Neus Català Pallejà
Neus Català Pallejà (6 October 1915 – 13 April 2019) born in Els Guiamets (Tarragona) in Catalonia, Spain and was active in the United Socialist Party of Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War. Català was the only living Spanish survivor of the Nazi concentration camp Ravensbrück and was a fierce opponent of General Franco’s fascist regime in Spain. When she was young, Català asked her parents why her brother was studying to become a teacher and she could not study. She received the response that only one of the children could study and the man will be the chosen one. Nevertheless, she did not abandon her ambition to become a nurse. As Català began to become involved in the Unified Socialist Youth, she moved to Barcelona to study nursing. Aiming to work in a hospital, she ended up taking care of an infant colony. At the age of 23, after the Republican defeat in 1939, she crossed the Pyrenees with 182 children who she later helped to repatriate, or facilitated their adoption in Europe. After settling in France and marrying, Català and her husband Albert Roger collaborated closely with the Resistance during the German occupation of France. In 1943, aware that they had been exposed, the couple were preparing to flee when Nazi officers burst into their home and arrested them. Català was eventually imprisoned in Ravensbrück German concentration camp for women, seeing many women die, and later in a camp in Holleischen, Czechoslovakia. She and other women were forced to work in an arms factory, and she and her colleagues tried to sabotage production. The ordeal ended with the liberation of the camp by Allied forces in 1945, by which time Català was ‘a bag of bones’. Her partner Albert was killed in another concentration camp. Català’s recovery in the aftermath of the war was very difficult.