They find in Cunit the relatives of a soldier who disappeared during the Civil War
An investigation into the old police hospital located on the Mas Solers estate in Sant Pere de Ribes (Garraf) has made it possible to find the relatives of two Republican soldiers buried in the municipality's grave. The investigation, by archaeologist Irene Estévez, has brought to light the names of the 19 Republican combatants who were buried in a common way during the Civil War. Through an appeal broadcast to the Andalusian and Aragonese press from the towns of origin, Estévez has found the descendants of a 22-year-old soldier from Pozoblanco (Córdoba) and another 38-year-old from Tierz (Huesca). The relatives now demand that the Generalitat locate the exact point of the grave to mark it and later exhume the bodies.
Virginia Ranchal Díaz's mother left Pozoblanco in the mid-1950s to settle near Barcelona with the aim of offering her children better future opportunities. He had told everyone about her brother, Félix Díaz, who had died in Catalonia during the Civil War in 1938, without giving details.
Virginia, now 79 years old and living in Cunit (Baix Penedès)he remembers that he had only been told that “possibly” his uncle Félix had been buried in Catalonia. He now he just found out that he is in the common grave of Sant Pere de Ribes. A story very similar to that of an octogenarian neighbor from the small town of Tierz (Huesca), who has just been informed that her father was also buried in this grave when she was 38 years old and died wounded in the war.
The two cases are the result of the investigation of Irene Estévez, with the support of the municipal group Fem Poble. “I feel a little disappointed with the institutions because in 80 years they have not investigated this mass grave,” says Estévez, who recalls that the Mas Solers hospital was a rearguard center where the wounded recovered from injuries after receiving a first Pay attention to the front line. She points out that in 1938 it was one of the most important surgical centers.
After the first "socially useful" results that her research has given, she says that she feels "very hopeful" to continue advancing and be able to contact more relatives. She clarifies, however, that the remaining 17 soldiers came from larger cities and this makes it difficult to locate descendants.
Regarding the soldiers from Pozoblanco and Tierz, the involvement of the local media has been key, acting as a loudspeaker to explain that combatants from these municipalities had been buried in Sant Pere de Ribes without anyone having claimed them before. The news quickly paid off. In the case of the Ranchal Díaz family, a nephew of the soldier -named Félix, in honor of the missing soldier- knew that they were looking for them and soon notified the relatives who live in Catalonia. Among them, Virginia.
A coincidence is added: a grandniece, Fina Ranchal, a few days ago she had located a family document until then kept in a box indicating that Félix Díaz had died in the 'Ribas del Panadés' police hospital. La Fina assures that she had yet to go to the Sant Pere de Ribes cemetery one day to check if the grave was marked and to be able to start the procedures to request the exhumation. "It seems impossible that two completely parallel investigations converge now and allow us to know where my great-uncle is," celebrates Fina.
Virginia and her niece feel a mixture of "sadness and joy," recalling that the family was often silent about Civil War memories. A sister of Félix had been imprisoned for more than ten years, part of which in Catalonia, for her involvement with the Republican side. "She didn't want to hear about Catalonia because she had very bad memories and I even think she was afraid," says Virginia.
In turn, Fina recalls that, thanks to the documentation obtained, they have been able to find out that Félix died after being hospitalized for a month due to a gunshot wound to the shoulder. They have also found out that he was recruited in 1937, and they have found a photograph signed by a Mataró studio that helps them follow his trajectory before he died in hospital. She assures that she wants to continue investigating "to record the family memory and a legacy for the children and grandchildren."
Both Virginia and Fina get emotional when they talk about their relative, now that they can finally locate his burial. However, they regret that the grave of Sant Pere de Ribes is not exactly identified and it is only known that it is inside or near the cemetery. Both demand that the Generalitat allocate resources to find the precise place where it is located "and, at a minimum, that they put up a plaque explaining who is buried."
"It's a matter of recognition and justice," says Fina, who sees the identification of the grave as a milestone to "be able to make" the wish of the brothers who have died without knowing where Félix was buried "but with a memory of he very present”. "Now we not only have some belongings, but we can aspire to recover his body and transfer it with his parents to Pozoblanco or with the more recently dead relatives who are buried in Cornellà," she says.
La Fina urges the Generalitat to invest resources in the investigation of this grave, which it considers easier to deal with compared to other graves located on battlefields "because this one is known to be in the cemetery". The family plans to formalize the petition through the Census of Missing Persons and will also enroll in the Genetic Identification Program with which the Generalitat collects the DNA of relatives of unidentified dead soldiers. In parallel, they ask the City Council to get involved in this cause.
From the Generalitat, they point out that they currently do not have any identification request related to this grave, a step prior to the Department of Justice prioritizing it within its planning. They emphasize that before any task of identifying the space or exhuming it requires that an "exhaustive documentation" has been made on the grave.
In turn, the government of Sant Pere de Ribes assures that "it has always been very sensitive" to historical memory and calls on the rest of the political formations not to use this research for partisanship. In this sense, Fem Poble urges to meet to assess the installation of a plaque in the cemetery where the names of the soldiers appear.