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“There, every day there were many deaths”

Posted: Wednesday December 16 2020 17:44

Today, the Parador de San Marcos is one of the most emblematic tourist accommodations in León. However, there was a day when its hallways became the barriers for prisoners of the Civil War.

There they were hungry, cold and many were shot. And that is why, despite the fact that the building has been remodeled, the families of the victims are asking that what happened there not be forgotten.

One of the victims was Melchor García’s father. He spent four years prisoner in San Marcos and assures that he suffered all kinds of humiliation: “They spat at them from the patio hallway and even urinated on them.” In addition, he said, the beatings were taking place.

Rubén’s great-grandfather also passed through the concentration camp, but only to be shot immediately: “He spent a few hours there being shot at dawn on October 23, 1936”.

Josep Sala is today one of the last survivors of the San Marcos field. At 101 years old, he still sometimes dreams of what happened in this concentration camp: “There were a lot of dead every day, they were carried in blankets with their feet hanging down. It was a terrible pain. “

From there, he always keeps postcards that never came due to censorship, or one of his vaccination books, one of the few documents that testify to the existence of the camp.

“I spent four months without washing my face or anything, without a shower or a bath,” said the survivor, who said the place most feared by the prisoners was “the coal pit”. If they called you to go, he said, “They gave you a beating that you didn’t come to.”

León was known as “Little Siberia” because of the cold, which made San Marcos one of the most difficult concentration camps of that time. More than 30,000 prisoners passed through, and many of them had to sleep in the cloister itself, in the open air. “We were so tight against each other that if you fall asleep facing north you will wake up facing north,” said Josep Sala.

One of the few censuses that exist was created precisely by their survivors and relatives using “prison records, testimonies from people who have passed through San Marcos and the expeditions that have been made from the concentration camp asking the maintenance of the prison population which was in this prison.

Because of these conditions, but also because of illnesses and executions, historians suggest that some 3,000 people may have died. Therefore, relatives and victims are asking that this part of the story not be made invisible.

“All this suffering and all this commitment to democracy must be represented in a memorial,” said Emilio Silva, of the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory.

Something which, says its director Alberto San Sebastián, will soon arrive at the Parador, “where it will be said that one of the times when the establishment had this condition of concentration camp is also part of our history”, he added. he explains. The story of a building which, in recent decades, has gone from darkness to light, and which today is the famous Parador de San Marcos.

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