In 1976, ESMA started to function as a Clandestine Center of Detention, Torture and Extermination of aproximately 5,000 detained-disappeared people.
The Officers’ Club was the core of the military repression, but the whole place –including educational institutions– was at the service of illegal actions. Thus, the entire ESMA served two purposes, working as both a School and a Clandestine Center of Detention, Torture and Extermination.
When the military-dictatorship ended in 1983, the premises continued to function as a school for Navy petty-officers. In light of the crimes against humanity that were committed here, however, the Argentine public continued to wonder what was the best way to honor this space. Faced with the fact that the people responsible weren’t being prosecuted and the government was promoting impunity policies such as the demolition of ESMA to turn it into real estate property, several human rights organizations persisted in their attempts to preserve ESMA. In 1998, the families of the disappeared filed for an injunction in order to prevent its destruction.