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News and comments and events relating to Granada, 'the city where anything is possible, Granada, 'la bella y la bestia, and Federico Garcia Lorca's complicated love-hate relationship with the city, etc


Lorca disappearing and deathPosted by Simon Tue, October 31, 2017 08:34:04


Part 3: The disappearing

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 one thing...

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 17th.

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.

Basing 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 Lorca’s disappearance.

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 5.11.07 Fernando Guijarro Arcas

'The Colony'/Villa Concha 09.06.13 EUROPA PRESS | GRANADA

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