The Prefecture of Police headquarters was one of the main symbols of Francoist repression in Barcelona. It was in this building where the forces of order interrogated and tortured the opponents of the regime, both men and women, that had been taken into custody.
During the Franco dictatorship (1939-1975), the Prefecture of Police Headquarters was the base of the Sixth Brigade – also known as the Political-Social Brigade –, the Franco regime’s political police established by law on 8 March 1940 drawing inspiration from the Nazi Gestapo. The Political-Social Brigade was responsible for the systematic and arbitrary persecution of anyone suspected of being “hostile” to the Franco regime. Eduardo Quintela and Pedro Polo were the most prominent leaders until the late 1950s. In 1963, Antonio Juan Creix was appointed head of the detachment and his brother, Vicente Creix, took over in 1968. Both of them became the figures most feared by opponents of the dictatorship.
The brigade carried out a fully-fledged political campaign to dismantle Franco opposition in complete impunity and without control by the legal system. The use of torture became their routine approach on the basis of which they compiled statements that allowed them to initiate summary proceedings or action by the Tribunal d’Ordre Públic (TOP, Court of Public Order). The interrogations involved humiliation and threats, beatings and torture such as the “bath”, in which the head of the person under arrest was submerged in a basin of cold water. They were classified into specialised sections: University Service, Labour Affairs, Catalan-Separatist Activities, Communist Activities, etc.
The many operations carried out by the Political-Social Brigade included, particularly, the so-called “Fall of the 80” in 1947, which entailed the dismantling of the communist guerrilla movement and propaganda apparatus of the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSUC), as well as the arrest of some of the party’s governing figures. The Political-Social Brigade also arrested Joan Comorera and Gregorio López Raimundo; Jordi Pujol on account of the “Fets del Palau de la Música” in 1960; broke up the “Caputxinada” (assembly and sit-in organised by the Barcelona University Democratic Students’ Union) in 1966; and violently dispersed the demonstration of priests in front of the Prefecture of Police to protest against the torture inflicted upon the student Joaquim Boix. Members of the brigade also played a part in the last crimes committed by the Franco regime, such as the execution of Salvador Puig-Antich in 1974 and of Juan Paredes, “Txiki”, in 1975.
For years, several citizens’ movements have demanded to the Spanish government to transfer the police detachment and transform the building in a site of memory. In 2019, the Barcelona City Council installed a panel with historical information in front of the building which in a few hours was burned by a group of people who are against the recovery of democratic memory.
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