Aug 6, 2008


This year is the 70th aniversary of the battle of the river Ebre, in Catalonia, where the army of the Republic faced the fascist troops in the most terrible battle ever in Europe outwards the two world wars. The republican troops, composed mainly by Catalan soldiers, resisted 115 days against a more numerous and better supplied fascist army, wich had a powerful aviation with the support of Italian and German armies, and also the artillery that republicans did not have. As known, the Republic and Catalonia losed the battle and the war.

Nowadays, the countryside of the county of Terra Alta is still full of remains of the battle, almost anywhere you go. A friend of mine, Elies115, along to his brother and some friends, made a frightening discovery: they found in a forest the remains of dozens of republican soldiers on the ground, no buried. Hundreds of them must be below as it is known that 300 defenders of the positions died. And the shame, the very very shame, is not just that these soldiers are not buried, honored and reminded as they deserve. Moreover, a project to install 200 windmills will be carried out right there and the area will be carved withou any care for those remains.

Well, in order to be rightly informed, first about the battle and then about the discovery and more shame, and finally about the call of my friend in order to help him to denounce, I attach you his post, translated into English from the Catalan original.
SHAME ! (Let’s save the remains of the Ebre Battle soldiers against the aeolican depredation)

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”.

In a small triangle between the highway of Vilalba to La Fatarella, that of Corbera to La Fatarella and that of Corbera towards Mora, about which is known as “Coll de Cosso”, terrifying combats are carried out in very similar levels one eachother; The levels 510, 500, 496, 365, 287, etc. There are levels without any strategic value, unless for passing it is necessary to occupy them, and once occupied, you’ve got another in front of you. These are levels that obviously are not known like that for the people of the county. Every hill, every vale has his name. But for the military men these are simple "levels". And for the names with which the people of the county know them only, they would have stayed to the margin of the history and of the world. If it would haven’t been that September, 1938 those solitary and poor grounds of dry land became a hell stage.

Yes, during those days of September, those small vales and hills are the very hell in the Earth. One of them is known as “Cucut”. It has a very conical form, and the republican troops have fortified it spectacularly. The trench lines rise from down up, as if there were different walls of a castle. In the rear part are built the refuges. Making use of any rock, digging the ground, fortifying the trenchs with stones and sacks of soil. One day of September, 1938 *Cucut stays like the most anticipated position of the republican troops in that sector. The fascist troops have been conquering the ground hill to hill and now is their time.

The soldiers of the Republic are already exhausted at this point of the battle. The French border has been days since already closed and skimps the war material. But also it skimps, and very much, the water. It has been very warm, that summer of 38. And water is the greatest treasure of those soldiers burst throughout. Only the louses and the infections abound. The life in the trench is really really hard. And the fear, the constant bombings that they must support, is terrible. The superiority of the whole francoist aviation and artillery turns them into authentic cannon fodder. But they resist. And now, those of Cucut are in front of them. In the first hour of the morning it begins the bombing against *Cucut.

First the aviation. Bombs up to 500 kg. The bombing concentrates in *Cucut, and it is implacable, terrifying. The bombs are heard whistling while they go down … until they explode. Later it will comethe artillery. And they know it. But the aviation bombing has already lasted very much, it has been the longest of the battle, and concentrate in a little hill that looks like the smallest cake. The artillery, from the next levels, continues the implacable bombing. These are eight hours constantly bombing on a hill that would make Tibidabo (a little mountain near Barcelona) look like the Everest. The bombing, eight hours of constant bombing, have massacred the defending soldiers. Many are driven crazy. The spectacle has been terrifying, infernal. When the fascist infantry assaults, few surviving defenders are absolutely disorientated, frenzied.

In July, 2008 we have woke up early. These days are the most warm, with difference, of the summer. With my brother and a couple of friends we have wanted to continue the track of the battle in these hills. We had looked for them, just as we have done with other stages of the battle, but these are especially difficult to find you are not brought by anybody who knows them.
We have a good motive for going. In the crazy plan of installing a front of 200 high windmills the same high the Tower Agbar (A high building in Barcelona) in Terra Alta, from Horta de Sant Joan to La Fatarella, they have begun doing prospections on these hills to install some of these gigantic mills.

This overcrowding will carve the region. But the point is that furthermore, as people of the county worried by the historical memory have explained to us, now they will destroy these spaces, these isolated and solitary levels where now 70 years ago they lived through a few infernal combats, and that left that area turned into an enormous cemetery outdoors. Hundreds, thousands, of combatants were buried badly, they knocked down anyway, or not this. And their remains rest at those hills. And now they are threatened by the excavators of the enormous wind turbines.
To find human remains in the village is not any surprise. Working on the ground, they go out. Just as remains of warlike material. But they have said to us that in that area it is terrible. Not without difficulty and getting lost several times, we are finding the way of gaining access to the different levels. We get by a way next to a field of almond trees, and the soil, 70 years later, it seems that it is with the measles: it is full of small grapeshot pieces, the size of a fingernail. It’s never seen anything like this. We keep on walking and enter the forest.
The forest looks like the hell. The four go ahead separated a few meters one eachother, looking for the track of the battle. And suddenly … after a few bushes … the heart freezes me. A knot raises me to the gullet. I cannot say anything. I reach to articulate a “come here”. But almost simultaneously my brother and the friends' couple begin saying the same “and here”, “come here”.

We are approaching some others. Before us they spread, outdoors, in the middle of the covered forest, between fail leaves of the forest, hundreds of human remains: skulls, jaws, hips, femurs …

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.
The pain becomes unbearable. The spectacle is horrible, we are walking little by little, with a lot of care and throughout them emerge the remains of the combatants. These are the most superficial, that perhaps nobody could at all any more that to throw four stones on the corpse ever, and that the passage of time and the rains, it leaves to open body. But under our feet, we know it there are hundreds of soldiers' corpses. Only in one of the levels we know that there were 300 dead persons, and that they buried them right there.
The soldiers' remains, in this small triangle, must be counted by thousands. Soldiers who were considered missing. Welded the families about which they ever never knew anything. But that on the other hand what they endeed know, for the units in wich they were fighting and the last letters, in wich sector they were. And today, 70 years later, still the shame of which the remains of these poor soldiers, who gave everything for our freedom … are scattered as if they were garbage.

And today, 70 years later, still, the avarice without limits and the absolute idiocy of the politicians they have brought us to that on these subtractions are to raise a few enormous wind turbines. If we do not do anything for avoiding it, shortly and on these remains, a few enormous bulldozers will be opening way through this forest and a few enormous excavators will begin to carve the area.
In the evening come to the village Montilla and Saura to inaugurate the center of reception of the project of museum of the spaces of the battle of Ebre With the people of the Plataforma de Defensa de la Terra Alta we go. We bring banners against the wind overcrowding and extended photos of the remains of these combatants. Below we have written “Vergonya” (“Shame)“.

When the covey comes we shout “Vergonya”. Once inside, we hear Montilla doing an inflamed defense of the wind power, and saying that they will keep on the wind parks projects.
But I cannot believe that there is so many insensitivity towards this situation. I cannot believe that, 70 years later, before such a serious episode, anything is done. We have a very great, enormous duty, for treating with dignity the remains of these soldiers who rest in these hills.

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.
It is necessary, in an immediate, fulminating way, to stop the wind turbines project in these special areas, that everybody knows which are, where the remains of the combatants rest. It is necessary to have, in an immediate way, a project for the recover of these remains, for their suitable classification and arrangement, in expectation that they could be identified by the families.

It needs, and that's why I ask you also for your help, to make a diffusion throughout of this situation and to press and to sensitize to the institutions so that they stop this atrocity. I believe that the photos that we could do and that accompany this article are the greatest denunciation that could do. I am sorry about their hardness, really. But we must stop it! Let's do it all toghether! Make a diffusion of this situation! No to the installation of the giant wind turbines in the spaces of the battle of the Ebre!

Aug 3, 2008

I join the struggle for a Free Catalonia

I'm a Catalan sniper. My work is not to shot children, old men or women, or other civilians. Sniper's work is just to shot the enemy. Let me clarify that my mind is my only weapon and words are my bullets. By these means I'll fullfill my duty fighting for the cause of my people's freedom and supporting other peoples and workers all over the world. I'll raise my rifle against the french-spanish ocupation in my homeland and against their tentacles in the entire world.