Articles in ‘History’

Spanish refugees crossing the Pyrenees

Spanish refugees crossing the Pyrenees to France. Many would not make it. Those who did faced a very uncertain future.

Franco’s prisons

Republican prisoners forming the dictator’s name. Jaén 1953. Despite improving its international image from the 1960s, the dictatorship would remain chronically violent and murderous to the very end..

Swiss international brigaders

Swiss volunteers returning from Spain were treated badly, facing up to 4 years in prison for having broken the militarily penal code which banned Swiss citizens from enlisting in a foreign army. Some 800 Swiss, one of the largest groups, including a few women fought in Spain. Around 170 were killed in the fighting. In 2009, the Swiss government issued a pardon to all those repressed. More here

Seat car as social history

Almeria 1977. Three generations of women sitting around a SEAT 600, seen in the 1960s as a sign of progress and today an icon of the period. The 600 began in the late 50s as a vehicle for the upper middle-class, but gradually moved down by the 1970s to becoming the car of the working class. Production ended in 1973.

Real Madrid in the Spanish Civil War

Real Madrid was renamed Madrid Football Club in 1931 after the declaration of the 2nd Spanish Republic. The photo shows, I believe, the players lining up for a match at the start of the Civil War. Cristano Ronaldo’s great uncle third on left (not true).

Basque children in Bolton

26th June 1937 refugees Basque children being given toys in Watermillock, Bolton, UK. In 1937, during the Spanish civil war, a group of almost 4,000 children were evacuated from Bilbao to England.
The children left for Britain on the steamship the Habana on 21st May 1937. Each child had been given a cardboard hexagonal disk to pin on his clothes with an identification number and the words ‘Expedición a Inglaterra’ printed on it. The ship, supposed to carry around 800 passengers, carried 3840 children, 80 teachers, 120 helpers, 15 catholic priests and 2 doctors. The children were crammed into the boat, and slept where they could, even in the lifeboats. The journey was extremely rough in the Bay of Biscay and most of the children were violently seasick

“The colonies were set up all over the UK, mainly in England and Wales. Generally there was tremendous goodwill towards the young refugees and many local people gave their time and money to help ensure the success of the colonies, many taking the young niños into their homes. Not all colonies, though, were successfully run, not all the children were made welcome, nor did all the niños behave like angels. But overall the colonies were a success and a testament to the generosity and humanity of the British nation (sic). Here

Samuel Willis

Samuel Willis, one of the number of African-Americans to die fighting for the Spanish Republic. Born in Philadelphia, 1914, he worked as a communist party organizer, before coming to Spain in 1937 where he served first as a scout and later as a runner in the Canadian Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion. He was reported missing in action in the Belchite-Caspe area on March 17, 1938.
 “About the treatment they received in Spain, the black brigade agree: although everywhere aroused the curiosity of the native population, were never treated differently from their white-skinned compatriots. Vaughn Love, a native of Chattanooga (Tennessee), relates that on one occasion a farmer offered him a handkerchief to wipe his face. When I explained that it was black, the peasant embraced him with these words: “Ah yes, the black slaves! We’re just a step away from being so.” Here

Madrid metro, 1937

Old man sheltering from a bomb raid in Madrid metro, 1937. Note poster in the background with the city’s symbol of bear. “The bear of Madrid will destroy fascism”

Anniversary of Guernica bombing

75 years ago to today on 26 April 1937, the small Basque town of Guernika was destroyed by the Nazi Condor Legion. The bombing has come to symbolise the evils of war.
75 years ago to today on 26 April 1937, the small Basque town of Guernika was destroyed by the Nazi Condor Legion. The bombing has come to symbolise the evils of war.
From the London Times 4/27/37:
The bombardment of this open town far behind the lines occupied precisely three hours and a quarter, during which a powerful fleet of aeroplanes consisting of three German types, Junkers and Heinkel bombers and Heinkel fighters, did not cease unloading on the town bombs weighing from 1,000lb. downwards and, it is calculated, more than 3,000 two-pounder aluminium incendiary projectiles. The fighters, meanwhile, plunged low from above the centre of the town to machine- gun those of the civilian population who had taken refuge in the fields.”

Manuel Fraga obituary

Excellent obituary of Manual Fraga in here The Guardain by Micheal Euede, author of one my favourite books on Barcelona.

…Differing evaluations of Fraga at his death reflect the deep division in Spanish society. The right exalts him as the statesman who reformed Francoism, co-drafted the 1978 constitution and founded a conservative party that eventually, in 1996, reached power through the ballot box. The left remembers him as an aggressive old fascist, responsible for numerous deaths of oppositionists when minister: unapologetic about his Francoist past (“Franco was one of our best rulers”), hostile to gay people (“Homosexuality is an anomaly”) and highly undemocratic in his manipulation of elections as president of Galic