On May 8th, the date commemorating the Allied victory over Nazi Germany and the end of World War II, Jean-François Aguila invokes the memory of his father, Juan Aguila, who was a smuggler during the global conflict. Arrigua carries this memory with his family, and today he travels to schools to tell his father’s story and thus fight oblivion.
Jean-François Aguila recalls: “My father was a smuggler during the Second World War after joining the resistance networks at the beginning of 1942. His first visit took place in the same year, in 1942. Sometimes, once he returned, he left to help an English or American pilot to join the his army corps. The resistance fighter operated mainly in the Tarascon Valley and Vicdessos. The meeting point was in his garden, where he pretended to dig holes or something like that, proving to the Germans that his activity was justified. And his son adds: « He succeeded in all his lanes, and he never took the same routes twice in a row.” Jean Aguila worked with different networks – le Combat, le Brandy and le Françoise – and received a diploma from President Einsenhower, thanking him for passing the pilots.
Arrested the day before his fiftieth birthday after his conviction
On the day he was arrested – after a neighbor denounced him, « jealous because he had not responded to her interests » – he was expecting 15 people he would bring to Spain. We were on June 7, 1944. At that time, German soldiers and one of his sons, a machine gunner, reached the target: “You either surrender or we shoot you,” they said. Threatens. He was arrested on the eve of his fiftieth birthday. We are nine children from the same father, but from different mothers, which made it possible not to find the rest of the family when the Nazis caught him,” says Jean-Francois with emotion.
The resistor is then brought to Villa Lauquié, in Foix, for questioning. He suffered a lot of torture there but he didn’t speak. He was then transferred to Saint-Michel Prison in Toulouse. He was tortured again, and did not speak yet. The Nazis organized ghost trains full of Camp Vernet resisters. The train carrying Jean-Aguila left Toulouse on July 10, 1944 and arrived in Dachau on August 29, 1944. During this journey, the Nazis shot ten prisoners in front of everyone. This is how the resistance fighter, Noel Per Vidal, was executed in Souks near Bordeaux.
The ordeal lasted two months, and they rarely left the wagon. « So that the Allies would not bomb the prisoners’ wagons, they were marked with a red cross on the roof, » adds Jean-Francois Agila. His father was then transferred to the Mauthausen camp before the Americans released him at the end of May 1945.
One of J.F. Aguila’s brothers wrote several books on World War II and his latest work is Passeurs d’hommes et femmes de l’ombre.