Political Insignia from a Francoist Position in Madrid
Repository: Museo Arqueológico Regional de la Comunidad de Madrid, Alcalá de Henares, Spain
Fond or Collection
Alfredo González-Ruibal, “Spain: Modern Warfare”, Field school of the Institute for Field Research (IFR), Los Angeles, USA, t, 2017
Date Created: 1936 to 1939
Extent: 1 item
Geographic Region: Ciudad Universitaria, Madrid, Spain
These three insignia appeared among the remains of the Asylum of Santa Cristina, which was located next to the University Hospital in Madrid before it was destroyed. After November 1936, it was occupied by Francoist soldiers who established an advanced position in its premises. One of the asylum’s naves was the object of archaeological excavations in 2017 and 2018 and three air-raid shelters and a tunnel employed for countermining operations were found. The asylum’s laundry was excavated next to the nave and delivered a plethora of finds including several elements of attire, clasps, buckles, buttons and two of the insignia shown in the picture among them. A third was found in a drainage pit next to the laundry. It is possible that the soldiers used this structure for washing. They would have lost the objects in the process.
The insignia are interesting for what they tell of the ideology of the soldiers who were stationed in this position. The two insignias dug up in the laundry are the yoke and arrows emblem of the Spanish Falange. There was also a pin of the same organization with Falange’s black and red flag, the Francoist flag and the slogan “Long live Spain!”. The third insignia is a swastika. Unlike the other two, it is not an official symbol, but an example of what we could call “trench art”, artisanal products made by soldiers at the front recycling scrap. In this case, the soldier cut up a piece of tin sheet, perhaps from an ammunition box, to make the swastika.
The Falangist insignias tally well with the context in which they appeared. The University Hospital sector, the most exposed and dangerous of the Madrid front, was usually occupied by elite soldiers (legionnaires and Moroccan troops), most of them highly motivated and politically committed. The hospital, like the Alcázar, the fortress in Toledo where a group of rebels resisted a three month-siege by the Republicans, was part of the Francoist epic, both during the war and afterwards. The swastika, however, is unusual in a Civil War context. Although Falangists admired Nazi Germany, the truth is that the images of swastikas became common in Spain only after the war and during the Second World War. Nevertheless, during the war it was already familiar to the rebels, as it represented one of the main allies of the Francoist cause and it appeared on German weapons, munitions and war machines at the service of the Francoist Army. It is thus not strange that a Falangist soldier had made a makeshift swastika, in the same way that Soviet symbols proliferated on the Republican side.