Sunday, November 3, 2013

An Emotional Turn of Events

This family portrait was made about 1940.
It was three years after Moises Rojo Torres, the father in this group,
was executed in 1936 and buried in a mass grave during the Spanish Civil War.
His photo was pasted in post mortem. My father in law is the eldest child
on the left side of this family group. 

While we were in Spain a few weeks ago, one of Vincent’s distant cousins in Barcelona found my blog and sent us a message about his branch of the family.  We were able to add many cousins to the family tree with his help.  I reciprocated with information on Vincent’s branch, and we have been corresponding by email ever since.  We even took a quick trip to Aranda de Duero and the tiny village of Sinovas, where the common ancestors lived up until the 20th century. 

Then, unexpectedly this morning, this newly found cousin sent a very emotional email message.  Included was a link to a story in the Spanish newspaper El Pais.  It seems that on 1 November, All Saint’s Day, the bodies of 129 executed citizens of Aranda de Duero and the surrounding villages were re-interred in the cemetery in Aranda.  These men, and one woman, were from the ages of 16 to 70 years old, buried in mass graves.  They had been executed by the Francist forces during the Spanish Civil War.  We knew that Vincent’s grandfather, Moises Rojo Torres, was one of these men executed in 1936.

The remains of 129 individual excavated from the mass graves near Aranda de Duero, Spain

This was a very emotional development for the family.  We immediately called the family in Spain, and spoke with Vincent’s parents.  They had just seen a story about the ceremony on the TV news, but they didn't know if Moises was included.  Vincent was able to tell them that his name was on the plaque.  If we had known about this we could have delayed our visit to Spain by two weeks, and then seen the remains of grandfather Moises re-buried with dignity in the ceremony.  It will definitely be a destination to visit during our next trip to Spain.

You can read the article at this link at the El Pais website:  
 There are also a dozen photographs of the re-interment ceremony , including a photo of the plaque with the names of the fallen. In the very middle of the photo you can read the name Moises Rojo Torres.  The article is written in Spanish.  It explains about the executions during the Spanish Civil War, the mass graves that were found and excavated, and how the ceremony to re-inter the remains took place on 1 November 2013, 77 years after the executions.  The government did not fund any DNA tests on the remains, and so many of the bodies are unidentified.  No government officials attended the ceremonies. 

I've blogged about Vincent’s Grandfather in the past, and Footnote Maven was even kind enough to let me write up a longer story about Moises during the Spanish Civil War for her online magazine Shades of the Departed.  You can find those links below (warning, some of the photos of the excavation of the common graves are disturbing):

The Mass Grave at Monte Costajan

Shades of the Departed article, see page 78

Participating families formed a human chain to help bury the remains

You can read the name "Moises Rojo Torres", Vincent's grandfather, 
in the middle of the top section of names on this plaque at the cemetery in Arande de Duero.

These photos were taken from the El Pais newspaper website 
The URL for this post is 

Copyright © 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Thanks for sharing this story. God Bless Moises!

  2. Heather, what an amazing and remarkable turn of events. And, I just love that the translation on the plaque is "Their blood was the seed of freedom" ... beautiful.

  3. An amazing story. I too, am sorry you didn't know ahead of time.

  4. RIP to Moises...I'm so glad you shared this development!

  5. Heather,

    Wow! What an amazing story!

    I want to let you know that two of your blog posst are listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!