As you know, my cousin Juan Molet is embarked on the task of researching and collecting information about our relatives, Josep and Conrado Miret Musté, who were exiled to France during the Civil War and ended up fighting with the French Resistance. In the past I’ve shared some of the documents that he has sent me. He recently sent me the document of a talk he gives to schools on the subject, and particularly about life in Mauthausen (where our great-uncle Josep Miret Musté was a prisoner during the War), and I thought it appropriate to share with you. I hope you find it informative and interesting. There are certain things that should not be forgotten.
Here I leave to my cousin Juan and his talk:
My name is Juan Molet Vila, I am a member of Amical Mauthausen and Amicale des Anciens Guerrilleros Espagnols in France ( FFI), my great-uncles were Josep Miret Musté and Conrado Miret Musté , the first died in Florisdorff , command Mauthausen on 17th November 1944 , shot by SS Hans Bühner, and the second in Paris on February 27th 1942 .
First I am going to speak of Mauthausen. On August 8th 1938 the first prisoners arrived from the Dachau camp. The location was chosen because of the nearby granite quarry; firstly prisoners worked constructing the camp and then extracting stone from the quarry. The same happened in the nearby camp of Gusen in 1940. Until late 1943 Mauthausen was a camp where they brought political and ideological opponents, the conditions of the detainees were extreme and it was a camp where there was a high mortality rate .
From 1943 the prisoners are also used as labor in the armaments industry and the number of prisoners increased. In late 1943 in Mauthausen – Gusen complex had about 14,000 prisoners and in March 1945 there were about 84000. From the second half of 1944 prisoners from other camps started coming to Mauthausen in response to the advance of Allied forces in the Second World War. This led to an overpopulation of the camp and living conditions became much harder.
In the complex there were Spanish prisoners, Austrians, Germans, French, Italians, Poles, Soviets, Hungarians, Jews…In total there were prisoners of over 20 nationalities. Between the opening of the field and its release by the U.S. military it is calculated that by the field passed 200,000 deportees.
Significantly, Mauthausen was not an extermination camp, it was a labour camp and most of the prisoners died because of their hard labour, because they were not fed properly for the work they did and sanitary conditions were very poor. Prisoners’ trades and skills were the main reasons determining their chances of survival.
Causes of death in the camp were beatings, bullets, by injection, some froze to death, by using the gas chamber, but most died from the exploitation of their labour . In the Mauthausen – Gusen complex 100,000 prisoners died, most of them in the four months before his release on May 5th, 1945.
The Nazis deported some 15,000 Spanish Republicans, of which 7,200 went to Mauthausen, 4,800 were killed and 2,400 survived.
Portrait à tirer MIRET
Conrado Miret Musté was born in Barcelona on April 15th 1906 and died in Paris on February 27th 1942, in Prison de la Santé. He was a member of the Popular Army of the Republic, with the rank of Major in 1938. After the victory of General Franco he was exiled in France, where he was the first Chief of the armed groups in the MOI (Immigrant Manpower), actively fighting the Germans in Paris and arrested for the first time in 1940, but he managed to escape. He was arrested again in Paris on February 12th 1942. He died after two weeks of interrogation. He was buried in a mass grave at the cemetery in Clichy (South of Paris), this mass grave was destroyed after the end of the Second World War and now his whereabouts are unknown. Recently documents certifying his death have been found in France and he has been named Honourably Dead for France in Paris on August 25, 2013.
Josep Miret Muste 1939
Josep Miret Musté was born in Barcelona on September 14, 1907, studied at the Escola Treball (School of Labour), graduating at age 18, here he developed his progressive ideals and he focused on the active struggle against the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. During the Second Republic he joins the Unió Socialista de Catalunya (Socialist Union of Catalonia), becoming the head of the Youth of the party. On the 23rd July 1936 the party was one of four who founded the P.S.U.C. (Partit Socialista Unificat de Catalunya, Socialist Unified Party of Catalonia, a communist nationalist party). He became Counselor of Procurements for War of the Generalitat (the National Government of Catalonia) in 1937, but left the office to go to the front, as Commissioner Delegate of War in the Third Division, participating in the battles of Belchite, Mediana, Huesca and the Ebro
After the war he goes into exile with his wife Cecilia. During the journey, his son Josep was born. He was a prisoner in French camps until he could reach Paris. There, with his brother Conrado, he joined the French Resistance, and both were involved in acts of sabotage against the German occupation. At this time his wife Cecilia and son return to Barcelona because she does not want to live through another war.
He was arrested in Paris on 30th November 1942, at the apartment of his companion from the French Resistance, Lily Brumerhurst. He was transferred to Mauthausen, where he joined the underground organization of the PSUC. In the camp he finds out that Lily is pregnant and his daughter, whom he will never know, is well. This child currently resides in Australia.
In the camp Josep and other comrades do active work to help the prisoners, taking pictures, and becoming involved in sabotages and escape attempts.
He is wounded in an allied bombing in the Florisdorf Armaments Factory where he worked, and SS Hans Bühner finishes him off with a bullet to the head.
We can say that Josep and Conrado Miret Musté have begun to receive recognition by the authorities of the French Republic at the request of the Amicale of Spanish Guerilleros in France. We cannot say the same has happened in Catalonia and Spain where they remain two unknown characters, although Josep Miret Musté has received some recognition from the city of Barcelona, where he has a street named after him, at the request of Amical Mauthausen.
It is, of course an honour to be related to them both, and I contribute my little grain of sand in Catalonia, Spain and France to try and bring attention and recognition to these two families, as well as to all those who participated in the Spanish Civil War, went into exiled, participated in World War II and then were forgotten by the victors of the Second World War. Only France welcomed them at the time, although many of them ended locked in concentration camps in 1939, others were persecuted, and after the Second World War (1944-1945) the French authorities of the moment completely abandoned the Republican fight, and of course, they suffered the forgetfulness and contempt of the Franco government in Spain.
Finally I want to say that if anyone is interested in exploring this topic in more detail, just let me know, right at the end of this act or through your Institute and I can provide more comprehensive information on the subject, thank you very much.
I will continue sharing the information Juan sends me, and if you want to contact him directly I am happy to act as go between.
Thanks to Juan for sharing his talk with us, and thank you all for reading, and if it was interesting, do not forget to share, to like, and comment.
From next week, as Christmas is quickly approaching, I will bring you a selection of classic post and various other things … And on January we’ll start with new post (and news! )
- Munich (aceeurotrip2013.wordpress.com)