When the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, Gerald Brenan was living with his wife Gamel Woolsey in Churriana, a village west of
On his return to
When Gerald and Gamel walked up to the Albayzin and from there to the gipsy quarter, the Sacromonte, looking down over the city Gerald sensed the reason for
Gerald had actually met Lorca in
In 1936, Accion Catolica, the clericals syndicate, hunted down all liberals and freemasons of the city and anybody connected to the left was persecuted. The Falange also inflicted against those on the left a hidden oppression. They were organized in secret cells, and drew up lists of the people to be killed. Those on the list were taken at night by the Black Squads and never seen again.
Lorca had arrived at
Gerald and Gamel visited the cemetery. They walked up by the Avenida del Generalife. Foreign guests staying at the Washington Irving hotel remember this road. Every night they heard lorries packed with prisoners change gears on the slope, after a while they heard shots and then silence. Obtaining information was not an easy task, the Civil War had left a great deal of fear and suspicion behind it. At the cemetery, after making many enquiries and seeing a small enclosure with thousands of skeletons, they found out that Lorca’s body was not there. But two local gravediggers put them on the right trail; Lorca was buried in the ravine or barranco of Viznar. Gerald knew many people in the city and he went to see them to confirm the gravedigger's information. Lorca and Viznar were two forbidden names-something to keep quiet about-but it was a secret known to everyone. He was told that the deputy Ramon Ruiz Alonso ordered Lorca’s death.
Gerald and Gamel took a taxi up to Viznar, a small pueblo lying on a hillside a few miles from
For twelve years, Lorca's name and books were kept under a strict censorship. But this changed because of international pressure. The poet had become a symbol and his death was a bad advertisement for Franco's regime in its task of trying to open up internationally. The two leading Nationalist syndicates, the Falange and the Clericals, blamed each other for the crime.
Published by Carlos Pranger in The Olive Press, Issue 16, January 24th 2007.