Monumento de los Caídos

making our way along the Camino through the Montes de Oca we stumbled up on this intriguing monument … the inscription of which indicated something about the Spanish Civil War but for which our guide book said nothing. well, not exactly nothing, it offered this: “A stark monument to the fallen caídos during the Spanish Civil War with picnic tables in the shelter of the trees and a backdrop of wind turbines on the rise behind.” proceeding on to describe how the track descends sharply to a creek bed before ascending again. it was a rather remarkable site and memorial … though the dozen picnickers (and the peregrinos walking along at our pace) did detract from the solemnity of the site.

I imagine it goes without saying that, as one thoroughly intrigued by all manner of historical background for my travels, this complete lack of interest in non-religious historical sites — really a kind of deliberate avoidance — cemented my antipathy towards our guidebook. how can you bring up picnic tables in the same breath as this stark monument to victims of the Spanish Civil War?! a war that I learned almost nothing about in any of the history courses I ever took.

upon getting home, I was gratified to discover that the book of cultural history we opted not to carry with us had slightly more information on this site. it’s a monument to men from Burgos (35km to the west) who were snatched from their homes in the middle of the night and taken for short drives from which they never returned. rebellion against the ruling Republican government broke out in July of 1936 and violence raged throughout the country over the next two months, with some of the worst perpetrated by fascist right wingers in Burgos: “During July and August of 1936, witnesses speak of discovering dozens of bodies every single day along the Arlanzon River, in the Montes de Oca, on the hill by Burgos’s castle, and on the forested grounds of the Cartuja de Miraflores.” (from Gitlitz and Davidson, 2000).

needless to say: I feel compelled to learn more about the Spanish Civil War to better understand how it ties into the history I have studied of the 20th century. also, I’m even more unimpressed by the guidebook we carried with us. was it worth the weight? perhaps, but only just.

Author: Erica

born in the midwest with wandering feet.