A group of Spanish associations of victims of Francoism and World War II ask the UN Secretary-General for his meditation before the Spanish state.

Madrid, January 24, 2005

Mr. Kofi Annan
Secretary-General of the United Nations

Dear Mr. Annan,

We, a group of Spanish associations of victims of Francoism and World War II, human rights groups, and civil liberties organizations has taken note of the Special Session of the General Assembly taking place on January 24, 2005. We believe that this occasion deserves the highest recognition, as it is the first time that the General Assembly has ever convened an Special Session to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the German National Socialist extermination camps.

We believe that it is very important to remember why the United Nations was created, and in particular, the terrible acts of extermination occurring in Europe in those years.

This commemorative event has motived us to write you this letter, Mr. Secretary General, to ask for your good will mediation before the government of the Kingdom of Spain in the matter of Spanish victims of World War II and of Francoist Spain.

The Potsdam and San Francisco conferences labeled the regimes of the countries making up the Axis, including their political systems, as criminal, specifically referring to German National Socialism, Italian Fascism, Spanish Francoism, and Japanese National Imperialism.

We base our request for your intervention on the following United Nations resolutions:

  • a) Resolution 32(1) of the United Nations General Assembly dated 9th February 1946
  • b) Resolutions 4 (1946) of the Security Council of 29th April 1946 and 7 (1946) of the Security Council of 26th June 1946
  • c) The debates of the 35th and 36th plenary sessions of the General Assembly of 24th October 1946
  • d) Resolution 39(I) of the United Nations General Assembly dated 12th December 1946

Despite these antecedents, and despite the fact that since 1978 Spain has been a constitutional democracy, the situation of Spanish victims continues to be one ungoverned by international standards for the treatment of such victims of serious crimes against human rights and crimes against humanity.

The following are concerns which are representative of the problem motivating us to seek your good will mediation:

  • 1) There has been no legal recognition of the Spanish victims of the Second World War.
  • 2) Francoist legislation punishing the Spanish combatants who sided with the Allied forces still continues in force today. For example, the Spaniards who fought in the Allied forces against Nazism still have not had their civil rights nor their Spanish nationality restored.
  • 3) There has been no legal recognition of the victims of Francoism. Rather, the legal and judicial condemnation of the victims adopted by the Franco regime continue fully in force.
  • 4) By action or omission, relatives and friends of victims of extrajudicial killings and extermination have been denied the right to recuperate their loved ones remains in a legally prescribed manner.
  • 5) The unresolved problem of the loss of civil rights and Spanish nationality of the Republican exiles and refugees in countries which did not diplomatically recognize the Francoist regime.
  • 6) The looting, spoliation, and other such illegal acts remain unresolved and unrecognized by the Spanish state, which has taken no action to restore the rights which have been violated.
  • 7) The forced labor camps under Franco have still not been recognized, nor have their victims been recognized, despite the fact that these camps illegally existed not only during World War II, but persisted long after the war ended.

The organizations signing this letter have published a document entitled "The Question of Impunity in Spain and Crimes Under Franco," which analyzes the situation of the victims.

The document, in its introduction, states:

"It is not possible for a lawful state to remain silent about, or for its representatives to minimize, the situation of those who have endured reprisals, imprisonment, murder, and disappearances, those who have passed through the system of Francoist or national socialist concentration camps or who died in French internment camps or who were forced into exile or estrangement.

Nor is it possible that the families of the victims, who have watched in silence and humiliation as years of democracy have gone by, should feel that their lives are passing without ever learning the final fate of those who suffered the planned acts of extermination. Nor can they, even with the historical information in their hands, obtain possession of the remains of the victims in a legal and legitimate way with all appropriate honours; to the point that judges refuse to follow applicable laws and in many instances a lawyer cannot even be found to help them.

In the same way, appropriate legal measures should be adopted to end the ridiculous situation which has made it possible to alter the causes of death in the archives of the civil registry. This practice was designed to conceal from the family members what really went on in the rural areas where the civil population was exterminated and looted by use of bogus legal processes instituted to gain control of assets and to humiliate the survivors by reducing them to starvation and poverty."

It is also necessary to address with justice and truth, the question of those who were taken out of Spain as children to protect them from the advance of the fascist regime; the question of those who were adopted with the resulting separation from their families and to whom the change in their names and last names was concealed, in the name of political/religious salvationism.

It is essential to take the measures necessary to recuperate the graves of the army regulars under conditions provided by international laws or such rules as may be imposed by Spanish society itself in order to normalize the memory of what really occurred.

It is necessary to understand that justice is the opposite of revenge. It must be understood in any discussion that the concept of justice should not be compared with that of revenge as this perverse construction allows lack of memory to form one of the bases for the rule of law. No society can survive ignorance of its own history, however terrible it may be.

This report does not seek to offer a solution to the question of impunity, simply an approach to the matter and the problems still to be resolved. It is also a means of introducing a basis for analysis and discussion to the victims and families who have been neglected by state institutions, political parties and civil society, all of whom have preferred to adopt an attitude of forgetting

The subject of human rights and freedoms has not yet recovered from the loss of freedoms which resulted from Franco's national uprising."

Mr. Secretary General, no Spanish government to date has used any of the numerous norms that the United Nations has set forth to solve this type of problem. We know that there is currently no political will to face the issues we have raised.

Sixty years have passed since the end of World War II and more than 30 years have passed since the installation of democracy in Spain, but in all that time Franco's victims had never enjoyed even minimal judicial recognition, nor have they been asked to actively participate in finding a solution to the issue.

It is clear that in recent years Spanish society has become more conscious of the situation of the victims of Francoist repression and that this has resulted in the emergence of various associations related thereto.

Notwithstanding the amount of time that has passed, anyone approaching this subject finds a situation of neglect by the State with respect to issues concerning the victims, memory and human rights.

And it is precisely from the human rights perspective that it is possible to confront the situation and demand of the State the justice required to put an end to the lack of memory, the neglect and the impunity with which this subject has been treated, often intentionally.

The right to know the final fate of the victims of the Franco repression in Spain is not simply the right of any individual victim or closely related person to know what happened-it is a right to the truth. The right to know is also a collective right, drawing upon history to prevent violations from recurring in the future.

For all the aforementioned reasons, Mr. Secretary General, at this critical time of the commemoration of the liberation of the extermination camps and the end of World War II, we ask for your mediation with the government of the Kingdom of Spain so that the only Western European victims who have never received any type of recognition to date can recover their history, dignity, and civil rights.

The associations of victims, human rights, and civil liberties signing this letter assure you that our motivation is to never forget what happened and always remember those who gave their lives to defend our liberties.


  • Gregorio Dionis, President, Equipo Nizkor
  • Ana Viéitez Gómez, President, Association of Relatives and Friends of the Second Republic Victims of Reprisals by the Franco Regime - AFARIIREP
  • Mario Osorio, Secretary General, Gragero Group of León
  • Félix Rodríguez Sanz, Secretary General, Republican Institute of Human Rights.
  • Dolores Cabra, Secretary Genera,l Association for the Creation of an Archive of the Civil War, the International Brigades, the Children of the War, the Resistance, and the Spanish Exile - AGE (Archive of War and Exile)
  • Juan José Sánchez Arévalo, Vice President, Republican Ateneo of Galicia (ARGA)
  • Fermín Sánchez Martín, Secretary General, Association of Salamanca for Memory and Justice
  • Floren Dimas Balsalobre, Regional President, Friends of the Fallen for Liberty (1939-1945), Historical Memory of the Murcia Region
  • José Maria Pedreño, President, Forum for Memory,

United Nations Embassies of Australia, Canada, United States, Israel, New Zealand, Russia, and Luxemburg, the current representative of the European Union.

For further information please refer to the full text of the document:
"The Question of Impunity in Spain and Crimes Under Franco".

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