Homage to Nazi Camp Survivors

Monday, March 11, 2019
By Martin Myall

SAL MathausenSalobreña Town Hall paid homage to three of its citizens who had ended up in a Nazi concentration camp during the Second World War.

Like tens of thousands of others that sought refuge over the Pyrenees in 1939, they were caught out by the Nazi invasion of France and many were sent to Mauthausen Camp.

Visitors can now see the plaque erected in their honour inside the Town Hall as well as in honour and all of those that fell fighting facist forces defending Democracy in Spain and France.

The plaque was unveiled by the Mayor, María Eugenia Rufino and the French Consular General in Sevilla, Didier Maze.

In the case of the three men from Salobreña, they were Antonio González Galdeano and Manuel Pulido Noguera (who both perished shortly after they entered the camp) and Antonio Paloma Alonso, who managed to survive the ordeal and was freed by Allied troops when their advance overran the camp.

Two of them had been absorbed into labour battalions by the French in 1939 and the third, Antonio Paloma, enlisted in a foreign-volunteer regiment within the French Army.

Despite Spain’s neutrality during the Second World War, over 7,000 Spaniards ended up in Nazi concentration camps – 5,000 didn’t survive the experience.

What sparked off this campaign to pay homage to these men was a photo on Facebook of Antonio González Galdeano. Local historian, Patrick Díaz was contacted by one of his Antonio’s descendants.

The Spanish inmates in order to keep up moral and not give up under these extreme conditions organised a football team, and amongst the team players was Antonio Paloma. The team used a football made from rags; there was no shortage of rags, after all.

The nephew of Sr. Paloma explained that his uncle had been swept along in the Desbandá in 1937 and after that they had lost all track of him, considering it more than likely that he had died. Finally, the family received a letter from France from Antonio saying that he had been imprisoned in a concentration camp during the Second World War and now lived in France. It would have been impossible for him to return because Franco’s regime would have imprisoned him, or worse.

It should be remembered that the Germans approached Franco to say that they had thousands of Spanish Republican in their power and wanted to know if he wanted them back. Franco told Hitler to dispose of them.

Spanish soldiers fought on both sides during the war, despite Spain’s apparent neutrality status; Franco sent ‘volunteers’ to fight the bolsheviks on the Eastern Front (La Division Azul). Many Republicans, on the other hand joined the French Foreign Legion to continue the fight against the facists. In fact, Spaniards were amongst the first Allied soldiers who entered Paris in 1944, belonging to the 2nd Armoured (Declerk) Division. If you look closely at the tanks entering Paris, you can see the names of Spanish Civil War battles written on the hulls, where these volunteers had fought.

(News: Salobrena, Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia)

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