Gathering the Genetic Testimony of Spain’s Civil War Dead

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tags: genetics, DNA, Spanish Civil War



Spaniards have searched for disappeared relatives and for answers about what happened to them since the Spanish Civil War ended in 1939. The war erupted in 1936 when a pro-Catholic, conservative faction rebelled against the secular, progressive elected government. All told, around 500,000 people died during the course of the three-year war. The dictatorship under Francisco Franco that ensued—which would last until the late 1970s—focused on using forensic investigation to identify and rebury its own war dead, often neglecting victims from the other side. The subsequent rise of forensic genetics in the 1980s, however, and a new political atmosphere in the 1990s and 2000s, have given Spaniards new tools with which to search for their missing relatives.




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