The Government of Catalonia’s Ministry of Justice, Rights and Memory will lead the project entitled “Exiles 1936 and 1946” with the objective of fostering the collective memory of the processes of exile that took place during this period. The initiative is part of the European POCTEFA 2021-2027 programme, which was created to stimulate cooperation for sustainable development in the region around the border shared by Spain, France and Andorra.

The project, which has reached the approval stage, will enable the creation of a cross-border space for all the facilities and institutions working to promote democratic memory. This will foster synergies, permit the circulation of information and allow coordinated searches to be carried out. Although the starting point is national and local memories, one of the objectives is to interrelate them with existing European and global memories of the exiles and forced migrations that took place in the twentieth century.

Among the institutions involved in the project are Democratic Memorial, the Exile Memorial Museum, the Ribesaltes Camp Memorial, the Swiss Maternity Hospital in Elne, the Argelès Camp Memorial and the Generalitat de Catalunya’s Directorate General for Democratic Memory. Partner organisations, such as the Casa de la Generalitat in Perpignan and the Patronat Call de Girona will also be actively participating in the project.

The Director General for Democratic Memory, Alfons Aragoneses, emphasised the importance of the project in terms of providing a broad-based narrative of the memory of the exiles. “We must combine our efforts and knowledge. There are institutions in Catalonia that have been working on the memory of the exiles of the Spanish Civil War for many years, and especially on the Republican exile of 1939; similarly, there are institutions in Catalunya Nord that are working on the memory of the withdrawal and the refugee camps.” He also stressed the importance of “a visitor to the Exile Memorial Museum in La Junquera or the Ribesaltes Camp Memorial, for example, being able to learn about history collectively, and understanding that it is all part of a much broader and longer history.”

The initiatives envisaged include the creation of signage at both border locations, the creation of a memory route to encourage visits to the sites, exchanges of experiences between researchers, teachers and archive staff, and the creation of a shared database to incorporate all the available information on the memory of the exiles.

The leadership of “Exiles 1936 and 1946” once again highlights the Government of the Generalitat de Catalunya’s firm historical commitment to the defence and dissemination of the public policies of democratic memory that have made Catalonia a pioneer in this field, both in Spain and elsewhere.