The area used to build the site for the Forum of Cultures, which took place in 2004, was formerly known as El Camp de la Bota. This open space was used in the Spanish Civil War and, particularly, during the Francoist dictatorship, as a place of execution. It was chosen for this purpose because its location far from the city centre meant that the curious were prevented from witnessing the shootings that went on there. Today, the monument named “Fraternity” and a memorial wall with the names of the victims, stand in memory of those who were murdered at El Camp de la Bota.
On the site of El Camp de la Bota, located on the border between Barcelona and Sant Adrià de Besòs, a castle was built in 1858 to establish an artillery school that operated until the Second Republic. From 1925, this area of the city was transformed into one of the many slums of Barcelona where immigrants that arrived in the city settled in the hope of finding work and a better life.
At the outset of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the firing range at El Camp de la Bota was the location chosen by the Republican government to execute 44 soldiers accused of rebelling against the legitimate authorities during the coup d’état in 1936. Once the war came to an end, El Camp de la Bota became a noteworthy site of Francoist repression. The new authorities used the grounds for number executions of those subject to court martial proceedings and sentenced to death for military rebellion, basically members of political parties, trade unions and organisations that had lent support to the Republic. Specialised sources claim that a total of 3,385 people were executed in Catalonia after the war, of whom almost 1,700 were killed at El Camp de la Bota. Many of the executions were carried out between 1939 and 1940.
Those sentenced to death learned of their fate a few hours before their death and were transported by truck from the various detention centres to El Camp de la Bota. Once shot, they were taken to Montjuïc cemetery and buried in the mass grave known as Fossar de la Pedrera. Beforehand, an army doctor certified the death with a document which generally stated internal bleeding as the cause of death without specifying its cause. The celebration of the International Eucharistic Congress in Barcelona in 1952 put an end to this practice at El Camp de la Bota, in an endeavour to clean up the regime’s image.
In 1992, the monument “Fraternity”, a work by Miquel Navarro, was erected in tribute to those dead in this place. At the bottom is a plaque which was initially dedicated to the victims of the Civil War, though in 2004 the inscription was replaced with a dedication to those shot between 1936 and 1952, that is to say, the victims of the war and the Francoist dictatorship. In 2013 a small plaque in memory of the citizens of Barcelona who for years lived in shacks in this area of the city was placed. And in 2019 a memorial wall containing the names of all the people shot in El Camp de la Bota was inaugurated.
Address: Plaça de la Fraternitat (Fòrum site) || Coordinates: (LAT, LONG): 41.409574356, 2.221622466