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Journal ArticleDOI

Digging up the recent Spanish memory: genetic identification of human remains from mass graves of the Spanish Civil War and posterior dictatorship

TL;DR: The genetic identification of human remains found in 26 mass graves located in Northern Spain shows a partial identification success rate, which is clearly a consequence of the lack of both appropriate family members for genetic comparisons and accurate information about the victims' location.
Abstract: The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and posterior dictatorship (until 1970s) stands as one of the major conflicts in the recent history of Spain. It led to nearly two hundred thousand men and women executed or murdered extra-judicially or after dubious legal procedures. Nowadays, most of them remain unidentified or even buried in irretraceable mass graves across Spain. Here, we present the genetic identification of human remains found in 26 mass graves located in Northern Spain. A total of 252 post-mortem remains were analyzed and compared to 186 relatives, allowing the identification of 87 victims. Overall, a significant success of DNA profiling was reached, since informative profiles (≥ 12 STRs and/or mitochondrial DNA profile) were obtained in 85.71% of the remains. This high performance in DNA profiling from challenging samples demonstrated the efficacy of DNA extraction and amplification methods used herein, given that only around 14.29% of the samples did not provide an informative genetic profile for the analysis performed, probably due to the presence of degraded and/or limited DNA in these remains. However, this study shows a partial identification success rate, which is clearly a consequence of the lack of both appropriate family members for genetic comparisons and accurate information about the victims' location. Hence, further perseverance in the exhumation of other intact graves as well as in the search of more alleged relatives is crucial in order to facilitate and increase the number of genetic identifications.
Citations
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: It is argued why Y-chromosomal analysis and its genetic genealogical applications will still perform an important role in future interdisciplinary research.
Abstract: The Y chromosome is currently by far the most popular marker in genetic genealogy that combines genetic data and family history. This popularity is based on its haploid character and its close association with the patrilineage and paternal inherited surname. Other markers have not been found (yet) to overrule this status due to the low sensitivity and precision of autosomal DNA for genetic genealogical applications, given the vagaries of recombination, and the lower capacities of mitochondrial DNA combined with an in general much lower interest in maternal lineages. The current knowledge about the Y chromosome and the availability of markers with divergent mutation rates make it possible to answer questions on relatedness levels which differ in time depth; from the individual and familial level to the surnames, clan and population level. The use of the Y chromosome in genetic genealogy has led to applications in several well-established research disciplines; namely in, e.g., family history, demography, anthropology, forensic sciences, population genetics and sex chromosome evolution. The information obtained from analysing this chromosome is not only interesting for academic scientists but also for the huge and lively community of amateur genealogists and citizen-scientists, fascinated in analysing their own genealogy or surname. This popularity, however, has also some drawbacks, mainly for privacy reasons related to the DNA donor, his close family and far-related namesakes. In this review paper we argue why Y-chromosomal analysis and its genetic genealogical applications will still perform an important role in future interdisciplinary research.

67 citations


Cites background or methods from "Digging up the recent Spanish memor..."

  • ...For instance, human remains in mass graves from World War II (Pajnic et al. 2010) and the Spanish Civil War (Baeta et al. 2015) were identified with Y-STRs proving to be an invaluable tool, alongside autosomal STRs....

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  • ...2010) and the Spanish Civil War (Baeta et al. 2015) were identified with Y-STRs proving to be an invaluable tool, alongside autosomal STRs....

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Journal ArticleDOI
07 Jun 2019
TL;DR: In this article, the authors analyzed the evolution of exhumations in Spain since 2000 until 2018, highlighting the precarious official involvement in this process, either the administration or the judiciary.
Abstract: This article analyses the evolution of exhumations in Spain since 2000 until 2018. The so-called "historical memory" and its origins in Spain are associated with the discovery of human remains in mass graves, highlighting the precarious official involvement in this process, either the administration or the judiciary. Are analysed the exhumations carried out from a historiography point of view, an updated balance of these interventions is made and the relevance of interdisciplinary is emphasized. Likewise, the normative scope in this matter and the changes that it has suffered at the state level and in the different autonomous communities are exposed. The analysis is useful to make known the progress made in each territory.

22 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: It is concluded that this methodology will allow identification of up to second‐degree relatives, even in situations with low sequencing performance and important levels of allele drop‐out; it is thus a technology that resolves previous drawbacks and that will allow a successful approximation to the identification of remains.
Abstract: Next-generation sequencing technologies have opened new opportunities in forensic genetics. Here, we assess the applicability and performance of the MiSeq FGx™ & ForenSeq™ DNA Signature Prep Kit (Illumina) for the identification of individuals from the mass graves of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The main limitations for individual identification are the low number of possible first-degree living relatives and the high levels of DNA degradation reported in previous studies. Massively parallel sequencing technologies enabling the analysis of hundreds of regions and prioritizing short length amplicons constitute a promising tool for this kind of approaches. In this study, we first explore the power of this new technology to detect first- and second-degree kinship given different scenarios of DNA degradation. Second, we specifically assess its performance in a set of low DNA input samples previously analyzed with CE technologies. We conclude that this methodology will allow identification of up to second-degree relatives, even in situations with low sequencing performance and important levels of allele drop-out; it is thus a technology that resolves previous drawbacks and that will allow a successful approximation to the identification of remains.

22 citations

01 Jan 2012
TL;DR: The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain this article is a history of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and the years afterwards.
Abstract: Paul Preston, The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain, WWNorton & Company, New York, 2012 Reviewed by Darryl Anthony BurrowesThe prolific Hispanist, Paul Preston, has deliberately chosen a provocative title for his latest book, The Spanish Holocaust 1 Preston first started work on the book in 1999, in an attempt 'to show as far as possible what happened to civilians and why', during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and in the years afterwards (pxi) As if the use of the word 'holocaust' in the main title of the book is not contentious enough, Preston compounds controversy by using the words 'inquisition and extermination' in the subtitle This was a painstaking decision by the author who 'thought long and hard about the title' (p xi) He feels strongly the need to present the reality of Francoism to a public both inside and outside Spain that still, thirty-seven years after Franco's death, holds mythical representations spawned by Cold War politics; that General Franco was a 'soft' dictator unlike Hitler and Mussolini; that he 'masterminded Spain's economic "miracle" in the 1960s and that he heroically kept his country out of the Second World War' (pxii) Such myths emanated from Francoist image-makers but were disseminated over the years by a compliant western media that accepted Franco's rebranding after the Second World War as the centinela de occidente (protector of the West)2 rather than pro-Axis sympathizer Franco was reincarnated, if not exactly as a 'good guy', but as a harmless and stable bulwark in the fight against an expansionist Soviet Russia This is an image that is anathema to Professor Preston, who has always made it clear to his readers where he stands vis-a-vis Franco One of his early books is dedicated 'to the memory of David Marshall and to the other men and women of the International Brigades who fought and died fighting fascism in Spain',3 and in the acknowledgements to his 1993 biography, Franco, he writes, 'For many years, my wife Gabrielle put up with the presence in our home of an uncongenial uninvited guest in the person of Francisco Franco'4 This latest addition to the Preston corpus has an agenda to destroy the 'soft' dictator image by recounting case after case of heinous murders perpetrated in Franco SpainWhether the title is appropriate in the Spanish context is debatable The word holocaust is somewhat problematic and has experienced several linguistic shifts For years it was used to describe violent death, often involving fire, of large numbers of people In the early twentieth-century it was applied to great massacres with a genocidal intent, such as the Armenian genocide However, from the mid twentieth-century onwards it has commonly and uniquely been associated with the Nazi genocide of six million Jews During the Cold War the phrase 'nuclear holocaust' was coined, without any reference to genocidal intent, to describe a future conflagration scenario The one common element to all usage of the word is large scale slaughter, although what qualifies as large scale is a relative concept in itselfThe Spanish death statistics are on a scale considerably smaller than the Jewish holocaust in Europe Preston writes '200,000 men and women were murdered extra-judicially or executed after flimsy legal process' (pi) He believes that the same number of men were killed on the various Spanish battle fronts and he adds that another 20,000 Republicans were executed after the official ending of the war His reckoning of the death count is further increased, although he doesn't give any actual figures He writes: 'Unknown numbers of men, women and children were killed in bombing attacks' and more died 'of disease and malnutrition in overcrowded, unhygienic prisons and concentration camps' (pi) and others died because of the slave-labour conditions of the regime's work battalions and also as a result of being forced into exile and ending up in French and Nazi concentration camps …

21 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The genetic identification of the victims of the largest family massacre that occurred in Slovenia, in which 10 members of the same family were killed, shows high confidence of correct identification with posterior probability greater than 99.9 % for three out of four victims identified.

19 citations

References
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Journal ArticleDOI
22 Apr 1993-Nature
TL;DR: The spontaneous decay of DNA is likely to be a major factor in mutagenesis, carcinogenesis and ageing, and also sets limits for the recovery of DNA fragments from fossils.
Abstract: Although DNA is the carrier of genetic information, it has limited chemical stability. Hydrolysis, oxidation and nonenzymatic methylation of DNA occur at significant rates in vivo, and are counteracted by specific DNA repair processes. The spontaneous decay of DNA is likely to be a major factor in mutagenesis, carcinogenesis and ageing, and also sets limits for the recovery of DNA fragments from fossils.

5,209 citations

Journal ArticleDOI

3,096 citations


"Digging up the recent Spanish memor..." refers methods in this paper

  • ...023 ng sequence rCRS [32] using ChromasPro v....

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Journal ArticleDOI
18 Aug 2000-Science
TL;DR: At the recent 5th International Ancient DNA Conference in Manchester, U.K., one presentation boldly opened with the claim that the field was now mature and could move ahead with a clear path towards deciphering diet and disease from DNA.
Abstract: At the recent 5th International Ancient DNA Conference in Manchester, U.K., reported by Erik Stokstad in his News Focus article “Divining diet and disease from DNA” (28 Jul., p. [530][1]), one presentation boldly opened with the claim that the field was now mature and could move ahead with

1,150 citations


"Digging up the recent Spanish memor..." refers background in this paper

  • ...In order to avoid contamination, recommendations suggested for work with ancient DNA (aDNA) were followed [24,25]....

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: It is argued here that researchers in this field must take a more cognitive and self-critical approach, and in place of checking criteria off lists, researchers must explain, in sufficient enough detail, how the data were obtained, and why they should be believed to be authentic.
Abstract: The study of ancient DNA has the potential to make significant and unique contributions to ecology and evolution. However, the techniques used contain inherent problems, particularly with regards to the generation of authentic and useful data. The solution currently advocated to reduce contamination and artefactual results is to adopt criteria for authentication. Nevertheless, these criteria are not foolproof, and we believe that they have, in practice, replaced the use of thought and prudence when designing and executing ancient DNA studies. We argue here that researchers in this field must take a more cognitive and self-critical approach. Specifically, in place of checking criteria off lists, researchers must explain, in sufficient enough detail to dispel doubt, how the data were obtained, and why they should be believed to be authentic.

575 citations


"Digging up the recent Spanish memor..." refers background in this paper

  • ...In order to avoid contamination, recommendations suggested for work with ancient DNA (aDNA) were followed [24,25]....

    [...]

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Software based on quasi-median network analysis that visualizes mtDNA data tables and thus signposts sequencing, interpretation and transcription errors is developed and provides results that can be used to check the quality of mtDNA sequence data.
Abstract: Mitochondrial DNA databases stand as the basis for frequency estimations of mtDNA sequences that became relevant in a case. The establishment of mtDNA databases sounds trivial; however, it has been shown in the past that this undertaking is prone to error for several reasons, particularly human error. We have established a concept for mtDNA data generation, analysis, transfer and quality control that meets forensic standards. Due to the complexity of mtDNA population data tables it is often difficult if not impossible to detect errors, especially for the untrained eye. We developed software based on quasi-median network analysis that visualizes mtDNA data tables and thus signposts sequencing, interpretation and transcription errors. The mtDNA data (N=5173; release 1) are stored and made publicly available via the Internet in the form of the EDNAP mtDNA Population Database, short EMPOP. This website also facilitates quasi-median network analysis and provides results that can be used to check the quality of mtDNA sequence data. EMPOP has been launched on 16 October 2006 and is since then available at http://www.empop.org.

346 citations


"Digging up the recent Spanish memor..." refers methods in this paper

  • ...MtDNA and Y-STR haplotype frequency was assessed through EMPOP (EDNAP Mitochondrial DNA Population Database) [35] and YHRD (Y-STR Haplotype Reference Database) [36] databases, respectively....

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