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.
TONIGHT, THURSDAY 25TH FEBRUARY, ONLINE
Josep is a 74-minute animated film inspired by the life and work of Josep Bartolí, anti-Franco fighter and cartoonist, exiled in France during the Retirada.
The shameful camps, over crowded, in-humane, crammed to overflowing with desperate Republicans escaping Franco’s Spain seem an unlikely place for art to flourish. But artists were there as can be seen in the Museum in La Jonquera. And they did not go un-noticed in Perpignan either.
During the Retirada, Spanish Republicans fleeing the Franco regime poured over the border into the P-O. But it wasn’t just people, many important pieces of artwork joined the exodus.
Love and War in the Pyrenees by Rosemary Bailey is available in paperback, the cover glowing with the colourful stripes so familiar to lovers of the Catalan fabric of St Laurent de Cerdans.
In late January/early February 1939 nearly half a million Spanish civilians and soldiers fled to France. The word Retirada (Spanish for Retreat) was adopted by historians to signify this exodus, which was the biggest single influx of refugees ever known in France.
Camp Joffre opened in 1938 and in that first year, changed from housing for the troops to housing for “Undesirables”; refugees from the Spanish Civil War, Jews and Gipsies. So handy for the railway. Destination: Auschwitz, via Drancy.
Michel Torrent (code name Milor René Jules) fled Saint Malo under German occupation and found refuge for himself and his family with his grandparents in Perpignan.
Elisabeth Eidenbenz was the remarkable Swiss woman who created La Maternité Suisse in Elne as a refuge for expectant mothers exiled from Spain during La Retirada and World War II.