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UN

‘A horrendous mistake’: UN apologizes for attributing Guernica bombing to Spanish Republicans

The United Nations has apologized to Spain for having mistakenly attributed the devastating 1937 bombing of the town of Guernica to Spanish Republican forces, a spokesman said Monday.

'A horrendous mistake': UN apologizes for attributing Guernica bombing to Spanish Republicans
The Guernica painting by Pablo Picasso at the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid. Photo: AFP

The aerial bombardment of the town was actually carried out by Nazi German and Italian Facist forces that were supporting their Spanish ally Francisco Franco.

“The United Nations were made aware over the weekend that the UN Gift Management website incorrectly attributed the historical atrocities at Guernica, depicted in the tapestry by Pablo Picasso, to the Republic of Spain,” Stephane Dujarric said.

“The Republicans were the victims, not the perpetrators,” he said, terming it a “horrendous mistake.”   

“We regret the error and extend our apologies to the people and Government of Spain,” Dujarric said.

The website is down for maintenance so the necessary correction can be made and a “full review of the website contents” conducted, he said.
 


The Basque town of Guernica after it was bombed 26 April 1937. Archive Photo: AFP

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FRANÇO

Spain to exhume bodies of civil war victims at Valley of the Fallen

The Spanish government on Tuesday approved a special fund to exhume graves at the Valley of the Fallen, where thousands of victims of the Spanish Civil War and dictator Francisco Franco are buried.

Spain to exhume bodies of civil war victims at Valley of the Fallen
Women hold up pictures of their fathers and relatives, who were condemned to death during Franco’s dictatorship. Photo: OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP

The Socialist government said it had set aside €665,000 ($780,000) to exhume some 33,000 victims whose remains lie behind a vast basilica near Madrid.

Franco was buried in the basilica when he died in 1975 but his remains were removed in 2019 and transferred to a discreet family plot on the outskirts of the capital.

Government spokesperson Maria Jesus Montera told reporters that more than 60 families and international institutions had called for the exhumation of the victims to give relatives who suffered during the civil war and Franco’s dictatorship “moral reparation”.

Campaigners estimate more than 100,000 victims from the war and its aftermath remain buried in unmarked graves across Spain —- a figure, according to Amnesty International, only exceeded by Cambodia.

Human remains discovered during exhumation works carried out by the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory of Valladolid, in a mass grave where the bodies of hundreds of people were dumped during the Spanish civil war. Photo by CESAR MANSO/AFP

Built between 1940 and 1958 partly by the forced labour of political prisoners, the imposing basilica and the mausoleum of the Valley of the Fallen was initially intended for those who had fought for Franco.

But in 1959 the remains of many Republican opponents were moved there from cemeteries and mass graves across the country without their families being informed.

The crypts and ossuaries where some of the victims are buried are inaccessible as they were walled off at the time.

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has made the rehabilitation of the victims of the Franco era one of his priorities since coming to power in 2018.

As well as the Valley of the Fallen, his government is also focusing on identifying remains founds in mass graves across Spain.

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