The Story of the Spanish Civil War. New York: John Day.
  • Borkenau, Franz (1937). The Spanish Cockpit : an Eye-Witness Account of the Political and Social Conflicts of the Spanish Civil War. London: Faber and Faber.
  • Bowen, Wayne H (2006). Spain During World War II. University of Missouri Press. ISBN 978-0-8262-1658-8.

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07/01/2019 05:56

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