This article was translated by John R. Bopp
We found this photo that grabbed our attention as soon as we saw it. It’s the image of a young girl consoling another. In addition to the obvious difference in the quality of the clothing of both girls, one can see in the posture of the weeping girl her absolute despair.
The photo was taken in 1937 by the British press agency Planet News Ltd., which was highly relevant in the 1930s and 40s, but which, as far as well can tell, was one of the founders of the UPI agency.
This is a photo with a long story behind it, both figuratively and literally. On the obverse, there’s a text describing the image bluntly and precisely. It reads:
HER LAST HOPE GONE BASQUE CHILDREN RIOT AS BILBAO FALLS.
Panic-stricken and sobbing heart-brokenly with fear for their relatives in the captured city, the Basque refugee children at North Stoneham, Hampshire, gave way to mass hysteria and fled blindly from the camp when news of the fall of Bilbao became known.
1 crowd of boys and girls stoned a van from which the news was broadcast. Patrols, villagers and friends at the camp helped round up the fugitives.
PHOTO SHOWS: A Basque girl who believed that her family had perished in the fall of Bilbao, crying on the shoulder of an English friend.
June 20th, 1937 PN.g.
We found that image to say everything that those exiled Basque children must have felt, and the unpayable debt to the British society for taking them in. It’s an image the tells of the pain of those Basque war children, and the support they found among the British people, who, as we’ve said before, faced up to their pro-Francoist government and managed to open the British borders to the children who were fleeing the barbarism and death the insurgents sowed.
A reader brought up an important piece of information to help us better understand the black spirit the insurgents and their British supporters shared:
“The collective hysteria that took over the refugee children in England upon hearing the news of the fall of Bilbao, which many thought might also mean the death of their parents, was encouraged also by some English, who sided with the rebels and who had black hearts, who announced the event with great joy and in bad faith over the megaphones of some of the camps where the refugees were.
We’ve paid a lot of attention to those boys and girls who had to march into exile in those terrible years. And this photo tells that story, from our point of view, of the greatest pain and despair that those children lived in that terrible time. The fall of Bilbao must have seemed like the end of the world to them, the loss of all hope, which would explain the text that accompanies the photograph, and the reactions.
To finish off the story, we’re including a photo that was taken by the same agency, Planet News, about the entrance of the rebels in Bilbao on June 11, 1937, and the subsequent occupation by those guilty of so much suffering, and of the Spanish Civil War.