The amazing story of the baby’s rattle found in a Franco victim’s grave
The mysterious discovery of a pink and yellow baby’s rattle found next to the remains of a woman killed by firing squad during the Spanish Civil War has finally been solved, 83 years after her death.
Archaeologists were stunned when they unearthed the perfectly preserved toy in 2011 during excavation work in Palencia, Spain.
The rattle was in such good condition that they couldn’t believe it had survived 83 years but it turned out to be genuine.
Extensive research revealed it was taken by mother of four Catalina Munoz to her final resting place in 1936.
Now, after all these years, her son has been tracked down, still alive at 83, and his daughter is planning to reclaim the rattle and keep it to tell her own children the fascinating story of the woman who was defiant to the end.
The story of Catalina Munoz has been documented by several archaeological so-cieties who tracked her son down.
Her grave, together with other victims of Franco, was found under a children’s park in Palencia. Various relics were revealed, including a comb, crucifix and even a laxative tin, but it was the baby’s rattle, shaped like a flower, which broke hearts again.
Archaeologist Alfredo Gonzalez-Ruibal told Spanish newspaper El Pais which unravelled the fascinating story: “It was like new and did not look like it dated all the way back to the Spanish Civil War (1936 to 1939)”.
Others on the dig “thought it was a joke” but tests showed it was made of celluloid, a plastic developed in 1870 widely used in everyday objects until the 70s of the 20th century.
Archaeologists say it is the most striking and moving object found so far during the hunt for Franco victims and is the only one of its kind recovered in the exhumation of more than 700 graves in Spain.
Catalina Munoz was 37 years old when she was executed for alleged military rebellion and came from the village of Cevico de la Torre, about 30 kilometres from Palencia.
She had four children at the time of her death, including an eight-month-old baby son, the child who grew up to be Martín de la Torre Muñoz. She was arrested in August 1936, a month after the Spanish coup of July 1936 which marked the beginning of the Civil War. It is believed she was still wearing her apron when she was marched away by the firing squad and had the rattle in her pocket.
His daughter, Martina, 57, intends to reclaim the rattle and keep it in an urn.
She recently visited a monolith in the town which features the names of the victims found in the mass grave and said: “I felt a very strange feeling of emptiness but on the other hand I am very happy to be able to recover my grandmother and bring her back.”