September, 1938, it’s the fifth francoist counter-offensive on the republican troops in the Battle of the Ebre River. (the first part of the article is to put in context the denunciation, which you can find straight further down, from where it says “In July 2008 …”. The article is very long, but I’ve found indispensable so that it is possible to understand the relevancy of the denunciation)
It has been two months since the best troops of the republic are caught in a small sector of the right margin of the river Ebre. Its offensive lightning of July 25 had turned out to be braked quickly at the doors of Gandesa and Vilalba dels Arcs. In the middle of a convulsed international context, where all the indications point at the explosion of the II World War, for the Republic, to resist is to win. And, braked the offensive, and despite occupying a minuscule territory without any strategic value considering a military point of view, the order is to fortify and to resist. The ranges of Pàndols and Cavalls and the infinity of hills that spread over that area of Terra Alta get fortified in an incredible way, trenches are dug and parapets get up in any place, from the hard rock of the summits of Cavalls up to the ground of each and everyone of the small hills that, practically equal some to others, give form to small vales full of almond trees, vineyard and olive trees.
Instead of ignoring the republican, absolutely braked and unimportant presence in military terms, the francoist army, wich has a huge superiority in men, in armament, in artillery and in aviation, has decided, for express order of Franco, to face them. This is what the historians name “a shock of rams”. Franco is decided, now when has enclosed in that minuscule perimeter the very best of the army of the Republic, to annihilate it. It is a war and an extermination battle. And this is what he wants to do. To annihilate the army of the Republic which is now in front of him, without the minor consideration hint neither for the own falls, for the enormous cost in the francoist troops as this decision will endure. And this way it has started and will develop the wildest battle of the War for 115 days. The Franco supporters take already four counter-offensives, and none of them has managed to move in a significant way the positions. Every span of area that the Franco supporters recover has an extraordinary cost in human lives on both sides. The fifth counter-offensive’s target is Camposines, and then go from Camposines to Mora, to the Ebre and make surrounded the republican army who defends himself in the summits of Pàndols and Cavalls. They have conquered Corbera d'Ebre, which has been completely destroyed for the bombings of francoist planes, the Italian Aviazione Legionaria and the German Legion Condor. Once conquered Corbera, the Franco supporters pass towards Camposines from the sector Vilalba, Serra de la Vall de la Torre and by the Riu Sec. In the advance they find hills and hills, one after other. All perfectly fortified. They try to conquer one from one. The operative is always the same: an intense, brutal, bombing of the aviation, a later bombing of the artillery, and finally, when the republican positions have been absolutely crushed, it moves forward the infantry.
The defensive republican strategy also is always the same one. The defensive system that exists fortified in all the hills makes a scale of trench lines, with its corresponding evacuation lines towards refuges, to leeward of the bombings. When these stop, the republican troops in their trenches of the first line face again to the fascist infantry. But inevitably the bombings of aviation and artillery provoke massacres between the defenders, who finish with a large numerical inferiority, and finally they lose the positions, sometimes because all the defenders have been annihilated, sometimes because, few survivors, are still on time of moving back and regrouping in the following hill.
When the night comes and the francoist air force cannot operate, the forces re-balance, and the republican troops always try to conquer again the positions. And this way one day to the following one, hill (levels in military slang) by hill.
The dead persons are counted to thousands in both sides. Although in this fifth offensive the troops of the republic have been close to the disaster, in these moments the advacement is an authentic slaughter. The francoist generals are driven to despair. The best divisions and francoist units are being massacred in these combats. But they have refreshment troops, and Franco does not think to transfer not even one inch in his strategy. Not even when he sees, quitely, the anihilation of the whole battalion of the 4th of Navarre, an elite division of the francoist troops. To contemplate the anihilation of this battalion only a comment deserves:“What happened is a typical example of the power of the positions kept hidden to the observers”.
A tears silence is done between us, and we are photographing in silence everything that we see. Some skulls have visible the impact of bullet, the impact and the hole of the bomb or the grapeshot.
I cannot believe that the project of museum of the spaces, which is very important and to which I support completely, does not bear in mind, in a preferable way, to safeguard, really, the memory and the dignity of the combatants who left the life. I cannot believe that now, 70 years later, his remains are crushed under the caterpillar of one bulldozer or the spade of an excavator to install a windmill.