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Diaries and Letters

Reading about the SCW in history books is informative but can be very dry.
For me personal records in the form of letters or diaries are very exciting - of course it helps if you can read Spanish!

Diary of Jose Costa Roig 1938 -39


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A small notebook in Spanish with Valenciano phrases. Half war diary, half work record. Starts in 1930 and is a record of working hours – he appears to have been a gardener and tended to church graves through to 1933. The records restart in 1939 for the period 6 – 14 October.
Turn the notebook over and the personal diary starts from the other end. First entry is Valencia April 1st 1938. He talks of being called up with his syndicat (work group) and having to mobilize at the ‘Martel’ – a fortress in Valencia City on Saturday the April 2nd. In extremely compact writing the diary continues until the end of the war in April 1939. He refers to watching dog fights between Republican & Nationalist aeroplanes and at other times bombing raids.

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He describes the retreat from the battle of the Ebro, through the valleys behind Castellon – Vall d’Uxo until he reaches Burjusot a suburb of Valencia. At all times he is a man obsessed – he records exactly what he eats and when he sleeps. In the last few days of the war he either deserted or his unit collapsed and so he describes returning home to his wife and sleeping in his own bed. Amazingly when the war is declared over he takes part in a celebration fiesta. I’m not sure if he was naive, changed sides or was just being clever but we know retribution against Republicans soldiers was severe. Conscripts fared better than volunteers but many were shot by the Falange.
The fact he restarted work in 1939 is telling; we know he survived the initial Falange terror. However the diary stops dead on October 14th.

Without studying the whole diary which would take months this is only a taste of what it describes. I have other diaries written by different people from 1934 during the pre war Republic and the late 1940’s.


Postcards from Prison – 1941 - Don Jose Tarazaga Colomar


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I have a collection of 22 postcards sent to a prisoner in the Carcel Modelo prison in Valencia. A terrifying place post Spanish civil war - not many prisoners ever returned home alive. Most were political and military prisoners or members of trade unions, local government officials, foreigners, teachers or even businessmen who had traded with the Republican government.

Don Jose was kept on Galeria 3a, celda 280 (floor 3a, cell number 280). The cards are for the period August 9th to December 20th 1941 and were sent by his wife, daughter and brother. His family ask him to keep his spirits up and his brother says he is keeping the business going. His daughter promises he will be free back in Busjuset very soon. All are marked ‘censura’ censored – we can only guess what happened to him.    

Letters from the Front – Sebastia Parent 1937-39


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A collection of 16 letters & tajetas postal de campana (campaign postcards) sent by a Republican soldier to his family in Esparraguera, a few miles inland from Barcelona. They are very warm letters, (he refers to his father Isidro as ‘camarada’) describing (censured by the censorship office) his service with the 60th division, 84 brigada mixta, 335 battalion including the battle for the Ebro. Unfortunately it’s very rare to find such a series of Republican envelopes and letters together.  Envelopes survive because of the stamps but seldom the letters.
Another card was sent to Sebastia from a soldier who fought at Teruel – Castel de Cabra in August 1937. 
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