The end of the Spanish Civil War, between nationalists and republicans, rushed rapidly. Nationalist troops advanced rapidly in the first months of 1939, until it ended the Civil War on April 1, 1939.
From the first days of January 1939, hundreds of thousands of Republicans, with their families, crossed the border with France seeking to save life. Coming to France was not easy, it was winter and the Pyrenees were completely snowed. Very few could use vehicles, most crossed the Pyrenees on foot, carrying some children, their few belongings others, most with snow to the knee. The ways in which the columns toiling fleeing Nationalist troops were frequently bombed and strafed by aircraft, even slowing their movement painful. The cold and frost bones Menelaus.
Republicans fighters, poorly equipped, and stop trying to organize, but it may temporarily advancing Nationalist troops. Was impossible.
The history of Republican exile began in the Pyrenees. More than half a million Republicans with their families made their way to France. For less, France meant the refuge and freedom. But for the vast majority of refugees meant another phase of hardship and sacrifice without limits. With refugees had the order of 200,000 soldiers Republicans should surrender their weapons to enter France.
The surprise for Spanish refugees seeking freedom in France was tremendous. France sent them to concentration camps lacking the minimum hygienic conditions, squalid shelters and without any shelter. A dozen huge concentration camps were established in France and its territories of Algeria and Morocco, which were crowded Republican refugees.
Obviously, the Gallic country was not prepared for such onslaught humana.Los concentration camps were surrounded by barbed wire, guarded by machine guns and Senegalese guards.
The roof, shelter and food were unknown.
Refugees fainted from hunger, cold and diseases related to poor hygiene that were held by the French authorities. They began to sprout from the sand, like mushrooms, strange structures and improvised tents refugees seeking minimal protection against the cold wind and rain. The living conditions in these camps were pitiful and subhuman.
Creatures that were born on the wet sand ewes and protected in cardboard boxes, while hundreds of sick and dying of dysentery contagiaban their fellow sufferers.
The living space was minimal, promiscuity huge. Living conditions were impossible to imagine today. Sanitary facilities exist. Areas open to the concentration camps became dung in which men, women and children attended to defecate. In this deplorable sanitary conditions, wounds refugees gangrenaban easily and amputations were frequent. There were no drugs or anesthesia. Even in most fields, water for washing was absent, there was only water, in small quantities, to drink, which came in tankers.
The French Government, given the seriousness of these problems, two ships became floating hospital for refugees who attend the most serious. These ships were anchored near Marseille.
Fewer refugees had better luck, as they were not sent to concentration camps, but were housed in many French homes of goodwill and Spanish residents.