for the Spain they believed to be better: in Coll d'Ares
According to the institution Memorial Democràtic “at the beginning of 1939, with the rapid advance of the national troops, Molló became an important enclave for thousands of people who were heading towards Coll d’Ares (1513 m) from where they would cross the French border and start out on the road to exile. This is the way that more than 100.000 republicans, including soldiers and civilians, used to go into exile in France. Added to the tricky path were the difficult weather conditions and the scarcity of food.
In order to stop the nationals from advancing on 10 February, around 25.000 republican fighters decided to confront a larger and better prepared enemy, i a desperate attempt to give the republicans more time to cross the border. However, it was all in vain and the fighters started out on the road to exile. On 13 February 1939, the 53rd Division of the Corporation of the Army of Aragon entered Molló, and, not long after, it arrived in Ares. The last republican soldier crossed the Coll d’Ares on the morning of 13 February 1939. A few hours later, around two in the afternoon, the national army reached the border, Molló had been occupied hours before that.
These photos were taken on Saturday 26th February 2019 and they show the celebration of the 80th Anniversary of the Retirada in Coll d’Ares. On this day the majors of Molló and Prats de Molló -Josep Coma and Claude Ferrer- and the president of the Generalitat de Catalunya Quim Torrà met in Coll d’Ares.
One of the photos shows Frederic Lorente, born in Xàtiva in 1938, with the Republican flag that his father took when crossing the border in February 1939.