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]