Tribute in France to Catalan president arrested by Nazis and killed by Franco after the Civil War

A commemorative plaque is to honour Lluís Companys in the French town of La Baule in Brittany, where he was arrested on 13 August 1940, exactly 70 years ago.

CNA / Jordi Font

August 12, 2010 09:03 PM

La Baule (ACN).- This Friday, Catalan and French people will come together to pay tribute to the Catalan President Lluís Companys, arrested in La Baule on 13 August 1940 by Nazis, and executed by Franco's fascist regime on 15 October 1940. Exactly 70 years after he was arrested at 1, Avenue Ploërnel in La Baule, a commemorative plaque is to honour the only democratically elected president executed during the bloody European conflicts of the 1930s and 1940s (1936-1945).

At the commemorative event, musician Serafín Poulet will play music by the renowned cellist Pau Casals. The vice-President of Catalonia, Josep Lluís Carod Rovira, who is from the same political party as the martyred former president Companys, will make a speech at the event. The mayor of La Baule will also give a speech in memory of Companys. Afterwards, there will be a reception and a meal at La Baule City Hall.

President Lluís Companys left Catalonia at the end of the Civil War and found refuge in the Breton station of La Baule. Secret services from the fascist Spanish regime tried in vain to find him in Paris, but he was finally arrested by Nazi military forces. With the complicity of the French occupied state, a Francoist agent and the Nazis were finally able to track down the republican and catalanist leader.

Companys was first sent to Paris, where he was placed under the authority of the Gestapo. Aferwards, he was delivered to Franco's henchmen in Spain. In Madrid, the Catalan President had to undergo five weeks of torture, harassment and various forms of humiliation before being transferred to Barcelona. Without a fair trial, he was condemned to death and, on 15 October 1940, the democratic President of Catalonia was executed by the fascists. Before being shot, and in a gesture that has made history, he declared that his death was for his homeland, shouting, “Per Catalunya!”