Nazi camp survivors, commemorated

Neus Català, a survivor from Ravensbrück, has been recognised as a ?defender of democracy? on her 95th birthday. The event was an homage to the hundreds of women who were deported during the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship whom ended in conc


June 16, 2010 06:25 PM

Barcelona (CNA).- Joan Saura, Catalan Minister for Home Affairs, Institutional Relations and Participation, said on Tuesday that Neus Català, one of the only Catalan living survivors of the Nazi concentration camp Ravensbrük, is a symbol of “the defence of liberty and democracy”. He addressed Català at an event which honoured the women deported during the Franco dictatorship. Saura also pointed out that her testimony serves for future generations, that what we have “is not free” but rather an accumulation of “blood, suffering, and effort”. She is just one example of the hundreds of women who struggled during the Spanish Civil War. This event coincided with her 95th birthday, where she received a warm applause from the public.
“The camp was filled with darkness in the middle of the mountain ridge” sang Catalan singer-songwriter Marina Rossell to the women who were deported to Ravensbrük. This was a female-only Nazi concentration camp where more than 132,000 women were detained between 1939 and the end of the World War II. Neus Català was sent to the camp in 1944 and in 1945 she was moved to Flossenbürg, where she was freed by the Soviet army on 30th April 1945.

After this experience she returned to Catalonia, where she founded “L’Amical de Ravensbrük”, who together with the Barcelona City Hall organised the event honouring the women who were sent to the camps. The vice president of the group, Anna Sallés, talked of the importance of the event as a double commemoration, for both the 65th anniversary of the freeing at Ravensbrük and the 95th birthday of Neus Català.

Commitment to historical memory

During her speech, Sallés called out to Catalan authorities, asking that they not forget these “meaningful places and the people who fought for our freedom and democracy”. She brought up the example of Berlin, where each year the organisation pays homage to the women that were deported to concentration camps and has a space for remembering the past. The Councillor of Civil Rights, Joaquim Mestre, also participated in the event and has affirmed the commitment of the Barcelona City Hall in recognising democratic memory.

Neus Català, visibly touched by the warm welcome she received upon her arrival, witnessed the event from the first row, which included a speech from her daughter as well as other speakers. The event, which was made possible after an agreement made last year by the Barcelona City Hall to annually commemorate the survivors of Ravensbrük, was presented by journalist Josep Cuní and included testimonies, musical performances, and poetry readings.