Graphic Chronicle from the Ministry of Finance (1852 - 2007)

Chapter: "The Civil War" (accessible HTML text)

Image: Camera travelling upstairs the Ministry of Finance basement.

Narrator: In 1936 I sensed a change, when my cellars were filled with soldiers. The civil war had begun, and the General José Miaja constituted the Defence Junta, choosing me as General Headquarters, and official residence.

Image: Photograph of soldiers in the Ministry basement.

Image: Photograph of José Miaja wearing his military uniform and sitting on an armchair of the Minister of the Treasury’s official bureau.

Narrator: The functions of the Treasury stopped completely. Dossiers lay deteriorating in the courtyards. The underground archives became rooms and operations centres. A mixture of tobacco and metal inundated the basements. Life went on between stress, silences, and lifeless faces...

Image: Camera travelling through the corridors of the Ministry basement.

Sound: Sound effect of the war with bombs falling, shots, etc.

Image: Photograph of soldiers and civilians in the Ministry basement.

Image: Photograph of soldiers in formation in the Ministry basement. Their faces show discouragement and some of them have their heads lowered.

Image: Old photograph of the beginning of Alcalá Street taken from Puerta del Sol. There are a lot of people walking in the streets, and cars and trams passing along.

Narrator: The Charles III Hall, scene of so many official acts, decorations, games distributions, and weddings, became a frame for propaganda. Miaja himself, wishing to show the participation of foreign troops in the civil war, gave a press conference for foreign correspondents, at which were present Italian prisoners captured in the battle of Guadalajara.

Image: Photograph of the Carlos III Hall, full of soldiers, civilians and journalists. Many of them are standing up observing their fellows writing and talking.

Image: Photograph of José Miaja next to a table, where the press conference is being held.

Image: Photograph of Italian soldiers attending the press conference.

Image: Photograph of Jesús Hernández Tomás, Minister of Public Education and Arts, talking into a microphone in the press conference. He is standing by the table and is moving an arm in a very expressive way. Miaja is sitting on his right.

Narrator: The siege of Madrid was constant. As the General Headquarters in Madrid, I became an objective.

Image: Madrid aerial photograph in black and white in which the Puerta del Sol, the Cibeles Square and Neptuno Square are highlighted by means of a green mask.

Narrator: This is me.

Image: In the same photograph, the Ministry building is highlighted by means of a red mask, circled with broken lines.

Narrator: The planes took the telephone exchange building as a reference in order to bomb me.

Image: In the same photograph, the Telefónica building is highlighted with a red mask, circled with broken lines. Then, a broken yellow straight line goes from the Telefónica to the Ministry.

Narrator: And suddenly...

Sound: Sound effect simulating the fall of the howitzer.

Image: In the same photograph, all the signals disappear and the image goes forward, simulating the fall of a howitzer.

Narrator: It was nearer than you can imagine... The Palace of the Marquis of Torrecilla was destroyed. Its baroque facade was eventually protected after the war finished.

Image: Photograph of the open hole in the underground tunnel vault in front of the residential buildings and the shops on number 14, then number 15, of Puerta del Sol in front of the Chemist’s Company.

Image: Photograph of the Marqués de Torrecilla Palace destroyed by bombings.

Image: Photograph of the baroque facade of the Marqués de Torrecilla Palace. Through the windows, we can observe the debris produced by the bombings.

Narrator: The Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando and the telephone exchange building were also hit.

Image: Photograph of the Telefónica building. We can see some holes and shrapnel shots in the facade.

Narrator: In 1937 the President Azaña, together with other members of the government, honoured us with a visit. Miaja offered him a banquet of honour in the cellars. Autonomous flags decorated the columns, presiding over what was a pleasant candle-lit evening. For a moment it seemed like a supper with friends reunited, or a wedding. The noise of the bombs gave way to laughter and song.

Image: Camera travelling through the corridors of the Ministry basement.

Image: Photograph of Miaja and Azaña at the banquet in the Ministry basement.

Image: Photograph of the banquet in the Ministry basement. The table is very long and all the guests are sitting and talking. Autonomic flags are hanging from the columns.

Image: Photograph of the banquet, taken lengthwise. In the middle and the sides of the table, soldiers and civilians are talking amicably.

Narrator: But it was short-lived. Two years later on the night of the 5th March 1939, the National Defence Council, the last Republican organ, was constituted in the basements, with the object of bringing the war to a halt.

Image: Photograph of the Cibeles Square during the war. The Cibeles statue is completely covered by a barricade made of cobbles, sand and sandbags to protect it from the bombs.

Image: Photograph of Azaña crossing the corridors of the Ministry basement. He is wearing a dark coat and he has his hat in his hand.

Narrator: These intentions were announced on the radio. Those charged with pronouncing the speeches were Casado, Cipriano Mera, and Julián Besteiro. I can still remember their speeches...

Image: Camera travelling through the corridors of the Ministry.

Image: Photographs of Casado, Cipriano Mera and Julián Besteiro in the moment they were delivering their speeches. They are in the Ministry basement and there is not much light. A reading lamp lights up the table where they are sitting.

Besteiro: Spanish citizens... After a long and painful silence, I am obliged today by force of conscience to address you from a microphone in Madrid.

Image: Photograph of General Miaja receiving the representatives of the Anglican Mission in Spain in the basement of the Ministry of Finance.

Image: Camera travelling through a corridor of the Ministry basement.

Besteiro: The fact is, fellow citizens, that since the battle of the Ebro, the nationalist forces have totally occupied Catalunia, and the Republican government has for a long while been in exile in France.

Image: Photograph of Besteiro sitting around a table, delivering his speech. There are people standing around him, with lifeless faces.

Image: Views of the information panels and photographs of the Civil War section of the exhibition Graphic Chronicle of the Ministry of Finance at the Ministry basement.

Besteiro: I speak to you from this breakwater that is all the many Spains, as spoke the immortal poet, lost by us all, perhaps abandoned, in foreign lands. I speak to you to say that when one loses, one has to be valient. One may lose, but with honour and dignity. I say to you that a moral victory such as this is worth a thousand times a material victory achieved through the power of capitulation and humiliation...

Image: Photograph of Besteiro sitting delivering his speech.

Image: Photograph of General Miaja wearing his military uniform in one of the Ministry’s offices. At his back, we can see a solid wood bookcase.

Image: Photograph of Fernando Rodríguez Miaja, General Miaja’s assistant, in the main patio of the Ministry, also called the Clock patio.

Image: A group photograph of the administration, services and telephone staff which worked for General Miaja’s private rooms and bureau, at the Ministry of Finance basement.

Narrator: Some days later Madrid fell, and the war was over.

-- End of the chapter --

© Ministry of Finance (2012)

General Technical Secretary

General Bureau of Information, Documentation and Publications


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