Monday, 19 June 2017

Mauthausen photographer Francesc Boix finally buried with other heroes at Père-Lachaise


Barcelona (ACN).- Francesc Boix's testimony at the Nuremberg and Dachau trials against the Nazis was crucial. This Catalan, born in Barcelona in 1920, managed to smuggle around 20,000 photographs and negatives out of the Mauthausen camp, where he was kept prisoner during the Holocaust. The images served as crucial evidence of the genocide. However, for decades, his remarkable history was silenced by Franco's dictatorship and basically forgotten in Europe, just like that of hundreds and hundreds of Republicans who fled the Spanish Civil War only to be caught up in World War II. Sixty-six years after his death, Boix was finally buried with all honors in Paris’ emblematic Père-Lachaise cemetery. He had died in the French capital in 1951, only six years after the end of the war, and his remains had since been in the Thiais cemetery.  

"Justice has been done," said the Catalan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Raül Romeva, after a ceremony in Paris with the city's Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Barcelona's Gerardo Pisarello. "Boix was humanity's eyes in Mauthausen," the minister said, describing how the photographer’s "bravery" was crucial in the prosecution against Nazi criminals.

Romeva said that Boix's homage was "delayed" for many years due to a lack of commitment to historical memory from successive Spanish governments. "Spain has the regretful intention to institutionalize oblivion," he added, pointing out that Catalonia has been working "for a long time" against this. Romeva also praised the efforts taken by Boix’s family members and associations and NGOs such the Amical de Mauthausen in order to honor the photographer as he duly deserved.

"The Spanish government’s participation in the homage has been minimal, it is a shame," complained Gerardo Pisarello, acting Mayor of Barcelona. "Spain, and particularly the current government, has a problem with historical memory," he said. Pisarello pointed out that the Spanish President, Mariano Rajoy, was in Paris on the same day of the homage but nevertheless the ceremony had "almost no institutional representation" from the Spanish government, except for a cultural attaché from the Spanish embassy.  

"This was a very important event, with high-ranking authorities from the Catalan government and the city councils of both Barcelona and Paris," he insisted. According to him, both Paris and Barcelona are "republican and antifascist" cities that understand that "in order to build a real democracy, historical memory should be a priority".

  • 170616_Paris01

  • Homage to Francesc Boix in Paris (by ACN)