3: The disappearing

The disappearing
of the poet-playwright García Lorca happened effectively just after José
Rosales got to speak to him at around 10.30pm on the night of 16 August.
Evidence of what happened after that has been clearly concealed and/or tampered
with. We know he was then taken to Víznar to be shot. For me the date and the
time of the transfer to Víznar are still unresolved questions. Did it happen
immediately after Rosales’ visit, or was Lorca held at the Civil Government for
24 or even 48 hours?

An important witness and one who could be
used to corroborate Caballero’s theory is Agustín Soler Bonor. He claims to
have seen Lorca being taken away from the Civil Government without being able
to verify the exact date: ‘One night in the month of August at about 10.30pm I
arrived at the Civil Government (…) At the door a car was waiting (…)
Inside there were two prisoners, villager-types (…) Going up to the first
floor I met Lorca coming down, escorted by two Assault Guards.’
Civil Government building, calle Duquesa; today part of Faculty of Law; behind Botanical Gardens:

If this is true, the two ‘villager-types’
could have been the anarchists Juan Arcoyas Cabezas and Francisco Galadí Melgar
who are known to have been shot alongside the poet. The only problem with this
is that it contradicts testimony saying they were captured in a cave outside
Granada and then taken directly to Víznar. However, Galadí’s family are
convinced he was captured in Granada, at the Fuente del Avellano.

Soler continues: ‘He was handcuffed and
looked despondent and showed no sign of recognising me.’

This could have been just moments after the
poet’s brief conversation with the respected and influential Falangist, José
Rosales. Feeling rather optimistic on account of Rosales’s promise to make an
official intervention with higher authorities on his behalf, Lorca’s high hopes
are then dashed when immediately afterwards he is handcuffed and led away.
Maybe he has heard that he is being taken to Víznar and knows it can mean only
one thing…

A second possibility occurs to me. Was the
man Soler describes one who was simply dispirited, or one who had been locked
up and held incommunicado for several
hours, maybe since the day before, maybe even tortured? He seems to be
oblivious to his surroundings and fails to notice the presence of the witness.
How long would it take to get to this state of resignation and apathy? Could he
have lost heart so quickly, and so completely, if this incident happened
moments after Rosales’s visit?

In total contradiction to the evidence
given by Soler Bonor, Ricardo Rodríguez Jiménez gives a colourful account of
how Lorca was taken from the Civil Goverment: ‘Each night I used to go to the
police station to hear Queipo de Llano’s last bulletin, which was broadcast
around 3a.m. (…) That night I left the station at 3.15am. Suddenly I heard
someone call my name. I turned around. ‘Federico!’ He threw an arm over my
shoulder. His right arm was handcuffed to that of a schoolmaster from La Zubia
with white hair. ‘Where are they taking you?’ ‘I don’t know.’ He was coming out
of the civil government building, surrounded by guards and Falangists belonging
to the ‘Black Squad’ (…) Someone stuck a gun in my chest. I screamed:
‘Murderers! (…) They locked me up for two hours and then they let me go.’ By
then, of course, it was too late to do anything.

Gonzalo Queipo de Llano was of course
commander of the Nationalist Army of the South and so the supreme authority of
the uprising in Andalusia. The white-haired schoolmaster ‘from La Zubia’ is
supposedly Diáscoro Galindo, though he was actually from Pulianas. If Galindo
was taken away at 2am, as his son said, it is not impossible that he had been
brought to the civil Government prior to being transferred to Víznar, though
this of course would have been on the morning of the 18th, not the

This account can be made to fit in with the
evidence of Joaquín López-Mateos Matres, previously cited, who says that while
on guard at the Civil Government on the evening and night of the 16th
he saw Lorca sitting alone, buried in his thoughts and anxieties, ‘all evening
and part of the night’ without witnessing him being taken away. ‘Part of the
night’ might possibly refer to until 10.30pm, which is really not that long
after nightfall, but to my mind it fits in better with Rodríguez Jiménez’s
declaration. What it does not fit in with, though, is the bulk of the evidence
about Lorca’s arrival in Víznar, which points to a much earlier time of night.

his evidence on what Nestares reported, Caballero says Lorca arrived in Víznar
shortly before midnight, on the 16th. Pedro Cuesta Hernández, who
was one of the regular guards at the Villa Concha, improvised prison for the
condemned, testifies that Lorca was brought there between 10.30 and 11pm on one of the nights between 17 and
20 August, though elsewhere he says about 10pm on 16 -18 August. [This is an old photo of Villa Concha. It was demolished not long after these events.]

The general consensus is that Lorca arrived
in Víznar after nightfall, after the gravediggers had been locked in, otherwise
somebody would have recognised him, the gravediggers being mainly composed of
liberal university professors, politicians, professionals, and the like: people
who would definitely know the famous poet and dramatist by sight. At nightfall
they were locked in on the upstairs floor.

The testimony of José Jover Tripaldi, who
gave Agustín Penón such a hard time in the 1950s, colourful and attractive
though it is, must be discarded as unreliable. Most of what he says could have
been picked up in village gossip or in the cafés of Granada, and even the
picturesque anecdote about Lorca’s last-minute improvised confession was in
certain quarters part of contemporary street folklore. Caballero insists that
documentary evidence indicates that Tripaldi was not around at the time of
Lorca’s disappearance.

Finally, last but not least, there are the
well known ‘Give him coffee’ instructions that Valdés received from Queipo de
Llano which is supposed to have given the go-ahead to have the poet eliminated.
Valdés was used to consulting with his superior over cases of exceptional
importance and for the express purpose of such consultations a radio had been
installed at the Civil Government. We have it from people close to the civil
governor that Valdés, every night after Queipo’s speech on Radio Seville, would
consult the General about the day’s events and it was after one such
consultation that Lorca was dispatched. In one version Germán Fernández Ramos,
a drinking companion of Valdés’s, claims he heard Valdés phone Queipo twice
before sealing the poet’s fate. The Ideal
newspaper, incidentally, reported the re-establishment of telephone
communications between Granada and Seville on 17 August.

If the exchange really took place after
Queipo de Llano’s radio broadcast, it must have been late at night. The
earliest this consultation could have taken place of course is after Valdés’s
return to Granada at 9.45 on the 16th, and in all events Valdés would have to
have moved very fast and it hardly seems possible that he could have had this
conversation and then got Lorca sent off to Viznar to arrive there shortly
before midnight. Against that, Ruiz Alonso always insisted that Valdés himself
had told him on the morning of the 17th that Lorca had been shot, on
orders received from Seville, i.e. from Queipo de Llano. To complicate matters
further, the radio broadcast theory fits in rather nicely with the dramatic
testimony of Rodríguez Jiménez.

In any case, if we are to accept the
evidence that points to Lorca being taken to Víznar before midnight of the 16th,
it would mean disregarding or finding an alternative explanation for the ‘give
him coffee’ exchange as well as for evidence provided by Diáscoro Galindo’s son
and Angelina Cordobilla. Once again, Caballero’s main argument in favour of
this thesis is that his enemies wanted Lorca dispatched before his highly
respected and influential father had time to intervene to protect his son.

Gobierno Civil/Civil goverment building 5.11.07 Fernando Guijarro Arcas

‘The Colony’/Villa Concha 09.06.13 EUROPA PRESS | GRANADA