The beginnings of genetic identification of the victims of the Spanish Civil War in Catalonia

Assumpció Malgosa, Diana Vinueza, Raquel Rasal, Cristina Santos, Núria Armentano, Ignasi Galtés, Ferran Casals

The Generalitat de Catalunya between 2006 and 2016 commissioned the excavation of a series of mass graves from the Spanish Civil War and subsequent Franco dictatorship to identify the victims. The final step of this process consisted of genetic analyses to both ascertain or confirm the identification of the victims. In spite of the fact that certain could be identified, significant challenges remain. The main obstacles are the poor state of the remains, and consequently the genetic material, and the lack of living relatives, especially first-degree relatives. These problems are still valid today and are responsible for the current low rate of identification.

Genetic analyses are only part of the strategy of identification so as to be able to return the remains of the victims to their families. This task must be carried out in the framework of an interdisciplinary approach combining documentary, antemortem, and in-depth anthropological research.

Keywords: Mitochondrial DNA, autosomal STR, Y-STR, SNP.