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The 57 Cartageneros, victims of the Nazi concentration camps, already have their monument (09/02/2019)

At sunset on Friday, February 8, the discovery of the monolith designed by the sculptor Natividad Serrano Jiménez took place with which it was wanted to pay tribute to the at least 57 Cartagena victims of the Nazi concentration camps.

More than two hundred people wrapped up the inauguration of the monument, which includes the names of the people who were imprisoned and spent special hardships, even paying with their lives, in Mauthausen.

Located at the confluence of Ronda and Carlos III streets, it has been erected by the City Council of Cartagena at the request of the Association of the Historical Memory of Cartagena

In a simple act that began shortly after six thirty in the afternoon, the mayor, Ana Belén Castejón, explained the reasons that led the City Council to pay this tribute, as a pending debt of dignity and relating the special penalties that These Spaniards passed after the Civil War, their struggle in France against Nazism and their subsequent deportation as prisoners to the concentration camps, when they renounced Franco's Government as Spaniards.

Then the chronicler of the city, Francisco José Franco Fernández, explained the historical situation and helped by two students of the Ben Arabí institute, rejected hatred as a way to affirm ideologies and advocated tolerance so that events such as those of Nazi Germany.

The mayor, Ana Belén Castejón, together with the president of the Association of the Historical Memory of Cartagena, Pepa Martínez, and relatives of the honorees, were in charge of discovering the monument.

Later a string quintet of the chamber orchestra of Cartagena.

composed by Estrella Byrne Escobar - violin, Gemma Sanchís García - violin, Paula Prendes Larios - viola, Alberto Arqués Ibáñez - cello and Ernesto Mateo Solana - double bass, interpreted the melody of the film "Schindler's List";

while another official chronicler of the city, Luis Miguel Pérez Adán, read the list of the 57 honorees, whose names and place of origin in the municipality, are inscribed in the monolith and some bunches of flowers were deposited.

Then spoke the president of the Association of Historical Memory of Cartagena, Pepa Martinez, who stressed the republican character of the honorees and addressed them extolling their integrity and dignity in the fight against Nazism and fascism.

Then he spoke on behalf of the relatives of the honorees, the niece granddaughter of one of the deportees, Agustín Soto, who read the emotional testimony and the fond memories they had of their grandfather, who never manifested hatred or resentment.

After the closing of the act by the mayor, the artists who directed Mateo Ripoll had made a mural a few meters from the monument, on one of the walls of the Jiménez de la Espada Institute, explained his work, raised as a fable, in the that a concentration camp is represented with a fox that symbolizes the German State;

underneath the trains pass with deportees.

The smoke of the locomotives resembles that of the incinerators of the extermination camps.

There is also a staircase on which one of the deportees carries a stone: it is the death staircase.

On the sides there are stones of the other deportees who have already died and have been freed.

Among the numerous assistants, were the councilors of the Government, Manuel Mora, Carmen Martín del Amor and Mercedes García;

other members of the Corporation, such as Pilar Marcos, María José Soler, Alfredo Nieto, Francisco Martínez and Teresa Sánchez.

Antonio Bermejo, worker priest of Vista Alegre and Gold Medal of Cartagena also attended;

the regional deputy Ángel Rafael Martínez, and the former councilors Teresa Rosique, José Martínez and Francisco Aznar, among others.

There were relatives of the honorees: Agustín Soto Sánchez, Máximo Fernández Benavente and Victoriano Gómez Manresa


According to the official chronicler of the city, Luis Miguel Pérez Adán, "The total figures of the greatest crime of humanity, are chilling, the result, to date, is a map of 42,500 concentration camps, ghettos, work factories forced and other places of detention extended throughout much of Europe, from France to Russia. "

In total, between 15 and 20 million people died or were interned in these centers, mostly Jews, but also members of the other groups persecuted by Nazism, such as gypsies, homosexuals and prisoners of different nationalities. "

"Focusing on our country, according to the data that appear on the website of the Ministry of Justice, the official number of Spanish deaths in registered Nazi concentration camps, reaches the number of 4,440, of which 3,959 were in Mauthausen and Gusen in where they were grouped. "

"But who were these Spaniards? The majority in number greater than 10,000, came from the republican army, those who crossed the border in the last months of the civil war, after the fall of Catalonia." In France they were interned in concentration camps distributed in the south of the country, the Campo de Argelès-sur-Mer, the Field of Le Vernet d'Ariège, Barcarès and Septfonds. "

At the beginning of the Second World War, many of them were sent to the front in French uniform -in the ranks of the Foreign Legion or in shock squads-, or integrated in Foreign Workers Companies.

Most of these ended up captured by the Germans in the first moments of the invasion and concentrated in two camps of Mauthausen and Gusen. "

"At this time is the most unfortunate event for these Spaniards, given the number of prisoners who arrived, the Reichführer Heinrich Himmler, responsible for the extermination camps, consulted with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Franco government, the Cartagena Ramón Serrano Súñer, what "status" these exiles had, the response of Franco's brother-in-law was that having been stripped of Spanish nationality, in no case would the Francoist government make any claim about its destiny. "

This declaration was decisive so that the republicans of Mauthausen were imposed the blue triangle of the stateless, with an S-of Spanier- in the center.

Mauthausen soon began to be known among the deportees as "The field of the Spaniards," for they were the first to arrive and those who built it. "

"There they worked and died until the liberation, when the American Army entered Mauthausen on May 5, 1945. Republican flags had replaced the Nazis and the country gate was covered by a large banner that read:" The Spanish anti-fascists salute the liberating forces ».

"The liberation of the countryside, however, did not mean for the republicans the end of the war begun in 1936. Many could not return to Spain and would find asylum in other countries, especially in France."

Of the investigations carried out, at least 57 Cartagena were part of this group of compatriots and remain forgotten in the memory of the holocaust.

Of these, 34 died, 22 were freed and one managed to escape.

Surely not all, but they are those who know their names, thanks to the efforts of people and associations that have investigated to remove them from their anonymity so that their memory serves in prevention of crimes against humanity.

Source: Ayuntamiento de Cartagena

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