Catalans in Germany, hommage in La Humanitat, 1945
On 26 January 1939, seventy-seven years ago, Franco’s troops took Barcelona and, on the following day, Badalona, Santa Coloma de Gramenet, El Masnou, Premià de Mar, Vilassar de Mar, Mataró, Artés, La Llagosta and Sant Fost de Campsentelles.
All those who went into exile had to cope with an exodus that led them to both hunger and uncertainty (such as the one that Europe is contemplating, allowing and fueling again), and led many to their deaths or a new war, or to deportation to the Nazi extermination camps.
Some returned – too few, and condemned to silence and disbelief, deaf ears and neglect, shame and trauma.
Some fanned the flame and the resistance, the responsibility of freedom and memory, some words, some pictures.
An example of this is La Humanitat, the ERC’s weekly, published in Paris (according to memoriaesquerra.cat, the Fundació Josep Irla website) from 1944 to 1953 (“internal newsletter of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, member of Solidaritat Catalana”).
On page 2 of the September 23, 1945 issue, No. 24, a column, and a drawing by C. Arnal, relate the return of the deportees from Germany.
If only we all knew with what emotions of excitement, hope, frustration or sadness (and perhaps resentment) this publication was received at the time, printed on a single sheet and four pages, and dated 23rd September 1945!
To see all those names, mentioned one by one (and particularly Joaquim Amat Piniella, whose name has been revived in recent years thanks to the reedition of his book K. L. Reich). How these lists help to keep the struggles and the suffering alive in our minds!
In their honour and memory, we have decided to transcribe the full text, as a historical record, above and beyond one particular political party. These events are part of all of us.
Catalans in Germany
Some days ago, we rejoiced over the return of deported Catalans from Germany. We did so with joy, moved by the fact that our words were addressed to the best of our fighters, who never lost their faith in Catalonia and in freedom. We did so also thinking that many members of our Party would return amongst us. And so it has been. Every day we receive news of those who have returned. Old acquaintances are renewed with delight. The same delight with which we often hear from people themselves or from their departmental organizations. They have all passed the ordeal that was reserved for deportees, they have all suffered and it will take time for them to recover. But they all tell us that they have not stopped believing in Catalonia and our ideals.
Shortly after returning many, such as Marian Abella, who now chairs the Loire Departmental Committee, have resumed their activities among our ranks. A few days after his return Lluís Fages, a member in Catalonia of “El Foment de Reus”, wrote to us from Annecy to tell us that “I think I have to get in touch at once with the Party”. We have received similar news from our friend Antoni Bofarull Ferrer, secretary of the Baix Camp district party delegation in Tarragona, from Josep Pérez Fontcuberta, Lluís Jordà i Perich, Lluís Planes, Francesc Maya, J. Amat Piniella… and of course from the Eastern Pyrenees, where one of the most important delegations of our Party has informed us of the return of Francesc Vivé-Sánchez, Pere Lladó i Bret, Joan Huc i Vallespí, Jaume Huc i Peco, Jaume Garriga Coll, Pere Ferrero and Juli Ferrero.
Unfortunately our joy cannot be completel -far from it. Many of our colleagues will never come back from Germany. There are some about whom we have no news at all. We have received specific news of others who died there. In Dachau, Ramon Serra (a party member from District V in Barcelona), the Vergès brothers from Reus, and our colleagues Coderch and Riera from Badalona, have all died. In Buchenwald, Josep Serra i Mistral and Antoni Canut i Morich of the ERC’s Ateneu Obrer in District V [Barcelona], and Antoni Gomis (party member from District IV) have all died. Lluís Ametllet i Roig, from the Girona Federation, and Francesc Abelló from Granollers have also died. We remember today these beloved companions as well as all the Catalans who have died in Germany, their only sin having been to love and serve their people and Freedom.
From these lines we are duty-bound to point out the Catalan contribution to the crusade that has just ended with the defeat of international fascism and we once again underline the shocking mockery aimed at all those who have suffered and died in Germany: they cannot yet return to their homeland, which is still run by a system that has been defeated on battlefields across the world.