Catalan tribute to 70th anniversary of the liberation of Ravensbrück Nazi concentration camp
L'Amical de Ravensbrück association and the Catalan Government commemorated the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany on Sunday. The association of Catalan survivors of this Nazi camp and their relatives organised the event, in which some of the camp survivors participated, including Neus Catalá - the only living Spanish survivor of Ravensbrück. The commemoration coincided with celebration of Neus Catalá, aged 99, who this year was given the Gold Medal of the Government of Catalonia, the highest award given by the institution.
Barcelona (ACN).- L'Amical de Ravensbrück association and the Catalan Government commemorated the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Ravensbrück concentration camp in north-eastern Germany on Sunday. The association of Catalan survivors of this Nazi camp and their relatives organised the event, in which some of the survivors of the camp participated, including Neus Catalá, anti-fascist fighter and member of the PSUC (Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia) in her youth as well as the only living Spanish survivor of Ravensbrück. The commemoration coincided with the celebration of Neus Catalá, aged 99, who this year was given the Gold Medal of the Government of Catalonia, the highest award given by the institution to those people or institutions who have excelled with their work in the political, social, economic, cultural or scientific, and raised awareness of Catalan cultural heritage. L'Amical de Ravensbrück also works with the constant objective of recognising the life of Neus Catalá and by extension all those who suffered from the consequences of the Second World War and the horrors of the concentration camps.
During the Second World War, thousands of women were imprisoned for political reasons or for refusing to comply with the Nazi judgments in the Ravensbrück concentration camp, a facility for women only located in north-eastern Germany. Some 92,000 were killed there, including Catalan Carme Bartolí, who died in the arms of another colleague, Coloma Serós. These women are the tragic protagonists in the song 'Morir a Ravensbrück (Dying in Ravensbrück) by Catalan poet Montserrat Roig. The song was performed with great emotion on Sunday by Marina Rossell, one of the most recognised Catalan singer-songwriters who was also part of the opposition against Franco's dictatorial regime. The performance took place in front of the commemorative plaque at the concentration camp to close the ceremony. Rossell also took the opportunity to perform the song 'Paisatge de l'Ebre' (Landscape of the Ebro) by the recently deceased Teresa Rebull, a Marxist and feminist singer who was exiled to France during the Spanish Civil War and who passed away on the 15th of this month.
The event was also attended by Joana Ortega, Vice President of the Catalan Government; Anna Sallés, President of L'Amical de Ravensbrück; and Jordi Palou-Loverdos, Director of the Memorial Democràtic de Catalunya, an institution which stands for human rights and the preservation of historical memory. The attendants made a wreath in front of the plaque that recalls the Catalan prisoners of the camp. "We must keep the memory alive," insisted Ortega. Neus Catalá attended with her daughter Margarita Català. "Whenever I come to Ravensbrück it is a very emotional experience, I think about all that my mother lived through and all the other women here," stated Margarita noting that there are many who can no longer go there.
During the ceremony, a minute silence was held for the victims of the Nazi concentration camps and Anna Sallés also insisted that it is essential to "remember and honour all those who lived, and the many who died" during this time. Anna highlighted the efforts of many concentration camp survivors such as Neus Català, who have "continued fighting for democracy" even after they left the horrors of camps. Currently, Neus Català continues to be a loyal member of the Partit dels Comunistes de Catalunya (Communist Party of Catalonia), which is part of the Esquerra Unida i Alternativa (EUiA, the United and Alternative Left coalition that runs together with the Catalan Green Socialists ICV) and the Fundació Pere Ardiaca, a centre which aims to contribute to the discussion and elaboration of alternative proposals to a neoliberal system. Today, it is "fundamental" to continue "fighting for democracy against inequality and racism" and to prevent the reoccurrence of acts such as those that took place in 1930s Germany said Anna Sallés.
Joana Ortega, Vice President of the Catalonian Government agreed, stating that it is "very important" not to forget what happened in Ravensbrück over 70 years ago. "We must keep the memory alive," she said. "We owe it to the women who lost their lives, we must do it as well because today we live in peace and in democracy with ease, but there was a price that was paid and many, many lives". According to Joan Ortega, "now it is more important than ever" to keep the memory of these events alive since "the last survivors will gradually no longer be with us and will have to pass on their testimonies to younger generations". The Ravensbrück camp "should be a must visit for all of us once in our lives" said the Vice President because it helps to "understand much more the value of peace and the value of democracy." "It can never happen again, and the responsibility to keep alive the spirit of 'never again' and the memory is ours, and it is a great responsibility," she remarked.