Bullets, preserves and graffiti have been found in an area where the CSIC is carrying out archaeological excavations
Jadraque is a town in Guadalajara with 1,400 inhabitants. His neighbors were unaware that on the outskirts of the town, in a wooded area, there was a concentration camp that was set up at the end of the Civil War. Archaeologists from the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) have begun to excavate it in order to determine its dimensions and find objects that help to understand what a Francoist concentration camp was like.
“This was an area of great activity during the Civil War because the front line was fixed here for a long time,” explains the mayor of Jadraque, Héctor Gregorio Esteban, from the PSOE. However, their neighbors did not know that in the place of ‘El Chaparral’, in what is known as the “Casa del Guarda” -an old box used to serve the dehesa-, there were more than 4,000 republican prisoners once once the war is over. “Our grandparents only said that the war was very much alive here and that they hid when the sirens sounded,” explains the mayor of Jadraque, a municipality that still preserves machine gun nests and trench lines.
The testimonies of some prisoners who passed through this concentration camp put the CSIC on the tracks of its location. Thanks to a grant from the central government through the call for projects to recover historical memory, the CSIC’s Institute of Heritage Sciences has been able to begin excavations that will last throughout the month of April.
The work carried out so far has served to discover many graffiti that report its construction date: 1938. Remains of beer bottles and hundreds of cans of canned meat, fish, vegetables, condensed milk or tomato sauce have also been found. “It is proof of the good logistics of Franco’s army and the generous food that his soldiers received,” explains Luis Antonio Ruiz Casero, from the Complutense University of Madrid, who is struck by canned meat from Argentina, ” country that remained neutral during the war but was the main importer of the Republic, so it is possible that it was about captures from the Popular Army».
Likewise, cans from the ‘Massó’ factory in Pontevedra “whose owners made a fortune during the war supplying the rebels” have been found. On the contrary, the situation of the prisoners was very different: they were crowded into ditches or shelters under the ground, improvised barracks in which about 25 per barracks could sleep and that had chimneys dug into the wall to shelter from the cold. “It is possible that the prisoners were fed with surplus from the Popular Army that had just surrendered,” says Professor Ruiz Casero, who also highlights the discovery of many inkwells, coins and even a can converted into a cup. “We speak of trench art to refer to the artifacts made by soldiers at the front, but we would also have to speak of concentration camp art.”
A strange object that has appeared inside one of these barracks is a mortar, a mystery since there was no fighting in this area. Also noteworthy are the bullet casings that have appeared, casings fired for some reason. All this in a concentration camp that was surrounded by barbed wire and guarded at all times from a nearby barracks and several sentry boxes.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.