In 1937, the residence occupying what is now La Tamarita Gardens was converted into the nerve centre of the Military Investigation Service (SIM). This was where the detainees considered most dangerous by Soviet agents were interrogated.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, La Tamarita estate was confiscated from the industrialist Alfred Mata to turn it into a field hospital. Following the Events of May 1937, however, it became the centre of operations for the Military Investigation Service (SIM), the Republican government’s intelligence agency during the war that employed repressive methods against the fifth column – Francoist collaborators in the rearguard – and fugitives, deserters and ambushers, who fled to avoid fighting at the front.
La Tamarita became a txeca (detention centre for political prisoners) where a large contingent of Soviet agents interrogated prisoners. Similarly, Trotskyist militants considered enemies of the Republic were also incarcerated here. All this in a context of war that combined the efforts of ordinary Republican courts with the shortcomings of the system in the hands of arbitrary and repressive decisions. An example of this were the interrogations, in which prisoners were often subject to all kinds of false accusations and physical abuse or torture as a means of obtaining information. When they declared what the prosecutors wanted to hear, they were often sent to the People’s Court.
La Tamarita’s main cell held 16 to 18 prisoners and, whenever this number was exceeded, detainees were sent to the prison vessel “Villa de Madrid”, anchored in the Port of Barcelona.
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