Fraser Trevor Fraser Trevor Author
Title: Seeking the stolen children of Spain's Franco regime
Author: Fraser Trevor
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It's no secret that Spain's Franco dictatorship killed more than 100,000 of its opponents shortly after the country's 1936-39 ci...
It's no secret that Spain's Franco dictatorship killed more than 100,000 of its opponents shortly after the country's 1936-39 civil war.
A lesser known crime of that dictatorship, however, is the organized kidnapping of children. Even today, Spain is still dealing with the aftershocks of that horror.
'He was a beautiful and strong baby,' says Maria Jose Estevez, remembering wistfully the September 1965 birth of her so in Cadiz. The native of the region of Andalucia got to see her son for a moment and then never again."

"Did my child die or was he kidnapped?" is something no parent should ever have to ask, and still less so when the kidnappers are the government. But that is exactly the question hundreds of Spanish families are currently demanding that their courts resolve for once and for all about the so-called "lost children of General Franco". They were already estimated to total around 30,000, and now, it appears, there may be many more.
In Franco's early years, "child-stealing" by the Spanish state was politically motivated, with its key instigator, Antonio Vallejo-Nagera, the army's crackpot chief psychiatrist who championed Nazi theories that Communism was a mental illness caused by the wrong kind of environment. Inspired by Vallejo-Nagera, Franco's government passed laws in 1940 that, as one judicial report in 2008 put it, "ensured that families that did not have ideas considered ideal [ie, supporters of Spain's defeated republic] did not have contact with their offspring".
Putting this policy into practice was brutally straightforward and efficient. In 1943, records show 9,000 children of political prisoners had been removed to state-run orphanages, and in 1944 that total had risen to more than 12,000.

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