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Madrid, 1958. Professor of Contemporary History, is the daughter of the late Daniel Sueiro, author of The True History of the Valley of the Fallen . A book / reference on that monument that is now reissued by the Tébar Flores publishing house.

What is the biggest hoax that circulates over the Valley of the Fallen? One of the most circulating is the idea that from the first moment the Valley of the Fallen was made as a monument to reconciliation. That is absolutely false. The decree creating the monument, dated April 1, 1940, left no doubt that it would be dedicated to honoring and remembering "the fallen by God and the Fatherland," that is, only to the victors. In later speeches, including that of the inauguration of the monument in 1959, the idea of ​​"our martyrs" continues, and, in fact, on the access doors to the underground graves where the dead of war are still buried can still read the inscription Fallen by God and by Spain, 1936-1939. At what time was it decided that there also lay dead of the Republican side? Quite after the works began. The idea that it was a mausoleum for all the fallen arose after World War II, when the Franco regime had to give a more acceptable image to the outside, to give a face lift to the allies and the western democracies, since I was looking for and needed international recognition. The prior of the Valley of the Fallen, Santiago Cantera, assures that it is a monument conceived for all ... No, it is not like that. Finally, they also buried Republican dead there, but in no way was the initial idea and was done with the clear objective of bleaching the Franco regime outside. Many of the republicans buried there, as recorded in his father's book, were buried there without the consent and even without the knowledge of their relatives ... That's right. Initially, it was stipulated that those buried there, whatever they were, had to be Spaniards and Catholics, and had the consent of their relatives, who had to express their interest to the civil governors of the different provinces. But the call of the Francoist authorities so that the dead of the war were buried there was not very successful. And the regime needed many dead to fill that enormous mausoleum, so, in the end, the transfer of remains was carried out in a massive way and with great carelessness, without identification and without authorization of the relatives and in many occasions, with nocturnality. Specifically, that is what happened with respect to the Republican dead killed by the nationals and buried in clandestine mass graves. Most of them appear as strangers in the Valley's log books and were taken there without the knowledge of their relatives. There are still people who today are learning that their Republican relatives are buried next to Franco. But the Benedictine monks of the Valley, did not keep a record of the dead that were buried there? Yes, they were writing down or writing down the references of the dead, but in a very shallow and general way, very incomplete . In addition there were seasons of authentic avalanche, of massive income of remains, in which the monks practically did not supply to go writing down and registering the boxes with the bones. In the side chapels there are five floors of ossuaries and in the six chapels of the Virgin there are others with fewer floors. So, it is not known how many dead are buried in the Valley of the Fallen? My father points out in his book, first published Once in 1976, then the monastery guides, who were the only ones who spoke, assured him that he had buried there about 70,000 people killed in the war. The Francisco Franco Foundation, meanwhile, speaks of 40,000 dead from both sides. It is not known. But it is estimated that there are about 12,000 unknown dead. Of all those buried there, approximately one third do not know who they are. Are most of those deceased fallen from the national side? Nor is it known, there is still much ignorance. It cannot be ruled out that in the Valley of the Fallen he has buried more Republicans than Franco. His father tells in his book that, according to a nephew of García Lorca, the Franco regime tried to take the poet's remains to the Valley of the Fallen, but that the family of the latter refused in the round. It was necessary to fill that as it were ... And having taken the remains of García Lorca would have been a great blow of effect within the operation to try to make up the regime in the face of the allied powers . He said that there are families who have recently discovered that they have a Republican relative buried in the Valley of the Fallen. Can you visit his grave? No. The place where the victims of the war are buried is totally inaccessible. No one can, for example, go to deposit a bouquet of flowers next to the burial of their relative. And although some relatives have obtained firm sentences recognizing their right to take their dead from there to another place, they have not succeeded in making it happen, because it is very complicated. In the ossuaries there are many people and if a burial is opened, other nearby ones can be damaged. Was the Valley of the Fallen raised mostly by Republican political prisoners? Yes. Since 1942, political prisoners, reds who were prisoners in prisons, were used to work in the Valley as workers. Until the 50s there were only political prisoners, then they began to take common prisoners. But in the construction of the monument also free workers participated, coming from the surrounding villages. They worked in total during the almost two decades that the work lasted about 20,000 men. Was there any kind of benefit for the prisoners who worked in the Valley? Did they go there voluntarily? The prisoners went there through the prevailing system of Redemption of Penalties for Work that the prisoner, if he wanted, could request by instance and, if he had observed good behavior in prison, could grant it to him. Thus, working on public or private works declared of public utility, the convicted saw their sentences shortened. Normally they redeemed or commuted two days of sentence for each day of work. Through this system, private companies could hire inmates for their works. In fact, the works of the Valley were carried out by various private companies that paid the state for the rent of the prisoners. How were the working conditions of the political prisoners who raised the Valley? Given the harsh conditions of Franco's prisons, it was an advantage for political prisoners to work on those works. In the Valley, although the work was hard, money was charged, although very modest, and the food was better than that of the prisons. In addition, outdoor life was another attraction. On Sundays the prisoners who worked in the Valley were forced to go to Mass, but that day their women and children could spend the day with them. The prisoners interviewed by my father remember how the couples went down the mountain, they lost a while under a pine tree ... Some families even stayed to live there, even if it was antiregulation turned a blind eye. How many died raising the Valley of the Fallen? In his father's book he talks about between 14 and 18 dead, according to the testimony he collected from the doctor in charge of the infirmary of the Valley and his assistant ... Those are the dead recognized. And then there are all those who suffered mutilations, those who lost legs, arms ... And all those who became ill with silicosis and died from lung conditions, because the dust of that granitic rock made the lungs dust, it seems that in a progression a lot faster than in a coal mine. My father investigated something, but it is about to make a serious study about how many died of lung diseases. It took 20 years to raise the Valley, working shifts 24 hours a day. Did Franco think the works were going to last so long? Franco would have wanted a much shorter term. In fact, the works were declared urgently executed, the land was quickly expropriated from their owners, paying compensation for it and Franco declared that the work would be completed in five years. And why did it take so long? The hardship of the country, devastated by the war, and the world war did not favor a company of enormous magnitude like that, in a rugged and difficult access. The granite was of great hardness, the workforce, which, as I have said to a large extent, consisted of inmates taken from prisons, was neither specialized nor enthusiastic. And in addition there were multiple modifications in the projects, either because of the difficulties that forced change on the fly, or because Franco did not like how some things were and made them change. Was the construction of the Valley of the Fallen a personal idea of ​​Franco? Yes. The origin of the monument is a personal and megalomaniac idea of ​​Franco, who obsessed him before the end of the civil war. Because Franco thought of the Valley of the Fallen long before the end of the war. He wanted to build a funerary monument of great proportions, pharaonic, perhaps a pyramid or a cathedral, to house the remains and honor the heroes and martyrs of the glorious crusade, the fallen fighting "for God and for Spain" during the civil war. Franco was not only the idea, but also the choice of location. He thought that this cathedral should be a natural cathedral, excavated in the heart of a mountain, and nothing better than the Sierra de Guadarrama, amid other historical splendors and in defiance with them, such as the Palacio de La Granja and the monastery of El Escorial of Felipe II. He made several excursions to the mountains in search of the ideal place and, finally, at the beginning of 1940, in the company of General Moscardó, the hero of the Alcazar of Toledo, among the rugged cliffs of the Madrid mountain range they found the valley of Cuelgamuros, about 50 kilometers northwest of the capital. Why is the monument so huge? Franco wanted a grand, cyclopean, colossal, spectacular temple. It must be a unique, exceptional monument. They were times of splendor of the imperial idea and Spain -said the regime's predecessors- had a vocation of empire, it was necessary to recover the glory and greatness of the past times of the Hispanic Empire and in many orders, including that of architecture, it was wanted record that imperial idea. Franco probably wanted to imitate King Philip II, who built the monastery of El Escorial to commemorate the battle of San Quentin. The Valley budget also shot wildly. Although nobody knows what the final amount was, his father speaks of 1,086 million of those then citing the roles of the architect Diego Méndez ... Although the workforce was practically free, many private companies worked on the project and all the material had than to pay it. Some Falangists were opposed at the time that the remains of José Antonio Primo de Rivera were transferred to the Valley of the Fallen. Why? The monarchists were delighted that José Antonio finally left the pantheon of the kings in El Escorial. On the other hand, many pure or orthodox Falangists considered that taking their remains to Franco's monument was like doing their stewardship, like folding themselves, and it felt bad. In fact, there was an episode played on November 20, 1960 in which, when the Mass was officiated in the basilica, a Falangist named Román Alonso Urdiales shouted: "Franco, you are a traitor", because in his opinion he had betrayed the authentic early phalanx. The boldness cost him several years in prison. The Benedictine monks of the Valley of the Fallen, to whom do they respond? Who are their superiors? The Benedictine monks there residents do not respond to the authority of the State or the Spanish Church, since they are governed by an agreement of 1958. The only superior to the prior of the Valley is the abbot of his order, in the Abbey of Solesmes in France. But it is unheard of that the prior of the Valley refuses to comply with the law. There was always an abbot in the Valley of the Fallen but, when for reasons of illness the previous abbot left his post and Santiago Cantera entered his place, he did not get enough endorsement to be an abbot and was given the post of prior. So it depends on the Abbot of Solesmes. The monks of the Valley of the Fallen still have a Scottish, right? Yes. There is a very interesting documentary about four years ago entitled In the shadow of the cross , the work of the Italian filmmaker Alessandro Pugno, who managed to enter the choir that Benedictine monks have in the Valley, and it is terrifying to see what they teach those children. He got into a class and what was taught there was pure and hard Franco. Does it seem good that Franco is exhumed from the Valley of the Fallen? Yes, completely. The moment has come. I understand that perhaps during the Transition it could not be done, it was a time of great uncertainty and there were times when an involution could have occurred. But it has been a long time since then and the time has come. What should be done with the Valley of the Fallen? I believe that what needs to be done there is a memorial. In my opinion, we must not dynamit the Valley of the Fallen or remove the cross, as some claim. I think you have to leave it as it is but resignifying it. The Valley of the Fallen is part of our history, whether we like it or not. What you have to do is explain it, put some guides that explain the story as it was, and that is something that is not done right now. In the bookshop of the Valley of the Fallen, for example, my father's book is not for sale, it never has been. And why won't it be? It is a book between historical research and the journalistic chronicle, with testimonies of many protagonists. I should be.

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