First Advisor

Victoria Belco

Date of Award


Document Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History and University Honors






Neus Català (1915-2019), World War (1939-1945) -- Underground movements – France, World War (1939-1945) -- Women – Biography, Spain -- History -- Civil War (1936-1939), World War (1939-1945) -- Concentration camps -- France, Exiles -- Spain -- Biography, Spaniards -- France -- Biography




Nineteen hundred and thirty-nine was a dark year for twenty-three year old Neus Català Pallejà. After two and a half years agitating on the losing side of the Spanish Civil War, she fled the once revolutionary stronghold of Catalonia mere hours before Generalissimo Francisco Franco's advancing troops reached the capital city of Barcelona and began to exact widespread reprisals against its populace. The relative safety of exile in France soon evaporated with the Nazi invasion and occupation the following year. Catala was active in the Resistance movement until her arrest in November 1943, and survived deportation and internment in Ravensbruck concentration camp to publish one of the first, among very few, books on Spanish women's participation in the Second World War in France.

Català's participation in the Resistance reveals one set of possibilities of how Spanish exiles responded to a second war against international fascism. Her story can provide insights into the historical questions: how did the experiences and actions of Spanish women differ from other participants in the Resistance in France? What resources did exiled Spanish women draw from under such challenging circumstances? What strategies did they employ to navigate male dominated Resistance organizations? Why did they join the Resistance? What were their goals? How did political loyalties impact women's wartime activities? And, how did the exiles shape the Resistance in France? Examining these questions in light of Spanish women's experiences in the Civil War helps illuminate the changes and continuities in how they related to protracted, transnational antifascist struggle. These questions also provide helpful points of comparison with French women's Resistance participation. Català's case exemplifies three elements that shaped and differentiated exiled Spanish women's participation in the anti-Nazi resistance movement in France during the Second World War: their experiences in the Spanish Civil War, the material conditions arising from their exile and reception in France, and the motivating factors of ideological antifascism and their desire to depose Franco and return home.


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