Catalans battle over history
CATALONIA'S JEWISH community has voiced concern over a new law which officially recognises all victims of “political, ideological or religious persecution” during Franco’s rule.
Many Jewish Catalans fear that the history of their suffering will effectively be subsumed by the Law of Historical Memory.
Rabbi Jai Anguita, of Barcelona’s progressive Comunitat Bet Shalom, is lobbying the government to acknowledge the painful past of the 6,000strong Catalonian community.
“It is important that people know that, because of the dictatorship, our community lived in secret, and that we were persecuted, in certain cases deported, at times semi-tolerated, but never able to lead a full Jewish life.”
The breakout of the Civil War in 1936 spelt the end of a brief period of optimism for Catalonia’s Jewish community, who were allowed to open a synagogue only in 1928. Although many Jews fled, those who remained suffered further when Franco took control of Barcelona in 1939. For the next six years, Rabbi Anguita explained, “community life simply ceased to exist”.
Right up until 1978, three years after Franco’s death, Jews were forced to apply for permission to pray.
Social scientist Xavier Torrens of Barcelona University claims that few Spaniards know anything about Jews. “It’s as if Jewish culture was something of the past, when in reality there are Jews living in Spain today.”