Free The Historical Memory Law (La Ley De Memoria Historica) And Argumentative Essay Sample

Type of paper: Argumentative Essay

Topic: Spain, Law, History, Criminal Justice, War, Crime, Government, Discrimination

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/09/15

Breaking the Pact of Forgetting (El Pacto del Olvido)

Spain has a history of turbulence and revolt, none more so than the Spanish Civil War of 1936. The result was a nation divided into the “Loyalists” and the “Nationalists” ( 2011). Initiated by the seizure of Morocco by General Francisco Franco in a fascist coup, the cabinet in place resigned and a right-wing republican was named Prime Minister. However, in certain areas of the country the working class refused to acknowledge the leadership of Franco and the new prime minister, Borrios. The resisting factions in Catalonia, Madrid, and Barcelona seized weapons from the government and sent envoys to other parts of Spain for fight against the fascist forces.
The Militia. In the areas of anti-fascist resistance, the disbanded military formed militias of a revolutionary army. Ultimately, over 150,000 volunteers joined together in an effort to defeat General Franco’s forces. The movement enlisted between five and seven million peasants, pooling their resources and dividing the land into units with members assigned to work them. Production increased and the food and machinery was distributed evenly among the members. Educational efforts were started for the peasants for the first time, and plans were made for a national federation.
Although the peasants and anarchists were adamant about their goals and enthusiastic in their actions, the government did not supply them with adequate weapons. The result was dissolution of the peasant militias by the Communists.
The war lasted only three years. The victims during that period included women not married in church, teachers, shop owners, those on the losing side of the war, and shop owners. Many were buried in mass graves without identification or notification to families. Assisted by Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, Franco’s victory did not affect the socialization of large numbers of industry and agriculture. The result was management performed collectively by peasants and laborers. Franco’s dictatorship lasted until 1975.


The Spanish Civil War of 1936 created victims on both sides of the conflict. The main provisions of the Historical Memory Law are to recognize the victims of violence, condemn Franco’s regime, prohibit political events at Franco’s gravesite, to remove symbols of the regime from public view except when considered art, help the state to identify missing victims, grant Spanish citizenship to members of the militia without requiring them to give up their other nationalities, reject laws and trials during the Franco regime, allow the return to immigrants and their descendents who fled Spain during the turbulent times, and to provide assistance to the victims and their descendents (Stuart 2006). The Global Post stated in 2010 that since the Historical Memory Law went into effect in 2008, more than 160,000 applications for nationalization with more than 95% coming from Latin America (Mateo-Yanguas 2010)
Reason for Creation. The Historical Memory Law formally renounced the Franco’s dictatorship and regime. It gave rights not only to the victims of the war, but to their descendents.
Historical Significance. The Historical Memory Law was passed on October 31, 2007. By addressing the atrocities committed during the tumultuous period when thousands were murdered, it brings the past and the present together in an effort to resolve the injustices done and move forward with a cleansed Spanish history.


The leftist and rightist parties supported the Pack of Forgetting as a political decision to avoid the necessity of dealing with the effects of the Franco fascist regime. In an effort to concentrate on the future of Spain rather than dwelling on the past, the pact renounced prosecution for parties responsible for the suffering in the Civil War and the years following. Franco’s “Day of Victory” was changed to “Armed Forces Day” to show respect for both the Republican and Nationalist parties.
Reason for Creation. The pact suppressed difficult questions concerning the past to avoid endangering national reconciliation. In addition, no particular party or group was to be given responsibility for the Civil War and the regime that followed to avoid designations of “vanquished” and “victors” (Tapia 2005). While some historians believe the pact served a purpose during the period of transition between the Franco regime and the establishment of a democracy (Labanyi 2015), there is little agreement whether to continue to adhere to it.
Historical Significance. The Spanish 1977 Amnesty Law gave the Pact of Forgetting legal basis.


There are two opponents to the Historical Memory Law; one side believes it is not effective and the other supports the Pact of Forgetting. For example, in terms of exacting retroactive justice there is some doubt as to the effectiveness of the law. Political trials conducted during the period of the dictatorship are not recognized as legitimate by the new legislature, but the Historical Memory Law does not overturn the verdicts reached by judges during that time. In another instance, Judge Baltasar Garzón opened an investigation in 2008 looking into Franco and his supporters. Although he dropped the action when his jurisdiction was questioned, he demanded regional courts accept the responsibility.
The conservative Popular Party and the Republican Left argue against the Historical Memory Law because it works against democracy in Spain although it did support the seven amendments to the original law. These called for monetary compensation to the victims of the Franco regime and the Civil War among other actions. The Socialist Party is accused of weakening the political consensus by using the Civil War for political propaganda (Hamilos 2007). As of today, the Popular Party government has neither amended the law nor repealed it. It has stopped efforts to exhume the bodies of victims buried in mass graves.
In 2004, the socialist government was elected and challenged the Pact of Forgetting. In 2010, Baltazar Garzon supported the Historical Memory Law and refuted the Pact of Forgetting by saying the Amnesty Law on which the Pact was based did not apply to the people committing the crimes during the Civil War.


In 2006, more than two-thirds of the people of Spain support additional investigation into the Spanish Civil War (Stuart 2006). The Pact of Forgetting does not address the majority of the population determined to resolve the injustice during the time of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco regime that followed. It does not allow for the prosecution of the people responsible for the war crimes of that period. But there is no forgetting for the victims of the atrocities and those they left behind. The actions required under the Historical Memory Law provide remuneration to the victims and their ancestors and an opportunity for those who fled the terror of that time to return to their home country. This does not stir up old feelings of revenge or split the factions of the nation. Many countries in the world have political parties of republican and democratic; the implementation of the Historical Memory Law will not create division in Spain. It will start an age of bringing home the country’s children, righting the wrongs against the victims as much as possible, and allow Spaniards to close the chapter on a violent and bloody part of their history.

Works Cited

Burnett, Victoria. '"Spanish Judge Drops Probe Into Franco Atrocities'. The New York Times
2008: n. p. Print.
Davis, Madeleine. 'Is Spain Recovering Its Memory? Breaking The Pacto Del Olvido'. Human
Rights Quarterly 27.3 (2005): 858-880. Web.
Hamilos, Paul. 'Spanish Mps To Vote On Law Recognising Franco's Victims'. The Guardian
(2007): n. pag. Print.
Labanyi, Jo. 'Memory And Modernity In Democratic Spain: The Difficulty Of Coming To Terms
With The Spanish Civil War'. Poetics Today 28 (2015): n. p. Print. '1936-1939: The Spanish Civil War And Revolution'. 2011. Web. 6 Jan. 2015.
Mateo-Yanguas, Cristina. 'Spain's Lost Children Are Coming Home — In Droves'. GlobalPost.
13 Feb 2010. Web. 9 Jan. 2015.
Stuart, Paul. 'Spain: “Law Of Historical Memory” Continues Cover-Up Of Franco’S Crimes –
World Socialist Web Site'. 11 Sept, 2006. Web. 6 Jan. 2015.
Tapia, Alberto Reig. 'Memoria De La Guerra Civil'. The Splintering Of Spain. 1st ed.
Cambridge: University Press, 2005. 9. Print.

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