This Website forms part of a project of the Gerónimo Ustariz Institute and the association “Memorian Bideak”(paths of memory) called “Esclavos en la frontera Pirenaica”(Slaves on the Pyreneean frontier)
The main objective of this project is to assist the spreading of the truth about forced labour during the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship, a repressive method which was of fundamental economic importance, yet still remains unknown to a large part of society. At the same time our wish is that the investigation into these events is carried out together with a recognition and homage to those who suffered this punishment for opposing fascism, and for defending the 2nd Republic and more just and libertarian social models.
Within the panorama of forced labour, the project is centred around work carried out in the western Pyrenees by around 1,500 prisoners from provinces all over the Spanish state. These prisoners were part of the battalions of forced labour, Worker’s Battalions and Disciplinary Battalions of Troop Workers. All over this area, the prisoners worked on fortifications and the building of roads, the latter being used to this day.
Although this project is centred around the western Pyrenees, we believe that the only way these tasks can advance is through joint effort, therefore we welcome all of those people and collectives who work in the field of forced labour under Franquism to continue to coordinate and promote joint initiatives with which the extent of this method of enslavement can be understood, while at the same time we create social awareness of the memory of those “Slaves of Franco” and their families. Thus meaning that this website and the project as a whole is open to suggestions and new initiatives which will allow us to advance together.
It is evident that this repressive reality, that of forced labour, cannot be separated from other kinds of repression and for this reason, the task of the recuperation of this aspect of “historic memory”has much in common with others such as exile, disappearances, penal institutions etc. With the fact that many interesting and widespread initiatives already exist working in other areas, we’ve decided to centre our project around this repressive method, but this isn’t to say we will not be bringing together and promoting other initiatives within the extensive social movement based on remembering the war and the repression of the Franco regime.
As can be seen on this site, the project consists of different material which we would like to make available collectively, for those of us who’ve received collaboration and support from other institutions and collectives. So presented here is an itinerant exhibition: a book, a catalogue-booklet, a study guide and a DVD documentary as well as this website.