November 1936. Francoist forces arrest several Republicans in the Toledo town of Los Cerralbos and murder five in cold blood in a place known as Los Parrales. His only crime, as his descendants still remember today, was going to the mountains to look for firewood.
They were called Pablo, Teodoro, Lucio and the brothers Baldomero and Eulogio. None of them would have turned 30 yet and two of them have had children. Today, 85 years later, the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH) is looking for his remains so that families can finally give them a dignified burial.
At present, the search for the mass grave, which began on Friday, has found three rounds of rounds on the farm – more precisely, three seven-millimeter Mauser rifle bullets. For the ARMH, the observation confirms that they are looking in the right place, since there have been shots. Moreover, it is the first proof which corroborates the testimonies of this brutal episode of the Francoist repression.
A living memory like that of Vicente, 91, a resident of Los Cerralbos, who – according to the Association’s exhumation project – remembers how it all started with a simple shipment of firewood that some neighbors went to collect in the mountains and that – like everyone at the time – belonged to the wealthy family of the city. According to his testimony, Lucio Jiménez, one of these wounded, had nothing to do with it, but there was commotion in the square and they also took him away.
The same version tells of one of Teodoro Dionisio Fernández’s daughters, who had four children when he was shot. She, who is 87 years old today, remembers that they went to look for gorse to heat their houses, because they were very poor, and that someone betrayed them by telling the family who owned the land that they were being stolen from them. He disappeared with several other men and was shot along with four others on the outskirts of town. A sixth was cleared to leave.
The families of the five missing have never been able to recover their remains, which a backhoe loader is now looking for by carrying out field tests, led by the archaeologist in charge of the exhumation, Serxio Castro. A project which is not financed by grants, but which is supported by the resources of the Association, contrary to the policies which do not guarantee the search for all retaliation.
On the first day of work, Patricia, great-granddaughter of Teodoro Dionisio Fernández, came to visit the exhumation team. His grandmother – he stressed – waited all her life for the moment to find her father’s remains in order to be able to bury him with dignity. A moment which today is a little closer.
The location of the pit
In order to determine the possible location of the tomb where the victims were buried, documents from the time, oral sources and the investigation carried out by the families themselves were taken into account. Moreover, the episode appears in the memories of the former professor of Los Cerralbos, Ángel Fernández-Santos Jiménez, still a child at the time.
In order to locate the reference points indicated by families and witnesses, and in view of the changes that the area has undergone in recent years, in addition to current satellite photos, images from the National Geographic Institute photo library and photographs of ‘ American flights’ carried out in this territory after World War II.