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English-language version of Luistxo Fernandez's blog

To Say Goodbye: crowdfund this documentary about Basque children exiled in England

Luistxo Fernandez 2011/11/13 09:40

"To Say Goodbye" is the project of a feature-length animated documentary set against the brutal backdrop of the Spanish Civil War. Its creators, Matt Richards and Izaskun Arandia, are trying to crowdfund it through Kickstarter. Please take a minute to read this post and more on that page, before you meditate a possible contribution. You will appear in the credits, and depending on how much you pledge to contributes, there are goodies for you,

The documentary will tell the little-known story of the 4,000 or so Basque children evacuated on the Habana ship from the port of Santurtzi near Bilbao to Portsmouth in England in May 1937. The Spanish Civil War had one of its most cruel fronts on the Basque region those days. A campaign in the spring of 1937 pushed the fascist forces ahead, and Basque civilian were terrorised. Unable to escape from the fronts and the range of bombing raids, thousands of families sent their children abroad, in ships that conveniently marked sailed to Belgium, Russia or England from Basque ports.

25th May 1937, around 4,000 Basque children arrive at Southampton aboard the liner Habana

It was supposed to be for a couple of summer months. At the end, it was years, and just for those who could return. Many didn't. In Russia, particularly, youths fought the 2nd World War and many died. Other didn't make to see their families again. Some stayed for ever in their foster countries. Of those gone to England, 250 of them would never return and never see their parents again, and they remained in England for the rest of their lives. Now, the surviving ones, are about 90 years of age.

My family lived through that terror too. They suffered directly the bombing of Durango, and knew about Gernika. They thought that the fall of Bilbao would mean a mass-scale massacre of civilians. So, grandfather decided to save their children. My father Luis and uncle Miguel were inscribed in a embarkment destined to Russia. That ship never sailed: fortunatedly (for me, I guess), fascist took Bilbao quickly, and it was not, relatively speaking, a bloodshed. Spanish Civil War raged on for a couple of years, but the war in the Basque Country ended, just repression ensued. Dad and family returned to their hometown Elgeta: but they weren't welcomed there, a man from Falange (the Spanish fascist movement) called Elkoro (from the town of Bergara) denied their home to my grandfather, who was a Republican. They went to another town, endured hardships and hunger, but they remade their lifes. And here we are.

Aititarekin Getarian
My father, who thankfully lost his scheduled ship, with two of his grandchildren, my son and daughter.


Luistxo works in CodeSyntax, tweets as @Luistxo and tries to manage the automated newssite Niagarank. This Cemetery is part of a distributed multilingual blog (?!). These are the Basque and Spanish versions:

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