Remembering Federico García Lorca
Of the many victims of the Spanish Civil War who were killed indiscriminately during the hot terror of its early months, poet and playwright Federico García Lorca is perhaps the most famous. This report includes a 1975 image of the site where Lorca is thought to have been buried. The search for Lorca’s body has thus become entangled with the larger – and more anonymous – searches for those left buried in thousands of common and mass graves across Spain. Lorca has come to represent those who are being recovered and returned to the pantheon of what Judith Butler would term the “grievable”. It is in this sense that the memorial to Lorca at the site where he was thought to be buried can declare, “Lorca was everyone”. The area contains a number of mass graves from the time of the War. In 1986, fifty years after Lorca’s death, a memorial park was established.
Assassinated on the night of 17 to 18 August 1936 on rebel orders, Lorca’s fate is the same as that of tens of thousands of disappeared of the Spanish Civil War who have yet to be recovered from mass graves. Victims of extrajudicial killings and denied due process, they were numerous, though precise figures are notoriously difficult to arrive at. Yet more difficult has proved to be the recovery of remains, certainly in the case of Lorca. He was thought to be buried with two other men, an anarchist bullfighter and a teacher whose families petitioned for their recovery. Following drawn-out objections from Lorca’s family, who opposed the exhumation of his remains, various excavations have been attempted at suspected burial sites since 2009 - all without success. Suggestions have been made that Lorca, possibly along with his fellow victims, was secretly exhumed shortly after his death and reburied elsewhere. To date, numerous searches have failed to locate his remains and he continues to be the most iconic of the disappeared of Spain’s Civil War.