Tuesday, May 24

The resistance of David Moyano, the Spaniard who helped save the photos that proved the Holocaust

There are people who are born to resist. Like David Moyano Tejerina (Ujo, 1922-Brussels, 2011), an Asturian who was a prisoner of the Mauthausen concentration camp. He was part of the “Kommando Poschacher”, a key brigade in the fight against Nazism. He and his companions helped Francisco Boix – the “Mauthausen photographer” – hide the negatives that showed the horror of the countryside. Those images were key to the Nuremberg trials. This is the account of how a man from Huesca, with the almost never-remembered help of a young anti-fascist German, made history.

“We had to carry stones up the 186 steps that led to the quarry and many jumped into the void. I thought several times about killing myself, but in the end I did not have enough strength”

David Moyano – Mauthausen Survivor


The Mierense historian Carlos Barrio searches, in a bulky plastic folder, the biography Moyano. A summary: with only 15 years, he enlisted in the army. He went through several fronts, until he was assigned to Figueres. There he was part of the 118 antiaircraft battery at Campo de la Bota. “Escaping from the Francoist occupation of Catalonia, he went to France. He was interned in the Argelès-sur-Mer concentration camp ”, explains the historian. He was taken prisoner by Nazi troops in 1940. On January 27, 1941, he was deported along with 1,500 other Spaniards to the Mauthausen camp.

“He felt the roughness of the pajamas, it was the first time he had worn them. His prison number was round: 6060. He was embroidered with an inverted blue triangle, the one assigned to stateless persons. That’s how Franco described them: men without land. But he knew that he did have a house, a home, which he had left in Ujo. He knew that Mauthausen would take away his strength, youth, and laughter. His mission, inside those rigid pajamas, would be to maintain dignity. “

He was young and healthy. For this reason, Carlos Barrio explains, Moyano “was assigned to work in the Mauthausen quarry”. It was a “terrible” experience, that David Moyano Tejerina himself –in information collected in different publications of historians– recalled like this: “We worked at 20 degrees below zero, dressed only in pajamas. It was exhausting. We had to carry stones up the 186 steps that led to the quarry and many jumped into the void. I thought several times about killing myself, but in the end I did not have enough strength ”.

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He resisted, and his life improved a little: he was selected to be part of the “Kommando Poschacher”. They were all Spanish and young. The command owed its name to the factory in which they worked. “At this point in the holocaust, the Nazis had already killed so many people that they had almost no manpower. The extermination had stopped ”, clarifies Barrio. Since October 1944, the members of the “Kommando Poschacher” “enjoyed” a regime of semi-freedom. They went out to work, slept in the fields.

Francisco Boix, the well-known “Mauthausen photographer”, asked them for help to hide some negatives. They were images of stacked bodies, painful experiments, prisoners bleeding to death. Boix’s plan, whose story Mar Targarona brought to the cinema, was to “save” 20,000 photographs as evidence of the Holocaust.

“His breath quickened every time he brushed his hand against the negative. He did it so many times a day… he needed to know what was still in his pocket. That afternoon I would see Anna, a step towards the truth ”.

The film “The Photographer from Mauthausen”, which starred Mario Casas, obviates a key character in the story. David Moyano Tejerina never forgot: it is about Anna Pointner, a young German woman from the town of Mauthausen. He wanted to help the prisoners to bring down Nazism. Behind the loose stone of a wall, he hid the negatives that the Spaniards of the “Kommando Poschacher” gave him.

They resisted. After the liberation of the camp and the fall of Nazism, those photos were revealed: “They were a key piece in the trials against the Nazi commanders that were held in Nuremberg and Dachau,” explains Carlos Barrio. Boix went down in history, although he died only six years after the liberation of Mauthausen. David Moyano Tejerina from Miere passed away in Brussels in 2011. He never stopped resisting.

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“He opened the newspaper with his hands, which were already trembling from 87 years of struggle. He turned the pages quickly, and read the headline and summary: ‘The National Court orders the capture of three Nazis after the denunciation of an Asturian’. “David Moyano, 87, is one of the Holocaust survivors and brought three SS field guards to court for torture.” (THE NEW SPAIN, September 19, 2009) ”.


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