The Baix Ebre County Council signs and dignifies the Val de Zafan Greenway as a space of democratic memory
Between 1938 and 1942, more than 2,700 Republican prisoners of war worked there
The Baix Ebre County Council has installed an interpretive information panel on the Vía Verde Nature Trail of the Val de Zafan, at the Xerta station, with the aim of disseminating the participation of forced Republican labor in the construction and repair of the old railway line between Terra Alta and Tortosa. The president of the El Baix Ebre County Council, Xavier Faura, inaugurated this Monday the new signage of democratic memory, which has been subsidized in part by the Democratic Memorial of the Generalitat. The vice president of the El Baix Ebre County Council, Francesc Vallespí, also attended the inauguration; the mayor Xerta, Roger Avinyó and the director of the territorial services of Justice, Joan Juan, among other authorities.
"The research work that has been carried out to prepare the content of this information panel has allowed us to discover the important presence of battalions of Republican prisoners destined for the construction of the railway line in the municipality of Xerta", said the president of the County Council, which added: "With this action we dignify republican forced labor and we do it in a space through which thousands of people pass every year." The information panel installed on the Vía Verde de la Val de Zafan, just in front of the Xerta station, will be one of the first in the country dedicated to Franco's slave labor.
The installation of this signage is the result of the inventory of historical spaces of the Civil War commissioned by the Baix Ebre County Council in the Terra Enllà company, an inventory that includes 193 records in the Baix Ebre. One of these files proposes to dignify the presence of slaves of the Franco regime in the Greenway of the Val de Zafan. As for the research work to prepare the content of the information panel, it has been carried out by Terra Enllà. Today, just after the inauguration of the new signage, the historian and member of Terra Enllà, Andreu Caralt, gave a talk on the forced labor of republican prisoners on the Val de Zafan Greenway between 1938 and 1942. The act It took place in the old Xerta station, which has outgrown the interest of the residents of the municipality for this episode in history. "We have carried out intense research based on documentation extracted from the Xerta archive, local informants, historians who have worked on this subject, documentation and bibliography", Caralt pointed out.
The information panel distributes the information, in a didactic way, in four sections: the forced labor of republican prisoners in the Vía Verde de la Val de Zafan; the railway line; Xerta, nerve center of slave labor and witnesses. Between 1938 and 1942, more than 2,700 republican prisoners of war, integrated into five battalions of workers, were displaced to the Val de Zafan railway line to work in a forced way, as slaves of the Franco regime, in the opening works of the section between Alcañiz and Tortosa. Xerta played a key role because it was a place for confinement and work for the inmates. In addition to the explanatory text, the information is complemented with images of the construction of the railway, of prisoners, as well as of the Xerta soccer team made up of Republican prisoners and town boys. In Xerta, in 1940, a total of 1,307 forced laborers were stationed. "Some of these prisoners established a link with people from the municipality", said the mayor of Xerta, who also highlighted the collaboration of the City Council in the preparation of the panel. A QR code is also included to access the content of the billboard in Spanish and English. "We want all users of the Greenway to remember the work of the republican prisoners and we wish that there are never more prisoners of war, or any war", concluded the vice president of the Consell Comarcal.