Francoist concentration camps
In Francoist Spain between 1936 and 1947, concentration camps were created and coordinated by the Servicio de Colonias Penitenciarias Militarizadas. The first concentration camp was created by Francisco Franco on July 20 1936 and was located in the castle of El Hecho in Ceuta. The last concentration camp, located at Miranda del Ebro, was closed in 1947.
Inmates of these concentration camps were republican ex-combatants of the Spanish Republican Army, Spanish Republican Air Force or the Spanish Republican Navy, as well as political dissidents, homosexuals, and regular convicts. From 1940, the supervisor of these camps was the general Camilo Alonso Vega. The main function of the camps was to detain Republican prisoners of war. Those who were regarded as "unrecoverable" were shot.
The prisoners were used as forced labourers for reconstruction works (Belchite), to mine coal, extract mercury, build highways and dams, and dig canals. Furthermore, thousands were used in the construction of the Carabanchel Prison (Madrid), in the Arco de la Victoria (Madrid) and in the Valley of the Fallen (Cuelgamuros). Later their work was subcontracted to private companies and lawnowners, who used them to improve their properties.
According to Javier Rodrigo (2006), about half a million prisoners passed through concentration camps between 1936 and 1942. The first concentration camp was created by Francisco Franco soon after the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, on the 20th of July 1936, and was located in the castle of Monte Hacho in Ceuta.
Some historians have suggested that Nazi Gestapo officials organised the network of Francoist concentration camps, and that in large part they looked to Nazi Germany as inspiration for their own concentration camp system. Of these officials, Paul Winzer, the head of the Gestapo in Spain and once the head of the concentration camp at Miranda de Ebro, has been noted in particular. There are other historians who go further to argue that Winzer was the mastermind of the whole system of Francoist concentration camps.
In 1938, Francoist concentration camps held more than 170,000 prisoners. After the end of the war, in 1939, the imprisoned population fluctuated between 367,000 and 500,000 people. From 1940, the overseer of all camps was the general Camilo Alonso Vega. The principal function of the camps was the continued detention of as many republican prisoners of war as possible; those that were classified as "irrecoverable" were automatically executed. Many of those in charge of the prisoners or the administration of the camps had been victimised in republican-controlled areas, and for that reason were eager to inflict revenge on the losing side. High-level officials were not generally opposed to this climate of revenge and repression: the Director General of Prisons, Máximo Cuervo Radigales, and the head of the Military Legal Corps, Lorenzo Martínez Fuset, were key contributors.
In 1946, ten years after the start of the Spanish Civil War, 137 work camps were still operative and three concentration camps, in which more than 30,000 political prisoners were housed. The last concentration camp to close was in Miranda de Ebro, which was shut in January 1947.
List of concentration camps
More than 190 concentration camps, holding 170,000 prisoners in 1938 and between 367,000 and about half or less million prisoners when the war ended in 1939. All the camps were created during Spanish Civil War and a few were created in the following years. This is a partial list:
- Los Merinales concentration camp, Dos Hermanas, Sevilla
- La Corchuela concentration camp, Dos Hermanas, Sevilla
- El Palmar de Troya concentration camp, Utrera, Sevilla
- Hostal de San Marcos de León concentration camp, which held 7,000 men and 300 women from 1936 until 1939
- Miranda de Ebro concentration camp
- Castuera concentration camp
- Península de Llevant concentration camp, Mallorca
- Formentera concentration camp
- La Isleta concentration camp, Gran Canaria
- Lazareto de Gando concentration camp, Gran Canaria
- Cartuja de Porta Coeli concentration camp, Valencia
- Los Almendros concentration camp, Alicante
- Albatera concentration camp, Alicante
- Pasaje Camposancos – A Guarda concentration camp
- Ronda concentration camp, Málaga
- Betanzos concentration camp
- Horta concentration camp, Barcelona
- Poblenou concentration camp, Barcelona
- Monasterio de Corbán concentration camp, Santander
- Soria concentration camp
- Burgo de Osma concentration camp, Soria
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- Campos de Concentración y Unidades Disciplinarias de Trabajadores de la España de Franco (in Catalan)
- El dolor como terapia. Artículo en línea de M. Núñez Díaz-Balart, con bibliografía (in Spanish)
- Esclavos del Franquismo (in Spanish)
- Registro de Afectados por la Guerra Civil y el Franquismo en Aragón (in Spanish)
- Testimonios orales del Campo de Albatera y la Cárcel de Orihuela (in Spanish)
- Campos de concentración, la historia olvidada de España (in Spanish)