You’ll remember that I recently wrote a post about my cousin (second cousin on my mother’s side), Juan Molet, who is doing research into the family history, in particular about two of our grandmother’s brothers, Josep and Conrado Miret. They were both involved in politics in Catalonia (in the era of the Second Republic, pre-Franco), and Josep was the equivalent to a minister in the government and belonged to the PSUC (Partit Socialista Unificat de Catalunya, a communist nationalist party, still in existence today).
My cousin has been kind enough to share some of the information he has been gathering and I thought I’d offer you an update. Josep was involved in the French Resistance after he exiled himself to France during the Spanish Civil War, and he had a daughter with a woman in the French resistance. His daughter, Magdalena (is a name that runs in the family…My mother and one of her aunts are also called Magdalena) now lives in Australia. Unfortunately (but understandably in the circumstances) she has no information about her father.
My cousin also sent me copies (translated to English) of testimonies from men who were with Josep during his period in France and later in the concentration camp. I enclose one of them, that I found very moving.
Memories of Miret – by André Arlas
Toward the end of 1941, the inter-regional head of the French Communist Party introduced me in Bordeaux to a ‘comrade’ so that I could in turn introduce him to the leader of the Spanish freedom fighters in Gironde and with whom I was in contact.
After having set a place and a time for that meeting, this ‘comrade’ whose name had not been given to me, left. We had exchanged not more than 20 words and our meeting had lasted less than 5 minutes. However, the brief meeting had made quite an impression on me and what had struck me about this comrade was his concise way in which he expressed himself, together with an air of authority and strong personality which inspired trust.
I had not realised then that I would get to know him better and in circumstances such that qualities, faults, greatness and smallness cannot be hidden. I met this comrade for the second time in June 1943 and I found out his name: Josep Miret known as ‘Emile’. It was in the nazi extermination camp of Mauthausen. A few days later, we left together for the Schwechat commando and from that time on I stayed with him until his death. We had been assigned to the same kind of work and I was working opposite him at a welding bench.
During those long months of suffering I was able to appreciate his exceptional qualities. He had the gif of attracting friendship and for those privileged enough to know him, he was a source of benevolent warmth. He had a sunny disposition – how many songs had he sung for us – a great dynamism and vitality, he enabled us to share his enthusiasm and his unshakeable trust in the future. Very modest, he never tried to put himself forward. It took me months, following my questions, to discover what had been his important responsibilities in the Spanish Communist Party in Catalonia, in the Spanish Republican Army, as a Minister , or in the resistance movement in France. But most of all, he stood out with his unique personality, his calm courage and his very lively disposition. One must add his instinctive kindness. How precious have his support, solidarity, moral as well as material, each time he was able to demonstrate it towards his comrades, Spanish and French. How precious as well have been his wise advices which have guided us.
Following the bombing of Schwechat, we were taken to Florisdorf. During the air raids, we were sent to caves. Josep Miret, lover of life, sun, ‘lover of freedom’ as he called himself, could not stand being underground like rats. He therefore asked to be assigned to the fire fighting kommando. Unfortunately, shortly before the camp was liberated, he was wounded and an SS shot him dead.
We were of course used to see death on a daily basis but his death had been considered by all who knew him as the most unjust. He was a very dear friend, a beloved brother, the one we admired most and that we all mourned.
So, it seems normal, after so many years, that his memory has remained so vivid and I am certain that is the same for all who have had the privilege to know him. Miret had always been very discreet about his private life. He was telling me that now was not the time to be soft and wonder about the fate of our loved ones as we had no answer. He felt that we should instead harden, and keep our strength to survive until the victory.
Thus, upon my return from the camp, when I heard about the terrible ordeal suffered by Miret, with infallible courage, my admiration for him grew even more. The death of Miret, who died so young, has certainly deprived d the Spanish Communist Party of a great leader. By his demise, the Spanish people have lost one of their brightest sons and France lost a great friend.
For my part, I could never forget the exemplary man, in every way, that Josep Miret had been.
Deported resistant fighter to Mauthausen
I hope there might be more posts to come with further information. And as I mentioned before, if you have an expertise on the subject or know somebody who does, we’d be very grateful to hear form you.
Thank you for reading. And on Friday…I’m waiting for confirmation of a guest post, but if that doesn’t happen I have some ideas…And an announcement to make about a free giveaway!
- Family stories. Josep and Conrado Miret Musté. Spanish Civil War, Mathausen. (olganm.wordpress.com)