The Delegation to France, DIPLOCAT and the Dignity Commission commemorate the 75th anniversary of Lluís Companys’ detention in France
DIPLOCAT – Speakers at the conference were the French historian Denis Peschanski, the Delegate of the Government of Catalonia to France and Switzerland, Martí Anglada, and Antoni Strubell, spokesperson of the Catalan Dignity Commission (Commisió de la Dignitat)
Denis Peschanski, historian and Research Director at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), specialist in Vichy France, recalled that the arrest of Lluís Companys in France by the Nazi military police formed part of the very close collaboration of the Nazi authorities and the Franco regime, which culminated in the bilateral encounter of Franco and Hitler in Hendaye on 23 October 1940. For Peschanski, explaining the history of President Companys, as well as that of the many other exiled, is important from the social and political point of view, because “la mémoire se conjugue au present” (“memory is conjugated in present tense”).
The Delegate Martí Anglada laid out Companys’ political career, underlining his political involvement with the Republican movement from an early age on, his leading role during the Second Republic and his commitment to maintain a stable government of Catalonia during the Civil War. The Delegate regretted the unawareness – not only in France but in Europe in general – of the detention and execution of Lluís Companys as the only democratically elected President in Europe to be executed during the Second World War.
In order to better understand recent research on the last months of President Companys’ life, a sequence of a TVC (Televisió de Catalunya) report was shown, which combined the documentaries “Lluís Companys, Camins retrobats” and “El meu nom és Druillet”, both directed by the journalist and ex – TVC correspondent in France Montserrat Besses.
Finally, the spokesperson of the Dignity Commission, Antoni Strubell, closed the conference, mentioning the current situation of the documents of the Government of Catalonia, the so called “Àvila papers”, which had been confiscated by the Gestapo. He also recalled the lack of judicial reparation due to the non-revocation of the condemnation of Companys by successive democratic Spanish governments. Strubell concluded by stating that the big European nations reconciled after their recognition of war errors, and that it is time for a small country such as Catalonia to also cure her wounds.