Seventy-three years after one of Spain’s greatest 20th-century poets and dramatists was shot the mystery of his last resting place has deepened.
For a month and a half investigators probed the zone on the outskirts of the city of Granada where the body of Federico García Lorca was believed to have been buried in the bloody days of August, 1936, when Spain was torn apart by a civil war.
They used the latest scientific methods. They sifted and analysed the soil in an area of several hundred square metres at the Lorca Memorial Park near the village of Alfacar.
Spain held its breath. Would the mystery of his burial place finally be resolved?
They found nothing. Not a trace of human remains, not of Lorca nor of the others who were executed with him. No bones, no clothing, no bullet fragments.
A key factor in the belief that Lorca was buried at the site of the park was the evidence of Manuel Castillo, known as Manolo El Comunista. He claimed to have helped bury the victims of Granada’s rightwing rebels and indicated the spot to at least two historians.
One was Ian Gibson, who made an in-depth investigation into Lorca’s death and wrote a well-documented book on the subject. It was a difficult task during the Franco regime when many witnesses were too afraid to speak.
Gibson, who has become the foremost authority on Lorca and his work, had no reason to doubt the claims of Manolo, who received no financial benefit. The Irish-born biographer believes that the poet’s remains are nearby in the Alfacar area and that the search should continue.
The Lorca family at first opposed disturbing the possible burial site, preferring to leave Federico to rest in peace. But the families of other victims insisted they wanted to trace and give decent burial to their relatives.
Tracing Lorca’s bones now appears an impossible task. His bones may be mixed with those of hundreds of others killed in Granada during the brutal first months of the war and tossed into unmarked mass graves.
According to some reports, the Franco regime reacted to an international outcry over Lorca’s death by launching a cover-up, removing bodies from mass graves.
Some bodies were apparently taken to the Valley of the Fallen, the colossal monument built outside Madrid to commemorate all the Civil War dead and where Franco himself reposes.
If Federico’s corpse is among those remains, it would indeed be the final irony. One of Spain’s best and brightest, an intellectual shooting star killed by the fascists, accompanying in death his greatest enemy, the rightwing dictator Generalísimo Franco.


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