Today in 1939: Spanish refugees

At Getty Images:

01 Feb 1939
1st February 1939: Two members of a rescue party assist an elderly woman fleeing the Spanish Civil War. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

 

 

01 Jan 1939
circa 1939: Wounded Loyalist at the special commissary’s office at Le Perthus, Spain. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
By: Three Lions
Collection: Hulton Archive

 

01 Jan 1939
FRANCE – CIRCA 1939: War of Spain. Exodus. France, February 1939. RV-221838. (Photo by Gaston Paris/Roger Viollet/Getty Images)
By: Gaston Paris
Collection: Roger Viollet

Via Jonathan Woods

Published in: on February 19, 2012 at 10:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Today in 1939: Returning from Spain

From Getty Images:

01 Jan 1939
Irish volunteers injured during the Spanish Civil War arrive back in Dublin. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
By: Keystone
Collection: Hulton Archive

Le Chemin de la Liberte

Via Martin Black, I came across this article.

Part of the "Chemin de la Liberte" in the Pyrenees

Every year, hikers trek the “Chemin de la Liberte” in the Pyrenees, to commemorate the 800 or so Allied airmen and Jewish refugees who risked their lives on a 60km (40 miles) route escaping Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II.

“The good escaper,” says a 1944 British military document called Tips for Escapers and Evaders, “is the man who keeps himself fit, cheerful and comfortable.”[…]

Reflect on what it was like, for example, to be shot down over Belgium when you are only 19 years old. Your parachute works – something of a surprise in itself, since you have had only the most rudimentary training – and when you land you find yourself behind enemy lines, with most of Nazi-occupied Europe between you and freedom.

You have to ask someone for help, even though you know they are risking their lives if they give it to you. And if you are lucky and they do not turn you in, there is still the long journey south to negotiate, past German checkpoints and patrols with, at the end of it all, the climb over these massive mountains.

Or think of the Jewish families who attempted the Pyrenees just one step ahead of arrest and deportation to the death camps.

I was told the story of a woman who carried her two-year-old daughter across in November snow. When the child cried in the cold their guide said she should be suffocated because the noise might alert the German patrols.

And what of the French helpers? One local supporter of the Chemin remembered his mother hiding escaping Allied airmen in her mountain bed and breakfast, where she was providing lodgings for German troops at the same time. (more…)

Monday music: Jordi Barre

Rcan featuring Jordi Barre: Décloisonnement intergénérationnel

It’s a long while since I did a Monday music post. This one follows on from my earlier series on Catalan music, but also kicks off a new (non-musical) series I’m going to start soon about the Catalan lands that are now part of France. Barre died earlier this year. He is very little known in the English-speaking world and consequently has no English wikipedia page. Below is my loose translation of the French page.

Jordi Barre (born Georges Bar on 7 April 1920 in Argeles-sur-Mer and died on 16 February 2011 in Ponteilla) was a Catalan-speaking singer-songwriter. Taking to the stage very young, he sang in the village dances of the plain of Roussillon and then turned sailor, typographer, foreman. In the mid-1960s he met the poet Albert Esteve, who encouraged him to devote himself exclusively to the song.

In 1974 he moved to Barcelona where he met the great figures of Nova Cançó, moving close to the autonomous musical community of the end of the Franco era. Still standing away from political movements, Jordi Barre advocated through song for a recognition of culture and especially of the Catalan language and quickly became an institution for the people of Northern Catalonia.

His voice was gravelly and profound, its deep timbre through “which run cool water streams, the rocky hills, the blue of the sea and the madness of the north wind” (Jean-Michel Collet); his impressive concerts are great moments of emotion and intensity on a par with a Paco Ibanez or a Silvio Rodriguez.

Music Mondays: Pablo Casals

So it was that in the spring of 1939 I came to Prades. I could not have imagined at the time that I would spend the next seventeen years of my life in this little town in the Pyrenees. And in spite of the sorrow in me, I found respite in my surroundings. With its winding cobbled strees and whitewashed houses with red tiled roofs – and the acacia trees that were then in bloom – Prades might have been one of the Catalan villages I had known since childhood. The countryside seemed no less familiar to me. The lovely patterns of orchards an vineyards, the wild and craggy mountains with ancient Roman fortresses and monasteries clinging to their sides – these too were a replica of parts of my homeland. Indeed, centuries before, this very region had been part of the nation of Catalonia – from Joys and Sorrows by Pablo Casals, via On An Overgrown Path

Granados: Spanish Dance (played by Pablo Casals, c.1916-20)
For Granados, a Catalan composer of the late 19th century, see here.

Max Bruch: Kol Nidrei (played by Pablo Casals, 1923)

Pablo Casals: El Cant dels Ocell
This version of his classic Catalan melody was recorded in Puerto Rico in 1956.

Pablo Casals: El Cant dels Ocell
This version is from 1958’s Windjammer.

Victoria de los Ángeles: El Cant dels Ocell
A singer from Barcelona, who died in 2005.

(more…)

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