We’ve spoken often of the Basque war children who had to leave behind their homeland, ours, to take refuge from the swipes and swats of Francoism.  The symbol of this terrible exile is the Habana, with more than 4,000 refugees aboard, 3,840 of them children, which set sail on May 21, 1937 for the British port of Southampton, where it would arrive two days later.

We have spoken about the huge commitment of those people of all ideologies, creeds, and social conditions to make it possible for these boys and girls to find safe refuge.  The case in Great Britain is the one we’ve covered most.  This is due greatly to the immense and worthy work the Basque Children of ’37 Association of UK has been carrying out to preserve the memory of those who took refuge and those who took them in, and thereby preserving a key part of the history of the Basques.

Now, thanks to this association, we’ve discovered a short documentary filmed upon the arrival of the Habana to Southampton that May 23, and some images of the first camp where those boys, girls, and adults were taken to be cared for.

This graphic document was shared a few days ago on YouTube by Wessex Film and Sound Archive, at the Hampshire County Council.

We have to admit that these images moved us, as, we’re sure, they will move anyone who sees them.  Among those faces, happy and scared, are those of the fathers, mothers, and grandparents of those of us who are watching them now.

This is our history, which, even if it happened almost a hundred years ago, has left an indelible mark on our present, and on our future.  It is, without a doubt, a story of good and evil, of the innocent and the guilty; a story in which the bad guys won the battle and sentenced us to death, destruction, exile, and persecution; a story that deprived us of a present and future that should have been different, and undoubtedly better.

Those faces, the face of that boy peeking out the Habana‘s porthole, tells us to never forget that.

Eskerrik asko to Wessex Film and Sound Archive for sharing it, and to the Basque Children of ’37 Association of UK, once again, for their hard work and commitment to preserving the memory of that part of the history of our nation.  And thanks to all who, from near and afar, died what they could to provide a safe haven to those boys and girls who, thanks to them, became our parents and grandparents.

Wessex Film and Sound Archive – 25/5/2021 – Great Britain

Habana arriving into Southampton 23 May 1937


Last Updated on Jul 2, 2021 by About Basque Country

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