Het vergeten meisje van Barcelona

Her father bought a belt in which he had extra nails incorporated. It's how he tried to crush Maria Rosa's temperament.

This story is about a Spanish family that flees during the civil war and gets stuck on Barcelona's Montjuïc mountain. Maria Rosa grows up among the rubbish, behind the walls that separate the 'barracas' (slums) from the city of Barcelona. She plays in the cemetery and at the quarry where residents of the barracas cut stones for the construction of the Sagrada Familia. Hunger, abuse and mistreatment are for Maria Rosa sadly the order of the day. As a 12-year-old girl, she works six days a week, often without having eaten, in the porcelain factory. She eventually ends up in the Netherlands through her marriage. There, too, her life takes a tragic turn. She owes her survival to flamenco dancing.

In this book, you will read about Barcelona's forgotten chapter. The slum that had to make way for the construction of the Olympic stadium and the Olympic village. About the hard life during the post-Franco period. You travel along through Spanish history through the tragic life of Maria Rosa. Survival, perseverance and the inexhaustible urge to dance to the sun: this is the life of Maria Rosa. 

Background story

When Jasmijn Derckx heard the story of 82-year-old Maria Rosa Puigvert Sanchez through her granddaughter Luna Nachelle Friesinger in late 2021, she did not hesitate for a second. This story had to be told, she thought. And so within weeks she travelled to Barcelona. Most people know Montjuïc hill from the Olympic stadium and the Miró museum. Hardly anyone knows the story of the 'barracas', Barcelona's slums. On Montjuïc hill, about 30,000 people lived in wooden and mud houses in the post-Franco period.

Maria Rosa arrived there with her parents in 1948. They wanted to flee to France but got stuck in Barcelona. Maria Rosa grew up in appalling conditions. Hunger, abuse, mistreatment. As a 12-year-old girl, she worked six days a week in a porcelain factory, walking kilometres a day to get to work. Little did she know that this factory was built on one of the bunkers from the civil war. Maria Rosa married a Dutchman and came to live in the Netherlands. How she eventually ended up in the United States as a flamenco dancer can be read in this story. About the strength of a Spanish woman who kept dancing to the sun despite all the setbacks in her life.

Jasmijn Derckx sought out the places where Maria Rosa lived and worked as a girl and delved into Spanish history so that Maria Rosa's story becomes a journey through time. She discovered a forgotten chapter in Barcelona: life in the barracas. By writing this book, she wants to pay tribute to the residents who had to make way for the construction of the Olympic stadium.

A role model for women when it comes to survivability, courage and empowerment.

Snapshots of the trips Jasmijn took to visit Barcelona