La Retirada

Following our recent articles on la Retirada, a P-O Life reader very kindly contacted us with photos and memories of a hike that they undertook back in 2017.

La Retirada : a photo reportage, by Nan Pederson

There is a place on the Spanish side of the old custom house on the randonnée piste from Cerbère to Portbou – where there’s a photo exhibition with the people waiting to escape to France through the Retirada 1939.

This is the old French Custom House

retirada rando

Continuing south, it’s shortly followed by the Spanish one  – you can still see the Spanish crown on it – at least one could in 2017, when these photos were taken.

retirada rando

A bloody monument has its place there

retirada rando

The following photos are on display at the Mémorial du camp d’Argelès-sur-Mer

Every day during the 1939 Retirada, approximately 10,000 people came through this one point of passage, the point closest to the Mediterranean Sea.

The exhibition closes with the famous words of John Donne (1624):

retirada rando

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Leave a Comment