Official Catalan National Day message from the president of the Government of Catalonia
Palau de la Generalitat, 10 September 2020
Good evening and Happy Catalan National Day,
In 1990, on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Catalan President Lluís Companys by the Spanish fascist regime, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Karl Friedrich Genscher, sent a letter to the then-president of the Government of Catalonia, Jordi Pujol. That letter reads as follows:
“The 50th anniversary of the execution of the president of Catalonia, Lluís Companys i Jover, evokes the painful memory of one of the darkest periods in the history of Germany and Spain. Lluís Companys, one of the best-known victims, also represents the many who paid with their lives for their fidelity to freedom and democracy. We grieve for the second president of the Government of Catalonia, conscious of Germany’s role in this incident.”
In 2008, on behalf of their respective governments, the consul general of Germany and the French consul general in Catalonia also accepted responsibility for the arrest and deportation of President Companys. In 2017, the Parliament of Catalonia annulled his court martial and the trials of over 66,000 other Catalans.
This year we’re commemorating the 80th anniversary of the execution of President Companys by firing squad. Yet Spain has still not accepted its responsibility or apologised to the people of Catalonia.
On Catalan National Day this year, I’m calling on the Spanish government to hold a solemn ceremony in which the head of state and the head of government publicly apologise for the persecution, arrest and execution of President Companys and for the deaths of thousands of Catalans in exile, in Nazi concentration camps, and in Catalan prisons.
Our history isn’t an easy one: it can only be understood in terms of Catalans’ aspiration to regain their freedom. That’s why our history has been a sustained struggle to keep hope alive. This has also been the case during the nearly three years that have passed since the First of October referendum and in the face of all of the repression that the Spanish state has unleashed against peaceful democrats. We’ve fought to keep hope alive as we stand by the political prisoners and exiles, who are still suffering the kind of political persecution that characterises an authoritarian and vindictive state.
We persist in our democratic pursuit of freedom and will continue to do so until we achieve national fulfilment as an independent state. We will pursue this goal with the inclusive and entrepreneurial spirit that defines us. And our focus will be on achieving one great goal: a better life for seven and a half million Catalans – for those who have lived in Catalonia, those who live here now, and those who will live here in the future, wherever they come from.
And, as the current circumstances demand, we will remain focused on combating a pandemic that has already robbed us of too many lives, too many dreams, and too many projects. This is the struggle faced by our government and by a society that is demonstrating its exceptional maturity, commitment and generosity – a struggle we engage in every day and at every hour.
Great efforts and sacrifices still lie ahead. We need to be more vigilant than ever to ensure that the school year gets off to a good start and that our children find the path back to school, which is the path of their education and future, a future in which they are part of a just, inclusive and plural society. I ask that you make one final effort for the common good: remember to maintain physical distancing, wear a face mask and practise hand hygiene.
The pandemic is putting us all to the test. But I’m absolutely confident that we’ll overcome the challenges we face and emerge stronger than ever to tackle the uncertain and unpredictable world that’s already arrived.
In the words of Pompeu Fabra, one of the wisest men Catalonia has ever produced: “We’ll only have what we’re able to win for ourselves.” Whether it’s public health in the midst of a pandemic, freedom in a time of repression, sustainability in a time of climate change, decent housing in a time of speculation, recovery in a time of economic crisis, democracy in a time of authoritarianism, or the Catalan Republic and civic engagement in a time of corrupt monarchies, we’ll have what we’re able to win for ourselves.
Let’s pursue these goals with generosity, honesty, unity, commitment and humility. Let’s do it the way this country knows how to when it sets its mind to something.
For life and for Catalonia.
Happy Catalan National Day to everyone.