The Pact of Forgetting

The Pact of Forgetting (Spanish: el pacto del olvido) is the Spanish political decision (by both the leftist and rightist parties)[citation needed] to avoid dealing with the legacy of Francoism after the 1975 death of General Francisco Franco, who had remained in power since the Spanish Civil War in 1936–1939. The Pact of Forgetting was an attempt to put the past behind them and concentrate on the future of Spain.[1]

In making a smooth transition from a dictatorship to a democracy, the pact ensured that there were no prosecutions for persons responsible for mass suffering. On the other hand, Francoist public memorials, such as the mausoleum of the Valley of the Fallen, fell into disuse for official occasions.[2] Also, the celebration of «Day of Victory» during the Franco era was changed to «Armed Forces Day» so respect was paid to both Nationalist and Republican parties of the Civil War.

The pact underpinned the transition to democracy of the 1970s and ensured that difficult questions about the recent past were suppressed for fear of endangering ‘national reconciliation’ and the restoration of liberal-democratic freedoms. Responsibility for the Spanish Civil War, and for the repression that followed, was not to be placed upon any particular social or political group. «In practice, this presupposed suppressing painful memories derived from the dictatorship’s division of the population into ‘victors’ and ‘vanquished’.[3] While many historians accept that the pact served a purpose at the time of transition,[4] there is more controversy as to whether it should still be adhered to. Paul Preston takes the view that Franco had time to impose his own version of history, which still prevents contemporary Spain from «looking upon its recent violent past in an open and honest way».[5]


The right to be forgotten is a concept discussed and put into practice in the European Union (EU) and Argentina since 2006.[1][2] The issue has arisen from desires of individuals to «determine the development of their life in an autonomous way, without being perpetually or periodically stigmatized as a consequence of a specific action performed in the past.»[3]:231 There has been controversy about the practicality of establishing a right to be forgotten to the status of an international human right in respect to access to information, due in part to the vagueness of current rulings attempting to implement such a right.[4] There are concerns about its impact on the right to freedom of expression, its interaction with the right to privacy, and whether creating a right to be forgotten would decrease the quality of the Internet through censorship and a rewriting of history,[5] and opposing concerns about problems such as revenge porn sites appearing in search engine listings for a person’s name, or references to petty crimes committed many years ago indefinitely remaining an unduly prominent part of a person’s Internet footprint.[6]




Generation identity[edit]

Generation identity occurs when an individual recognises that they are part of a particular social subgroup, a culturalgeneration, and concern themselves with the internalization of external features of the world.[9] The reminiscence bump occurs during a period of life where people form their individual and generational identity. The earlier years of the reminiscence bump coincide with the formation of generation identity, while the later years coincide with the formation of adult identity.[9]

The influence of generation identity on the reminiscence bump can be attributed to the idea that all members of the subgroup are likely to have memories of similar types of experiences.[9] Evidence attesting to the influence of generation identity on the reminiscence bump has been witnessed in populations that have experience with traumatic events. In 1999, researchers compared younger and older groups of Bangladeshis. The younger group (ages 20–42) showed the usual increase in memories during the reminiscence bump while the older group (ages 46–86) showed a second increase in memories between the ages of 35 and 55. The second bump experienced by the older group corresponded to the period of the Bangladesh Liberation War.[2] The two generations showed similar patterns and timing of memory recall within their own subgroup, suggesting that they did have similar experiences, either living or not living through the war. This finding may suggests that each generation remember personal events and generational events.

Memory for public events and private events[edit]

Researchers have studied different types of memories in order to find some clues into how the reminiscence bump works and how memories are stored and retrieved. Participants were asked to retrieve memories that were classified as either public or private to try to find differences in terms of when these memories were stored.[9] Public events are events that everyone living at the time know about and are exposed to (political, war/murder, sports/entertainment or news events), but private events are only experienced by the individual (relationships, births/deaths, work/education, home/leisure, illness and religion).[9] When recalling public events, participants were between ages 10 and 19; and when recalling private events, participants were between 20 and 29.[9] Researchers suggest that public events are recalled at an earlier age because individuals are gaining a sense of generational identity.[20] People are starting to create their own beliefs and their individual identity, so these experiences are being rehearsed, practiced and stored in long-term memory.[9] Private events are recalled later because this is when individuals are developing intimate relationship.[21] Private events are more easily stored and recalled because they are unique to each person and are likely occurring without any outside influence.[9]

Memory for happy and sad events[edit]

Different emotions have been shown to affect memory. Life events that have stronger emotions attached will be remembered more vividly. In studies looking at emotional events and the reminiscence bump, older adults tend to remember more positive events than younger adults.[22] Typically, during the reminiscence bump only happy memories and memories of important events are recalled.[7] It is postulated that sad events are easier to forget because there may be an increased motivation to forget them. Conversely, individuals are more likely to recall and relive happy events because they produced pleasurable memories. A second explanation suggests that remembering positive events can help regulate emotions and even enhance moods.[22] It is also possible to regulate emotions through remembering negative events and comparing these events to present positive events.[22] Positive or negative events can also be used to share life experiences with others and compare life events.[22]

Flashbulb memory and the reminiscence bump[edit]

Flashbulb memory occurs when a very vivid memory of a traumatic, emotional, or significant event is recalled.[34]Researchers typically use public events such as the John F. Kennedy assassination and 9/11 as cues when studying flashbulb memories.[34] Participants are asked to recall very specific information such as where they were, how they felt, and what they were doing when the event was taking place.[34] Memories of these events are easily recalled and the individual believes their account of the event to be perfectly accurate.[34]

These memories have been tested in different ways, including measuring the ability to recall details of the event and the impact of additional cues on the recall of the event.[34] Denver, Lane and Cherry found that flashbulb memories that took place in the reminiscence bump were exceptionally vivid and easily accessible.[34] It is suggested that the flashbulb memories encoded during the reminiscence bump are so vivid because the events happened during a time of identity formation and peak brain function.[34] Additionally, these events are recalled well because they undergo more rehearsal due to their serious nature and frequent discussion.