La República Catalana

News Comment/COMENTARI AL DIA

The Catalan Bourgeoisie, from Spain to the World/LA BURGESIA CATALANA, D’ESPANYA AL MÓN

The Catalan Bourgeoisie, from Spain to the World

by Josep C. Verges

Cementiri_html_2417b848Communists and anarchists in their separate uniforms execute the bourgeoisie and priests in a Catalan cemetery during the Civil War. Unlike Hitler, only men were liquidated and most ran away to Europe, like Torres’ and my father, while women stayed on to save the family home. On the left the next batch and on the right children watching the extrajudicial murders. Below: Lleida’s Hotel Palacio, the former Palace Hotel, where the father of Josep Maria Torres stayed during the Second World War. He became the rescuer of English and American pilots downed in the III Reich and fled through the Pyrenees.

The Catalan bourgeoisie was never closed-minded, monolingual or insular. A tiny minority spoke Spanish, but also other languages, including Catalan. Once the dictatorship died they rapidly went back to the world before Franco. Josep Maria Torres dedicates his new book “Hotel Palacio, Lleida 1943, Scenes from the Civil War” (Abadia de Montserrat): “You will appreciate that I am less polemical than you.” But the Civil War is still politically incorrect.

His family comes from a long Catalan tradition, from the bishops Torres Amat to building the Palau de la Musica Catalana. They owned businesses in England, France, Rumania, Philippines, a few in Spain and many in Catalonia in transport, coal, hotels, shipping, petrol, ceramics, wine, jewelry, real estate, perfumes, fruit wholesalers. They were expropriated by the Fascists, by the Anarchists and by the Communists: “Expropriations were nothing new to the family.” Primo de Rivera expropriated them to creat the oil monopoly Campsa: “It goes without saying that like any dictator worth his salt, without one cent of compensation.” The Civil War came: “My family, like many others, found themselves involved without holding any special ideological views.” They traded with both sides, but shipping coal to Barcelona under an English flag to avoid expropriation. Franco gave more security: “When Gijon fell and the coal mine recovered , it was the first time anyone had given us back something.” Also the burning of 10,000 books, in the family since 1205, that “had even survived Napoleon’s invasion.” But “one thing was to be a Catalan with conservative or liberal beliefs and another very different to identify oneself with national-syndicalism, first cousin of national-socialism.” His grandfather “came back horrified from the national-socialist system, so far removed from his liberal ideas formed between the Catalan party Lliga and England.” The men were forced into exile to escape assassination, while the women stayed on. The Republic president Negrin installed his lover in their home: “Almost three months before the government was moved to Barcelona. The move from Madrid was not so last-minute, rather well-planned.” In 1943 his father was living at the Place Hotel in Lleida, renamed Palacio by the Spanish Fascists. Thanks to his English he represented the British consulate of Barcelona in the rescue of pilots. One day he had 20 Englishmen in the hotel. In the sixties Josep Maria Torres met me: “In Llafranc I met the son of the owner of the famous and intelligent magazine Destino. He was always a spur to my intelligence. His companionship made me think. One of the many books he has published, “Such an Unfortunate Country” (Catalonia obviously), made me realize that despite all that unites us in the love of our culture and a liberal view of politics, we diverge on Catalan. In those days I was happy without any ideological atavism. My Catalonia was not downtrodden by misfortune but fortunate. Certainly Catalonia has been discriminated but that’s life. We have lived through the longest period of peace. Isn’t this important? Don’t you think so?”

(“La burgesia catalana, d’Espanya al món,” by Josep C. Vergés, Diari de Girona, 1 December 2013)

La burgesia catalana, d’Espanya al món

per Josep C. Vergés

Palacio_html_5b57892eL’Hotel Palacio, abans Palace, de Lleida, on va viure el pare de Josep Maria Torres durant la segona Guera Mundial i es convertí en salvador d’aviadors anglesos i americans caiguts en el III Reich i fugits pels Pirineus. Primera foto: Comunistes i anarquistes, amb els seus uniformes diferents, afusellen la burgesia i el clergat en un cementiri català durant la Guerra Civil. A diferència d’Hitler només els homes eren liquidats i la majoria fugí a Europa, com el pare de Torres i el meu, mentre les dones es quedaven per salvar la casa de la família. A l’esquerra la seguent tanda i a la dreta els nens observen els assassinats extrajudicials.

La burgesia catalana mai no ha estat tancada, ni monolingue, ni autàrquica. Una petita part parlava castellà, però també altres idiomes, català inclòs, i morta la dictadura ràpidament ha tornat al món d’abans de Franco. Josep Maria Torres em dedica el seu nou llibre “Hotel Palacio, Lleida 1943, escenes de la Guerra Civil” (Abadia de Montserrat): “T’agradarà el veure que sóc menys polèmic que tu.” Però la Guerra Civil encara és políticament incorrecte.

La seva família té una llarga tradició catalana, des dels bisbes Torres Amat a construir el Palau de la Música Catalana. Tenien negocis a Anglaterra, França, Romania, Filipines, pocs a Espanya i molts a Catalunya en transport, carbó, hotels, naviliera, petroli, ceràmica, vi, joies, immobiliària, perfums, distribuïr fruita. Foren expropiats pels feixistes, pels anarquistes i pels comunistes: “L’expropiació no era un fet nou per la família.” Primo de Rivera els expropia al crear el monopoli Campsa: “Per descomptat, com a bon dictador, sense atendre cap indemnització.” Arribà la Guerra Civil: “Els meus familiars, com tants altres, es van veure involucrats en uns fets sense una determinació ideològica especial.” Comercien amb els dos bàndols, portant carbó a Barcelona amb vaixell anglès per no ser expropiats. Franco va donar més seguretat: “Quan va caure Gijón i recuperar la mina de carbó va ser la primera vegada que algú tornava alguna cosa.” Tambè la crema de 10.000 volums, a la família des de 1205, que “havien resistit fins la invasió napoleònica.” Però “una cosa era ser catalans de tendència conservadora o liberal, i l’altra molt diferent identificar-se amb el nacionalsindicalisme, cosina germana del nacionalsindicalisme.” El seu avi “va tornar horroritzat dels sistema nacionalsocialista alemany, tan lluny de la seva ideologia liberal formada entre la Lliga i Anglaterra.” Mentre els homes s’exiliaven per no ser assassinats, les dones es quedaren. A casa Negrín instal.lava la seva amant: “Gairebé un trimestre abans del trasllat del govern a Barcelona. No va ser tan precipitada, sinó ben planejada la marxa de Madrid.” El 1943 el seu pare a Lleida viu al Palace, rebatejat Palacio pels falangistes. El seu anglès el fa representar el consolat britànic de Barcelona en el rescat d’aviadors. Un dia tenia 20 anglesos a l’hotel. Els seixanta Josep Maria Torres em va conèixer: “A Llafranc vaig conèixer el fill de la famosa i intel.ligent revista Destino. Ell va ser sempre un esperó a la meva intel.ligència. La seva companyia em va fer reflexionar. Un llibre entre els molts que va publicar, “Un país tan desgraciat” (Catalunya és clar), vaig entendre que tot i que ens uneix un amor per la nostra cultura i per una forma liberal d’entendre la política, tenim una divergència catalana. Jo en aquells dies era feliç sense cap atavisme ideològic. La meva Catalunya no entrava en els paràmetres de desgràcia, sinó de fortuna. És indubtable que Catalunya ha patit greuges, però la vida és la que és. Ens hem criat en el període de pau més llarg. Oi que aixó és important? No us ho sembla?”

(“La burgesia catalana, d’Espanya al món,” per Josep C. Vergés, Diari de Girona, 1 desembre 2013)

2 December 2013 - Posted by | Culture/Cultura, Politics/Política | ,

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