This happened 75 years ago, on January 20, 1942. Fifteen Nazi leaders met for an hour and a half in a chalet in Wansee, outside Berlin, and drafted the protocols that served to develop what was christened as a final solution , A subterfuge to avoid its real name: the Holocaust. Thousands of Jews went to Spain fleeing the extermination, and some settled down in Barcelona, undertaking a new life and adding vitality to a city depleted by the Civil War. They are the stories of people like Bernard Hilda, Kurt Kauf or Artur Kaps.
Those who gathered in Wansee were ministers of the Third Reich, responsible for the security apparatus and Nazi party jigsaw, led by an infamous character named Reinhard Heydrich. In 90 minutes, those fifteen criminals determined that 11 million Jews should be eliminated from the occupied territories. That day, every minute of his time amounted to 122,222 lives. The Holocaust was an irreparable loss of diversity and multiculturalism for the nations under the boot of the Third Reich, but what was a disgrace for some, were new airs for others. It does not stop being paradoxical that many Jews fled of the Nazism and looked for shelter in a dictatorship of fascist ideology like the Spanish, but it was. The scholars of the subject indicate that about ten thousand passed through Catalonia, mainly from Germany, Austria, Poland and Czechoslovakia; And a heterogeneous group settled in Barcelona, where they stood out in the business field, and especially in the artistic one.
In fact, the exodus towards Spain had begun before Wansee: it began in 1933, with the arrival of Hitler to the power and the antisemitic laws. The experts define two stages in this process. The one that goes from this moment to 1939 and the one that includes World War II.
It is in this first phase when a young doctor in law (his diploma signed by Heidegger) of 25 years, Kurt Kauf is installed in Barcelona. He was already on the list of people who were going to enter the judiciary, but anti-Semitic laws prevented it. Here he got the representation of the Adler sewing machines. He opened an office in Canuda Street, 45. He finally abandoned the laws and prospered in this business, which continued his family.
David Oliver made a fortune in the world of cinema: in Berlin he had exhibition halls, producers and distributors, but in August 1933 also escaped to Barcelona, where he founded with another group of Catalan partners Ibérica Films, who had a notable success with The production of the film Doña Francisquita, on the zarzuela of the teacher Vives. He ended up going to Hollywood and his company languished.
But Spain was not a paradise for most of those exiles. Many of them were more humble and had their origin in the world of the textile, like tailors or representatives of fabrics. They arrived without knowing anybody and they slept in the chairs of the Rambla, huddled next to each other, so that the popular street received the nickname among the refugees of hotel Catalonia. Another of the points where they landed was a pension located at number 6 of Modolell Street, Villa Elna; Center of passage for those who fled. The Civil War prompted many to embark on the road again to America, England, or Palestine, and collaboration between Spain and Germany caused detentions and temporary internment in concentration camps, although the flow continued after the invasion of Poland, fueled by the networks of Evasion and the ambivalent position of the Franco regime on the Jewish question. Most were in transit, looking for a third country where to settle.
In this second period came to Barcelona artists who did here career, as Bernard Hilda. His real name was Levitzki and his Russian origin. He was a well-known musician who fled from Paris in 1942, arrived in Cannes and from there went to Barcelona. At the head of his orchestra, plagued by Jewish musicians, he starred on the nights of the 1940s at the Ritz Grill and La Rosaleda. It was enormously popular and, while sweetening the evenings, spied for the allies.
When thousands of Jews were also in 1942 Artur Kaps arrived in Barcelona with his theatrical company Los Vieneses. The war caught him in his native Austria, and there he went to Italy, where he came to Spain, according to people who knew them. The Vienans, all Jews, contributed glamur to the magazine and took possession of Paral·lel. In 1959, Kaps entered the newly created Spanish Television, and together with their compatriots Franz Joham and Herta Frankel (with their famous pupil Marilyn) they developed programs like Friends of the Monday or Saturday Night. He was a pusher of television and had much to do in the successes of Spanish of Eurovision like the, the, the,.
In 1942, fifteen hitmen of Adolf Hitler gathered at Wansee to outline a plan with which to eliminate eleven million Jews.
The consequences of what they did are irreparable, but there was no final solution and Barcelona benefited from it.