The baby rattle and the Franquista firing squad

Baby rattle found next to remains of mother executed by firing squad in 1936. Photo: Sociedad de Ciencias Aranzadi / El País
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► 83-year-old man recovers baby rattle buried with mother executed in 1936
► Catalina Muñoz Arranz tried on trumped-up charges, executed by firing squad

An 83-year-old man from a village in Palencia has recovered his long-lost baby rattle, returned to him when the remains of his mother, executed for alleged leftist activities by a military firing squad in 1936, were given to her family last week.

Martin de la Torre was just an infant in the arms of his 37-year-old mother, Catalina Muñoz Arranz, when she was stopped and detained in August 1936 in the small town of Cevico de la Torre, behind the lines of conflict in the province of Palencia, one month after the military uprising led by Gen. Francisco Franco against Spain’s democratically elected Republican government.

Martin de la Torre. Photo: El País

Martin’s father, Tomás de la Torre, had been previously jailed on charges related to an attack on local members of Spain’s ultra-right Falangist party, for which he would spend the next 17 years in jail.

According to the local Historical Memory Association in Palencia, Catalina Muñoz Arranz was arrested “as an act of revenge” against her husband, Tomás. She was tried by a military court for her alleged leftist sympathies and on other trumped-up charges, then executed by firing squad and buried along with others in an unmarked grave in a Palencia cemetery.

At the time of her arrest, Martin’s mother had kept his baby rattle in the pocket of her dress — and there it remained for 83 years, buried along with her in the unmarked gravesite, until her remains were discovered and identified.

Last week, Catalina’s remains were returned to Martin de la Torre and his 94-year-old sister, Lucía Muñoz, who was 11 years old at the time of her mother’s arrest and murder.

Seated in his home in Cevico de la Torre, where he has lived continuously for his entire life, 83-year-old Martin told reporters with what seems, given the circumstances, a remarkable lack of bitterness: “If my mother were here, I would say that I love her and that she gives me great joy”.

► Read More in Spanish at El País, 20minutos and Público …

► Click to read more news about Spain’s Historial Memory movement…

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