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    Enduring Resistance and the Value of Memory: The History and Representation of Spanish Republican Women during the Second World War and the Holocaust
    (2022-01-31) Ricciardi, Giorgia Anna
    Spanish women’s stories of antifascist resistance do not begin with the birth of the French Resistance in 1940, but rather with their role in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). After fleeing a fledgling fascist dictatorship under Francisco Franco in Spain in 1939, Spanish Republicans faced a Nazi occupation in France one year later. In response, Republicans, including Spanish women, quickly joined the Resistance. Yet, history does not tell the story of republicanas deportadas who played key roles in the Resistance and became victims of Nazi camps. During the Second World War and the Holocaust, approximately 15,000 Spanish Republicans, including 400 women, were deported to concentration and death camps across Europe. Franco’s dictatorship imposed heavy censorship around discussions of the Holocaust in Spain, and even after Spain’s transition to democracy in 1975 there was little national acknowledgement on the history of Republicans in Nazi concentration camps. As evidenced through the narratives of republicanas deportadas, Spain has personal links to suffering in Nazi concentration camps. In researching the relatively forgotten story of Spanish women at Ravensbrück and other Nazi camps, this article probes the larger history of the role of republicanas in the Holocaust and World War Two in Spanish public memory. After discussing the changing memorial landscape in Spain, this article proposes a new memorial for women. A memorial mural for republicanas deportadas in Madrid could inspire a shift in the historiographical, educational, and memorial spaces by launching a more open, nuanced dialogue about the past. It is key to bridge memory gaps between: Spain and the Holocaust, Spanish women and the fight against fascism, and Spain’s traumatic past from the Civil War and dictatorship. This article advocates for the historic preservation of the efforts of republicanas españolas in their fight against fascism and to honour the immense risk they undertook for the liberation of Europe from the clutches of authoritarianism and persecution. Time has been detrimental to the historical memory and memorialization of españolas deportadas. Survivors have passed, and we face the risk of losing their stories to history entirely without action.
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