In Carrer de la Llacuna street, between Carrer Ramon Turró and Carrer Doctor Trueta streets, stands the front of what was once the “El Cànem” factory, in a building that now houses offices and a four-star hotel. When Francoist forces entered Barcelona on 26 January 1939, the city’s prisons were soon overflowing due to the sheer size of the repression, and other buildings had to be converted into holding facilities. Accordingly, El Cànem became a detention centre for suspected opponents of the new regime.
In the second half of the 19th century, Poblenou became the city’s main industrial district and became known as the “Catalan Manchester”. During this time, many factories began operating, particularly in the textile industry, such as the factory set up in 1882 by the brothers Bartolomé and Carles Godó, who also founded the newspaper La Vanguardia. The factory was popularly known as “El Cànem” (The Hemp), since it is a very similar fibre to jute, the product manufactured there. Two thousand employees worked there, particularly women and children in very harsh conditions.
In 1939, the Godó brothers, in a display of affection for General Franco, gave the space to the Francoist authorities for free, which was turned into a detention centre taking advantage of its two warehouses and outdoor patio, and also because opposite was a military barracks of the Civil Guard that could keep watch on the premises. Some 3,000 republicans lived in appalling conditions at the centre, with very little food, terrible overcrowding and a disciplinary regime characterised by constant threats and abuse meted out by the security wardens. Furthermore, they were forced to sing the anthem of the Falange party, “Cara al Sol” (“Facing the Sun”), every morning. It is estimated that nearly 11,000 republican supporters, victims of reprisals, passed through El Cànem, which acted as an appendage to the Model prison until 23 March 1942, when the last prisoners were transferred.
Today, on the pavement of Rambla del Poblenou, where it crosses with Carrer de Llull, there is a square dedicated to the “Dones del Cànem” (Women of El Cànem) in memory of the employees subject to extreme working conditions. However, there is no reference to those imprisoned there during the Franco dictatorship.
Address: 10-20, Carrer de la Llacuna || Coordinates: (LAT, LONG): 41.398266166, 2.202641121