March 5, 2021

The nuns tortured during the red terror

The nuns tortured during the red terror


I have always lived, from my childhood to the present day, in the Mártires Concepcionistas street, near the Manuel Becerra square in Madrid. With less than five years, the Conceptionist nuns, on the other side of the street, had a kindergarten that my parents took me to before they were old enough to go to school. From the balcony of my house I saw them in the orchard working until, surrounded by high floors, they moved their convent to a quieter place more than 35 years ago. They never went out on the street.

When I came back home with my parents in a taxi, some veteran driver said, to Sagasti Street? This name was changed on June 14, 1946 by the name of Mártires Concepcionistas in memory of the fourteen nuns of that congregation martyred during the 1936 persecution: Isabel Lacaba Andía, Petra Peirós Benito, Asunción Monedero, Manuela Prensa Cano, Balbina Rodríguez Higuera, Beatriz García Villa, Ascensión Rodríguez Higuera, Juana Ochotorena Arnaiz, Basilia Díaz Recio, Clotilde Campos Urdiales, Inés Rodriguez Fernández, Carmen Rodríguez Fernández, María de San José Ytoiz and Asunción Pascual Nieto.

Ten of them belonged to the community of the monastery of San José in Madrid, two to the community of Escalona de Toledo and the other two to the community of El Pardo, Madrid. The first 10 Conceptionist sisters killed resided in their convent in Las Rozas de Madrid. On July 19, 1936, the local popular front committee seized the building. They took refuge in Madrid in an apartment on Calle Francisco Silvela, 19. Among these ten nuns was Mother María del Carmen Lacaba Andía, who was the abbess. In July 1936 he made the decision to remain with the older nuns, one of whom was disabled. She was murdered at 54 years old and 34 years of religious life. Sr. María Eustaquia de la Asunción was a nurse sister. She suffered from a strong and degenerative rheumatic disease that left her incapacitated. In 1936 she was at the mercy of the socialist militias of Las Ventas, who took her from the apartment where she lived badly without being able to fend for herself and down the stairs. He suffered helplessness, appalling physical pains and a humiliating and inhumane treatment. She was murdered at 72 years of age and 49 years of religious life.

At the beginning of the war, Madrid ended near Ramón de la Cruz street, where there were low houses and buildings with humble floors, a sort of suburb of the elegant Salamanca district. There opened a wasteland dotted with some cheap chalet colonies, some of them brothels, until you reach the bullring of the Sales. Madrid, as a result of the failure of the coup d'état on July 18, had been left in the hands of the workers' parties, their armed militias, who imposed their own law regardless of the little or nothing that remained of the republican legality.

A group of militiamen dressed in ecclesiastical clothes pose to the camera amidst teasing

The complaint of the caretaker

On November 7, 1936, when the nuns were confined to the mezzanine floor of the Francisco Silvela building, a group of militiamen came in asking for them as they had been denounced by the caretaker of a neighboring building. They took them all out and put them in a truck. They never heard from them again.

The Madrid of 1936 was filled with Czechs, private prisons of the different parties, which proceeded to arrest, interrogation, trial (popular justice) and murder of thousands of people from Madrid by the workers' militias, the most radical supporters of the Popular Front during the three years that the Spanish Civil War lasted.

The bloodiest stage in the red Madrid takes place during the autumn and winters from 1936 to 1937. More than a thousand Chekists, through the 345 Czech and 50 detention centers created to encourage the lack of power of the Republican Government, proceeded to the hunting and physical elimination of the enemies, real or supposed, of the Popular Front. In these Czechs many thousands of Madrilenians were eliminated. Arrested illegally, they were tortured, to be paraded, murdered in Paracuellos del Jarama, in the walls of the Casa de Campo or in the Cemetery of Aravaca … Characters such as García Atadel, the communist Santiago Carrillo or the anarchist Amor Nuño were the main culprits of this holocaust.

The Conceptionist nuns, after their arrest, were controlled daily by communist and anarchist militiamen who threatened them with death to abjure their faith. Given the uselessness of their verbal threats, they began to beat them during their daily visits to their place of detention. As the physical aggressions did not take effect either, the tortures began. During the months of July and August, in the middle of summer in Madrid, the water was removed, leaving them days without drinking. The martyrdom ended on November 8, when the ten sisters, including the elderly paralytic Sister Asunción Monedero, who was in a wheelchair, were taken by the militiamen in two groups of three and one of four, being shot in the vicinity. from Madrid. At present, the exact place of his murder and subsequent burial remains unknown. Their bodies have not been found. The convent of El Pardo was confiscated on July 21. Their small religious community took refuge in some neighboring houses until, located, they had to go to Madrid, where two of them, Inés and Carmen Rodríguez Fernández, were welcomed by an elderly marriage until August 23 were discovered by a militia patrol. The two sisters were sent to a Czech woman along with her benefactors and a relative of these. The nuns managed to have their protectors released. The two nuns were shot dead in Vicálvaro two days later in an open field and their bodies thrown at the cemetery doors. The gravedigger photographed the bodies of the nuns and buried them in a place that he secretly marked. At the end of the war, on May 24, 1939, the two bodies were identified by the photograph taken by the gravedigger, proceeding to his transfer to the cemetery of the monastery of El Pardo. At the moment they are in the monastery mother house of Toledo, where they are venerated at the moment next to those of the founder of the Order of the Immaculate Conception, Santa Beatriz de Silva.

The sisters who formed the community of the town of Escalona Toledo, when the convent was seized by the local revolutionary committee, were expelled from the village and sent to the Security Directorate of Madrid to be imprisoned in a Czech created in a former convent of nasturtiums They were promised freedom if they accepted to abandon faith and apostatize. To force the youngest, the two oldest sisters, María de San José Ytoiz and Asunción Pascual Nieto, were separated from the group and sent to a Czech where they were tortured and finally shot at the end of October. The process of beatification of these 14 martyrs for defending their religious faith began in June 2002. The year 2010 passed to the Holy See. On January 15, 2019, the current Pope signed the martyrdom decree of María del Carmen Lacaba and 13 other Franciscan conceptionist religious martyred in the Popular Front Madrid.

A group aims (August 1936) against the image of the Sacred Heart in the Cerro de los Ángeles in Madrid

The Czechs in Madrid

The denomination of "Czech" spread among the population of Madrid in the summer of 1936 and was extended by the national rearguard people fleeing from Madrid, echoing past sufferings and vicissitudes. After 1937, as Julius Ruiz points out, the word was used by the anarcho-syndicalists to denounce the methods of terror used by the government police and the communists. To defend the Republic is to trigger the revolution, and the revolution presupposes terror. Prior to July 18, the government relied on left-wing revolutionary organizations to obtain parliamentary support and stay in power. At the same time, they fostered a prerevolutionary situation. With the beginning of the war, the revolution made its way through the formation of committees, the distribution of arms, the joint action of the militias with the security forces of the State and the beginning of terror. The Government renounces the use of the resources authorized by the Constitution and the Law of Public Order, that is, the declaration of a state of war and provisions attached to this situation.

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