This article was translated by John R. Bopp
Our regular readers know how interested we are in the Basque war children, those young boys and girls the Basque government sent to other places in Europe to protect them from the cruelty of Francoism.
We’ve found many articles about them from Great Britain, undoubtedly because of the existence of The Association for the UK Basque Children. This group has been very active for many years doing extraordinary work. We’ve also occasionally spoken about the stories of those children who traveled to other places in Europe, such as the Netherlands, France, or Belgium. We’ve even found information about the work the First Lady of the United States, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, did, who wanted her country to be a refuge for these victims of fascism.
But there’s been a huge blank space in our collection of stories: those of those children who went to the USSR. We’re aware that this blank space may well be due to the fact that we can’t read Russian.
These young boys and girls escaped one war to land in another. They were taken in with great sympathy by Soviet society, and treated with love and solidarity. But soon after their arrival, with the Spanish Republic having just fallen and fascism taking over not only Spain but also their homeland, they found themselves right in the middle of one of the bloodiest fronts of the Second World War. Their struggles, suffering, and in many cases death should have a place of honor among the stories of the tragedies that fascism brought to our nation.
That’s why we’re so happy to be able to share with all of our readers this story about a Basque girl who was sent to the USSR and who now lives in Argentina. She tells the horrible tales of those children. And she was “lucky” enough to be in Moscow; those who’d been sent to Stalingrad during the German invasion are even worse.
This article, written by Sergio Bufano, was published on the Argentine website perfil.com, which we’ve mentioned before.
One final reflection: we’ll never tire of saying that we “domestic Basques” need to remember our Diaspora better and more often. We need to remember the exiled children; those who had to flee, leaving everything behind after the war to escape fascism and start a new life; those who for so many years, and indeed generations, have been outside our country and supported the cause of the Basque people and of Democracy as best they could.
We should remember and honor those who during the dark years of the Franco dictatorship worked so hard to maintain the democratic Basque institutions in exile. Without that moral and economic support, we Basques would sure have not been able to keep the flame of freedom burning.
Perfil.com – 22/10/2017 – Argentina
Nació en Bilbao, fue la ‘mejor tornera’ de la URSS y ahora vive en Argentina
“Soy de Bilbao, estábamos en guerra contra Franco y la ciudad era bombardeada día y noche. Yo tenía diez años. Y mi hermano 14. Para que sobreviviéramos mi papá lo envió a Francia y a mí a la Unión Soviética. Creí que iba por pocos días y que pronto regresaría a casa… pero pasaron 20 años. Y aunque no lo supe hasta mucho después, mi padre falleció al tiempo de mi partida y nunca más lo volví a ver. Pero no fui la única; éramos 1.500 chicos, algunos de cinco o seis años que también dejaban atrás a sus familias. Nunca imaginamos que iba a pasar tanto tiempo. Y mucho menos que viviríamos una nueva guerra y otros bombardeos, porque cuando Alemania invadió Rusia nos encontramos bajo otras bombas, otros incendios”.