If he had not left behind him a few drawings of his horrific stay in the French concentration camps, Civil War refugee Josep Bartoli (1910-1995) would have remained just another anonymous fighter amongst thousands who sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom. Visit the exhibition at the Memorial de Rivesaltes

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.

1939 was a difficult year for France. Not only did it experience the indignity of an invasion on its North East border from Hitler’s hordes late in the year, the country suffered a very different incursion in its far South-West in the early months of the year.