And there can be no doubt that this is hardly the first time we’ve mentioned the relationship between Wales and the Basque War Children who reached Great Britain aboard the Habana to take refuge from the attacks of the Francoist insurgents on their march through the Basque Country. Similarly, we’ve covered the oftentimes close relationships with that nation on the other side of the Bay of Biscay and Celtic Sea and ours.
Today, we again speak in just one entry of Wales, the Basque Country, soccer, national teams, and the Basque War Children when we bring you this article from this Welsh newspaper.
In this case, it’s an interview with the president of Athletic Bilbao, Aitor Elizegi, by Christopher Evans. While they of course discuss soccer and Athletic Bilbao, they spend more time on other topics.
What they spend more time discussing is the exhibit The Children of 37 in the UK on now at the Athletic Museum at San Mamés Stadium. In it, they use archive photos and documents sourced mainly from the The Association for the UK Basque Children (which we have also brought you on many occasions to highlight their extraordinary work). As we’ve mentioned before, soccer was one of the elements that allowed these refugee children to integrate better. We’d like you to remember the article we wrote about the Basque children’s team that was created in Wales, which we called “El The “Basque Boys” who triumphed at soccer at King Arthur’s Court“. The exhibit is open for the next six months.
They also discusses stateless nations and the importance of preserving and promoting that cultural, social, and political richness in Europe. In the interview, Elizegi explains that defending one’s identity doesn’t mean being isolationist, or exclusive. This is something we ourselves have mentioned many times on our blog (for example, here) recalling, for example, how Basque nationalism actively participated in all forums that called for the creation of a united Europe since the 1920s.
We really enjoyed the interview, just as we love the fact that Athletic has opened this exhibit about such an important part of Basque history. We also say that we would truly love it if the The Association for the UK Basque Children received recognition from the Basque Country for the incredible work they’re doing to preserve and share this essential part of the History of the Basques.
We couldn’t finish this entry without a bit of clarification. In the article, it is stated that Ibaigane Palace, built by the Sota family, was occupied by insurgents after the fall of Bilbao, and not returned to its rightful owners until the ’70s, after the dictator’s death.
This information is not quite accurate. Actually, this property, like so many others of the Sota family, was returned to the family after they paid the fine imposed upon them by the military tribunals set up by the insurgents. In the 1960s, in a decision that was illegal even for an illegal regime like Franco’s, that fine was “converted” into tax owed to the State. When Franco died and democracy returned in a fashion, the UCD government did not accept that said debt was the consequence of an illegal decision taken by an illegal tribunal, which had sentenced some citizens for not supporting the coup and expropriated their assets. Nevertheless, Ibaigane Palace, which had been in excellent condition until a few months before the fine was paid, was returned in a terrible state, lacking the artwork that had been there and which had become the property of the Sota family once the fine had been paid.
Perhaps this decision by a “democratic government” is one of the best pieces of evidence that we live in a regime that is not only a continuation of Franco’s, but also recognizes decisions taken by fascist military tribunals who persecuted the defenders of democracy. So that’s what there is.
Nation Cymru – 21/5/2022 -Wales
‘Wales is one of the jewels of Europe’
Arriving at Palacio de Ibaigane, the headquarters of Basque football giants Athletic Club de Bilbao, it is hard not to be overawed at the sheer beauty and opulence of the building. Designed by the Basque architect Gregorio Ibarretxe in 1920, the palace was inspired by the classicist palaces of the early Baroque period, as well as the more humble Baserri’s – the famous Basque farmhouses seen scattered around this beautiful part of the world.