Archives for posts with tag: French Resistance

Hi all:

Those of you who have been following my blog longer might remember that I have dedicated posts with the title ‘Family Stories’ to two of my mother’s uncles, Josep and Conrado Miret, who died during WWII, one in Mauthausen (in one of the satellite camps, Floridsdorf), and the other one who had disappeared in France and they suspected had been killed there whilst fighting for the French resistance.

Josep Miret who was Conseller of the Generalitat (the equivalent to a Minister of the Autonomic Government of Catalonia) has a street in Barcelona named after him and some of the letters he had sent to his relatives (in particular those he had sent to his younger sister, Magdalena) appeared in the book Els Catalans als camps de concentració nazis (Catalans in the Nazi concentration camps) by Montserrat Roig. But…

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My cousin, Joan Molet, has been researching the story of these two men for the last few years, and has offered me the opportunity of keeping you up to date with events and new findings he made. When I was preparing a new post on the subject, I thought that you could be interested in the process he had followed and how he had become involved in what is now his mission. I surely find it fascinating. And that was how I went to visit Joan and took many notes. Here I bring you my take on it.

Joan Molet dando una charla en una escuela. Al fondo, una foto de Conrado Miret

Joan Molet talking at a school. Projected we can see a picture of Conrado Miret

Joan told me that he began researching the history of these two relatives because his grandmother (Francisca Miret, Paquita) had told him some things about her two brothers, there were some (few) objects and items from their period before they left Spain during the Civil War, but there was a void of information about what had happened afterwards, both during their stay in France and in the concentration camp (in the case of Josep) with few details and paucity of documentation. And, Conrado was still classed a missing since the 1940s. Joan decided to investigate and try to fill this void. He started his search in early 2012, three years ago.

To achieve that he tried a variety of approaches.

1) He visited his relatives. That was how we came into contact with each other, as although my grandmother, Juana, had died years ago, Joan went to visit my mother (another Magdalena, it’s a very popular name in the family, although she prefers to be called Magda) to ask her if she had any documentation of the era, but apart from some photographs, we didn’t have much else. When we talked I suggested I could share some posts about his work and his findings in my blog, and he has kindly kept me informed. Thanks Joan! Not all our relatives have taken part or are interested in the matter (as we know, family stories are very personal)

2) He requested information from official sources and archives. Among others:

    • Archivos Generales de Ávila (General Archives of Ávila): where the military papers are kept. Officially they have no documentation. (Considering Josep Miret was head of supplies of the Republican Army in the Ebro Front, it’s a bit weird, but…)
    • Archivo de Salamanca (Archive of Salamanca). They sent him a few documents.
    • The Pabillion of the Republic in la Vall d’Hebrón de Barcelona. He obtained some information about the PSUC (Partit Socialista Unificat de Catalunya, a communist nationalist Catalan party) and his relationship with the party.
    • Central Archives of Catalonia (St. Cugat). It contains several personal collections of researchers and authors interested in the topic (Eduard Pons Prades, Montserrat Roig… including a postcard Josep sent from the camp.)
    • The International Red Cross (who sent him a copy of the death certificate for Josep Miret in Floridsdorf, where he was injured during an allied attack and killed off by one of the guards).
    • He also researched the family tree, including visiting the archive of the Archbishopry of Tarragone and others, and he managed to recover information up to the end of the XVIII c. (when the French troops burned what they found on their way).
    • As both brothers were exiled in France (Josep left before they closed the border with his own paper, whilst Conrado escaped using a false identity and was for a while at Saint Cyprien) my cousin imagined there must be documentation in France, but he didn’t know how it might be organised or where to go. But at this point he got very useful help. He got into contact with:

3)La Amical de Mauthausen. This organisation that has been functioning since 1962 and at the beginning helped the survivors of the camp to obtain help and subventions, has widened its activities, and it is now part of the red ‘Never Again’ to ensure the memory of what happened is never forgotten and to carry on fighting against fascism, and they organise/facilitate informative sessions in schools, organisations… They also do research work and send proposals to organise official homages and commemorative events, and help relatives locate information about their loved ones, be it giving by them any data they possess or assisting them with their personal searches. Here I leave you a link for you to check their activities in more detail. (The information is available in several languages, including Spanish, English and French).

With their help and his effort, Joan found out plenty of information that was very useful, like the fact that the archives and information about the activities or the résistance are organised according to areas (Josep had been in the French Bretagne, in Caen).

His enquiries made him cross paths with L’Amical des Anciens Guérrilleros Espagnols en France (AGEEF-FFI) (the Amical of the old Spanish guerrilleros in France), who as a reply to his questions about Josep, asked him in turn if he was not interested in finding information about Conrado. Thanks to this contact and to the interest he showed, Joan has atended several commemorative events in France (in Prayols there is a monument to the guerrilleros) and even recently in Spain, for example, the 22 November 2014, in remembrance of the 70th anniversary of the last retreat of the republican forces during the Battle of the Ebro. (Here a link to a video about the event.)

4) Thanks to his activities, his interest and effort, Joan has become a member of the Junta (Board) of the Amical in Barcelona (since 2013), he represents the Miret family in acts related to the Republican fighters and the Spanish guerrilleros, and recently has become the representative of the Amical at CIIMER (Centre for the Interpretation and Research of the Memory of Republican Spain, Centro de la Interpretación y la Investigación de la Memoria de la España Republicana). As it sometimes happens, in searching for our roots we might discover an interest and a new dedication to a cause.

Joan gave me many details of his journey (tortuous and hard), he showed me documents, some of interest to everybody (official documents, transcripts of the trials), others much more personal (like the envelop of a letter Josep had sent to Joan’s grandmother, addressed to a house Joan still remembered), and I hope I’ll be able to share some more with you and carry on brining you news. (Some, like the commemorative plaque to honour Conrado, that I felt was particularly emotional, I’ve already shared). But for me, there were two moments that felt particularly representative of the experience.

In 2012 Joan joined a number of internet chats about WWII as possible sources of information. Through them he was contacted by Claude Midon, a Frenchman who has now lived in Australia for a long time. His wife, Madeleine (another Magdalena), is the daughter of Josep Miret and Lili Brumerhurst, and they have not only been in contact since, but Madeleine visited Barcelona and met Joan last year, and she was able to join in the ceremony of inauguration of the plaque to Conrado in June 2014.

Madeleine Midon, Joan Molet i foto de Conrado Miret

Madeleine Midon, Joan Molet and photo of Conrado Miret

In May 2012, Joan visited for the first time the camp Mauthausen-Gusen. (At Floridsdorf, of the camp there is only a commemorative plaque left. Joan was sent a picture of it by the president of the Association of the descendants of the Spanish combatants in Austria, whilst completing his research.). As part of their activities, the Amical also organises annual visits to Mauthausen (including a visit to the Castle of Hartheim, that they used for “active euthanasia”, and where they experimented the most effective way to exterminate parts of the populations, Jews in particular). This May (2015), is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the camp that will be celebrated with a number of acts and I hope to be able to bring you Joan’s impressions of the events. I also hope to visit the camp myself in the future and tell you what I felt.

El Castillo de Hartheim

Castle of Hartheim

What impressed him or touched him most of the visit? The truth is everything. More than anything, how easy it was to imagine being there, being one of those men and thinking of their experiences.

Mauthausen

Mauthausen

Also, the historical incongruences (like the fact that the main building of the Gusen camp is now used by a business company, without any external changes other than very limited cosmetic changes). The fact that one can enjoy a piece of cake at a cafeteria in Mauthausen…Dins del camp

 

Climbing the steps to the quarry and thinking of the prisoners the guards made jump to their deaths still carrying their load, just for the fun of it.

Camino a la pedrera

Climb to the quarry

The human spirit, that’s never defeated.

And his pride for being related to these men who fought to ensure that the world didn’t become a much worse place. I share some of the pictures he sent me of that trip. Not many words are needed.

crematori

Placa

Many thanks to Joan for offering me so generously his time, telling me his experiences and being so generous in sharing his documentation, thanks to all of you for reading, and if you’re interested, please, like, share, comment, and CLICK.

 

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:

Xerrada Ies Les Termes 12 11 2013 007
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 .

Himmler and his entourage ascend the "ste...

Himmler and his entourage ascend the “steps of death” which led from the quarry to a road going up to the Mauthausen camp. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Estelades a Mauthausen

Estelades a Mauthausen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

English: Survivors of the Mauthausen-Gusen con...

English: Survivors of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp shortly after their liberation. Deutsch: Überlebende des Konzentrationslagers Mauthausen-Gusen kurz nach ihrer Befreiung. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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)
Français : Résistants de la 2ème guerre mondia...

Français : Résistants de la 2ème guerre mondiale dans la région d’Huelgoat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you will remember I have posted in a number of occasions about my mother’s uncles, Josep and Conrado Miret Musté, who fought both in the Spanish Civil War and later in France, taking part in the French Resistance against the occupying German forces. My cousin Joan Molet sent me another article talking in more detail about both brothers and their roles during the French resistance. I’ve translated the article below and include a link to the original article at the end. 

The first contacts with the direction of the O.S. (Special Organisation) were made within the family as it were, because most of the leaders were French ex-combatants with the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War. Nadal, Spanish leader of the first period, gives us his testimony: 

     “It was  a summer’s day of 1941, and I had an appointment with a French colleague in a café near the metro station of Sèvres-Babylone. It was my first contact with colonel Dumont, who was the leader of the 14th International Brigade in Spain. He asked me to choose some comrades with experience fighting behind enemy lines, for the armed groups. (Dumont also asked, in the same period, the support of the Italian comrades of the 12th International Brigade “Garibaldi”). Following his instructions I asked Buitrago, former head of the 14th corps of guerrilla fighters during the Spanish War, to come from Burdeos, and José Miret introduced me to his brother Conrado who volunteered to fight in the urban guerrilla.” 

The heroic fight of the Miret brother and their tragic deaths deserve the respectful memory of all the members of the Resistance. 

José Miret Musté, member of the executive commission of the P.S.U.C. (Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia, a Communist nationalist party) and of the government of the Generalitat de Catalunya, was also commissar of the 43rd Division during the war in Spain. In France, he was political leader and organiser of the Spanish resistance within the occupied zone. He was arrested by the police in November 1942, he was immediately transferred  under German jurisdiction, and after being jailed and tortured in Fresnes, he was deported to the Mauthausen concentration camp on the 27th Auust 1943 with the inscription “Natch und Nebel” (by night and fog) that meant, according to Hitler’s words, “Death sentence, but total silent to the families about the fate reserved to the prisoners”. On the 10th September 1943, José Miret was sent to the exterior commando of Schwechat, and he died the 17th November 1944 during the bombing of the Florisdorf commando. The truth is that José Miret and his partner of misfortune, Juncosa Escoda, were only wounded, but S.S. Streitwiesser, kommando leader, ordered that they were finished off with a bullet to the back of their heads. 

Conrado Miret Musté (Lucien for the comrades of the O.S.) was nominated leader of the armed groups of diverse nationalities, organised by the M.O.I. In early times the recruitment was selective and limited, and Conrado Miret took part in numerous operations with French comrades. 

Alber Ouzoulias (colonel André) writes in his book ‘Youth Battalions ’: 

            “The immigrants anti-fascists have their own organisation: Lucien (Conrado Miret-Musté), of the Spanish Communist Party, leads the armed units formed by anti-fascist men and women of all the countries members of the M.O.I. (Immigrant Workers).” 

            Ouzoulias specifies that Lucien was in charge of weaponry, and gives detailed account of two operations that took place in 1941 where Conrado Miret fought with the French Groups of the O.S.: the arson attack on a German garage, in number 11 of Paris Street (Vincennes) on the 5th September, and the attack with Molotov cocktails to the German Garage HKP 503, in number 21 Boulevard Pershing in the XVIII district. 

For the snipers of the M.O.I., Conrado Miret was Alonso. Georghe Vasilichi, a Rumanian member of the resistance, explains that “the organisers of M.O.I. bring together in combat groups all the immigrants under the command of Conrado Miret (under cover known as Alonso). Carlotta Gruia, another Rumanian member of the resistance who was deported to Ravensbruck concentration camp in July 1943, also talks about Alonso (alias of Conrado Miret Musté): 

            “Bocsor turned up at the apartment in boulevard of the Chapel with a stranger, and this apartment became the main “arsenal” of the O.S for the fighting groups of the M.O.I. The strangers told us he was called Alonso, and it wasn’t until much later that I discovered he was really called Conrado Miret Musté. He was a Spaniard who had fought in the Republican Army and according to the link between Bocsor and his superiors he had studied Chemistry…” 

            “Alonso had brought me a dozen of revolvers that some Spaniards in Paris had given him and he told e to give them to the combatants of the O.S.” 

Carlota Gruia describes the process of fabricating bombs and granades, and also the necessary chemical experience required by Conrado Miret and Bocsor to be able to fabricate explosive, and their plan to derail a train transporting German troops using the simplest possible method, although unheard of during these early times, removing the rails using a wrench… 

             In October or November 1941, they arrested comrade Alonso (Conrado Miret Musté). Immediately Bocsor came to see me in the street of the suburb of Saint Denis, to tell me that we had to evacuate quickly the apartment of the Chapel   Boulevard. He said that he was convinced Alonso was strong enough not to say anything, but it was more prudent not to go there for a few weeks… 

            We had nothing to fear. His leader had died a hero, tortured by the Gestapo.” 

Carlota Gruia doesn’t share Ouzoulias’s opinion about the date of Conrado Miret’s arrest. She and Boris Holba, who later will become leader of the groups F.T.P-M.O.I, give a vague date (October, November 1941, or the latter part of 1941). Albert Ouzoulias, affirms that he was arrested in February 1942: “In February, other comrades were arrested, among them, Conrado Miret Musté (Lucien), founder of the snipers groups of the M.O.I.” 

Conrado Miret was already dead, tortured and assassinated by the Gestapo, but the time his brothers in arms went to trial: 

            “On the 15th April 1942, the second trial of the “Youth Battalions” and the O.S. begins in the House of Chemistry. The Nazis said that it wasn’t a second trial but the continuation of the one that had taken place in the Chamber of Representatives.” 

            “The charges inculpate twenty-seven combatants, the twenty-eighth, Conrado Miret Musté, leader of the snipers of the M.O.I. is not present. He was tortured to death before the beginning of the trial. “

Original article can be found here:

http://www.geocities.ws/combatcommuniste/combat006.htm

Thank you for reading and if you have enjoyed it, please feel free to comment and share! And if you have any orther information I, and particularly my cousin,  would be very grateful.

Related articles

I have written a few posts about two of my mother’s uncles, Josep and Conrado Miret Musté, who fled Barcelona during the Civil War and went to France.
You’ll remember one of my cousins, Juan Molet, has been researching documentation regarding their lives (and deaths) but so far he had not been able to find confirmation that Conrado died.
Juan participated in a homage organised in honour of the Spaniards who fought with the French Resistance in Prayols last weekend. Here it was revealed that finally a document had been found confirming that he had died on the 27th February 1942. I attach the document that gives few details, other than there was a witness statement by one of the guardians of the prison (Rue la Santé 42) . It seems indeed he died under torture. Now, with this document, he finally has been given the status of having died for France.

Conrado%20%20-%20ce%20que%20porté%20sur%20registre%20maintenant[1]
I also attach copy of the picture they officials used to search for him. I find it quite haunting, but it might be the family thing.
Portrait à tirer MIRET

And here my cousin in front of the picture.

SAM_3118[1]

He mentions that he had a chance to talk to Ángel Álvarez, member of the Republican Army (Exercit Popular de la Republica), member of the Resistence in France, and the first Spaniard who managed to escape from the train taking him to Dachau. My cousin explains that his was a sad but illuminating story.
I’m hoping I’ll be able to meet my cousin when I visit Barcelona in September and I will bring back some more information and insights to share.
Thank you for reading and please share. And if you have any relevant stories or information, do let me know.

conrado%20et%20jose[1]

Hi all:

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll remember that I’ve posted on a few occasions about my mother’s uncles, Josep and Conrado Miret, and the research that one of my cousins, Juan Molet, is pursuing trying to find all the information possible about their fates and stories.

Both brothers were involved in politics (PSUC, Partit Socialista Unificat de Catalunya) in Catalonia (Barcelona) and Josep was in the government of the Generalitat at the time of the Spanish Civil War. When this was lost to Franco’s troops both brothers exiled to France where they continued their political task and got involved in the French resistance, reorganising the party abroad.

Josep was captured, sent to Mathausen and died in Florindorf.

Members of the French resistance group Maquis ...

Members of the French resistance group Maquis in La Tresorerie, 14 September 1944, Boulogne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Conrado’s (the one on the right) fate is a bit more mysterious. With his brother he got involved in the French Resistance against the Nazis, and it seems that he had a role protecting some important members of the militia and also intimidating the traitors. (I know he was a rugby player, so I suspect he must have been quite a strong man). He was in charge of the OS-MOI (armed groups of various nationalities fighting with French resistance). Amongst other actions they were involved in destroying two German military convoys, setting fire to a German garage, and attacking the factory SOGA with Molotov cocktails.

He was arrested in February 1942 during a fight and he disappeared without a trace. He was not present at the trial of all his colleagues, and it is suspected that he died tortured at the hands of the Gestapo. My cousin received a letter from the French Ministry of Defence where they could only confirm that he had been arrested and imprisoned in Fresnes ‘for terrorist activity’ on the 27th February 1942. The prison had not death certificate or other documentation about him.

Thanks so much for reading and if you have any information or know of somebody who studies the field and might have access to sources we’d be very grateful.

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