Directed by Assumpta Montellà and Toni Espinosa, this documentary focuses on the figure of the Swiss teacher Elisabeth Eidenbenz and her work as promoter and director of a maternity hospital in Northern Catalonia at the end of the Spanish Civil War.
In 1939, with the Spanish Civil War almost over, half a million people crossed the border into France escaping Franco’s repression. The neighboring country confined these people in prison camps that did not meet the minimum humanitarian conditions, which caused 95% infant mortality. The mothers who were escaping the Franco regime were joined shortly after by Jewish mothers from central Europe who were fleeing the Nazi horror.
Aware of this drama, Elisabeth Eidenbenz, a young 23-year-old Swiss teacher who had been in Spain for some time helping child victims of war, decided to help pregnant women in the camps. He established a maternity hospital in Elna, a small town in Roussillon, in northern Catalonia, close to the fields of Argeliers, Ribesaltes, Gurs and Sant Cebrià. With the collaboration of the mothers and a few volunteer nurses, Elisabeth made the birth of 597 babies in good condition possible. But Elisabeth Eidenbenz did much more than serve…
The historian Assumpta Montellà, who made the history of the Elna Maternity known in 2005 with her book “Elna’s Maternity, Cradle of the Exiles”, says that “the past is told from the present.” Montellà takes the viewer to Rekawinkel, the Austrian town where Elisabeth Eidenbenz lives, who will turn 95 on May 12, 2008. An emotional exchange of correspondence with Catalan children allows us to evoke some of the most difficult moments that the women and children who shared their stay in the maternity hospital had to experience. Among the many expressions of gratitude that she has received throughout her life, Elisabeth proudly displays the Medal of the Righteous of All Nations that the state of Israel gave her in 2002 in recognition of her work protecting and safeguarding mothers and children. Jews in the Elna maternity hospital between 1939 and 1944.
Seventy years later, mothers and children who lived the experience discover that hidden chapter of our history, full of drama, but also tenderness.
- DIRECTOR: TONI ESPINOSA, ASSUMPTA MONTELLÀ
- GUIÓN: TONI ESPINOSA, ROGER COMELLA
- DIRECTOR DE FOTOGRAFÍA: ALBERT SERRADÓ
- MÚSICA: MARC DURANDEAU
- COPRODUCTORES: TVC, TVE
- CATEGORÍA: DOCUMENTAL