Sensitivity, Commitment, Faith, Strength, Solidarity… these are among the many things the producers of the documentary “To Say Goodbye” have in abundance, and after a long, eventful journey, they’ve finally managed to have their film debut at the San Sebastian International Film Festival.

In this cinematic oeuvre, we’re told the story of the 4,000 Basque children who had to leave Bilbao, fleeing the cruelty of the insurgents, in order to keep them safe from the bombings on civilian populations that the rebel forces and their Axis power allies were carrying out.  To this effect, in a documentary which uses animation, the story is narrated through the voices of the fourteen War Children who decided to stay in Great Britain forever.  It’s a story we’ve covered quite often here because, really, neither those who left and returned, nor those who left and stayed, have ever been forgotten by Basque Society.

Producer Izaskun Arandia, in a BBC interview, tells of the journey she took from the time when she discovered this story to when it will finally debut in the 2012 Film Festival.  It’s been a long, bumpy road, and the lack of support from certain audiences for a project of this historical caliber is incomprehensible; in the end, she had to turn to volunteers for financing.

But as is usually said, all’s well that ends well, and at the debut, the whole team that has worked on this project can feel proud for having done it with their own strength, and the conviction that it was a story that needed to be told.


BBC- 15/9/2012 – Great Britain

Basque children of Southampton in new film

The story of child evacuees from the Spanish Civil War who fled to Southampton is being told in a new animated feature film. In 1937, 4,000 Basque children were sent to the UK on the SS Habana from Bilbao by their parents. The 75-minute animation, To Say Goodbye, has used recordings of the evacuees’ testimonies and memories. Screenwriter Izaskun Arandia said telling their story in an animation would interest a new generation in what the Basque children endured 75 years ago.

(Follow) (Automatic translation)


To Say Goodbye – Euskadi

To Say Goodbye

TO SAY GOODBYE is a powerful and inspirational film about the loss of childhood, the stripping away of identity and, ultimately, the hope of reconciliation, all set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War.

Through innovative animation, the film tells the story of the 4000 Basque children evacuated to the United Kingdom in 1937. Forced to bid a hurried farewell to their parents, these children were told they would only be in the UK for three months. 75 years later, some are still there, forever separated from their parents and their homeland, their families torn apart and their childhood destroyed by a brutal and bloody conflict.

Through the voices of 14 of these children, now in their 80s & 90s, we reveal this tragic episode in history in a stunning animated documentary that is profound, unexpected and uplifting..



Last Updated on Dec 20, 2020 by About Basque Country

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