The days of a century passed by And the hours followed your exile.
The day near the end of January in Barcelona when the exodus that became known as the Retreat began, it dawned so cold that water froze in the pipes, vehicles and animals got stuck on the ice, and the sky, shrouded in dark clouds, seemed to be in deep mourn- ing. It was one of the coldest winters in living memory. Franco’s Nationalist troops were advancing down from Tibidabo, and panic gripped the civilian popula- tion. Hundreds of Nationalist prisoners were dragged from their cells and shot. Soldiers, many of them wounded, began the trek toward the French border, following thousands upon thousands of civilians: en- tire families, grandparents, mothers, children, breast- feeding infants, everyone carrying whatever they could take with them. Some traveled in buses or trucks, others on bicycles, horse-drawn carts, horses, or mules, but the majority went on foot, hauling their belongings in sacks, a pitiful procession of the desperate. Behind them they left shuttered homes and treasured objects. Pets followed their owners for some of the way, but soon became lost in the chaos and were left behind.