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“We weren’t entitled to the air we breathed”

A “plateresque” facade stands imposingly in León. This is the hallmark of the luxurious Parador de San Marcos, which during the civil war was nevertheless used as the entrance to a concentration camp. This is how people like Josep Pla, now the last survivor of this place, remember him. “You are prisoners of war, and as such you are not entitled to the air you breathe,” they told him when he was locked there.

Pla will be 102 in September, and 85 years have passed since he was jailed. Decades later, he can’t help but remember the ‘Carbonera’: ‘It was a cruel little room as it could be. Four individuals took the prisoner and started giving him firewood. Today, however, applause is heard in homage to the express in this cloister through which at least 20,000 prisoners passed during the Franco era.

Many of them must have slept crowded together in the open air. “We are so close to each other that we were warm. Now if you are facing north you cannot turn around because of the number of people present,” he told the Sexta Pla . According to historians, some 3,000 prisoners of war died in this concentration camp from diseases, mistreated or shot.

“Normally they would call two or three by first and last name to show up at the high altar and you wouldn’t see them anymore,” Pla added in statements granted to this channel. Among the victims of this long-standing crime was also the grandfather of the former president of the government José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who, present at the same event, wanted to remember what happened to a member of his family. .

“My grandfather was here for a few days, and on August 19 they shot him dead in Puente Castro,” the former socialist leader explained during his speech. In order not to forget or erase the dramatic traces that the recent memory of our country has left, the Parador de San Marcos will henceforth remember all this part of its history: a podcast will be launched and several plaques will be placed with the for the purpose. to explain what happened in that building.

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