January 20, 2019
Latest News
Entertainment

Spanish Civil War veteran tells harrowing tale of hunger, brutal repression

Madrid, Jul 25 (efe-epa).- A 101-year-old veteran of the Spanish Civil War who survived the brutal Battle of the Ebro, the last major Republican offensive of the conflict, told EFE in an interview on Wednesday that if he had been given the chance, he would have starved former military dictator Francisco Franco to death, as he held the late general responsible for the agony he endured during a post-war era marked by hunger and repression against those defeated in the fratricidal struggle.

When he was just a teenager, Manuel Gallego-Nicasio volunteered to defend the democratically-elected Republican government from the failed 1936 coup d'etat carried out by reactionary officers with the support of the Catholic Church, which later evolved into a civil conflict that pitted Spaniard against Spaniard and devastated the country in the prelude to World War II.

"The war was won by the Germans, the Italians and the Moors, not Franco," Gallego-Nicasio said, in reference to the military and economic support provided by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and ruthless Moroccan mercenaries to Franco's Nationalist army.

He was part of the so-called "Baby-Bottle Gang," a levy of 27,000 young men born slightly before 1920, who enlisted at least three years before the usual enrollment age in order to battle against the fascist rebels.

Gallego-Nicasio, a self-described "socialist from the bottom of my heart," first fought in the Battle of the Jarama (Feb. 6-27, 1937), in which each side suffered between 6,000-25,000 casualties, according to various estimates.

No military breakthrough was achieved there by neither the Nationalists _ who had hoped to cut off Valencia, the Republic's provisional capital, from Madrid _ nor Republicans, whose inexperienced and under-equipped troops suffered heavy losses, leading many to mutiny.

His second major combat experience came during the Battle of Brunete, fought 24 kilometers (15 miles) west of Madrid, which ended in a Republican retreat.

Gallego-Nicosio lost an eye during the battle.

Later that year, he fought in the Zaragoza Offensive (Aug. 24- Sep. 7), where a "bomb from the fascists" blew off his entire right hand.

One-eyed, one-handed and with the middle finger of his left hand missing, Gallego-Nicosio still decided to take part in the Battle of the Ebro.

"I wanted to finish Franco off," he explained. "I'd do it again. If I'd gotten my hands on him, I would've starved him to death!"

He told EFE that hunger had been "the worst thing, the hardest part" of the war.

According to Gallego-Nicasio, his most recurring memory of the time was not the suffering in the trenches, or the bombings, or the dead, or the sieges by Franco's troops: it was the burial of a neighbor who had starved to death in the winter.

When asked what he did after the war, he said: "I was famished!"

"Franco took away all our pay. He left us all to rot. There was no water, no electricity. Now we've got everything," he said.

"Franco didn't win the war, eh!" he added. "The war was won by foreigners."

Once the fighting had ended, he and his wife, Agustina Gómez Calcerrada _ with whom he later had six children _ returned to his small village in central Spain, in the province of Ciudad Real, where they worked as gatekeepers at a rural estate.

"They were living without a salary, almost like slaves," said Gallego-Nicosio's granddaughter, Loli.

"It was the worst of the war: people were starving and dying! I hate Franco," added her grandfather.

Much of Spain's agricultural produce was at the time being sent to Germany as part-payment for the military assistance provided by Adolf Hitler's Third Reich, leaving the favored Nationalists as the only sector of society with relatively easy access to foodstuffs, as historians have recorded.

Loli said that the couple's children were tasked with collecting whatever edible substances they could find out on the field, including the dregs that had been thrown to the animals and potato peels to make soup.

It wasn't until Franco's death in 1975, and the subsequent government of Prime Minister Adolfo Suárez (1976-81), that Gallego-Nicasio started receiving a small pension.

He was later awarded another pension as an ex-combatant in the war, which allowed the couple to leave the estate and move to their own home in the village.

The veteran said that of the few comrades who survived the war, "all of them are dead now."

He still listens to the news on the radio every day, as it remains his favorite pastime.

News history
Chefs prepare monster batch of fish soup for annual Macedonian tradition

Ohrid (Macedonia), Jan 20 (efe-epa).- Chefs cooked up a cauldron of fish soup by the banks of Lake Ohrid in the Republic of Macedonia Sunday to mark a local...

Successful Antarctica expedition shows leadership potential of women

By Diana Marcela Tinjaca

The trend of the 'marquinha' becomes popular among Brazilian men

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jan 19 (efe-epa).- The obsession for a perfect tan, which shows a strong difference between less tanned lines of the bikini and the...

Eastern Orthodox world marks Epiphany with icy dips

Belgrade, Jan 19 (efe-epa).- Orthodox Christians across central and eastern Europe on Saturday commemorated the baptism of Christ by immersing themselves in...

Washington-based craft beer maker sues Trump administration amid shutdown

Washington, Jan 18 (efe-epa).- A craft beer maker has filed a lawsuit against US President Donald Trump's administration, alleging that the company's...

The Black Christ pilgrimage, Nicaragua's century-old tradition

By Renee Lucia Ramos

Daniel Arsham's otherworldly eclectic installations launch at Dutch Museum

Amsterdam, Jan 18 (efe-epa).- A major retrospective of American artist Daniel Arsham launched on Friday in Amsterdam at a Dutch gallery, as documented by an...

Redford to receive honorary César Award at French cinema awards ceremony

Paris, Jan 18 (efe-epa).- United States actor, director and producer Robert Redford is to receive an honorary César Award at the 44th edition of the...

Coins commemorating Prado Museum's bicentenary reach Japan

Tokyo, Jan 18 (efe-epa).- Coins commemorating the bicentenary of Spain's Prado Museum are to go on sale from next week in Japan, where they will be...

Chicago weighs futuristic designs for new airport terminal

Chicago, Jan 17 (epa-efe).- The Chicago city government on Thursday presented the futuristic proposals of the five finalists competing to design a new...

Journalist killed in Ghana after unveiling corruption scandal

Accra, Jan 17 (efe-epa).- A journalist who helped unveil a corruption scandal within the Ghanaian soccer federation has been fatally shot, one of his...

Pets around the world out in droves for blessing on St Anthony Abbot's day

Madrid, Jan 17 (efe-epa).- Countless pets that provide company and comfort to Catholics throughout the world on Thursday received a blessing to mark St...

Portugal's city of Porto close to drowning in tourist success

Porto (Portugal), Jan 17 (efe-epa).- A constant growth in tourism experienced in recent years by Portugal's second largest city now menaces to choke the...

National Museum of Brazil presents first exhibit after fire

Rio de Janeiro, Jan 16 (epa-efe).- The National Museum of Brazil on Wednesday presented its first exhibition after a huge fire destroyed 90 percent of its...

Bolivia rolls out mini-lottery with Andean deity as mascot

La Paz, Aug 16 (epa-efe).- Bolivia's National Lottery presented on Wednesday a mini-lottery with a grand prize of 100,000 bolivianos ($14,463) and featuring...

British shop in Berlin to close down on Brexit day

Berlin, Jan 16 (efe-epa).- A small store selling quintessentially British products like tea and marmalade in a neighborhood of the German capital is set to...

Julio Iglesias paternity suit postponed for new DNA test

Valencia (Spain), Jan 16 (efe-epa).- A Spanish court announced on Wednesday it had postponed a hearing in a paternity suit against Spanish singer Julio...

Nicolas Party's color-saturated art reaches Chinese gallery for solo show

Beijing, Jan 16 (efe-epa).- Swiss artist Nicolas Party is presenting a color-drenched site-specific body of work at a Beijing gallery, as documented by an...

Paraguay city gets ready for 40th edition of gaucho festival

Asuncion, Jan 15 (efe-epa).- The southern Paraguayan city of Santiago de Misiones is preparing for its 40th annual celebration of the region's gaucho...

El Greco painting unveiled in Spain after 300 years of near-obscurity

Toledo (Spain), Jan 15, (efe-epa).- A museum dedicated to the painter El Greco inaugurated a temporary exhibition Tuesday featuring a little-known religious...

At the Factory: 10 Artists, 10 Individual Practices exhibition in Istanbul

Istanbul, Jan 15 (efe-epa).- A group exhibition featuring works by 10 well-known international contemporary artists has gone on display to mark the launch...

India's first transgender saints debut at Kumbh Mela

Allahabad, India, Jan 15 (efe-epa).- As the Kumbh Mela got into full swing on Tuesday, Indian pilgrims flocked for blessings to the tent of the Kinnar...

Ottawa reviews China travel advisory after Canadian given death sentence

Toronto, Canada, Jan 14 (efe-epa).- Canada on Monday reviewed its China travel advisory, warning of a risk of arbitrary law enforcement after one of its...

Multidisciplinary exhibition previews in Berlin to mark Bauhaus centenary

Berlin, Jan 14 (efe-epa).- As part of the 2019 Bauhaus Jubilee celebrations, the Berlin Academy of Arts previewed on Monday an exhibition celebrating the...

I agree Welcome to news4europe.eu. We use cookies to improve your online experience. Find out more.