Article

The Challenges of Identifying Juvenile Soldiers in the Spanish Civil War

Article

The Challenges of Identifying Juvenile Soldiers in the Spanish Civil War

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Abstract

Every conflict referred to as a war results in the horror of loss and death. This is true of any war, and the Spanish Civil War is a good example. Many people disappeared and were never found again, mainly because nobody ever looked for them. There were several counteroffensives on the eastern war front in Spain's Levante region during 1938, which, although ending in Pyrrhic victories for the Republican Army, were forgotten for years, as were the bodies of the soldiers abandoned to the elements on the battlefields. In 2014, this research project was developed to locate, exhume, and identify four graves containing the bodies of Republican soldiers found at the site of Peña Salada, Spain. The graves were found to contain five individuals, including some considered to be juvenile soldiers, aged between 14 and 20. They displayed many signs of violence, and it was possible to infer differences in injuries from bladed weapons and firearms. There was also evidence of the pillaging and desecration of the burial site. The genetic profiles of the five individuals were obtained in order to create a DNA database, which would make it possible to compare their profiles with those of potential family members who still live with the uncertainty of not knowing the whereabouts of their loved ones. This study offers the first scientific evidence of the participation of juvenile soldiers on the Levante Front, within the context of the Spanish Civil War.

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