Campaign for Barcelona museum to tell at last full story of Spain’s civil war

Article published at The Guardian, 29th May 2016

Historians say unprecedented national centre would help future generations understand a conflict that tore country apart 80 years ago

Republican supporters march through Barcelona in July 1936
Image: Republican supporters march through Barcelona in July 1936 to protest at the military coup. Photograph: STF/AFP/Getty Images
A group of internationally respected historians and writers have called for the first major museum of the Spanish civil war to be created in Barcelona, 80 years after the century-defining conflict began in July 1936.
In an unprecedented initiative likely to spark fierce debate in Spain, Dr Pelai Pagès, professor of history at the University of Barcelona and president of theAssociation of the International Museum of the Spanish Civil War (Amigce), has written to the city’s leftwing mayor, Ada Colau, asking that a building be set aside in central Barcelona to house the museum and a research centre. Pagès told theObserver: “Eighty years after the start of the civil war, and 40 years after the death of General Franco, recovering the memory of what happened for all generations, from the youngest to the oldest, means understanding the conflict in its totality. There is a sad old saying that a society that forgets its past is destined to repeat it. From this perspective, the International Museum of the Spanish Civil War intends to act as a guarantee for the future.”

Barcelona was one of the key centres of resistance to Franco’s Nationalist forces. In December 1936, George Orwell famously travelled to the city to fight in defence of Spain’s elected Republican government. He later wrote the classic war memoir Homage to Catalonia about his experiences and subsequently become a journalist for the Observer.

Orwell’s adopted son, Richard Blair, president of the Orwell Society, has lent his support to the museum project. He said: “We are wholly in favour of this and wish the project every success. Many young people in Spain have not been taught in depth about the civil war and don’t really have an understanding of what happened from 1936-39 or of the dictatorship that followed.

“You can’t have a black hole. The time has come for the history to be looked at again.”

Read the full article here.

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