We’ve spoken before about Javier de Landaburu, a key person for understanding the story of the Basques in exile and their participation in the creation of European Christian Democracy. He played a huge role in our recent history, and, as is too often the case, is largely unknown today. This is largely due, as we never tire of saying, to the fact that we Basques rarely study our own history.
Our references to Landaburu have been possible thanks in large part to the work of historian Leyre Arrieta Alberdi, who has been studying his life and his contributions to the Basque Country and to Europe. In May of 2020, we brought you, a very interesting article by this historian, covering the participation of the Basques in the creation of the European Union and the role he played in laying its foundations.
Therefore, because of his importance, we simply had to let you know that Dr. Arrieta has just published Al servicio de la causa vasca. Biografía de F. J. Landaburu (1907-1963) (In the service of the Basque cause: Biography of F. J. Landaburu) which really delves into his life and work.
Landaburu is a part of that extraordinary generation which picked up the mantle of the Basque national project, and the message of Sabino de Arana y Goiri, created and designed to prevent the disappearance of the Basque People, and turned it into a role model of the defense of Freedom and Democracy, and what’s more, they did so in a world were totalitarianisms of all types were seen to be the inevitable winners in the struggles of ideologies.
Many of these people did so despite the threats to their well-being, their freedom, or indeed their lives. They stood firm in the worst circumstances, and were able to ensure that our people, the Basque People, would survive and become the owner of its destiny.
Al servicio de la causa vasca. Biografía de F. J. Landaburu (1907-1963)
Leyre Arrieta Alberdi, historian
Francisco Javier Landaburu (1907–1963) was a Basque nationalist politician, member of the Republican congress from 1933 to 1935, head of Basque foreign policy in exile, and Vice-Lehendakari of the Basque Government from 1960 to 1963. He was a member of the generation that modernized the Basque Nationalist Party and one of the leading ideologues of moderate Basque nationalism, so in this biography, special attention has been paid to the evolution of his political thought. Moreover, it was he who raised the Basque question in Europe, thanks to contacts he had made in different chancelleries, parties, and federalist and Christian democrat entities, such as the European Union of Federalists (UEF) and the Nouvelle Equipes Internationales (NEI), the seed of the European Union of Christian Democrats. He also participated in the creation of Spanish entities such as the Spanish Federal Council of the European Movement (CFEME) and the Union of Democratic Forces (UFD). His book, The Cause of the Basque People (1957), which we alluded to in the title of the biography, has been a role model for severl generations of nationalists and his postulates are still current today.
Despite all that, Landaburu, until now, did not have any deep, complete biographies, perhaps due to the fact that he never held any “first-row” offices within his party, except for a few months in 1931-2, or even when he was in the executive until 1960; nevertheless, he did have a distinguished career in the Republican parliament from 1933 to 1935. He was always behind the scenes, fulfilling the tasks given him by his superiors, a man fully in the service of the Basque cause.
This book, the fruit of years of research, tries to fill that void. The author has consulted several archives and sources, and has had access to a great deal of unpublished documentation, which has allowed her to fill in and clear up some of the lesser-known parts of the subject’s life, such as his contacts with Nazi representatives, the veto he was subjected to by his own party, or his relations with the first ETA.
This work is divided into three parts, corresponding to the three different periods of his life: his childhood and youth in Vitoria (1907-1936), his time in Paris as the representative for foreign activities of the Basque Nationalist Party and the Basque Government (1937-1951), and the sad decade of the 1950s, which we’ve extended to include the year of his death (1951-1963). Each part in turn is divided into several chapters, following a chronological and thematic order at the same time. In each of the three periods, there is a final chapter titled “What did he think?”, dedicated to his ideology, wherein the author wishes to examine what were the concepts that made up the subject’s ideology in each phase, such that, having read those chapters, the reader may have insight into his “ideological biography.”
This focus has allowed us to see the evolution of his political-ideological thoughts, giving us, in turn, insight into the knowledge of that whole generation of nationalist politicians who led the transition from Arana-style local nationalism to one that was focused on broader Europe.
The subject’s role in several different contexts is also analyzed, such that, as the reader advances through his personal and political life, the book also delves into Basque history and a part of the history of Spain and Europe in the 20th century.