Historylines 23

The Driver

Our next protagonist is Bernat Olivé Vilaplana , who was a member of the JEREC (Joventuts d’Esquerra Republicana Estat Català) and founder, together with Jaume Miravitlles, of the Casal Nacionalista Obrer Espartacus in Barcelona. Also, during the Civil War, he collaborated with Jaume Miravitlles in the Commissariat of Propaganda of the Generalitat de Catalunya.

From July 18, 1936, he took an active part in the fight against the military uprising in Barcelona. He volunteered for the Aragon front with the Carles Marx column of the PSUC, which later joined the 122nd Mixed Brigade of the 27th Division. He was on the fronts of Aragon, Lleida, the Ebro, Jaca, and the Segre.

During the Retreat (La Retirada), he left Alta Garrotxa, Beget, La Manera, and Serrallonga on 13 February 1939 and was concentrated on the football field in Arles de Tec (Vallespir).

Bernat Olivé took part, escorted by the French Army, as a driver in the transfer of abandoned republican military vehicles from the Le Boulou to the car park set up in the Camp de Mart in Perpignan.

As a refugee assigned to the Camp Joffre de Rivesaltes, from April 1940 he was a driver of Lieutenant Saurel, of the transport camp of Bahó (Roussillon) and entered the CTE (Companies of Foreign Workers), precisely in the Formation of Foreign Workers Departmental Group 427, No. 3,947. He worked until 1943 doing agricultural work in Roussillon on various farms and farms and obtained a French driver’s license.

When the Nazi occupiers in France began to control the Catalans and Spaniards from the republican exile and recruit them to do compulsory work for the Germans, he was moved to Bédarieux (Hérault), a concentration camp of barracks with five or six a thousand men.

There, he was working on assembling train lines from bauxite mines (basic for making aluminum). It was a twelve-hour-a-day job loading and unloading cement sacks and hauling railroad tracks. He was in the infirmary two weeks by accident, when one of the rails fell on his foot. He eventually ended up driving again, contacted the French resistance, and fled in a German car, simulating a breakdown.

From so far to so close.

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