Theft of 300,000 Babies by the Franco regime: mothers dying without reaching the truth

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From the SOS Association of Stolen Babies of Catalonia it is estimated that there are 300,000 stolen babies. “It started as a eugenic project, improving the Spanish race and eliminating the red genes on the left (1940 -1960), but then from 1960 to 1999 it was observed that it was a business..”

The researcher Carolina Escudero analyzes the systematic plan for the theft of children from 1940 to the end of Spanish democracy and the hendija that was recently opened to try that crime. She notes that women were silenced with medication and manipulation.
By Sonia Santoro, at Periodico Alternativo

In mid-June the Spanish Supreme Court left the door open to the investigation of the cases of stolen babies in Spain from the Franco dictatorship to advanced democracy. A researcher who works with social organizations that ask for justice for her missing children explains how the systematic plan for the theft of babies was and what the current situation is.

Faced with the burden of impunity, there are families seeking justice outside of Spain

“It is necessary to do a great job of reconstructing interdisciplinary historical memory (we cannot stop with what the law says about what these families have lived through) so that contemporaries know that this cannot happen again,” she says.


The ruling of the Spanish high court revised a 2018 judgment that acquitted the retired doctor Eduardo Vela of the crimes of illegal detention, supposition of childbirth and documentary falsification in the case denounced by Inés Madrigal, considering that they were prescribed.

The new sentence dictates that the illegal detention is not proven, but confirms the documentary falsity and the illegality of the adoption of Madrigal, the first victim to go to trial, who denounced having been taken from her biological parents in the San Ramón sanatorium in Madrid. , in 1969. Faced with this, the families are expectant but they are not super gullible either, says the doctor in Social Psychology Carolina Escudero, who has accompanied family members and has been investigating the subject for four years.

The “We in SOS are looking out for you” campaign denounces that from 1940 until democracy was well advanced, babies were systematically stolen throughout Spain. It was a network made up of professionals from medicine, nursing and priests and nuns, among others.

thousands still seek their real families
thousands still seek their real families

From the SOS Association of Stolen Babies of Catalonia it is estimated that there are 300,000. “It started as a eugenic project, improving the Spanish race and eliminating the red genes on the left (1940 -1960), but then from 1960 to 1999 it was observed that it was a business, those babies could be sold to Spanish families or foreign.

Then Spain became a baby market ”, explained Escudero, who has just published two papers in scientific magazines on the subject:“ Giving voice to the traumatic event. Spanish mothers of stolen babies. Three strategies to silence mothers during and after the dictatorship “and” Stolen babies in Spain. History mediated for recovery. Mothers’ activism through online campaigns “.

-One of your investigations corroborates three ways to silence mothers during the Franco dictatorship, what do they consist of?


The paper “Giving voice to the traumatic effect …” is based on in-depth interviews with SOS stolen babies in Catalonia. I started in 2016. I was interested in working from an action research place where research in its action gives a concrete contribution to its object of study.

This paper represents that: the “We in SOS we are looking out for you” campaign was created, trust was generated and people showed interest in telling their cases and that was how I was able to go deeper into that traumatic event.

As a result of these interviews, the systematic theft of the babies comes out, but also the back story, this body, this memory that is covered by the years, by Francoism, by a democracy where the past is not evaluated, is not judged and we are forced to change page and forget; and no mother forgot this. Then there are the memories of how they were silenced.

Mothers .. are saying that they were silenced with a lot of medication and with the recommendations of the doctors to the family: “take everything from the baby in the house by the time she returns”, “there is to be no talk of the baby”, “When she is a little more recovered, continue with the medication.” “She should take a trip with the husband”; “It is best to replace the death of one baby with another.”

Many of them were paralyzed with the medication, in their heads was the awareness that the baby was not there but they were unable to say anything or make a move. So, of the three ways to silence mothers, these three categories, the first is through medication, the second is through manipulation (“you are young and by the time you want to remember it’s over”; “you have to have another baby”) and the third combines both: medication and manipulation. When the mother could not be manipulated through slogans, this manipulation came through relatives or her partner. It was a manipulation that lasted many years.

What happened after Francoism?

The mothers who stole their babies during the Franco regime, when ‘democracy’ came with the transitional government, continued to think that their babies were dead. And until the end of the 90s the mass theft of babioes continued .

What happens is that these new mothers do not realiise that there are mothers from the 60s and 70s to whom the same thing happened. Why does it keep happening? Because the transitional government says “what happened during the Franco period was left behind”, the officials of the time are not being tried, and the families of disappeared people do not have a voice or votes … nothing happens.(The amnesty agreement).

It is a ‘change of page’ and prevails the “we do not need to go back, we do not want more confrontations between ourselves, we do not want a civil war”. Then there are dynamics and agreements not to go back. And the one who wants to go back is a being conflictive.

(Translators Note: The law of forgetting was made for fear of a new fascist coup. The tragedy of the 300k babies is only part of it. For example hundreds of thousands were executed by the regime and their bodies still left in unexhumed graves, then there is the confiscated property and industry, often still held by the elite right wing, and much more.. the dark reality behind sunny Spain.)

criminals at work

In this not judging the past, stories remain silenced. These families of stolen babies discovered that they were not the only ones through a television show in 2010 that featured special investigations with stories of women. And there were those who watched who suddenly said “but what if the same thing happened to me”. The phone lines of the program were collapsed with calls. Thus the mothers began to come together.

-What did you face in the absence of justice all these years?

Between 2011 and 2012, stolen baby organizations were formed throughout Spain. And they collected their cases and moved alone without government support. And so they created reports in each organization. And so more cases were added.

They did a lot but it is an aging population. Many mothers are dying without having come to the truth, and without having seen a response from governments.

In the face of justice, mothers who have proof that the baby was stolen and in many cases certainty that she or he is alive, are not considered victims. Officials talk about alleged cases, there is always the doubt.

.... ''Hi I'm looking for my twin brother, we were born at the hospital in Zamacola, after a few hours they told my mother that my brother had died but never let her see the body. I have no birth or death certificate and she was not told where they had buried him. My mother was single. We were born on 02/01/1962. My mother's name was Felisa Ortega......if someone remembers my mother's name or was born in that hospital on that date please get in touch with me''....this is one of over 60 appeals for information in the Comments of the original article in Spanish.
…. ”Hi I’m looking for my twin brother, we were born at the hospital in Zamacola, after a few hours they told my mother that my brother had died but never let her see the body. I have no birth or death certificate and she was not told where they had buried him. My mother was single. We were born on 02/01/1962. My mother’s name was Felisa Ortega……if someone remembers my mother’s name or was born in that hospital on that date please get in touch with me”….this is one of over 60 appeals for information in the Comments of the original article in Spanish.

This also causes fatigue. They never receive specific treatment for the traumatic event. It becomes very difficult when there is no institutional support, they have to subsidize everything from their pockets, the cases prescribe. Seeking justice outside of Spain is one of the paths that families have been choosing.

Governments need to take note. Reparation is an action, it is also an empathetic result on the part of the government, of putting oneself in the place of and spreading these cases.

It is a wait that has been very long. In this new normal, we wonder where the stolen baby cases are.

Alternative Newspaper published this news following the creative commons rule. If you do not want your article to appear on this blog write me to withdraw it from Immediate

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6 hrs agoEspaña,
Ante el lastre de la impunidad, hay familias que buscan justicia fuera de España

La investigadora Carolina Escudero analiza el plan sistemático de robo de niños desde 1940 hasta avanzada la democracia española y la hendija que recién se abrió para juzgar ese crimen. Señala que se silenció a las mujeres con medicación y manipulación.
Por Sonia Santoro


Carolina Escudero y Baltasar Garzón.

A mediados de junio el Tribunal Supremo español dejó abierta la puerta a la investigación de los casos de bebés robados en España desde la dictadura franquista hasta avanzada la democracia. Una investigadora que trabajo con organizaciones sociales que piden justicia por sus hijos desaparecidos explica cómo fue el plan sistemático para el robo de bebés y cuál es la situación actual.

“Hay que hacer un gran trabajo de reconstrucción de la memoria histórica interdisciplinaria (no nos podemos quedar solo con lo que dice la ley de lo que han vivido esas familias) para que los contemporáneos sepan que esto no puede volver a pasar”, dice.

El fallo del alto tribunal español revisó una sentencia de 2018 que absolvió al médico retirado Eduardo Vela de los delitos de detención ilegal, suposición de parto y falsedad documental en el caso denunciado por Inés Madrigal, por considerar que estaban prescritos.

La nueva sentencia dictamina que la detención ilegal no está probada, pero confirma la falsedad documental y la ilegalidad de la adopción de Madrigal, la primera víctima en llegar a juicio, quien denunció haber sido sustraída de sus padres biológicos en el sanatorio San Ramón de Madrid, en 1969. Frente a esto las familias están expectantes pero tampoco están súper crédulas, dice la doctora en Psicología Social Carolina Escudero, que acompaña a familiares e investiga el tema desde hace cuatro años.

La campaña “SOS te estamos buscando” denuncia que desde 1940 hasta bien avanzada la democracia, se robaron sistemáticamente bebés a lo largo y ancho de España. Se trató de una red integrada por profesionales de medicina, enfermería y por curas y monjas, entre otros. Desde la Asociación SOS Bebés Robados de Catalunya se estima que son 300.000. “Empezó como un proyecto eugenista, mejorar la raza española y eliminar los genes rojos de la izquierda (1940 -1960) pero luego a partir de 1960 y hasta 1999 se observó que era un negocio, a esos bebés se los podía vender a familias españolas o extranjeras.

Entonces España se convirtió en un mercado de bebés”, explicó Escudero, quien acaba de publicar dos papers en revistas científicas sobre el tema: “Dándole voz al evento traumático. Madres españolas de bebés robados. Tres estrategias para silenciar a las madres durante y después de la dictadura” y “Bebés robados en España. Historia mediatizadas para la recuperación. El activismo de las madres a través de las campañas online” . Desde Barcelona, respondió a PaginaI12.

-Una de sus investigaciones corrobora tres formas de silenciar a las madres durante la dictadura franquista, ¿en qué consisten?

El paper “Darle voz al efecto traumático…” se basa en entrevistas en profundidad a SOS bebés robados en Catalunya. Empecé en 2016. Me interesaba trabajar desde un lugar de investigación-acción donde la investigación en su acción le da un aporte concreto a su objeto de estudio. Este paper representa eso: se creó la campaña “SOS te estamos buscando”, se generó confianza y las personas mostraron interés en contar sus casos y fue así que pude profundizar más en aquel evento traumático.

De estas entrevistas sale como resultado el robo sistemático de los bebés, pero también la trastienda, este cuerpo, esta memoria que queda tapada por los años, por el franquismo, por una democracia donde no se evalúa, no se juzga el pasado y nos obligan a cambiar de página y a olvidar; y ninguna madre olvidó esto. Entonces son los recuerdos de cómo fueron silenciadas.

Vamos a tener madres que van a decir que las silenciaron con mucha medicación y con las recomendaciones de los médicos a la familia: “saquen todo lo que haya del bebé en la casa para cuando ella vuelva”, “no se habla del bebé”, “cuando esté un poco más repuesta sigan con la medicación”. “van a tener que hacer un viaje con el marido”; “lo mejor es reemplazar la muerte de un bebé con otro”. Muchas de ellas estaban paralizadas con la medicación, en su cabeza estaba la conciencia de que no estaba el bebé pero eran incapaces de decir algo o moverse.

Entonces, de las tres maneras de silenciar a las madres, estas tres categorías, la primera es a través de la medicación, la segunda, a través de la manipulación (“eres joven y para cuando te quieras acordar ya pasó”; “tenés que tener otro bebe”) y la tercera conjuga las dos: medicación y manipulación. Cuando a la madre no se la podía manipular a través de consignas, esta manipulación llegaba a través de familiares o del compañero. Fue una manipulación que duró muchos años.

-¿Qué pasó después del franquismo?

Las madres que les robaron sus bebés durante el franquismo, cuando llega la democracia, el gobierno de transición, siguen pensando que su bebé ha muerto. Y hasta fines de los años 90 van a seguir robando bebés. Lo que pasa que estas nuevas madres no saben que hay madres de los años 60 y 70 a las que les pasó lo mismo. ¿Por qué sigue sucediendo?

Porque el gobierno de transición dice “lo que pasó durante el franquismo quedó atrás”, no son juzgados los funcionarios de la época y tampoco tienen voz ni votos las familias de personas desaparecidas… no pasa nada. Es un cambio de página e impera el “no necesitamos volver atrás, no queremos más enfrentamientos entre los nuestros, no queremos una guerra civil”. Entonces se configuran unas dinámicas y acuerdos de no volver atrás. Y el que quiere volver atrás es un ser de conflicto.

En este no juzgar al pasado quedan historias silenciadas. Estas familias de bebes robados descubrieron que no eran las únicas a través de un programa de televisión en 2010 en que se difunden investigaciones especiales con relatos de mujeres. Y ahí las que miraban se decían “pero si a mí me pasó lo mismo”. Se colapsan las líneas de teléfono del programa. Así se empezaron a juntar.

-¿Qué hicieron frente a la falta de justicia todos estos años?

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Entre 2011 y 2012 van a ir formándose las organizaciones de bebés robados a lo largo de toda España. Y van a ir juntando sus casos y moviéndose solas sin apoyos del gobierno. Y así van a ir creando informes en cada organización. Y así se van sumando más casos.

Hicieron mucho pero es una población que está envejeciendo. Se están muriendo muchas madres sin haber llegado a la verdad, y sin haber visto una predisposición de los gobiernos. De cara a la justicia las madres que tienen pruebas de que el bebe fue robado y en muchos casos certeza de que está vivo, no son consideradas víctimas.

Los funcionarios hablan de supuestos casos, siempre está la duda. Esto también genera un cansancio. Nunca recibieron un tratamiento específico por el evento traumático. Se hace muy difícil cuando no hay apoyo institucional, lo tienen que subvencionar todo de su bolsillo, los casos prescriben. Buscar justicia fuera de España es uno de los caminos que han ido escogiendo las familias.

Se hace necesario que los gobiernos tomen nota. La reparación es una acción, es un resultado también empático por parte del gobierno, de ponerse en el lugar de y de difundir esos casos. Es una espera que se ha dilatado muchísimo. En esta nueva normalidad nos preguntamos dónde quedan los casos de bebés robados.

Periódico Alternativo publicó esta noticia siguiendo la regla de creative commons. Si usted no desea que su artículo aparezca en este blog escríbame para retirarlo de Inmediato

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