About an hour northwest of Madrid, an enormous stone crucifix rises 500 feet out of a rocky mountaintop. It’s so big you can see it from miles away. Beneath the cross, there’s a sprawling Benedictine monastery and a basilica carved out of the mountain. This place is called The Valley of the Fallen. And it’s likely the most controversial monument in Spain. The Valley is synonymous with Francisco Franco, the general who ruled Spain from the end of its bloody civil war in 1939 until his death in 1975. When Franco died, he became the Valley’s most notorious inhabitant, until he was removed in 2019. Currently there are tens of thousands of other bodies still trapped in the basilica beneath where Franco used to lie. Many were victims of Franco’s security forces, murdered during the height of the civil war, and for years, their families have been trying to get them out.
Valley of the Fallen
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent invisible
I'm roman Mars,
an hour northwest of Madrid and enormous stone. Crucifix rises, five hundred feet out of a rocky mountain top, it so big. You can see it from miles away.
The cross there's a sprawling Benedictine monastery and a basilica carved out of the mountain. This place is called the valley of the fallen and it's likely the most controversial monument in Spain. The valley is synonymous with Francisco Frank at a general who ruled Spain from the end of its bloody civil war in nineteen. Thirteen
until his death in nineteen. Seventy five, that's reporter Jennifer Romani. When Franco died, he became the valleys most notorious inhabitant. His body was buried under a huge stone.
Slab, but as a decades passed after his death anger.
But the monument grew people began to push for the removal of Franco's body. They argued there was no.
Place and democracy for a monument is holding a man who had tortured and killed.
Thousands of Spaniards in the name of fascism and then in October, of twenty nineteen. Now, despite its dictator, Francisco Franco died. Forty four
is it go today his remains removed from the valley of the fallen. We Franco's body was disinterred his coffin, packed into a helicopter and then flew into a graveyard on the outskirts of the city to be Ribeiro will lie next to his late wife and, as you can see from here, there was some protest,
Despite all these torturing and murdering Frank
Still has fans in Spain some see
as the emblem of a traditional spanish catholic life in some
actually like his fascist ideology and would like to see it make a comeback, and so, when his body was removed, hundreds of his supporters gathered at the new cemetery two wheeled swastikas and Franco ERA, flags and to perform
gosh asleep in his honor data levy on your lap of random
last night I mean you're, so yourself, article. Ninety eight of them wanted to protest, told me she live
nineteen years under Franco and that Spain was a marvellous country back then
frankly speaking first, that are simple idea is that Russia, Northrop Grumman she said to dictators spirit would always be in the valley and in her heart. Even if you love me
Franco, this story might sound familiar to you. You got your fascist, you got your anti fascists and there's this monument
honouring a very bad man from the past that people are arguing about. But this story is different because
the valley of the fallen isn't just a monument. It is also a mass grave. There are tens of thousands of other bodies still trapped in the basilica beneath where Frank
We used to lie. Many were ordinary civilians killed by frankly security forces during the height of the civil war, and for years there
Families have been trying to get them out the story of the valley of the
can be traced all the way back to the mid nineties thirties. When Spain found itself torn into different political
actions that the public
nobody tat the beautiful girl, joyful demonstrations throughout Spain, greeted the proclamation of the republic in nineteen. Thirty six, the country was a new democracy just a few years remove from monarchy. When a group of left wing anti clerical Republicans won the elections, this horrified
when Catholics in the country that included Francisco Franco a general in the spanish army. After the election. Frank
oh banded, together with other right wing military leaders to carry out a coup, they believed
they were on the divine crusade Sayd. What began as a military coup at almost three
as of civil war. The right wing
gradually sees control of Spain, their death squads rounded up suspected leftist,
paraded them through villages and shot them above size.
Political opponents became enemies to be handed down.
you're. One always welcomed in Malta is tickled early mass spoke when you see that guy stop this horrific up, yonder.
Yeah now her grandfather, Manuel and great Uncle Antonio, were among Franco's victims. When I met her, she showed me photos of them as handsome young men back in the nice thirties. Manuel words is a vintage vet, caring for the animals of loopholes,
almost everything that he is better. But then he knows you're hanging by raising his brother,
Antonia was an iron worker. Both men had supported the leftist who won the elections on both had joined the union, making them targets for the right wing nationalist those
and well was working in the field. One day in July, nineteen, thirty six, when a group of Franco's men rolled up in a truck bustle come is thirty. Three
You hear me, grab prolific iphones grandfather and the other workers and took them too,
by J always lose her Khartoum and communal talking to lose. You aren't going to Lena law. Rushing her grandfather was killed and left in a ditch. Her great uncle was murdered a few months later over the years.
Words. French me, the village, the ravine where Manuel was killed, was filling up with bodies, but it would take
a long time for the family to find out exactly what had happened
and they want the only ones left without answers. Something similar was playing out for families across the country. The Spanish,
The war like
unless the passions of centuries of hatred kidding was unrestrained.
By nineteen thirty nine. The civil war was over and Spain was in ruins. At least four
Thousand people had died have them
civilians who face torture, Sazen nation and the unexplained
differences of their family members and networks,
Ask Greece now scarred the spanish landscape, some contained thousands of bodies, its estimated that Spain.
Still has a hundred and fourteen thousand missing people dating back to that time.
interested in what happened to the bodies of his enemies, at least not at first. He was too
is, he consolidate and his power as the great superpower.
Hours of the world took up signs in war too. He decided not to fight focusing his energies on fully crushing
his opposition at home,
you're official declaration generalists among Francisco Michael states. That he's got
Well, not join the german italian japanese Alliance against Communism Bobby
then he will extra by communism. In Spain, a country now had a single political party and protest was effectively band was have a Franco became known as alcohol deal, the Supreme Leader and in a very savvy move. He continue to cultivate. The backing of the catholic church. Franco was not a particular religious man, but he adopted the idea very cleverly birches war effort was a religious crusade. This is pull Preston, he's one of the leading scholars of the spanish Civil WAR and the Franco regime guarantee them. The support of the catholic church internationally, which meant Franco, could operate with relative impunity. He went about taking away many of the rights that Spaniards game
during the nineteen thirties. Women, for example, lost the right to divorce their husbands and have abortions, and they could no longer work outside the home without permission, men, on the other hand, could kill. There was for adultery.
Meant band regional languages. Like Basque Catalan, the catholic church ruled over every aspect of most Spaniards lives. The ideas of Franco is being pumped out from church pulpits, thereby impromptu housing, hedge schools, the people who did principle would not have supported track clover, basically paused, either to accept these ideas of go into what
in the words to go into a world of silence, and now that Brinker would gain absolute power over the country. He wanted a monument to a mortal eyes, his great trial. It is to pay for him what the pyramids words of the fire
Frank who commissioned the valley of the fallen in nineteen forty, the building. He said
rival the grandeur of ancient monuments and then because he was Franco
about building the monument any most fascist,
a possible relying on the forced labour of his political prisoners, the three camps where control of by brigade of chivalry gods. We were counted every three hours to make sure that nobody has escape. This is Nicholas Anchor. I have enough backing the nineteen forty. He was a college student in Madrid and he got involved in Anti Franco, organizing after getting core handing out pro democracy. Pamphlets
Nicholas was sentenced to work at the valley of the fallen. We address leaping works, known well, a sound rate of growth. We are supposed to be working
because of Nicholas's university education. He was put to work in the office shuffling papers around for prisoners,
Charles and filling in endless forms, but ass. He walked to and from his barracks each day
some men, carving rock on pitiful rations of food and working with dynamite without protection, very rush, harsh words
obviously it was some people that Bert kill. The construction of the valley of the fallen took an enormous human tal. An estimated forty thousand prisoners worked on the project. Some died from exhaustion, others in hell, pulverize granite,
killed by lung diseases. Many years later, Franco conceived of conceived the valley, the fallen as graveside much less a mass grave, but it would become one thanks to Franco's twisted response to pressure
from one of Spain's main allies, the American
relied on Spain as one of their European
during the cold war, and when they had about Franco's plans for the value of the fallen, they started to get nervous the monument-
We're shaping up to be pretty confrontational and divisive. The Americans hoped Franco with dial it back a bit
I get a place. The memorial list, all the country's war, that not just the Catholic Crusaders and so frankly, declared the valley of the fallen to be a place of reconciliation, a place where the dead for both sides of the civil war would be laid to rest,
but then once again, Frank Open about making then happen in the most fastest way possible.
Pushing those is struggling with wonder belonged have here, is to them to do the country of Europe, for if he got the Lebanese says that Franco ordered his people to bring him bodies from mass graves and cemeteries all over Spain. They dug the bodies out without permission,
an jumbled them together in boxes in those hurry, was gonna, please hurry and make us on which a dangerous both is evil, then a drive them to the valley where they were re buried. In the credit, neither basilica finally completed a valley open to the public in nineteen fifty nine,
nearly two decades later, when Franco finally died of heart failure, he too
was buried at the valley, the fallen he was laid to rest.
In a grand basilica above the bodies of the Spaniards. He had tortured, killed and then
be buried in a mass grave or their families couldn't find them and with Frank, has gone. Spain suddenly confronted a new future without Elk idea. Well, look very strange, though we were very happy to get rid of him. We were spread that we had the phrase.
Full of or from the three years between Franco's death and the signing of a new constitution became known as the transition. The country move from fascist dictatorship to multi party democracy and starting in the late nineteenth seventies. Spain finally got to do what the? U S, Britain and France had done more than a decade before
They got to have fun. A new revolutionary movements sprang up in Madrid and became known as normal beta motherland. Yeah
I'm has consumed Madrid.
transforming the capital into Europe's new movable fees. Suddenly,
the Spaniards, drink, dance, sex outside of marriage and make music about it, the transition
and seemed to have ushered in a new Spain, but the elation felt after Franco's death was temporary. The chamber,
several years, that you realise that two new democracy as and solve all the problems that were brought back
For one thing, there were reminders of the dictatorship. Everywhere there were statues of frank
bonus collaborators and central plazas all over the country. His name was on street signs. In course, the valley of the fallen served as a colossal reminder how ginger have
the Baltic Sea and the centre of the huge volume to the glory of the dictatorship bill by my political presence, but perhaps the biggest hurdle to fully addressing wide
into the country and a Franco was an agreement that became known as the backdoor than all either the pact of forgetting women do not lose the other
but no reason at all. But, as one politician said, the pact would be an amnesty for everyone agreed to by everyone at the heart of the pact.
Forgetting was legal forgiveness for all Franco ERA, crimes,
the deal agreed to by parties on the right and the left. It was a massive compromise. The whole process of transition to democracy was a transaction. It was a deal. It was a negotiator, Paul Preston, again moderation, compromising sacrifice was the only chance of getting even a glimmer of democracy cannot become text. The left agree to the pact,
they wanted that political prisoners freed and that political parties legalised they wanted to be able to live in this new democracy without fear of being tortured and murdered, but its terminal
They had to grapple with the fact that the amnesty applied to people on the right to vote in favour.
You any Thea, rightly about focal, could get Ellen an impartial political outlook. Analyze was laughing activist back late Seventys when the pact of forgetting went into effect. We knew back, then his father had disappeared during the civil war when faster was just two years old and he says that instead of making sure people on the left wouldn't be passed,
suited for their political views. The amnesty law was primarily used to shield those on the right. What killed civilians?
the amendment of the bundle democracy
regular revision procedure
if you dont, like them in the fastest, says
You realize what had happened. He put his head in his hands. He felt he been tricked the pact created a culture of silence around the atrocities of Spain's past. It suppressed Converse
issues about the killing of civilians during the civil war and the long years of repression that followed. The pact basically said: let's just not talk about what happened. Let's move forward instead
and as for the valley of the fallen, it became something like a shrine to Franco Fascists would
did it from all over Europe to pay their respects and would mark his death with flowers every year.
Franco was remembered even as the pact ensured that has crimes were slowly forgone and raised for people who care. If he got the young, the pact just didn't work. It was impossible to move forward without knowing exactly what happened. Her relatives ass time went on her family and many others began to resist the taboo against speed.
They began to talk about what they ve been through fuel from nothing. You can do flowing back up. Remember what it was like a potentially Cathy and says that during the nineteen eighteen discussions that had long been kept, quiet started to come out
the open a keeper monies to escape, and then looking man looking aching will be. Labelling are less closely taken, even if people didn't want to listen.
At least it was no longer unthinkable for families of victims to make that grievances no agreement,
in his family's, began to talk more about what happened to them. They also started
eyes around an important goal. They wanted to find the bodies their missing family members that it in
up in the mass graves around the country and they weren't going to wait for the government to give them permission. It began hurrying forensic specialists and archaeologists to help and find and dig up the bodies themselves.
But it does not restrict, go much illegal, better understand their bamell. There was this, allow Olaf, routine
and was in our countries, began unhand copy works for an organization of article. It carries out private exhumations,
for families who want to find them murdered relatives. One approach:
They asked allows as media
this showed me around the headquarters. I noticed a wall of boxes and asked what they contained. He told me the inside were skeletons some broken into pieces by torture and the years spent underground
now waiting to be washed and identified e g.
I asked him how families typically react to see. These broken bodies emerged from the ground after waiting for answers for so long
you're. Just Highness banana was being
The scandalous informed me that it will be. I will check Antigonus having understand its everything he says, especially when they spent years trying to learn whether loved ones were buried. Having a real funeral makes a huge
Difference to people do not know what time span of one simple
long time. The work of people like Miguel happened below the radar and without support from the state, but then in two thousand seven, a new law went into effect. The gave a boost these
efforts to uncover the crimes of the past
The new law was called the historical memory law and it broke the pact of forgetting, for the first time,
terms of Franco ERA, crimes received official recognition. The law
all for the removal of Franco assembles from public places and lots of new money flow to the exclamation efforts happening at mass grave sites across the country. What is it
if you're lucky Kenya and her family sees that chance,
in fact it at one ran for a human rights lawyer who is helping to investigate crimes dating back to the Franco era. Atwater started looking into the case of perfect, outlines grandfather
and great uncle investing a field without us
they're gonna lose your guess who followed his home
The owner star and its forces
I understand why you he learned the prolific iphones relatives.
In a mass grave, near the town where they been killed. Instead,
they were among the bodies that had been moved to the valley of the fallen before it opened in nineteen. Fifty nine, they ve been jumbled,
in boxes with other remains and then transferred into the trips, but the basilica. When we buried their names had not been written down and get if you got here,
Family. Wasn't the only one hearing, this all told around thirty three thousand bodies,
have been re buried at the monument.
Most of those animals when the moon muscle minnows, maybe it unless we get the periphery Caspian, eventually banded, together with more than thirty families. They fight
a series of legal complaints that wound their way through regional, national and european courts over the course of many years. But if you don't want a motor for increased funding for you all have been demonstrating in them,
Only thousand and eleven government asked the panel of experts to consider the future of the valley of the fallen
but it does give the signal you Bobby. I know, but I still be able to learn about the last guy. You thus proposes recommended that bring those bodies be removed from the valley, the small victory for those who long said that
Valley was a monument to fascism, with Franco's
they moved to another cemetery. At least the fascist pilgrimages would stop, but the panel also
that identifying and removing the tens of thousands of other bodies was not practical. Pacifica Yon was once again denied the chance. She'd hoped for. The British,
yeah. Just it's been so many less sure she says he by the table. She lament the fact that her father is ninety five years old and has lost his men
he'll, never know what happened to his own father was buried buddy accustomed internally, and this is true for thousands of
hundreds of all those buried in the valley. Twenty one thousand,
could be identified. The other twelve thousand people remain nameless
the only thing known is where
their bodies came from, and Spain offering a small sliver of hope for a family still searching for their loved ones. The efforts to address Spain's fascist past remain patchwork, not just at the valley, the fallen, but across the country there are still Franco era
tattoos in ST signs and recently more insidious reminders of the dictatorship have been re emerging in the country. A new, far right party, known as Vocs one seats in parliament. Last year, s Laden affair, a spaniard Randy,
This makes Spain great again. Folks would never actually claim to be fascist, but their policies in line with what Franco represented. They want a border war with Morocco. They want to take away the power held by Spain, regions in favour of national unity. They would deport all undocumented migrants and that totally opposed to agenda.
Lynch LAW that would tackle Spain, shamefully high levels of domestic violence. The rapid rise has been driven by Instagram Means and Youtube videos. A recent election spot showed the parties leader Santiago of a skull.
Riding through a castilian landscape and talking about honour and national pride and about refuse
to live among traders,
If you do your video guineas for me, what afforded us unless I get him, but I can look, I can look boxwoods on events which drugs
of young people who have never voted before and many of them
don't even know who Franco is
in a lot of ways, the pact of forgetting actually worked. Recent history isn't taught in spanish schools, which means that young
people are more susceptible to boxes appeal. They don't understand the parties connection to Spain's bloody history. How still cannot s laughing activist says his own father is believed to be in the valley of the fallen, but ever
The attempt to get him out has been blocked after living with the pain of his father mother. His entire life far so has watched foxes rise with increasing alarm
but you should appraisal of the media
we'll be that'll dollars terror. My google
We all feel he says Spain is the country of amnesia so much tragedy. A genocide has been
gotten after Franco's body, was removed from the valley locks.
The government of using the exhumation to score political points ahead of an election drowning out. The calls from families to take their own love was out of the modern age.
meanwhile prove frankly protested gathered at the valley and sang Spain's old national anthem, which is peppered
fascist, lyrics. The anthem was retired after Frank and died in favour of a worthless melody. You just not a long time, but now there singing the lyrics again,
but the name is now divided on what the future of the valley should be
The government has been spending a lot of money to two crippling
shape. The monument stoppage
Now, once all the bodies out, you can
would leave nature to take its course, just let the monument fall down. Bro rivers that emerged works very books slowly, but if it s the on says, the most important thing is to get the rest of the bodies
but the valley not just Franco's you're, giving up the tourist. Let me they're getting gun ass if she knows that if she says what I want is for every family lighted victims in the valley of the format for the throne and ditches, I want them to dig out all of these people married fool over Spain, because Spain
is a mass grave. My idea would be to examine them all and for them to be given back to their families and dignified burials in cemeteries, where they should. The story of what really happened should be known until
in schools so that everyone knows the real history of what happened in Tunis.
Sixteen a judge or an exclamation of put off the cartoons family members. It was the first and only time that had happened in Spain,
but it still hasn't been carried out. But if you are Fiona, Fausto Foster were told that with Franco's body gone, this might be the year
and while they're not getting their hopes up. It's true that in Spain the dead have a way of surprising living.
Coming up after the break Nicholas sense as Albert Ass, the student who was sentenced to work at the valley, the fallen well, he eventually escaped and
story of how bad happened is pretty wild stay with us.
So, as a reminder, Nicholas Sanchez, Auburn Ass was the student who was imprisoned at the valley, the fallen for a few months during its construction, you didn't do hardly
he worked in an office job there, but it was an awful place and a lot of prisoners try to escape its estimated. There are fifty
tempted escapes between nineteen, forty and nineteen, fifty nine, but the only true escapes dutch.
Savage were those of my friend, MR the rest were caught, and how many
Did it is pretty crazy stories? We wondering back Jennifer Money to tell us a bit more and so Jennifer tell us what happened with this escape. So to begin with, there were a few things that made escaping from the value of the falling
difficult, the valley wasn't actually really
heavily guarded, but it was set very deep in a forest
I've anybody managed to walk out. They get picked up as soon as they got to the nearest road and in Spain. At that time, the roads were really heavily policed and Spaniards needed special
Shouldn t just to travel around the country. So if an escaped prisoner
made out to the road. There is little chance they
be able to make it any further because of all the guards. It would be very difficult, so Nicholas understood that contacts on he reached out to a good friend of his an awkward
who drafted him. Some faint travel permits, and the next thing Nicholas did was write a letter to some of his friends who were exiled in Paris, and he asked them if they could help him get out of the valley and though
friends just happened to be connected to Norman Mailer system
the author, like
ass. He was he already famous at this point here. This was just before
his Davy novel came out, see wasn't quite famous yet, but he was just on the cusp of it
and he was one of a number of rights- is in office from the. U S, who got very interested in the anti fascist.
Women in Europe in Europe. What goes back to our infancy and our childhood?
where we were always told how to live. We'll. Do that? Don't do that now? No! Yes, you may do that
you may not do that. That's a very Norman mailer take on fascists and its strategic
connected to Nicholas's friend well, according to need glass
early mailer was on holiday in France and he'd had a chance encounter with his friends
Miller mention, he be going back to the: U S quite soon, that he bore a car and he was trying to get rid of it before he left her from Sub Saharan Africa,
I also willing
You may cease to dry,
That would be mailers sister, Barbara, who had also been in France, and she was also interested in the anti fascist movement and she began corresponding with Nicholas via his friends. They route less is back.
Fourth, and eventually they agreed on a day in time when she come to the valley in Norman Mailers car. Driven by
one of Nicholas his friends to take him away, and also
the current surprisingly easy. Yes, it is the fact that Barbara was an American and the fact they were in a car in
strange way event: they aroused much less suspicion that citizens can work
the benefits of being an american situation. Yeah will at this time almost any foreigner really had a certain amount of privilege in that respect. So on this point
date Nicholas and a friend of his from university, who is also jailed for pro democracy activities, snuck out of his barracks and found Barbara waiting for them with their mutual friends.
They were just part where in front of the monument dislike signals
being a couple times and making run and yet,
according to how he tells me collated and their fellow prisoner hopped into the car, and then Barbara drove them to know these in Spain and dropped them at the border. With France,
Then there was a hard part Nicholas had to hike with his friend for the Pyrenees mountains for three days,
looking only at night and hiding out or sleeping during the day to avoid police, they were trying to be as in conspicuous as possible
finally, on the third day they saw a road sign written in French.
It was written in fresh and pre found in an old, fresh memories with, along with stress but weak, began to talk with him, and he said about drawing Savior in France, as it was a typical for people.
In Franco's painted to go into France seeking safety. I mean like where there are lots of people like into the Pyrenees. Just as Nicholas did Well Nicholas was following a red.
Established by hundreds of thousands of political refugees actually when the republican forces lost their last battle to Franco's nationalist Army in nineteen. Thirty
I'm so at that time, men, women and children made their way into France through the mountains, but by the time Nicholas made that journey it was a lot less common. I mean Spain wasn't a totally closed country like North Korea, but he was a fugitive
it was a bit different for him, and so would it make laws do once he got into France. Well, as any of us would, I guess he got in touch with his family and his father, a diplomat who is
in exile for his own safety, told him to come to Argentina. So neat
flew out and reunited with his family there, and he wouldn't return to Spain until Franco's death
this is a cool story thanks so much for her Fisher thanks a lot
cloning. Overseen invisible was produced this week by Jennifer on money and edited by senior producer. Delaney Hall makes by Bryson Barnes.
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Transcript generated on 2020-07-29.