General Archive of the Spanish Civil War | Attraction Guides | History Hit

General Archive of the Spanish Civil War

Salamanca, Castile and Leon, Spain

Peta Stamper

16 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About General Archive of the Spanish Civil War

The General Archive on the Spanish Civil War in Salamanca, Spain, holds vital records from the civil war period of Spanish history and the regime of General Franco. Today, visitors to the General Archive on the Spanish Civil War can also view a display of various photographs, posters and documents.

Although primarily in Spanish, the displays do have some explanation in other languages. Additionally, there is a section on freemasonry including a 10-minute video, and the masonic lodge can be visited.

General Archive on the Spanish Civil War history

The decision to preserve documents of the Spanish Civil War and its origins were initially made in the 1930s as the conflict itself continued. The Francoist State, led by Francisco Franco, decreed in September 1936 that all the documents of all parties involved were to become state property.

Among the organisations listed by Franco as ‘opposition’ was the freemasons who were viewed with suspicion by Franco and membership carried a prison sentence. During the conflict and Franco’s early dictatorship, those suspected of freemasons in Spain were also killed, their temples destroyed. The Archives therefore collected a large number of Masonic objects, which are housed in the site’s permanent exhibition.

As Spain began democratisation following Franco’s death in 1975, the Archive’s original purpose shifted to focus on how Spain remembered the conflict. In 2007 the Archives became past of the Historical Memory Documentary Centre. The organisation represented a move towards Spain coming to terms with its Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship.

General Archive on the Spanish Civil War today

Today, the General Archive on the Spanish Civil War is open to the public and hosts a permanent exhibition that you can tour without charge. Note that to view specific documents you must make an appointment beforehand.

The Archive has a strong online presence through its portal that documents the victims of the Civil War and Francoist State. As some of the regime’s victims were refugees, the digitised archives include materials from foreign sources, for example, about those held in Nazi concentration camps.

A particular highlight of the exhibition is the recreation of Picasso‘s Civil War artwork, Guernica, comprised of black and white photographs taken throughout the war. You can also view side-by-side Republican and Francoist propaganda, highlighting the deep divides in Spanish society during the Civil War that continue to be mended.

Getting to the General Archive on the Spanish Civil War

Located within the historical centre of Salamanca, the General Archive is easily reached on public transport. The 4, 8 and 92 buses stop at Rector Esperabé 12, a 3 minute walk away. For those driving, there is 24 hour parking at the Reyes de España Catedral on the avenue of the same name.

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