Posts idioma original

Posts idioma original

Behind the plot: today the first page of "The Rose and the Latch"


I have just opened the first page and I remember that I arrived home with a feeling of unreality. It was winter 2011/2012 and I was preparing the launch of my novel «Yo, Úrsula»
In very large letters I wrote Mauthausen. I had to search it on Google to know how it was written.
What did I know about Mauthausen?
That it was a Nazi concentration camp and that thousands of Jews had died there between 1942 and 1945.
But that old lady, very discreet, of few words who was sitting with her hands hidden inside her sweater, had told me that her father, grandfather and uncle had died there at the end of the Spanish Civil War.
SPANISH CIVIL WAR (July 18, 1936 - April 1, 1939)
It is produced as a result of the coup d’état that a group of Spanish Africanist military try to give to the 2nd Republic to prevent the governing of the left parties. The longest and most bloody battle is the Battle of the Ebro (July - November 1938) and is what defines the conflict in favour of the insurgents and destroys much of the populations of Terra Alta, Ribera and Baix Ebre . To get an idea, about 300,000 soldiers participated in it, of which almost 20,000 died and 65,000 were injured. The bombing of military and civilian targets was in charge of the Italian aviation of Mussolini, the Condor Legion and at the last minute of the flaming Junker JU52 of Hitler that made an air bridge between Spain and Morocco. Come on, that was hell!

I opened a book borrowed from me by the daughter of that woman whom we will call Rose as in the novel. The book is entitled "What Dante could not imagine", written by the deportee Amadeo Sinca Vendrell (1980). The pages were yellowed. Towards the end there was an alphabetical index of the Spaniards killed by the Nazis in the fields of Gusen and Mauthausen. 7000! A folded corner of the page indicated the location of the information about Rosa's father, grandfather and uncle. They had not survived more than a year!

How had so many Spaniards gone to a Nazi concentration camp when Spain had not participated in the Second World War? Nor had it been occupied by Germany, on the contrary. Francisco Franco and his brother-in-law Ramón Serrano Suñer had been collaborators and friends of the Hitler regime.
The answer was not difficult to obtain. After the Republican defeat thousands of fighters from the losing side fled to France to avoid reprisals. Many did it with their families. Once there they fought again against the Nazi invasion on the side of the French resistance. Once France was occupied by the Germans, the captured fighters were sent to concentration camps as prisoners of war. A logical explanation, but generated several more questions:
·    Was that woman's family republican? No, and if it had been, they had never fought more than to work their land.
·    Was Mauthausen a concentration camp? No. Actually, it was an extermination camp aimed at irredentist criminals and political enemies of the Nazi regime. This was accredited by the Nacht und Nebel decree of 1941 (Night and Fog), although they had implemented it before signing it. According to the director of the camp Frank Ziereis "whoever enters through the door can only leave through the chimney of the crematorium"

Why did they finish there?
Was it a fatality?
At the beginning I thought so. I could not think of any logical explanation for fleeing a civil war and falling into a world war and, in addition, being sent to an extermination camp ... Rosa herself expressed to me the feeling that a fatality had persecuted her family.
The reality is that Rose and her family lived (and still lives her family) in Xerta, a town located near Tortosa (Baix Ebre) and a high point in the Battle of the Ebro. There the Republican military stores were installed in February 1938, but it was occupied by the rebellious troops in April of the same year. This led to a series of skirmishes, attacks and counterattacks that covered the entire Ribera del Ebro, Serra de Pándols and Serra de Cavalls. Airplanes flew over the area, dropping bombs and it was said that a full-scale fight would take place at any moment. Every civilian who could flee did it. Rosa's family decided to go to France, to Cognac, where every year the grandfather, the father and the uncle went to harvest. There they had friends who would surely help them.
If you never lived a situation like this you cannot get an idea of ​​the desperation that comes from seeing your family in danger. I did. My family and I live in first person looting in 1989 and December 19 and 20, 2001 in Argentina. There were 39 dead, hundreds injured, hundreds of businesses destroyed and a feeling of helplessness that made us decide to leave the country permanently.
Here you can see what happened in Argentina:

Well, at this point end the notes on the first page of my notebook when I started writing "The Rose and the Latch". The investigation was just beginning and I was already affected by what I had discovered. Today, much more is known on the subject, until the trenches have been discovered and skeletons of soldiers and hand bombs of that Battle of the Ebro are still appearing ...