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  You are in: Home > History > Skeletons in the Closet, Skeletons in the Ground  

Skeletons in the Closet, Skeletons in the Ground
Repression, Victimization and Humiliation in a Small Andalusian Town
The Human Consequences of the Spanish Civil War

Richard Barker

Richard Barker is Spanish Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point. Skeletons in the Closet is an adaptation in English of his book El largo trauma de un pueblo andaluz (Castilleja del Campo, Sevilla: Ayuntamiento, 2007). He has also published Fugitive from Spanish Fascism: A Memoir by Miguel Domínguez Soler (Stevens Point, WI: Cornerstone Press, 2010), a translation.


This book examines the human consequences (individual, social, cultural, and economic) of civil war and political repression in Castilleja del Campo, a town in southern Spain with barely more than 600 inhabitants today. The narrow geographical focus allows for a coherent chronological narrative with relevance to current public issues such as the unequal distribution of wealth, political polarization, the violation of human rights, government surveillance of civilian populations, and extra-legal detentions, torture and executions.

The declarations of eyewitnesses are complemented by personal documents, contemporary newspaper accounts, and documents from the town’s municipal archive and other archives in the province of Seville. The work presents the events from the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic in April 1931 onward from multiple points of view and analyzes the interactions among a gallery of characters: Republican and pro Franco mayors and councilmen; union leaders and affiliates; members of the fascist inspired Spanish Falange; the schoolteacher; the priest; widows and orphans of the men who were shot; administrators and managers of the estates of the nobles; shaved women paraded through the streets; combatants; day laborers; civil guards; black marketeers; prisoners. Placing these characters and events in their provincial, regional, and national context, the town becomes a microcosm that reflects the experience of Spain during those traumatic years.

Published in association with the Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies

Foreword by Francisco Espinosa Maestre

Part One Republic
One The First Republican Biennium
Two The Black Biennium
Three The Popular Front
Four July 19 to July 24, 1936

Part Two Repression
Five July 25 to August 27, 1936
Six August 28 to September 14, 1936
Seven Other Castilleja del Campo Victims of the Repression

Part Three War
Eight Men of Castilleja del Campo Go to War
Nine Men of Castilleja del Campo in the War
Ten In the Town during the War
Eleven From Civil War to Uncivil Peace

Part Four Postwar
Twelve Years of Hunger and Decades of Poverty
Thirteen Repression in the Postwar
Fourteen The Endless Postwar

A: Women of Castilleja Who Were Publicly Humiliated
B: Men of Castilleja Killed in the Repression
C: Sources of Information on the Victims
D: List of Ex combatants
E: The Ex combatants Who Were Interviewed
F: Ex combatants with a Brother Who Had Been Shot
G: Town Council Minutes, October 24, 1936, Items 1 and 5
H: Widows and Orphans of Castilleja del Campo’s Victims
I: Eugenio Pozo de la Cueva’s Prison Poem to his Son

Photographs and Documents
Dramatis Personae: A Biographical Index

Praise for the book from Spanish historians: “A work such as yours for every town in Spain that suffered the same sad fate would be the basis for a true reconciliation and closure on the war.” Carlos Barciela López

“Contributes to Spain’s democratic memory and to the understanding of the crimes of the Franco regime, so long hidden. Democratic Spaniards deserve and need works like yours.” Francisco Moreno Gómez

“You have managed to make [the participants] come alive with tact and respect, saving from oblivion simple people who deserve to be remembered. . . . I admire the way you have managed to combine oral testimonies with your explorations of the available archives.” Patricio de Blas Zabaleta

“Richard Barker’s book is based on an intensive historical investigation of the everyday life of ordinary people in a well defined small unit, while seeking answers to larger questions related to social and political changes. Barker’s Castilleja del Campo mirrors the radical changes that impacted Spain before, during, and after the Civil War. He offers a clear and comprehensive vision of this tumultuous time as well as a diverse mosaic of testimonies that, among other things, describe the terror imposed upon Castilleja’s inhabitants. It is this combination of history and memory, general and particular, that makes the book engaging and enlightening.”

Review by Carmen Moreno Nuño, published in The Volunteer: Founded by the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, Vol. XXX, No.2, June 2013, p. 22

Reviewed in The Volunteer:

“The author artfully utilizes oral interviews, municipal meeting minutes, press, and both private and official correspondence to reconstruct the events unfolding from the proclamation of the Second Republic in 1931 to the immediate postwar years in the 1940s. It is a magnificent compilation of details and stories untold. Through the beautifully written pages, the reader feels the personal investment of the author on this life-changing project. With great care not to impose his own judgment, but to display the turn of events, Barker shows how the circumstances were sometimes beyond the actors’ power to choose their own destinies.” Aurora G. Morcillo, Professor of History, Florida International University, writing in the Bulletin for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies


Publication Details

Paperback ISBN:
Page Extent / Format:
272 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Release Date:
March/April 2012
  Illustrated:   Yes
Paperback Price:
£25.00 / $34.95

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