On February 7th, the Sabino Arana Foundation reminded us that it is the anniversary of the creation of the Spanish Federal Council of the European Movement.
On the night of February 7–8, 1949, at the headquarters of the Basque Government in exile, located at Rue Marceau, 11 in Paris, the Spanish section of the European Movement was constituted; the EM itself having been founded just a few months prior, on October 25, 1948.
El nacimiento del Consejo Federal del Movimiento Europeo.
Se constituyó entre los días 7 y 8 de febrero de 1949 en la delegación del Gobierno Vasco en París. https://t.co/sQEFVI3m8f pic.twitter.com/s3OIQsdQ43
— SAF (@sabinoaranaf) February 7, 2022
Taking part in that meeting were: the Spanish group of the Socialist Movement for the United States of Europe, the Spanish group of the European Liberal Union, the Catalan Council, and the Basque Council of the European Movement. The first headquarters of this pro-European body was at the headquarters of the Basque Government in Paris, where the founding meeting was held.
Twenty-four people appear as founders on the list the Federal Council sent to the European Movement, nine of which are Basque: Manuel de Irujo, José María Lasarte, Francisco Javier de Landaburu, José Ramón Basterra, Julián, Arrien, Jesús María Leizaola, Julio Jauregui, Iñaki Aguirre, and Ramón María Aldasoro.
And this is quite logical, as many other Basques, including Lehendakari José Antonio Aguirre, Indalecio Prieto, Francisco Javier de Landaburu, and Lezo de Urreztieta took part as founding delegates of the European Movement itself in 1948.
So the leading role the Basques played in the creation of these pro-European bodies is no surprise. Back in March 1947, at that same Basque Government headquarters in Paris, the Basque Federalist Movement had been founded. This organization’s goal was to join together those Basques with “federalist ideas” and to promote the “completion of the federalist doctrines at all levels of the values scale, starting with the individual and passing through the City, the Nation, the State, to reach a European Federation that would be the constitutional element of a World Confederation.” It was supported by the PNV, ANV, PSOE, and IR.
We thought this was an important date to remember, for its symbolic value, and because we’ve dedicated many articles to the pro-European position of the Basque nationalist movement (which we link to below).
But, since we never learn, we again have had an upset when starting together information about this beautiful story regarding pro-European Basques. It’s the same one that has come up time and again: to see how Rue Marceau 11, Paris is mentioned time and again, without it ever being mentioned that it was the home of the Basque Government in exile. This undoubtedly has something to do with the fact that the Franco government occupied the building, and it was never returned to its rightful owners at the end of the dictatorship, but rather turned into the library of the Cervantes Institute in Paris.
By copying below the introduction the Spanish Federal Council of the European Movement has, our readers will understand what we’re referring to:
“The Spanish Federal Council of the European Movement is one of the 39 sections that make up the International European Movement. Founded in February 1949 at Avenue Marceau, 11 in Paris, the Spanish Federal Council of the European Movement joined together not only political parties in exile and national parties, but also other specific bodies such as the Basque Council and the Catalan Council of the European Movement.”
Not a single reference to its owners, or how it was being used by the Basque Government in exile, nor to the role that group of Basques played in the European Movement.
This information is also hidden in “scientific works,” as in the case of the article “El Archivo histórico del Consejo federal español del Movimiento europeo“, published in 1979 by Antonio Moreno Juste in the “Exils et migrations ibériques au XXe siècle” collection in Persée. Again, the fact that this building was the headquarters of the Basque Government in exile must not have been at all significant to be published in that collection (that’s irony, in case anyone missed it).
We’ll leave you with an article by José María González Zorrilla in Deia and the articles we’ve dedicated to the theft of the headquarters and to the participation of Basque nationalism in the construction of Europe (by reverse order of publication).
Deia – 26/4/2014 – Euskadi
Los vascos en el movimiento europeo
EN la II Guerra Mundial los movimientos de las resistencias coincidieron en la defensa de valores como la cooperación internacional, el europeísmo y federalismo. Los vascos, desde el exilio, respaldaron tales propuestas participando en la Unión Cultural de los Países de la Europa Occidental (1942) y Federal Union (1944), con la esperanza de que una Europa federal se convirtiera en realidad. Percibiendo que el mundo se orientaba hacia la interdependencia, trataron de contribuir a que en el nuevo orden internacional se considerase una integración política de carácter federalista, pues esta sería garante de la paz y del pleno desarrollo de los pueblos pequeños en todos los ámbitos.
Header photo: Headquarters of the Delegation of the Basque Government in Paris on the day the Allies liberated it (SAF).