On 12 and 13 July 2013 the first seminar organized under the project "Chased and free. The escape across the Pyrenees of Jewish refugees and Allies during the Second World War" was held in the village of Sort, in the Catalan region of Pallars Sobirà.
One of the objectives of the project is to publicize the role of the Pyrenees as a place of refuge to thousands of people fleeing the Nazi terror during World War II. In Catalonia, we should mention the work done in this field in Pallars Sobirà. Since 2000 the Town Hall of Sort has been carrying out an important task to retrieve that episode and make it known by turning into museum its former prison, which handled about 3,000 escaped. This museum space opened in 2007 and it is complemented by various signalling pathways that run through cross-border roads which hundreds of escapees used for fleeing the Nazi barbarism.
For this reason it was decided to perform the first seminar in Sort.
This activity benefited from the collaboration of the following institutions:
Memorial Democràtic, Ajuntament de Sort, Diputació de Lleida, Consell Comarcal del Pallars Sobirà, Ajuntament de Les, Ecomuseu de les Valls d'Àneu, Parc Natural de l'Alt Pirineu, Institut d'Estudis Ilerdencs, Universitat de Barcelona, Universitat de Lleida , ICRESS Institut Catalan de Recherche en Sciences Sociales in Perpignan and Casa Sefarad-Israel.
The program of the day (12/7) was as follows:
12:00 h. Reception and Welcome by Mr Llàtzer Sibis, Mayor of Sort and Chairman of the Consell Comarcal del Pallars Sobirà
12.10 h. Greetings from the representatives of Memorial Democràtic (Mr. Jordi Palou-Loverdos), Casa Sefarad-Israel (Miguel Lucas) ICRESS Catalan Institute for Research in Social Sciences (Ms Martine Camiade), Diputació de Lleida (Ms Rosa Pujol) and Diputació de Barcelona (Ms Rosa Serra)
12:35 h. Presentation of the project "Chased and free. The escape across the Pyrenees of Jewish refugees and Allies during the Second World War”, by Rosa Serra, project coordinator and coordinator of Local Area Economic Development at Diputació de Barcelona
13:00 h. The memory recovery of the escape of World War II refugees at Sort, by Josep Calvet, historian and technician at Memorial Democràtic
14:00 h. Lunch
17:00 h. The museum project of the prison-museum "Paths to Freedom", by Conxita Mir, professor of Contemporary History at University of Lleida.
17:30 h. Border and evasion networks in Pallars, by Ignasi Ros, from Ecomuseu de les Valls d'Àneu and Naomi Riudor, researcher
18:00 h. Pause
18:15 h. The Alt Pirineu Natural Park and the management of a border territory, by Agustín López, president of the Alt Pirineu Natural Park
18:30 h. Signalling cross-border pathways in the Alt Pirineu Natural Park, by Marc Garriga, technician at the Alt Pirineu Natural Park
19:00 h. Presentation of the project "Les: A transit area of Jewish refugees during the Second World War”, by Emili Medan, Mayor of Les, and Mireia Boya, associate professor at Department of Humanities at UPF and member of Les Hemnes Association
19:30 h. Discussion and conclusions
The next day, July 13, the group visited the prison-museum "Paths to Freedom" accompanied by Josep Calvet, historian and technician at Memorial Democràtic.
The seminar was an opportunity to present projects of different institutions around this topic. Multiple perspectives were thus given on the issue of refugees fleeing from Spain and the role of border villages and the city of Barcelona concerning the refugees to be sheltered.
It was therefore a good opportunity to pool studies and data, share concerns and issues and draw research lines and future projects all together.