San Sebastián (EFE).- Gipuzkoa has not forgotten its 10,000 war children. Some minors who during the civil war were forced to leave their homes and flee to countries like France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and Belgium. Next Saturday the Provincial Council and the Intxorta 1937 collective will remember and honor them in Donostia.
The act, presented this Monday at a press conference, will also serve as the final point of an investigation, carried out over two years by this memorialist association in collaboration with the foral institution.
In addition to specifying the number of children who had to leave Gipuzkoa during the war, this initiative has also made it possible to create a public database with their identities.
As explained at the appearance by the provincial director of Human Rights and Democratic Culture, Ion Gambra, together with the members of Intxorta 1937 Kultur Elkartea Josu Chueca and Julia Monge, the 144 Gipuzkoan children who are still alive have received invitations to take part in this tribute that will take place in the Kursaal Palace.
The oldest, 100 years
The oldest of them, Juan de los Toyos from Eibartar, is already a hundred years old. Others, who never returned to their places of origin, still reside abroad.
Given the possibility that they are not aware of the existence of the tribute, the Provincial Council has set up a telephone number and an email in case they are interested in participating in the event.
During the act, the historian Josu Chueca has detailed the main milestones of the investigation, developed in different Spanish and European archives.
The project has verified that the number of exiled Gipuzkoan minors reached 10,232 cases, a figure that doubles the number of children of war in this territory that had been recorded up to now.
In the case of Biscay, this number could be as high as 20,000, although it is not yet possible to state it with certainty. The members of Intxorta 1937 hope to be able to extend their research to Bizkaia in the near future.
In the case of the small Gipuzkoans, the investigation, which includes video recordings with the testimonies of several survivors, has come to verify that they came from at least 56 municipalities in the territory. Most of them were from San Sebastián (3,691), Irun (1,590), Hondarribia (609) and Pasaia (571).
Josu Chueca has placed special emphasis on the case of Irun, the first Basque city in which, at the beginning of September 1936, the Francoist army concentrated all kinds of military forces, “including aviation”, to bomb it and seize the connection with the French border.
Irun and Hondarribia
This situation provoked “such fear” in the civilian population that, together with the residents of the nearby town of Hondarribia, “emptied” both towns across the border of the Bidasoa River. Some of them no longer returned to their places of origin, Chueca has recounted.
The countries that received the most Gipuzkoan war children were France (4,840), Belgium (580), the Soviet Union (465) and the United Kingdom (312). A smaller number reached places like Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. Others to different parts of Spain such as Catalonia, Valencia and Madrid.
Although they did not take part in the conflict, they suffered its serious consequences from a very early age: fear, bombardments, distance from their relatives and loved ones and, finally, the need to go into exile, leaving behind the protection of their fathers and mothers,” he said. remembered Ion Gambra.
“Many never returned to the Basque Country”
After clarifying that “many never returned to the Basque Country”, he stated that these minors constitute “an important piece in the construction of the historical memory of our people”.
“Without a doubt – he added – they deserve recognition, it is essential that they surface, this reality is made known and the suffering suffered by these people is recognized”.
“Memory is a necessary value to build a truly democratic culture based on mutual respect and peaceful coexistence, as well as not to fall back on the mistakes of the past”, he concluded.