Spain’s child abduction scandal – A dark chapter for the Catholic Church | DW Documentary

Child abduction has been practiced in many countries. But nowhere on such an egregious scale as in Spain. There, some 300,000 babies were stolen from their mothers and sold to childless couples during and after the Franco dictatorship.

Ireland is infamous for child abduction. So are Argentina, Chile and Australia. But nowhere else in the world did so many babies disappear as in Spain. And nowhere else have the victims received so little justice.

The Spanish dictator Franco had more than 100,000 opponents of the regime killed after the Civil War. This has been documented in detail by historians. However, another crime remained largely unknown until recently: organized child abduction.

Ideologically motivated during the early period of Franco’s dictatorship, child kidnapping soon developed into a lucrative business involving doctors, lawyers and the Roman Catholic Church.

It is estimated that into the 1990s, some 300,000 babies disappeared from Spanish maternity clinics. They were then sold to childless couples with forged papers. All the while, mothers have been looking for their children and children for their biological parents. These searches are extremely difficult, as victims are confronted with a lack of documents, a lack of political will and above all, the Church’s wall of silence.

In recent years, there have been some flashes of hope that light would finally be shed on this tragedy. But a recent political initiative created by Spanish victims’ groups now seems doomed to failure. So far, only a handful of people have succeeded in finding their relatives again. The majority of victims continue to live without knowing what happened to them and their families.

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