About a month ago, we wrote an article about the new digital edition of a Gregorio Arrien book, published by the Sabino Arana Foundation (SAF): ¡Salvad a los niños! Historia del exilio vasco en Gran Bretaña, 1937-1940.  This work, in addition to researching that group of children who left for Great Britain aboard the La Habana, also analyzes the whole of the group of Basque exiles there.

The book can be purchased on the SAF website, and, as we said in our earlier article:

“His investigations into these children’s stories was compiled into a series of books that culminated in ¡Salvad a los niños! Historia del exilio vasco en Gran Bretaña, 1937-1940.

This work is quite thorough, weighing in at 902 pages, but it covers everything related to the exile of Basque children in the United Kingdom.  To write it, he pored through a huge volume of documentation, much of it unpublished before then, which had come from the London delegation of the Basque Government, as well as other archives, libraries, and numerous oral testimonies from the people who lived through it.

This book is a must-read, because it recounts such an essential part of our history, and because it helps us understand something important which is all too often forgotten.  We mean that, with all the mistakes and misery that are inevitably a part of human nature, there was, during those dark years, a group of Basque who were committed to democracy, freedom, and their people, and who performed miracles to defend those most in need.

At a time when it was easy, and perhaps even understandable, to subscribe to the “save yourself” philosophy, they became the role model of how, even when war brings out the worst of the worst, it also brings out the best of the best.  And all of them are a part of that group of the best.”

Two Prior Books

But Gregorio Arren, a Basque Passionist, historian, and patriot, has published two other books on this issue:

  • Niños evacuados 1937. Álbum histórico. (Child Evacuees 1937: Historical Album) This book presents an extensive collection of over 660 photos of these Basque children in many of the places that took them in.  Interestingly, while reviewing these albums, we discovered a large number of boys and girls took refuge in Ukraine.  That gave rise to this article about our need to return the favor.
  • Niños evacuados a Gran Bretaña 1937-1940. (Children Evacuated to Great Britain 1937–1940) This book provides an overview of these children in the United Kingdom, and what we find most important, it also focuses on those who accompanied them on this voyage to take care of them.

Both publications are prior to the one the SAF has just published, and neither has the breadth or depth of the latter.  Nevertheless, they are excellent works, which is why we bring them to you here.

By having them here, we’re trying to make sure they’re available to anyone who’s interested, since they’ve been out of print for possibly at least 30 years.

We’re convinced that we are thereby fulfilling one of the author’s basic aims: to share this story and keep it alive, lest we forget that terribly dark chapter in the history of Basque society.

Niños evacuados 1937. Álbum histórico

Niños evacuados a Gran Bretaña 1937-1940

Header photo: Basque child refugees in Kherson, Ukraine





Last Updated on Dec 3, 2023 by About Basque Country

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