During the Second World War (1939-1944), thousands of Jews crossed the Pyrenees, fleeing from the persecution that they were subjected to in Nazi-occupied Europe. The Holocaust affected six million European Jews. Many of those who escaped from Germany, Austria, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium and France crossed the mountain passes of the Lleida Pyrenees. In these epic escapes, they had to evade surveillance on either side of the French-Spanish frontier, defy the harsh climatic conditions, which included year-round snows, and overcome the rugged terrain along the way.
El Pallars Sobirà was one of the main routes via which refugees entered Spain passing through the mountains that connect it to the French department of Ariège and the Principality of Andorra. The Jewish refugees received the help and support of evasion networks and the solidarity of many of the citizens of Els Pallars. Sort became the meeting place for those detained in the frontier passes of the Val d’Aran and El Pallars Sobirà and who were then held at one of its two prisons: one for men and another for women. Around 3,000 refugees, about 800 of whom could have been Jews, passed through Sort. Some of them were allowed to stay in the hotels and guest houses of the village which were either paid for by organisations that supported Jews or by allied consulates with representation in Barcelona. From Sort, they were then driven to prisons in the city of Lleida. For all of these refugees, the Lleida Pyrenees were the penultimate obstacle separating them from freedom.