Judge Looking into Fate of Franco's Victims





Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon has begun looking for information on Franco's victims in preparation for a possible court case. Victims groups are thrilled, but not everyone is happy about stirring up the country's fascist past.

It is a monument visited by hundreds of thousands of people each year. On Sundays, some travel from nearby Madrid to lay wreaths at the site. But just what the memorial, known as the Valley of the Fallen, stands for is not entirely clear.

Officially, it commemorates everyone who died in the Spanish Civil War, fought from 1936 to 1939. But the Valley of the Fallen monument, a vast complex dominated by an enormous granite cross, also contains the mausoleum in which the body of General Francisco Franco, Spain's fascist dictator, is buried. It was built using the slave labor of political prisoners.

Indeed, the Valley of the Fallen has recently come to symbolize a Spain still scarred by its civil war and almost four decades of Franco's iron-fisted regime. Some, though, have begun picking at that scab. This week, a Spanish judge began collecting information with an eye toward creating an accurate list of those killed during Franco's dictatorship. In doing so, he has turned up the heat on a long-simmering national debate.


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