Musings on Culture

Alejandra de Leiva's Blog

Canfranc, la estación fantasma y el oro nazi / Canfranc, the haunted railway station and Nazi gold

Ayer se celebró en Canfranc el centenario de los trabajos de perforación del túnel ferroviario de Canfranc.

Inspirada por la lectura del magnífico libro de Ramón J.Campo, El oro de Canfranc, que narra la historia de la estación, escenario del tráfico del “oro nazi”, estuve en Canfranc es dos ocasiones en 2006 y 2007. Recupero para esta ocasión un texto literario sobre la estación que publiqué en el blog Abandonalia (un sugerente blog sobre lugares abandonados).

Mi texto se puede leer AQUI; incluye algunas de las fotografías que tomé entonces. Por lo que he sabido, en 2011 se incendiaron dos vagones, lo cual no es de extrañar dado el estado de abandono en el que se encuentra la estación. A pesar de las reivindicaciones para reabrir el tráfico ferroviario entre Francia y España, de momento no hay fecha segura en el horizonte.

He empezado a leer Canfranc. El oro y los nazis, también de Ramón J.Campo. Promete ser tan evocador e informativo como El oro de Canfranc.

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Canfranc, a village in the Spanish Pyrenees, celebrated yesterday the centenary of the boring of the Trans-Pyrenean railway tunnel, almost 8 km long, that joined Spain to France.

In 1928, at the inauguration of the Canfranc International Station, King Alfonso XII proudly claimed: “The Pyrenees do no longer exist!”. Lying at an altitude of 1190 m, the station was the result of more than 40 years of labour. It’s a huge construction in Modernist style, 240 m long, described in tourist brochures and other publications as “bigger than the Titanic”. Unfortunately, the station has been abandoned since 1970, when, after an accident, one of the bridges on the French side collapsed.

I visited Canfranc in 2006 and 2007, after reading a fascinating book by Ramón J.Campo about the history of the station. In 2000, Jonathan Díaz, a French bus driver, had found some documents scattered on the rails of the station that proved that Canfranc was the entry point for more than 86 tons of “Nazi gold” into Spain. Campo thoroughly researched the topic and published El oro de Canfranc (Canfranc’s gold) in 2002. He revealed that Nazis used gold to buy tungsten from Spain and Portugal. Tungsten, also known as wolfram, is a heavy metal used in the arms industry. It became a strategic metal during World War II because of its properties and resistance.

Furthermore, Campo revealed that Canfranc was also part of a spy network. The Chief of the French Customs, Albert Le Lay, acted as a spy for the French Resistance. He provided information for the Allies. Le Lay was discovered by the Gestapo in 1943, but he managed to escape.

Inspired by Campo’s well researched and informative book, I visited Canfranc and interviewed Campo and Díaz. The visit to the abandoned station was magic. Although it’s very deteriorated, the station still retains its majesty and mistery. I published a literary text in a blog about abandoned places. My text and a selection of pictures can be found HERE (in Spanish).

New revelations about Canfranc’s secrets have recently emerged. I am currently reading Campo’s newest book, Canfranc. El oro y los nazis (Canfranc. The gold and the nazis), that he presented in June 2012. The book promises to be as entertaining and evocative as Canfranc’s gold.





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