Spanish Civil War memories brought back to life

Professor Marimar Huguet-Jerez uncovered her family’s past. (Tom O’Dell / Photo Editor)

By Jennifer Engelhart
Correspondent

Political science professor Miriam Lowi introduced the last politics forum of the semester, “Politics of Memory — Civil War and Democracy in Spain,” on Thursday, April 14, in the Business Building lounge. Spanish professors Agustín Otero and Marimar Huguet-Jerez spoke about the politics of the civil unrest that took place in Spain during the 1930s and reflected on personal connections to the war and that time period.

Otero led the forum with a slide show which painted a picture of life during the Spanish Civil War. Otero gave an in-depth discussion on the politics of Francisco Franco, Spanish head of state from April 1, 1939 to November 20, 1975. According to Otero, Franco was an infamous figure in Spain and had powerful affiliations with other dictators, such as Adolf Hitler.

Otero went into further explanation of the statistics on casualties suffered during the war. The images accompanying Otero’s speech included excerpts from Ernest Hemingway’s work and the movie “Las Trece Rosas,” or “The 13 Roses” which paid homage to 13 women, seven of who were under the age of 21, who were assassinated in 1939 for being members of the Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas (JCU) or the Unified Socialist Youth of 1936.

After Otero, Spanish professor Marimar Huguet-Jerez lectured about “confronting the ghosts of the tragic civil war.”

Huguet-Jerez told the story of how her grandfather, Arturo Martin, remained a complete mystery until 2010 when she embarked on a trip in Spain during a sabbatical to uncover his past. She spoke of the civil unrest that erupted in Spain in the 1930s and how her grandfather somehow got lost in all of it. Huguet-Jerez explained how her mother never had the opportunity to meet her father, nor even see a glimpse of his face in photos.

Through intense research and investigating, Huguet-Jerez was able to dispel the former rumors circulating about him, including where he lived, what his occupation was and what happened to him during the war. She was able to discover that his full name was Arturo Martin-Lopez. Huguet-Jerez explained that in the Spanish culture, double last names are common. She found that he worked in a hardware store and that he was killed by the Republican “Red Herds,” in that same hardware store. Huguet-Jerez also discovered that her mother was a year older than she thought, and that her grandfather had two sons before her mother back in Spain.