Catalan Historical Review, No 2 (2009)

The great exodus of 1939 and other exiles of the 20th Century

Enric Pujol i Casademont


In spite of being a historic constant and a characteristic phenomenon of the 20th century, the subject ‘exile’ is still little
valued by contemporary historiography´. The civil war from 1936 to 1939 and the Francoist triumph provoked an exile
without precedent in recent Catalonian history. This exile was decisive in the preservation of Catalan culture (persecuted
by the Franco regime in Catalonia itself), as well as for the continuity of Catalan self-government, the ‘Generalitat of
Catalonia’. It was also an extremely important platform for the democratic opposition to Francoism, although it lost its
political weight around the nineteen sixties. At that time, though, new waves of exiles took place caused by the fight
against the dictatorship, but they were in no way related to the scale of those from the civil war in the thirties. At the dictator’s
death many people returned home, but the fragility of the democracy born from the political transition process
brought new exiles. In order to know more in detail on such an important subject it is necessary to promote a culturally
institutionalised process that makes possible its systematic study, and it is also necessary that the analysis of this phenomenon
become a top priority aim of study for historiography and for all human sciences.

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ISSN: 2013-4088 (electronic edition); 2013-407X (print edition)