The other battle of Brunete: an inexplicable massacre | Culture

The other battle of Brunete: an inexplicable massacre | Culture

80 years ago, this barren wasteland was not a landscape for well-being. There was not a cottage, not a chop. There were shots, explosions and death. It was an inexplicable slaughterhouse when the war I was already sentenced in favor of Franco. In this plain, on January 13, 1939, more than 500 Republican soldiers died, a target against the Francoist mortars, protected in concrete forts that today are kept at the foot of the M-600 road, which connects Brunete with El Escorial, in the Madrid's community.

At 7.30 am one of the least known offensives of the race begins, and the last, with a bombing from the Republican batteries. Colonel Segismundo Casado leads the operation against the 20th Francoist division and, after the first attack, sends his soldiers out of the trenches and advance with the support of armored cars. But the fog disorients the tanks, leaving the infantry unprotected. In addition, an anti-tank gun ends with seven of the eight tanks. The artillery corporal Elicio Correa Correa "managed to destroy five red tanks among the large number of those used by the enemy, thanks to his rapid and accurate fire", as stated by the State official newsletter in which he is awarded the individual military medal. The advance is stopped in its tracks by the Francoist machine guns. "In an hour, about 300 Republicans must have fallen. It was a World War I battle, "says the archaeologist of Superior Council of Scientific Investigations (CSIC) Alfredo González-Ruibal, which has excavated and recovered the surroundings of the fort and the bunkers. They will be part of the Fortification Plan, an initiative subsidized by the Community of Madrid and with the participation of the City Council of Brunete (PP), which in the coming months will inaugurate the Interpretation Center of the Civil War.

"It is a plain in which they were always exposed. When they left the bed of a dry river they became an easy target. They had no chance, even on a sunny day. A huge amount of Francoist ammunition and very little republican has come out, "says the archaeologist, who defines the battle as" useless where there are ". Franco's army was up to date with the plans of its enemies, "probably because information had been leaked from Casado himself," says González-Ruibal. Hence it is understood that the 20th division was reinforced with three battalions and one machine gun and two mortar sections. All its fire potential and only 18 casualties.

In three dimensions

González-Ruibal's team used drones and LIDAR technology (topographic maps in three dimensions) to follow the footsteps of the armies: "We can see what they saw". They started from the concrete block in the shape of a T located in the Olivar de Veliso and extended the field of action. He defines it as an "indestructible engineering work".

Not even looters in the postwar period could dismantle it. Neither the urban speculation that has planted the area's second residences. "Some neighbors came to bring us the remains of projectiles that were found when the house was made," he recalls. There are no news about the bodies of the more than 500 Republicans. The archaeologist assumes that they disappeared in a common grave that does not know where it is.

The Republicans, in the open, could only lie down and crawl so that the bullets went far. If they tried to get up to shoot, the machine gun finished them off. Hence, archaeologists have not found their projectiles near the Francoist fortifications. "Some failed a lot and others were right," says González-Ruibal.

Soldiers of Jesus Christ

"The potential of archeology is the recreation of microhistory. It should not be reduced to mere documentation or to the cataloging of remains. It can also interpret battlefields and fortifications, "says archaeologist Alfredo González-Ruibal, who talks about the discovery of a religious silver medal in Brunete. On one side he bears Jesus Christ blessing a group of soldiers and in the other two soldiers in front of a statue of the Virgin, with the Child and two angels. Accompanied by the words of Saint Paul: "Strive like a good soldier of Jesus Christ." On the obverse: "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ."


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