Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Tue, April 17, 2018 12:46:48
Bizarre? Or what?
Among the many theories and anecdotes related to the various unsuccessful attempts to localise the remains of the murdered poet and his three fellow victims, there is one that has been going around for a number of years that always sounded to me so preposterous and absurd that I could not take it seriously. This is it:
In 1986 when they were constructing the park (the García Lorca Park in Alfacar) in memory of Lorca and all the victims of the nationalist repression, situated near the Spring of Aynadamar on the road from Víznar, they dug up some bones, the detailed examination of which they were afraid would hold up the completion of the park, so they put them in a plastic fertilizer bag and re-buried them.
Not only did they find bones, they also found a crutch, a very simple crutch made of wood, with a broad leather strap.
Maybe I need to remind you here that one of the men who faced the firing squad alongside Lorca was the lame republican schoolteacher Dióscoro Galindo.
According to José Antonio Rodríguez Salas, who was a guard at the park at the time of its inauguration, there was not only the crutch, but also four craniums!!! Into the plastic bag they went! So as not to delay the important and, for the local politicians, prestigious opening of the commemorative park. Could this happen anywhere else but in Granada?
The burial place of this bag of bones was carefully recorded. It turns out to be directly underneath where the massive stone fountain stands today, the fountain inscribed with Antonio Machado’s famous verses dedicated to the death of the poet:
de piedra y sueño en el Alhambra,
un túmulo al poeta,
sobre una fuente donde llore el agua,
y eternamente diga:
el crimen fue en Granada, ¡en su Granada!
[Construct, friends, from stone and dreams in the Alhambra, a sepulchre for the poet, over a spring where the water weeps and eternally repeats: the crime was in Granada, in his Granada!]
All the above so far is from Gibson’s updated version of his El Asesinato de García Lorca
just published. At the time of writing, says Gibson, that was February 2018, Luis Avial had begun examining the base of the fountain with GPR (ground-penetrating radar).
Luis Avial has built up quite a reputation for himself with his GPR studies. He claims, among many other achievements, to have discovered the tombs of Cervantes in Madrid and of Boabdil, the Moorish Kingdom of Granada’s last ruler, in Fez (Morocco). He is motivated in this case, he says, because he himself is the grandson of a civil war victim. His investigations in Víznar go back to 2009, when he carried out a preliminary survey in the García Lorca Park in Alfacar, and prompted by Víctor Fernández, local journalist and avid Lorca-researcher, he actually examined the base of the fountain, and while noticing some anomaly in the geological structure that could possibly indicate some outside interference, the signal from his GPR did not suggest anything like a common grave with human remains. So he discarded his findings as irrevelant. How wrong he was (he says now: Granada Hoy, 16/04-2018). http://www.granadahoy.com/granada/Ladran-luego-cabalgamos_0_1236776888.html
It was ‘stubborn and tenacious’ journalist Víctor Fernández who refused to give up on his theory and kept on at Avial to help him with his search for evidence. Fernández insisted that it was not a common grave they were looking for, but a bag of bones, and that persuaded Avial to go back to the x-rays he took in 2009, and yes, there was undeniable evidence that something like a bag of bones and rubble could be there, beneath the monumental fountain.
Fernández’ tenacity has clearly a lot to do with the eye-witnesses he has interviewed, including workmen involved in the alleged infraction in 1986. (Follow link below.) As Avial concludes, the supposed osteological material might not be human, but animal; and it might not even be bones. But it’s a hypothesis that ought to be tested, if only for it to be eliminated it once and for all.
Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Mon, January 08, 2018 19:16:33
funny that just two months ago I could quote Ian Gibson as saying "I’m finished
with Lorca and I don’t intend to revise or update what I have written and
published about him up to now", while today in the first month of 2018 I can
gladly announce that he is in fact working on an updated version of his book El asesinato de García Lorca,
first published in France in 1971, translated to English in 1979.
explanation of this contradiction included in my //blog.granadalabella.eu/#post72
is that Gibson tells Manuel Vincent in El
País, 6 January 2018, that he started thinking about the compelling need to
update this particular work about six months ago, whereas my November quote is
from Maria Serrano, originally published in El
Público on 27 February 2017. Gibson changed his mind soon after that
interview. I’m happy to say.
of us know that Lorca biographer Ian Gibson has dedicated much of his life to
digging up the facts and details about Lorca’s life, times, works, and his
untimely death. His book about the killing of the poet had to be published in
France because it was impossible to publish it in Spain. He was a pioneer in
the field of Lorca research. Since then, things have changed.
one thing, Eduardo Molina Fajardo’s widow was allowed, or possibly encouraged,
to publish her husband’s research posthumously under the title of Los últimos días de García Lorca
in 1983. Franco had gone, the conspiracy of silence around Lorca’s murder was
being broken down (Gibson had played his part in this), and as a Falangist,
Molina Fajardo had access to sources that were not so easily available to
Gibson. These sources were given particular prominence by Miguel Caballero in
his 2011 publication Las trece últimas horas en la vida de García Lorca, which leaves behind the last days of Lorca’s life referenced by
Fajardo to concentrate on his last hours: Las
trece últimas horas. Caballero’s findings were at the centre of my
attention for several months on my return to Granada at the end of the summer
2017 and were the subject of eight posts in all: //blog.granadalabella.eu/#post64 - #post71. There is no doubt in my mind that Caballero is the
catalyst for Gibson finally deciding to take a new look at his 1971 conclusions. Pictures: Lorca researchers Molina Fajardo, Gibson, and Caballero Pérez
updated work will be out in April! Molina Fajardo’s and Miguel Caballero’s
findings will be taken into consideration, of course, as will new facts
contributed by other researchers over the years. Gibson promises to review all
the theories about Lorca’s last steps as well as analyse all the searches for
the poet’s remains that have been undertaken to date, but to no avail.
is anywhere near as well equipped for the task as Gibson. Nobody has his
overview, combined with his in-depth knowledge of Granada in 1936 and the
assassination of the city’s greatest poet.
Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Sat, December 09, 2017 14:57:13
LITTLE VIENNESE WALZ
Leonard Cohen was a poet
and some of his greatest inspiration he says he found in the works of Federico
García Lorca. So great was his admiration, he actually called his daughter
Lorca. But, as he said in his Fundación Principe
de Asturias prize acceptance speech1, he developed his own
voice; he knew he could never copy Lorca: he wouldn’t dare, so he never tried.
On another occasion, he describes how he stumbled on Lorca’s universe of
imagery- dawn throwing fistfuls of ants in his face, or thighs that slipped
away like shoals of silver minnows’. He did not simply copy these images, he
explains2; rather, they made it possible for him to find his own
voice, which he defines as a sort of unique poetic ‘self’.
Cohen visited Lorca's birthplace in 1986
‘Take this Walz’ is,
everybody knows, a homage to Lorca, and if it is a translation of ‘Pequeño vals
vienés, it is quite a free one, where Leonard’s voice deviates significantly
from Federico’s. To compare the works of the two poets, I will turn to a set of
schemata that contrasts a classical
approach to art with a baroque one,
not in any historical sense, but as a general tendency applicable at any point
of time. Here, ‘classical’ is used to talk about a style that is simpler and more
restrained, aspiring to formal harmony and clarity via
the balanced proportions of its parts. A baroque approach, by
way of contrast, is formally less straightforward, with a more elaborate
provision of detail, allowing a greater degree of emotional expression
and conveying a richer sense
of drama and movement. Within the framework of these schemata, which is
explained in the Encyclopaedia Britannica3, I find Lorca’s poetry as
more classically inclined, Cohen’s as more baroque.
To demonstrate my point,
let’s compare the first stanza and refrain from the Spanish poem and the
Canadian song (see below). Revealingly, Lorca uses 46 words to cover this
ground; Cohen 67, half as many again. Cohen’s style is wordier, then: Cohen
spells things out for us, in more detail, whereas Lorca is less condescending
to his reader/listener. There are more discourse devices in Cohen, to help us
follow his argument. ‘There’s’ occurs five times, with obvious, almost laboured
parallel repetitiveness. In this repetitiveness we also hear the insistent
rhythm of the walz in Cohen’s song, unrestrained, almost exuberant. The
Canadian draws us in with ‘Now...’, making it sound more confidential (this is
between you and me). Lorca itches straight in with ‘En Viena ...’ and ‘hay’
occurs just three times, to indicate (with one minor exception) a new simple
sentence, and while his ‘y’ is used to link three noun phrases in one of the
sentences, Cohen uses ‘and’ to link two clauses. So, in the six lines of the
first stanza, Cohen uses as many as nine clauses to Lorca’s four: the three
‘hay’s plus ‘donde solloza la muerte’. Clauses, built round a verb, are
necessarily more dynamic than noun phrases.
In Lorca, there is in
fact only one action verb: ‘solloza’; whereas Cohen gives us six: ‘comes
to cry/ goes to die/ was torn/ hangs’. There
is much more movement, more drama, more telling here; Lorca’s walz is static by
comparison. It is restrained and relies on a simpler, barely embellished
structure. Cohen’s version more deliberately tugs on the emotions.
For Lorca ‘En Viena hay
diez muchachas’ and he doesn’t tell us if they are ‘pretty women’ or not.
Cohen’s song is more poetic in conventional terms. He gives us more detail,
fills things in for us, is more visual. ‘A tree where doves go to die’ is
easier to see than ‘un bosque de palomas disecadas’. Even 900 (windows) comes
across as more precise, concrete than 1000 (ventanas), which appears to be more
of a neat rough estimate than verifiable tangible fact. Finally, in the
refrain, Cohen gives us the unexpected and visually powerful ‘with a clamp on
its jaw’ for Lorca’s simple ‘con la boca cerrada’. Clamp = ‘abrazadera’,
‘grapa’, or ‘cepo’, something restricting by force and not simply closed. This
is bold poetic translator’s license and lays bare a relationship that is not
revealed in Lorca.
The great Leonard with the great Enrique Morente.
In the end, both poem and
song offer us the same five images, rather startling in their juxtaposition;
only in Lorca’s version, stripped down to the essentials, they make more of an
impact: 1) ten girls, 2) a shoulder where Death sobs, 3) a wood of desiccated
doves, 4) a fragment of the morning in the gallery of frost, and 5) a hall with
a thousand windows. What are we to make of this? Fistfuls of ants thrown in our
face! Lorca offers us little help.
So even in this little
homage, Cohen takes care to maintain his own distinct voice. He knows that to
copy would be fatal. Lorca’s verse, and his startling imagery, is rather a
catalyst for Cohen. Cohen is giving us his view, while Lorca leaves more
work for his reader/listener to do: his ‘self’ is harder to locate. And this
observation is, I believe, generally valid for the poetic works of the two men.
But I may be wrong.
The official photographer at the casa museo in Fuente Vaqueros told me that Cohen asked him to leave the room where Lorca was born while he meditated in the youga lotus position. This photo is not in the room where Lorca was born and it is not the lotus position, though it is clearly in Fuente Vaqueros.
These are the lyrics I
Now in Vienna there’s ten
There's a shoulder where Death comes to cry
There's a lobby with nine hundred windows
There's a tree where the doves go to die
There's a piece that was torn from the morning
And it hangs in the Gallery of Frost
Ay, ay, ay, ay
Take this waltz, take this walz
Take this waltz with the clamp on its jaws
Viena hay diez muchachas,
un hombro donde solloza la muerte
y un bosque de palomas disecadas.
Hay un fragmento de la mañana
el museo de la escarcha.
Hay un salón con mil ventanas.
¡Ay, ay, ay, ay!
este vals con la boca cerrada.
Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Thu, November 09, 2017 13:42:37
VERSUS GIBSON: 13 HOURS, OR TWO AND A HALF DAYS?
4: The Killing
are, as we have seen, two different theories about the exact time that Lorca
faced the firing squad, one night in August 1936 on the road between Víznar and
Alfacar. At 4:45 on the morning of the 18th has been the consensus
until now and is what it says in Wikipedia. When I began this analysis of the
evidence, I did not realise that this date had been close to verified by a
letter dated 18 August 1936 and discovered by chance by Manuel Titos Martínez*,
in which José María Bérriz revealed that he had just heard from reliable
sources that Lorca had been killed that same night. Of course, this evidence is
not entirely conclusive, for Lorca had been disappeared and who knows how long
it might have taken for the news to reach the public domain? However, one of
Bérriz’s informants was his brother-in-law, Manuel Rodríguez-Acosta, a
nationalist related by marriage to and on intimate terms with Nicolás Velasco
Simarro, acting Civil Governor on the day of Lorca’s disappearance. (This man’s
role in the persecution of the poet is discussed in
//blog.granadalabella.eu/#post65 Who...? Why ...? And where ...? a critical review of
Miguel Caballero’s Las trece últimas
horas en la vida de García Lorca.)
meanwhile, places the killing as not later than 4am on the 17th. He
gives two arguments to substantiate his claim. One is that José María Nestares
Cuéllar was removed from his position of command at Víznar for two days, 18 and
19 August, so he would not have been present to register Lorca’s arrival if he
had been brought there on one of those days. But if Lorca arrived in Víznar on
the 17th, and was shot before dawn on the 18th, then the
question of Nestares´s removal from command for these two days becomes
irrelevant. Secondly, Lieutenant Rafael Martínez Fajardo, who was encharged
with bringing Lorca to Víznar to face the firing squad, was member of a column
that captured the village of Huétor Tájar on 17 August, an operation that
lasted twelve hours leaving Granada at five in the morning. If, as Caballero
argues, the killing was carried out on the morning of the 17th, it
had to leave Martínez with enough time to join his column at 5am. But, once
again, if Lorca was brought to Víznar on the night of the 17th and
shot in the early morning, this argument also loses its force.
Falangist guard Pedro Cuesta Hernández is an important witness and seems to be
fairly reliable: ‘The firing squad was organised before dawn, at around 4am,
and it was made up of the same men who had come from Granada’ and he lists
J.L.Trecastro, the Security Guards Ayllón, Correa, Villegas, whom he describes
as belonging to the same ‘Black Squad’ as ‘the Pugnose of Plaza Nueva’ and ‘the
Baker’, and Benavides, the man who we have seen bore a grudge against the
victim and who was to boast of his part in the murder. He also includes in the
squad one ‘Blanco’, and ‘the Baker’ himself. Plus Arenas, the driver. And, less
willingly, by his own account, Cuesta himself.
Correo, Caballero names
as Fernando Correa Carrasco. According to Caballero,
however, Cuesta was mistaken about Antonio Ayllón Fernández’s participation, as
he did not in fact take over as head of the firing squad until 22 August,
replacing Mariano Ajenjo Moreno, who would have been the man in charge.
Caballero also denies Juan Luis Trecastro’s participation in the killing. I am
inclined to agree, partly due to his cocky copycat claim of firing two bullets
into the victim’s arse, obviously minted on his friend Antonio Benavides’s
abhorrent bragging. Even so, the possibility of a sort of ‘guest appearance’
cannot be totally ruled out. Although his proximity to the black squads was
common knowledge in certain circles, Trecastro himself was too prominent a
member of the respectable local bourgeoisie to appear in Nestares´s paperwork.
seems to me pretty likely that ‘the Baker’ was involved in the killing.
Francisco Murillo Gámiz, taxi-driver and once Lorca family chauffeur, said he
knew that the Black Squad that killed Lorca was made up of the Assault Guard
Villegas, the Baker and the Pugnose, and he relates how on ‘the day they shot
Federico’ the Baker approached him: ‘Have a Lucky (Strike). We took them off
Lorca’s body after we shot him this morning.’ Bravado? Maybe. There were plenty
of people in Granada who wanted to be associated with this abominable crime;
Trecastro being, of course, one of the most prominent.
recalls the Black Squad that ‘the Baker’ belonged to. ‘They were really paid
killers. They were organised by Julio Romero Funes (Valdés’s right-hand man at
the Civil Government: there was no love lost between Nestares and Valdés),
although on some occasions they acted on their own account.’ José Rosales says
he knew the Baker from before the Uprising and names him tentatively as Eduardo
López Peso. ‘We would give him a few pesetas to carry out reprisals.’ I presume
by ‘we’ he means himself and his closest Falangist associates and by
‘reprisals’ he means acts of violence against leftwing opponents.
early days, Lorca’s death used to be talked about as being at the hands of
these black squads, a name that has a frightening ring about it, presenting
them as gangs of uncontrollable psychopathic thugs taking advantage of a
situation of chaos and social breakdown. Luis García-Alix Fernández: ‘From the
first days of the Movement, diverse elements, among them Ramón Ruiz Alonso,
organised groups that, sometimes with the knowledge of the Civil governor and
at other times without it, went round dragging out of the houses or the places
where they were hiding those people they considered dangerous. And they met
every night in the central cafe La Granja,
to draw up the lists of executions they were going to carry out.’
fact, Caballero’s account reveals that there were no clear lines between the
official firing squads and the black squads, which were anyway by April 1937
fully integrated into the process of systemic state terror. Such is the case of
Salvio Rodríguez García, mentioned by Caballero as one
of Lorca’s killers, who was a black squad member up to April 1937, when all
still existing unofficial murder squads were formalised. Until then, black squad
members would sometimes support the official ones and gradually be absorbed by
them. Antonio González Villegas, for example, was a black squad member in the
first two weeks of the Uprising and was then incorporated into the assault
guards, while evidently maintaining his links to his unregulated associates,
the Baker and Pugnose. To me, it seems the term ‘black squad’ came to be used
to distract attention from the state-sponsored elimination of oppositional
forces, whereas in fact these murder squads were well organised and already,
just four weeks into the uprising, pretty much under the control of the Civil
Both Valdés and Nestares seem to have been
quite meticulous in recording their respective roles in consolidating the
nationalist hold over Granada. Valdés was so meticulous in recording how he
executed his savage repression that he kept well-ordered and detailed files,
the one labelled ‘File 8: Re García Lorca’, significantly, found to be empty,
though. Nestares, who was effectively in control of a battle front, needed to
keep accurate records, in particular of movements between Granada and Víznar,
but also to cover his back with regard to the unofficial executions that were
taking place in his area of command.
expresses his great satisfaction with the testimony of Nestares, especially in
the way it ties in so neatly with that given by his ‘assistant and friend’,
Martínez Bueso, a factor which he thinks gives it particular credibility. Yet
we know that Nestares was with some frequency questioned about the events of
that moonless night, events that were classified as top secret. And we know
that he gathered his team to school them on the facts, as Emilio Moreno Olmedo
reported to Fajardo Molina, to make sure nobody strayed from ‘the truth’. His
official paperwork relating to the events of that night shows signs of having
been doctored, with the observation of three people being brought from Granada
(Lorca, Gadalí and Cabezas) amended to ‘five’, to include a couple of petty
communist-criminals and possibly a villain nicknamed ‘el Terrible’. When Manuel Castilla, Manolo el comunista, says the people buried that night were ‘the teacher
from Pulianas, Galadí, Cabezas, and him, Lorca; nobody else’ he is referring to
this clumsy effort on the part of Nestares to falsify the evidence. Elsewhere, Nestares reports that Funes gave the order to Martínez
Fajardo to bring Lorca plus Galadí, Cabezas, and ‘the Terrible’ to Víznar; but
I have found no other trace of or reference to this latter individual. I
mention it here as an example of Nestares’s occasionally creative record
of Lorca’s last moments comes from two sources: José Navarro Pardo and Manuel
López Banús. From the former we hear how ‘the driver who had brought Lorca to
Viznar’ (Arenas, supposedly) told him how the victim survived the first salvo
of shots, an account confirmed by the latter, who says Cuesta himself related how,
after the initial salvo, Lorca got to his knees and said ‘I’m still alive’ and
had to be put out of his misery with a fresh barrage of shots. This may well be
the occasion that Antonio Benavides fired two bullets into the victim’s head.
the drawing is a version of Goya’s ‘2 May
celebrating the people of Madrid’s resistance to the Napoleonic
invasion, slightly amended to suggest Lorca’s facial features in the figure of the
martyr. The painting is in the Prado of course and I think I got the drawing
from an article about Lorca in the ABC newspaper, twenty years ago.
Martínez, Manuel (2005). Verano del 36 en Granada. Un testimonio inédito
sobre el comienzo de la guerra civil y la muerte de García Lorca. Granada.
way of conclusion, what do I think happened?
detention proceeded more or less as described by Miguel Rosales with Lorca
being taken to the Civil Government in the late or mid afternoon of the 16th.
But he was kept in custody until Valdés was able to get the go-ahead for the
killing from Queipo de Llano. On the night of the 17th he was
transferred to Víznar along with the anarchist bullfighters Gadalí and Cabezas.
Schoolmaster Diáscoro Galindo joined them in the improvised prison known as
‘The Colony’, until Martínez Fajardo arrived from Granada with the official
firing squad and an unknown number of black squad members. Then the killing
went off more or less as Cuesta described it, plus Benavides´s credible
it matter? Whether it was the 17th or 18th? The time he
was ‘disappeared’ from the Civil Government? Who was ‘ultimately’ responsible?
To what extent was Horacio Roldán able to pull strings and influence events?
Did Queipo de Llano have the last word? Was Ruiz Alonso manipulated by Juan
Luis Trecastro or was he motivated by his petty grievances vis-à-vis the
Falange? Should we blame Valdés’s stomach ulcer and his consequent bad humour?
Or maybe the offence taken by Velasco at Lorca’s anti-Guardia Civil poems? And the million-dollar question: the location
of the poet’s remains.
shouldn’t matter, but somehow it does. To some extent I share Ian Gibson’s
exasperation at not knowing what happened to Lorca’s
bodily remains. ‘If
we don’t find them,’ Gibson complains, ‘the unanswered questions, the theories,
the arguments – and the lies – will go on forever’+. (Personally, I
am not convinced that the locating of Lorca’s remains will tie up the loose
ends. Frankly, I feel it might throw up as many questions as it answers!)
five decades, Gibson declares himself finished with his Lorca project. ‘I do
not intend to revise my books nor write any new ones.’+
it is time for me to take a page out of Gibson’s book and turn my attention to
other matters, matters that are more pressing in the present than unpicking the
tangle of testimonies, facts and fictions, lies and half-truths, arguments and
counterarguments that lie eighty years in the past. Then again, they dug up
Richard III in a Leicester car park after more than 500 years, so ...
Note: +María Serrano. 27/02/2017 público.es
Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Tue, October 31, 2017 08:34:04
VERSUS GIBSON: 13 HOURS, OR TWO AND A HALF DAYS?
3: The disappearing
of the poet-playwright García Lorca happened effectively just after José
Rosales got to speak to him at around 10.30pm on the night of 16 August.
Evidence of what happened after that has been clearly concealed and/or tampered
with. We know he was then taken to Víznar to be shot. For me the date and the
time of the transfer to Víznar are still unresolved questions. Did it happen
immediately after Rosales’ visit, or was Lorca held at the Civil Government for
24 or even 48 hours?
An important witness and one who could be
used to corroborate Caballero’s theory is Agustín Soler Bonor. He claims to
have seen Lorca being taken away from the Civil Government without being able
to verify the exact date: ‘One night in the month of August at about 10.30pm I
arrived at the Civil Government (...) At the door a car was waiting (...)
Inside there were two prisoners, villager-types (...) Going up to the first
floor I met Lorca coming down, escorted by two Assault Guards.’
Civil Government building, calle Duquesa; today part of Faculty of Law; behind Botanical Gardens:
If this is true, the two ‘villager-types’
could have been the anarchists Juan Arcoyas Cabezas and Francisco Galadí Melgar
who are known to have been shot alongside the poet. The only problem with this
is that it contradicts testimony saying they were captured in a cave outside
Granada and then taken directly to Víznar. However, Galadí’s family are
convinced he was captured in Granada, at the Fuente del Avellano.
Soler continues: ‘He was handcuffed and
looked despondent and showed no sign of recognising me.’
This could have been just moments after the
poet’s brief conversation with the respected and influential Falangist, José
Rosales. Feeling rather optimistic on account of Rosales’s promise to make an
official intervention with higher authorities on his behalf, Lorca’s high hopes
are then dashed when immediately afterwards he is handcuffed and led away.
Maybe he has heard that he is being taken to Víznar and knows it can mean only
A second possibility occurs to me. Was the
man Soler describes one who was simply dispirited, or one who had been locked
up and held incommunicado for several
hours, maybe since the day before, maybe even tortured? He seems to be
oblivious to his surroundings and fails to notice the presence of the witness.
How long would it take to get to this state of resignation and apathy? Could he
have lost heart so quickly, and so completely, if this incident happened
moments after Rosales’s visit?
In total contradiction to the evidence
given by Soler Bonor, Ricardo Rodríguez Jiménez gives a colourful account of
how Lorca was taken from the Civil Goverment: ‘Each night I used to go to the
police station to hear Queipo de Llano’s last bulletin, which was broadcast
around 3a.m. (...) That night I left the station at 3.15am. Suddenly I heard
someone call my name. I turned around. ‘Federico!’ He threw an arm over my
shoulder. His right arm was handcuffed to that of a schoolmaster from La Zubia
with white hair. ‘Where are they taking you?’ ‘I don’t know.’ He was coming out
of the civil government building, surrounded by guards and Falangists belonging
to the ‘Black Squad’ (...) Someone stuck a gun in my chest. I screamed:
‘Murderers! (...) They locked me up for two hours and then they let me go.’ By
then, of course, it was too late to do anything.
Gonzalo Queipo de Llano was of course
commander of the Nationalist Army of the South and so the supreme authority of
the uprising in Andalusia. The white-haired schoolmaster ‘from La Zubia’ is
supposedly Diáscoro Galindo, though he was actually from Pulianas. If Galindo
was taken away at 2am, as his son said, it is not impossible that he had been
brought to the civil Government prior to being transferred to Víznar, though
this of course would have been on the morning of the 18th, not the
This account can be made to fit in with the
evidence of Joaquín López-Mateos Matres, previously cited, who says that while
on guard at the Civil Government on the evening and night of the 16th
he saw Lorca sitting alone, buried in his thoughts and anxieties, ‘all evening
and part of the night’ without witnessing him being taken away. ‘Part of the
night’ might possibly refer to until 10.30pm, which is really not that long
after nightfall, but to my mind it fits in better with Rodríguez Jiménez’s
declaration. What it does not fit in with, though, is the bulk of the evidence
about Lorca’s arrival in Víznar, which points to a much earlier time of night.
his evidence on what Nestares reported, Caballero says Lorca arrived in Víznar
shortly before midnight, on the 16th. Pedro Cuesta Hernández, who
was one of the regular guards at the Villa Concha, improvised prison for the
condemned, testifies that Lorca was brought there between 10.30 and 11pm on one of the nights between 17 and
20 August, though elsewhere he says about 10pm on 16 -18 August. [This is an old photo of Villa Concha. It was demolished not long after these events.]
The general consensus is that Lorca arrived
in Víznar after nightfall, after the gravediggers had been locked in, otherwise
somebody would have recognised him, the gravediggers being mainly composed of
liberal university professors, politicians, professionals, and the like: people
who would definitely know the famous poet and dramatist by sight. At nightfall
they were locked in on the upstairs floor.
The testimony of José Jover Tripaldi, who
gave Agustín Penón such a hard time in the 1950s, colourful and attractive
though it is, must be discarded as unreliable. Most of what he says could have
been picked up in village gossip or in the cafés of Granada, and even the
picturesque anecdote about Lorca’s last-minute improvised confession was in
certain quarters part of contemporary street folklore. Caballero insists that
documentary evidence indicates that Tripaldi was not around at the time of
Finally, last but not least, there are the
well known ‘Give him coffee’ instructions that Valdés received from Queipo de
Llano which is supposed to have given the go-ahead to have the poet eliminated.
Valdés was used to consulting with his superior over cases of exceptional
importance and for the express purpose of such consultations a radio had been
installed at the Civil Government. We have it from people close to the civil
governor that Valdés, every night after Queipo’s speech on Radio Seville, would
consult the General about the day’s events and it was after one such
consultation that Lorca was dispatched. In one version Germán Fernández Ramos,
a drinking companion of Valdés’s, claims he heard Valdés phone Queipo twice
before sealing the poet’s fate. The Ideal
newspaper, incidentally, reported the re-establishment of telephone
communications between Granada and Seville on 17 August.
If the exchange really took place after
Queipo de Llano’s radio broadcast, it must have been late at night. The
earliest this consultation could have taken place of course is after Valdés’s
return to Granada at 9.45 on the 16th, and in all events Valdés would have to
have moved very fast and it hardly seems possible that he could have had this
conversation and then got Lorca sent off to Viznar to arrive there shortly
before midnight. Against that, Ruiz Alonso always insisted that Valdés himself
had told him on the morning of the 17th that Lorca had been shot, on
orders received from Seville, i.e. from Queipo de Llano. To complicate matters
further, the radio broadcast theory fits in rather nicely with the dramatic
testimony of Rodríguez Jiménez.
In any case, if we are to accept the
evidence that points to Lorca being taken to Víznar before midnight of the 16th,
it would mean disregarding or finding an alternative explanation for the ‘give
him coffee’ exchange as well as for evidence provided by Diáscoro Galindo’s son
and Angelina Cordobilla. Once again, Caballero’s main argument in favour of
this thesis is that his enemies wanted Lorca dispatched before his highly
respected and influential father had time to intervene to protect his son.
Gobierno Civil/Civil goverment building https://letralia.com/175/fgl05.jpg 5.11.07 Fernando Guijarro Arcas
'The Colony'/Villa Concha http://www.ideal.es/granada/20130609/local/granada/viznar-pide-junta-cesion-201306091138.html
09.06.13 EUROPA PRESS | GRANADA
Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Mon, October 23, 2017 17:49:53
VERSUS GIBSON: 13 HOURS, OR TWO AND A HALF DAYS?
2: Angelina Cordobilla.
testimony of Angelina Cordobilla, Concha’s (Lorca’s sister’s) maid, on which
Gibson relies heavily, is a stumbling block for the 'thirteen hour' theory. I made this point six years ago [//blog.granadalabella.eu/#post23] and it still seems to be problematic when it comes to unravelling the course of events leading up to Lorca's death. If Caballero is right, then Angelina’s testimony has to
be disproved, or discarded.
first, in her interview with Agustín Penón in 1955*, Angelina insisted that she
had seen Lorca only once at the Civil Government building but then, in
relating the events, she seemed to remember seeing him twice on consecutive
days. That would have been on the mornings of the 17th and 18th. Angelina
reports seeing Lorca in a sparsely furnished room, with no bed, but, curiously,
one with a table and writing materials. ‘Master Federico was hoarse and very
tense. His good humour had left him completely. (...) The next day I took
him his food and a packet of Camel. He hadn’t touched the food I had taken the
day before, but he had smoked the cigarettes.’ Her vivid testimony, then, points
to Lorca being held for two nights before being moved to Viznar. Or could it be
that on this second morning, when she noticed the food had not been touched,
Lorca himself was not present, that she last saw him on the 17th?
discovering Lorca’s absence, she went to the prison where she left the basket
of food and other supplies, hoping it would get to him somehow. Two witnesses,
Antonio Pérez Funes and Cesar Torres Martínez, said they saw the basket which
stayed there unclaimed all day. The question is: Which day? Antonio Pérez said
somebody asked him ‘the day after the arrest’ if Lorca was there (in prison). He
said ‘no’ and they passed the message on to his family. Could he be talking
about Angelina? The day after the arrest was of course the 17th,
whereas Angelina’s testimony indicates she went there on the 19th.
The testimony of Pérez Funes and Torres Martínez about seeing the basket lends
some credibility to Angelina’s evidence, but there is no way we can be sure
about the exact date of these events. Did Angelina see Lorca only once, as she
first recalled in her interview with Penón, and go to the prison on the 18th,
the day after the news of Lorca’s arrest became common knowledge?
Angelina really did get in to see Lorca at the Civil Government, how did she
get past the guards on the door? In an attempt to ridicule her testimony,
Francisco Valdés Escóbar asserts that ‘there was a continuous guard on the door
and they didn’t let anyone through’. On the other hand, Julián Fernández Amigo
describes the situation rather differently: ‘There was very little control.
There were guards on the door, there were the old Assault Guards, who acted
very decently in Granada; then there were the new ones... as well as those militia men...’. By ‘old
Assault Guards’, he means those who had been recruited to serve the Republic,
whereas the new ones, and the militia men, supported the rebels and the
uprising. It is supposed that Angelina encountered a couple of guards who acted
decently.Photo: ayuntamiento de durcal http://www.adurcal.com/enlaces/cultura/zona/historia/periodico/periodico99/septi99.htm
is also the story of Enrique García Palacios, a cousin of Federico’s, telling
Manuel Angeles Ortiz, an old friend of the poet, in Buenos Aires that Lorca was
kept prisoner ‘for a week’ and that a cousin of his, the priest Enrique
Palacios from Asquerosa (Valderrubio), went to see him every day, as did the
Montesinos’s maid (Angelina) who took him his meals. How many steps there were
between the actual events and their being reported to Ortiz thus resulting in
an increase in the chances of the message getting distorted along the way is
hard to say. Unfortunately, Enrique Palacios does not seem to have left any
direct testimony about his supposed visits to Lorca in the Civil Government.
Let’s take ‘for a week’ with a piece of salt. This evidence may have been based
on hearsay, but at least it was contemporary hearsay, and not reminiscences
thirty years after the event.
Lorca was held for two days, or even one, in a small room, on the first floor
of the Civil government building (possibly overlooking the Botanical Gardens),
there is remarkably little evidence for it. There are two possibilities: one,
he had been disappeared, so his captivity was kept secret; or two, he was never
Angelina’s memory playing tricks? Those who reject her evidence say she was
unwell, senile, implying she was unsound in body and mind. When Gibson
interviewed her in 1966, she was getting on, yet he found her lucid and had
absolute confidence in her evidence. This same woman, who Penón interviewed in
1955 and who he judged to be around sixty-five, was physically active, neither
senile nor unwell.
are, besides, in Angelina’s favour, witnesses who claim to have seen Lorca in
the Civil Government building after nightfall. Joaquín López-Mateos Matres, on
guard duty at the Civil Government that night, says he saw the poet sitting in
a small room on the first floor ‘hour after hour’, ‘all evening and part of the
night’. Another witness, Emilio Muñoz Medina, saw Lorca ‘in the room they kept
for prisoners’ while on duty on the first floor of the Civil Government
building. ‘He offered me a cigarette saying “What a life! What a life!” We
smoked without speaking. All the time I was on duty, Lorca remained alone in
know that up to 10.30, Lorca received a number of visits, including the one by
José Rosales, probably the last. Mrs Rosales sent a boy with supplies, maybe
blankets, which suggests she had reason to believe that he was going to be
detained for some time. The previously quoted police officer, Julián Fernández
Amigo, persuaded the decent guards to let him in and spend fifteen minutes with
the poet, this according to Molina Fajardo himself.
the evidence of both López-Mateos and Muñoz Medina suggests that the poet was
being held there on his own, incommunicado,
‘hour after hour’, ‘all the time I was on duty’ as Muñoz says, well into the
night. Can ‘all evening and part of the night’ be made to fit in with
Caballero’s time scale? Certainly if their testimony is to be credited and if
they are talking about the time after José Rosales’s visit, it seems hardly
possible that Lorca could have been taken away as early as 22.00 - 22.30 on 16
August, as Caballero would have it, arguing that the nationalist authorities
moved so quickly because there were elements among them very keen to be rid of
the prisoner and they were in a position to act.
in itself quite minor discrepancy lies in the fact that Lorca left the Rosales’
house wearing a white shirt (as Miguel López Escribano testifies). Yet all
later testimonies speak of him wearing a pyjama top; for example, Agustín Soler
Bonor claims to have seen him leaving the Civil Goverment wearing ‘a pyjama
jacket, not a shirt‘, and later, at Víznar. Manuel Martínez Bueso, who
accompanied Lorca’s car from the Falangists’ Viznar Headquarters to Villa Concha, the improvised prison for
the disappeared, reported to his superior, José María Nestares, that he was
wearing a pyjama top. If Lorca left the Rosales wearing a shirt and arrived at
Viznar wearing a pyjama top, it is reasonable to suppose that Angelina brought
him a change of clothes, and Indeed, Angelina told Penón specifically that
pyjamas were among the supplies she carried the last time she went on her
but not least, there is the testimony of Antonio Galindo Monge, son of Dióscoro
Galindo González, another victim who we know was shot alongside Lorca. Antonio
says his father was taken away at 2am on the 18th and he went to the
military command a few hours later in the hope of getting him released but was
told his father had already been put to death. The son’s evidence is backed up
in this case by an official death certificate. Galindo’s and Angelina’s
evidence combined make for a strong argument against Lorca having faced the
firing squad on the morning of the 17th.
Notes. Agustín Penón. “Angelina.” Miedo, olvido y fantasía
. Edición de
Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Thu, October 19, 2017 10:19:03
VERSUS GIBSON: THIRTEEN HOURS, OR TWO AND A HALF DAYS??
LEFT. Miguel Caballero
Pérez. Source:Cronistas Oficiales de Andalucía http://www.cronistasoficiales.com/?page_id=475 RIGHT. Ian
Gibson. Source: Paco
Sánchez. Fotografía Corporativa. http://www.expofoto.com/fotografia_corporativa/slides/Ian%20Gibson.html
1: The Arrest.
Caballero chose the title of his book (Las
últimas trece horas en la vida de García Lorca) setting out the findings of
his investigation into the killing of Spain’s greatest twentieth century poet
as a direct challenge to Lorca-biographer Ian Gibson, around whose own more
tentative conclusions there had developed a sort of consensus. ‘It seems certain
that Lorca was shot around 4.45 on the morning of 18 August,’ says Wikipedia
(last assessed 18/10/2017) quoting not Gibson but Manuel Titos
Martínez*. Caballero’s ‘The Last Thirteen Hours in the Life of García
Lorca’ states boldly what he considers to be the definite time scale of events
from the moment when Ramón Ruiz Alonso turned up with his arrest warrant at the
Rosales’ house on the afternoon of Sunday, 16 August until Lorca’s death in
front of a semi-official firing squad, which cannot have taken place later than
around 4am the following morning. According to Caballero’s investigation.
It was mostly
Ian Gibson’s research that led to the widely held belief that Lorca was shot
and buried close to the spot that is now marked by a monolith and a commemorative
park in his (Lorca’s) name on the road between Víznar and Alfacar, a few miles
north of Granada. This belief was based mostly on the testimony of Manuel
Castilla, ‘Manolo the Communist’, (see #post 9) who, as a grave-digger, claimed
to have been one of those who buried the poet. There is much in his evidence
that is very credible, such as the fact that as a young political activist, he
said he recognised the two anarchist bullfighters he buried, but not Lorca, who
had been absent from Granada for long periods in the years prior to his death,
and was not, anyway, politically active. But when an attempted exhumation in
2009 revealed that Lorca’s corpse was not and never could have been in that
spot, Gibson’s whole hypothesis about Lorca’s last days was put in doubt, - and
the way was cleared for alternative theories to be put forward, again.
the Communist lie, or did he make a mistake? It was twenty years after the
event that he, apparently with some reluctance, led Agustín Penón to the
supposed site of the crime in 1956. If he was mistaken then, it would have been
easy for him to repeat the mistake with Gibson, and with growing conviction,
ten years later.
makes a point of emphasising that his evidence is based on contemporary police
reports and civil and military documentation rather than on unreliable oral
testimonies, as Gibson’s was. This is to some extent point-scoring for of
course the sort of oral evidence that Gibson collected could never have been
recorded by official reports and documentation and anyway these in turn could
have been falsified by a regime whose legitimacy was questionable and which did
not necessarily want the truth, the whole truth, to be revealed. In any case,
Caballero’s faith in the written word must strike us as a bit naïve,
considering the nature of the regime that had taken control of Granada, and the
chaos that existed in those early days of the Civil War. Such records
themselves are often written reports of spoken declarations, the veracity of
which may be legitimately questioned.
the fact remains that if Caballero is right, not only Manolo the Communist’s
testimony but that of many other key witnesses for Gibson’s case is put in
doubt, and needs to be reconsidered.
major contradictions between the two investigations open up once the poet has
been disappeared, the facts about the detention of the poet at the Rosales’
house are not seriously problematic. Let’s start with Gibson’s witness, José
Rodríguez Contreras, who says he was released from prison at about 12am on 16
August and was on his way home. He relates how he was turned back by an Assault
Guard1 (who he names as José María Vialard Márquez) when he tried to
get through to his own house because the area around the Rosales’ house and the
Civil Government^ building had been cordoned off on account of
Lorca’s imminent arrest. It must have been about one o’clock, he says.
Rodríguez Contrereas was sure of his facts because, as he said, it wasn’t every
day that you got released from prison!
places the arrest with some certainty between 13.00 and 13.30 although he is a
bit vague about how events subsequently played out over the afternoon. Much of
Gibson’s reconstruction of events is based on the evidence of Miguel Rosales,
whose version may have been agreed on after consulting the rest of the family.
However, there is general agreement that the detention was held up for a while
because Esperanza Camacho, Miguel’s mother, refused to let Lorca be taken from
the house without one of her sons being present and it was Miguel who was
located at the nearby Falange Headquarters, in the Monastery of San Jerónimo.
It was about 4.30, according to Miguel, when Ramón Ruiz Alonso, the man with
the arrest warrant, brought him back to the house. Then Lorca needed time to
get dressed, bid his farewells, and prepare himself for the ordeal ahead, so it
wasn’t until 6 or 7pm, again according to Miguel’s statement, that they arrived
at the Civil Government building.
witness, quoted by both Gibson and Molina Fajardo (Caballero’s main source),
neighbour Miguel López Escribano says he saw Lorca leave the house earlier; ‘at
3.30pm’, he reports. This would have got Lorca to the Civil Government by 4pm.
Against that we have Miguel’s claim that he had had lunch at home before going
back to work, with Ruiz Alonso coming for him at about 4pm. Then there is the
question of the whereabouts of Gerardo, the youngest of the Rosales brothers
and the only one who was not in the Falange. Miguel says he went to the cinema
around 4pm and didn’t return till after 8; though in another version, given by
Gerardo’s son, he was at the painter José Guerrero’s studio ‘on the day of the
Lorca may have arrived at the Civil Government as early as 4pm or as late as
7pm. What is beyond a doubt, however, is that Civil Governor José Valdés Guzmán was away all day
on the 16th and didn’t return to Granada until 9.45, as was reported in the Ideal newspaper. Then José Rosales,
Miguel’s brother and an influential member of the Spanish Falange, got to speak
to him but was told that, ‘regrettably’, there was nothing to be done as there
were official charges against the poet that had to be looked into. Vila
San-Juan# puts the time of José Rosales’s audience with Valdés at
10.30 and confirms that he was even allowed to see Lorca who was being held in
a room nearby, in the same corridor, on the first floor. Indeed, José was not
the only person who got to see Lorca at the Civil Government, but the timing
and circumstances of these visits is unclear. They will be dealt with in Part 2
of this discussion. For now, let us just say that Lorca was held there until
well after 10pm.
It is here,
when it comes to the moment of the actual disappearing of the poet itself that
the trail gets hard to follow and Gibson’s and Caballero’s accounts of what
might have happened seriously diverge. Miguel
Caballero argues that Lorca was taken away to Víznar to face
the firing squad as early as 22.00 – 22.30 that night, which raises the
question: what time did José Rosales get to see the poet? Whatever the exact
time the transfer to Víznar was, they must have acted with lightning speed for
Caballero’s time scale to be maintained, once Valdés had reassured Rosales that
he would do what he could for Lorca in the light of the charges against him.
Caballero’s main argument in support of the credibility of this rapid action
was his conviction that those who wanted Lorca dead were afraid that the great
influence of his father would thwart their plans again, as so often had
happened in the past, and as is well documented in Caballero’s investigation.
version of events follows closely that of the Falangist journalist, Eduardo Molina Fajardo, just as its
title deliberately echoes Molina Fajardo’s Los últimos días …
(The Last Days ...) published in 1983. Perhaps
it is time here to consider whether the left-leaning Ian Gibson let his opinion
be swayed by his political sympathies. The seventeen-year-old Manuel Castilla
Blanco apparently only narrowly escaped the firing squad himself, being
reprieved so that he could work as gravedigger for other victims of the
nationalist repression. These circumstances, if true, seem to make him a more
credible witness than, say, Molina Fajardo, whose work in all likelihood was
written to exonerate his Party the Falange from any guilt in this political
meanwhile, relies heavily on oral interviews with Angelina Cordobilla that
took place three decades after the events by which time she was rather an old
lady. According to her testimony, Lorca must have spent two nights in the Civil
Government building. Was Gibson wise to have given so much credibility to her
recollection of what was such a traumatic episode in her life? It is Angelina’s
evidence that we will take another look at in the next part of our examination
of the two hypotheses, Ian Gibson’s and Miguel Caballero’s.
1 Special police force created to deal with urban violence
^Highest political authority at a
* Verano del 36 en Granada. Un testimonio inédito sobre el comienzo de
la guerra civil y la muerte de García Lorca. Granada:
+ El silencio de los Rosales https://elpais.com/diario/2001/04/22/andalucia/987891748_850215.html
#José Luis Vila-San Juan. García Lorca asesinado, toda la verdad
Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Thu, October 12, 2017 09:30:01
killed Lorca? Why? And where did they dump the body? is a review in three parts of Miguel Caballero’s investigation, Las
trece últimas horas en la vida de García Lorca, into the poet’s
assassination at the hands of right-wing nationalist extremists.
One takes issue with Caballero’s assertion that the
killing was not politically motivated, but an act of personal revenge. Yet the
political and personal were so intertwined at the time it is practically
impossible to unravel them. The truth of the matter is that, although he would
have liked to be seen as ‘unpolitical’, for the hard right in Granada Lorca was
a ´red’ (a communist, or at least a Friend of Russia, - a communist
sympathiser). As was virtually anyone who did not agree with them.
Part Two examines Caballero’s point that on the
day of Lorca’s disappearance, 16 August 1936, the Civil Governor José Valdés Guzmán was being substituted by retired lieutenant general of
the Guardia Civil Nicolás Velasco Simarro and it was this man who was
ultimately responsible for what happened that day. My point is that Velasco and
Valdés were the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of the Civil Government: both pursued
enemies of the Glorious Movement with equal vehemence and fanaticism. Lorca
would have fared no better if Valdés had been in charge that day.
LEFT: Illustration of Tweedledum and
Tweedledee for chapter 4 of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass published
1871, by John Tenniel. RIGHT: Matt Lucas’s Tweedledum and Tweedledee in Tim
Burton’s 2010 film Alice in Wonderland.
Three deals largely with the part played by and the
relationship between Juan Luis Trecastro and Ramón Ruiz Alonso, who played
Pinky and Perky to Velasco and Valdés’s Tweedledum and Tweedledee. My
conclusion is, and I feel it is backed up by Caballero`s meticulously assembled
evidence, that some of those involved had personal reasons to pursue Lorca to
his death, while others did not, but they all went about it with a similar and
shared zeal and commitment to the reactionary nationalist cause, aiming to
stamp out the freedoms and opportunities opened up by liberal republican
Trecastro and Ruiz Alonso. (Pinky and Perky
were BBC TV puppet stars of the 1950s.)