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Miquel Gonzalez, a photographer with Spanish roots living in Holland, became frustrated at the lack of memorials at the sites of atrocities committed against the Spanish people during the Spanish Civil War and under the repressive regime of Francisco Franco. According to Gonzalez, as many as 114,000 bodies of those killed during that period in Spain’s history are still in unmarked mass graves on the edges of towns and villages. Many of the sites have been lost or forgotten, and some have been covered up by new construction, erasing any sign of the past. Spurred by his frustration, Gonzalez spent three years traveling Spain, searching for what he calls its “lost memory.”
Traversing Spain, Gonzalez visited mass gravesites as well as related atrocity sites. Of the project, Gonzalez said:
“I intended to approach the atrocity sites as neutrally as possible and to respond to what I would find and feel. I captured the places as close to the same hour, day and season of the year of the killings as possible. Most photographs were taken after sunset and before sunrise, the preferred hour for “walking” and executing people. The emptiness and silence that caught me when visiting the sites gives a certain serenity to the landscapes, in strong contrast to the horrors which occurred there. Whilst the sites were impregnated with human traces, it was the human absence that struck me the most. It made me think about the victims and somehow reestablished their presence into the empty landscape.”
The resulting work is a haunting collection of visual memories that now makes up a book, “Memoria Perdida: Spains’ Lost Memory 1936-1975,” which can be bought here.
In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.
Kenneth Dickerman is a photo editor. He previously worked as a photo editor at MSN in Seattle and TIME in New York City. Before that, he worked as a freelance photographer specializing in politics and conflict and his work appeared in The New York Times, TIME and US News & World Report among other publications.
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