Francisco Franco greeting Adolf Hitler in Hendaye, 1940 AFP
The Council of Ministers of the Government of Spain, held on April 26, 2019, decided to establish May 5 as the Day of Remembrance for the Spaniards who were deported and died in Mauthausen and other camps, as well as for all the laudable victims of Nazism in Spain. a measure that contributes to leaving a mark on cities and towns, and which multiplies the tribute, which makes visible the absence of its neighbors, absorbed in the National Socialist machine.
Polish-born writer Lisa Apignaresi (née Elbeta Borenstein), educated and working in the Anglo-Saxon world, in her work The Lost Dead explores stories heard in her childhood to relive a past she did not know in punished Warsaw. , and remember “The dead are lost. But maybe, however, something will change if we, remembering them, lose them properly.” Indeed, the dead did not die in vain, and the survivors did not see their past buried, otherwise the executioners would have triumphed, those who tried not to leave a trace of their crimes, but fled in horror from the nearness of their defeat.
While traces of crime exist and words remain, we are witnessing a horrendous mis-education, for the sake of deceitful presenteeism and mental laziness, which reverts to lies, half-truths and acquiescence, escalating as events recede. An oblivious and fragile Europe may end up becoming a new scene of horror, bad news for coexistence and a source of resentment. What remains today of the oaths pronounced by the survivors a few days after the liberation of the camps? The climax of Never Again! it has been and continues to be violated in a world in which freedom, solidarity among peoples and social justice, which those who have suffered in their flesh from the most shameful attacks on human existence, do not prevail.
Before deaf and blind eyes there is room for the work of discovery and knowledge, to the extent that those who do not know can neither note nor give memory a collective dimension that prevails over the noise and cries of those who They do not know and do not are listening. May 5, the date of the liberation of Mauthausen, is part of the history of Spain in the 20th century, and on May 16, at a ceremony held at the appeal square for the repatriation of surviving Soviet soldiers, the aforementioned oath was pronounced in different languages, proof of the internationalization of persecution and pain.
Of all the camps established on the territory of the Reich, about 3,700 of the slightly more than 9,000 deported Republicans survived. Joaquim Amat-Piniella, in the preface to his masterful work KL Reich, created in 1946 in Andorra, wrote: “Millions of people were killed because they loved freedom and with their death contributed to the survival of freedom”, words that oscillate between horror and Hope. Amat-Piniella left the ashes of his comrades in misfortune in the Austrian sky, and he himself fought for his lost freedom until the end of his life.
The Republican deportees were men and women of their time, free, from all walks of life and from many different places, who lived enthusiastically in the new times heralded by the proclamation of the Second Republic. Their dignity has been attacked from the moment they were forced to cross the Pyrenees, to board boats that would have thrown them back to North Africa, or to cross the seas and oceans in search of refuge, to eventually leave their human, political, cultural life. and scientific in distant countries. Fighters against traitor generals of the republican regime, fighters in the ranks of the French army, pioneers of the Resistance against the Nazi occupiers, slaves of Hitler, on the Atlantic coast, in the Anglo-Norman Islands or in Germany itself, their classification as “Reds” and the enemies of Franco and Hitler led them to death camps.
In a word, the main characters of the history of the 20th century in Spain and Europe, who gave their lives in a long war that lasted nine years for them, and there were even more of them, since May 5 did not restore the desired freedom, returning to their country, free and republican. The criminals changed their faces, and it was the victors of the war in Spain who continued to persecute the former republican deportees in their lands, criminals, orphans of citizenship and sentenced to a physical and emotional journey. Whereas in the West those who managed to experience concentration were cared for and honored in their countries of origin, and they could remember and honor their comrades engulfed in barbarism, in Spain the victims were invisible and honors were reserved for the fascists. losers in the war. Dwindling hopes of returning to a free homeland, even the intervening years prevented them from seeing the end of a regime that ultimately condemned them for aiding Nazi fascism. And they were persecuted in their own land or forced to settle in an exile that never ended, whether abroad or at home.
Today, at 77 years of that distant May 5, 1945, not a step back. Nothing can be erased or rejected. Cities and towns, by remembering their names and repeating their voices, can right the injustice of the victims who were unable to speak, and inscribe in history their heritage as Europe’s first anti-fascist fighters. Flowers, silence and words, as well as a constant state of readiness to identify signs that portend bad times for freedoms.
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