We finish with those who fled into exile from Franco’s Spain. With the fall of Catalonia in February 1939, some 500,000 defeated Spanish and Catalan Republicans fled across the border. We will follow the mountains roads and paths trying to recreate the experiences of these defeated men, women and children. On arrival in what was still democratic France, the French government treated these people worse than animals herding them into makeshift camps particularly on the beaches near Perpignan. As the months wore on many were released to work or to return to a very uncertain future in Spain. Some of the more fortunate managed to get passage to Latin America, where they had a significant cultural impact, particularly in Mexico. Tragically, others were swept up when the Nazis invaded France, who deported some 10,000 Republicans, above all to the hell of Mauthassen in Austria, Those who weren’t captured formed together with French and foreign International Brigader veterans the initial backbone of the French resistance. There were other journeys into exile: 4000 Basque children were sent to the UK in the summer of 1937, while other Republican children were sent to the USSR.
Exile and camps in France
- Museum of Exile: Well worth a visit. Just north of Figueres (Dalí). on the same border crossing where hundreds of thousands of defeated soldiers, women and children fled into an uncertain future. http://www.museuexili.cat/
- Book. The routes to exile: France and the Spanish Civil War refugees, 1939-2009 (2017) By Scott Soo.
- Book. Love And War In The Pyrenees by Rosemary Bailey. A moving, highly recommended blend of travelogue, history and personal account. Beautifully written.
- Excellent blog piece in English about visit to Argeles concentration camp and translation of Pau Casals’ moving letter describing conditions there in 1939.
- Franco refugees still haunted by the past (The Guardian, 2019)