After the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) ended, the victors refined their ways of humiliation and punishment against Republicans and antifascist prisoners. One of the more savage and least documented strategies was the use of prisoners as slave labor. Throughout the early years of the war, under the guise of the need to rebuild the country, the Spanish State managed to use up to 400,000 political prisoners from a long list of public and private companies, as well as religious orders.
Many of these companies still exist today and despite their success, carry a debt from their past which they have failed to mend. Some of them are publicly listed multinational companies and most accumulated their fortune in the postwar years using prisoners as free labor. The prisoners were thus managed by the National Board of Penalty Redemption (Patronato Nacional de Redención de Penas por el Trabajo), a department which according to the Minister of Justice at the time, Esteban Eguía, was implemented to “liberate [the prisoners] of their moral misery, cleansing them of the satanic propaganda that had brutalized their ways.”
Geschichtsaufarbeitung is a proposal that consists of delivering a letter with acknowledgement of receipt to the CEO or president of each of these existing companies, requesting explanations about their operations during the end of the Civil War and inviting them to participate in a similar action that took place in Germany with large companies that profited from slave labor during the Nazi regime. The companies were not tried, but almost sixty years after the end of World War, they reached a legal settlement with the surviving victims and had to participate in their compensation. In the Spanish case, companies like Renfe, MZA, Duro Felguera, Huarte, San Román, Ybarra, and others are the ones in question. Each letter is displayed together with the receipt. The responses of these directors, if any, will be received in a PO address in Barcelona and set alongside a copy of the first letter.
Acknowledgements: Ana Cadena Payton & Carlota Surós