Author: Iker Saitua (page 1 of 4)

Flashback Friday: Red Army

On December 11, 1932, the Basque soccer team Osasuna (Club Atlético Osasuna) won 5-1 away to Athletic Madrid (Club Atlético de Madrid) in the Spanish Second Division, at the former Metropolitan Stadium of Madrid. In this match, Osasuna’s young forward Julian Vergara Medrano (1913-1987) scored all five goals. In 1932, during his debut season, Vergara scored a total of 34 goals for Osasuna. Three years later, in 1935, Vergara led the Basque “red” team (see below) to promotion to the first division. By then, he had established himself as one of the best soccer players at Osasuna. Vergara played for Osasuna until 1939. The professional soccer club Osasuna, based in Iruñea (Navarre), was founded in 1920 by the fusion of two small local teams–the Unión Sportiva and the New Club. Since its inception, the team has traditionally worn red jerseys and therefore this color has always been associated with Osasuna and its supporters.

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Julian Vergara Medrano (1913-1987)


Every Friday we look into our Basque archives for interesting historic events that happened on the same day.

Flashback Friday: A Young Man’s Fight In An Old Man’s War

On December 4, 1270, Theobald II, King of Navarre, died at the age of thirty-two as a consequence of the plague while he was taking part in a religious military campaign in Tunisia, North Africa. In 1238, he was born of Theobald I and Marguerite de Bourbon. In 1253, after the death of his father, Theobald II was crowned when he was only fourteen years old. Since he was regarded as too young to govern the kingdom, at first his mother assumed these duties. In November 1253, in the context of Navarre-Castile warfare, the “Young,” as he was nicknamed, swore an oath to preserve all the statutes, rights, and privileges of the entire territory of Navarre and its people. Soon after, Theobald II moved with his mother to Champagne, France, with the aim of gaining  the support of and an alliance with Louis IX against Castile. This alliance was strengthened through the marriage of Theobald II to Isabella, Louis IX’s daughter. As soon as they got the French support, Theobald II returned to the Basque Country to resume his title as King of Navarre.  In 1267, due to his alliance with Louis IX of France, Theobald II swore an oath to fight a holy war against Tunisia. In 1270, a military incursion into this African territory was launched that turned out to be a fatal disaster. After his death, Theobald was embalmed and his body was placed in a sarcophagus inside a mausoleum in the French town of Provins, located in the vicinity of Paris. This was destroyed some centuries later during the French Revolution (1789-1799).

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Portrait of Theobald II

 


Every Friday we look into our Basque archives for interesting historic events that happened on the same day.

 

Flashback Friday: The Wheelbarrow Basque

On November 27, 1885, Guillermo Isidoro Larregui Ugarte was born in Iruñea, Navarre. In 1900, at the age of fifteen, he emigrated to Buenos Aires, Argentina. He first began working as a merchant sailor. Later on, he moved to Uruguay, where he worked and prospered on a hog farm. Then he went southward to Patagonia and worked for an American Oil Company in the province of Santa Cruz. One day in 1935, Guillermo met another Basque immigrant. The two Basques started yelling at each other over a bet that one could walk northward to Buenos Aires with a wheelbarrow. Without thinking twice and while everybody laughed at him, Guillermo Isidoro Larregui Ugarte grabbed a wheelbarrow and prepared it with the essential things he needed to survive. Thus began his long journey from Santa Cruz to Buenos Aires.  In reality, he wanted to start traveling through and exploring the Latin American landscape. Since he had no other means of travel, he embarked on this curious adventure with a wheelbarrow. His story soon began to appear in newspapers and people from different corners of the country increasingly followed his footsteps. Furthermore, people supported him on every stage of the journey, especially from the Basque immigrant community. After his great feat, Larregui never claimed his winnings from the bet. Later on, Guillermo made a further three more trips with his wheelbarrow. He came to be known as “the Wheelbarrow Basque” or even “the One Wheel Quixote.” On June 9, 1948, Larregui passed away at the age of seventy-nine in Puerto Iguazú, Argentina. 

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Guillermo Isidoro Larregui Ugarte holding his wheelbarrow

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Front page of an Argentinian newspaper La Nacion of May 25, 1936


Every Friday we look into our Basque archives for interesting historic events that happened on the same day.

Flashback Friday: Condemned to Hang

On November 20, 1775, Josefa Arostegui Gaztambide from Bera, Navarre, was hanged by the neck until dead. Arostegui became the first Basque woman condemned to hang. She was condemned for killing her husband and her sentence was death by hanging. Because of the brutality of the gibbet, the defense asked for her to be put to death by the garrote, which surprisingly enough, was considered a less cruel execution than hanging. Despite the opposition of prominent religious figures, Josefa was eventually executed by hanging. In the late eighteenth century, a large number of statutes specified death as the penalty for violations and crimes.

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Drawing of a hangman


Every Friday we look into our Basque archives for interesting historic events that happened on the same day.

 

Flashback Friday: The Disciple of Barandiaran

On November 13, 1914, Julio Caro Baroja, the renowned anthropologist of Basque origin, was born in Madrid, Spain. He was the eldest son of Rafael Caro Raggio and Carmen Baroja Nessi. At a very early age, Julio moved to the Navarrese town of Bera, in the Basque Country. There, he would spend hours with his uncle, the famed author Pío Baroja. During his adolescence, he learned about Basque culture when he began reading books in his uncle’s library and this interest led him to undertake ethnographic research in the Basque Country. As a student of the Basque archaeologist and ethnographer Jose Migel Barandiaran, he quickly became drawn to Basque history and culture. In 1941, he had already completed a doctorate in ancient history. From this moment on, his contribution to Basque anthropology and historiography consisted of publishing numerous books and articles, including The Basques (1949) and Vasconiana (1974). Among other things, Baroja, who was considered a nonconformist scholar, observed Basque society as a synthesis and integration of modernity and tradition. In 1995, Julio Caro Baroja passed away in Bera and was buried in the local cemetery. Born in the context of World War I and dying in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Baroja lived through many of the turbulent events that marked the “short twentieth century,” which also influenced a considerable part of his work on Basque studies.

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From left, Julio Caro Baroja, Joxemiel Barandiaran Aierbe, and Juan Garmendia in Ataun, Gipuzkoa, in the 1970s.

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From left, Eloy Placer, Julio Caro Baroja, William A. Douglass, and Jon Bilbao during the Summer Session Abroad in Uztaritze, Lapurdi, organized by the Basque Studies Program in 1970. Source: Jon Bilbao Basque Library, UNR


For more information and a selection of his works translated into English, check out the book edited and translated by Jesús Azcona, The Selected Essays of Julio Caro Baroja.

Every Friday we look into our Basque archives for interesting historic events that happened on the same day.

Flashback Friday: Safe and Sound

On November 6, 1941, Jose Antonio Jose Antonio Agirre Lekube (1904-1960), lehendakari or president of the Basque Country, arrived in Philadelphia and met his friends Manuel Maria Intxausti and Manuel de la Sota. On May 8, 1940, Agirre had departed from Paris (France) to Brussels (Belgium) along with his wife and children to visit relatives living there. Immediately after their arrival, the Agirre family was caught unaware when, on May 10, Adolf Hitler’s forces invaded Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Thereafter, they struggled to escape from Europe to America. Eventually in August Agirre exiled safe and sound to Brazil. On November 4, after receiving a residence permit from the US Government, he arrived in Miami, before passing through Argentina. After his short visit in Philadelphia on November 6, Agirre went to New York and settled there, where he found a large Basque immigrant community. In the city of New York, then, he headed the reorganization of the Basque government-in-exile.

A short film documentary of 1942 about Jose Antonio Agirre and the Basque government-in-exile delegation in the city of New York:

Source: Basque Film Library.

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Portrait of Jose Antonio Agirre. Source: Jon Bilbao Basque Library, UNR

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Members of the Basque government-in-exile in New York. From left, Antonio de Irala, Telesforo Monzon, Santiago Aznar, Manuel de la Sota, Ramon Aldasoro, Jose Antonio Agirre, and Gonzalo Nardiz.


The remarkable story of Agirre’s escape from Europe is told in his own words in Escape via Berlin: Eluding Franco in Hitler’s Europe.

On related topics, see Expelled from the Motherland: The Government of President Jose Antonio Agirre in Exile, 1937-1960, by Xabier Irujo; A Basque Patriot in New York: Jose Luis de la Lombana y Foncea and the Euskadi Delegation in the United States, by Iñaki Anasagasti and Josu Erkoreka; and War, Exile, Justice, and Everyday Life, 1936-1946, edited by Sandra Ott.

Every Friday we look into our Basque archives for interesting historic events that happened on the same day.

Flashback Friday: The Resistance

On October 30, 1512, during the conquest of Navarre, troops loyal to the Navarrese King Juan de Labrit surrendered to the forces of the Spanish King Ferdinand II of Aragon in Lizarra (Navarre). Some months earlier, on July 25, after the Spaniards occupied a large part of the territory of Navarre,  the Lizarra nobility had rejected the authority of the new Spanish monarch and legitimized Juan de Labrit’s power. Indeed, only the Navarre noblesse of Lizarra and Tutera, as well as that of the Erronkari, Zaraitzu, and other valleys, did not recognize Ferdinands’ authority. These so-called Navarre legitimists organized themselves to overthrow Ferdinand’s rule. Thus, on October 5, they rose in rebellion to take over the city of Lizarra. Some days later, Ferdinand’s army, for its part, counterattacked the rebellion. The resistance persisted during the whole month of October.  On the 30th day, eventually, the Navarrese defenders of Labrit surrendered, after they signed the agreement to lay down their arms.

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Portrayal of Lizarra


On the history of Navarre, see Navarra: The Durable Kingdom, by Rachel Bard.

Every Friday we look into our Basque archives for interesting historic events that happened on the same day.

 

 

Flashback Friday: In the Claws of the German Eagle

On October 23, 1940, Adolf Hitler and Francisco Franco met at Hendaia, Lapurdi, in the Northern Basque Country. The purpose of the meeting was to negotiate the incorporation of Spain into the Axis Powers (made up of Germany, Italy, and Japan) and find out any areas of possible agreement. On the one hand, Hitler saw Spain as a unique geopolitical and strategic territory in his expansionist aspirations. After the occupation of France, Hitler planned to conquer Great Britain as part of his aspiration to control Europe. Hitler thought that Spain, because of its geostrategic position, could play an important role in his quest for expansion. Thus, Franco had to accept the Germans’ conditions and join the Axis powers. On the other hand, the Spanish Dictator, convinced of an imminent German victory over Great Britain and the final Nazi domination of Europe, fully intended to join the Axis. After the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), nonetheless, Franco’s Spain was still too weak militarily to combat side-by-side with the Axis powers in the World War II (1939-1945). In turn, Franco asked Hitler for some African territories and military equipment. Eventually, Hitler and Franco did not reach any specific agreement. As a crossroads between North and South Europe, this coastal Basque town became the scenario of this meeting between the Nazi and Franco regimes.

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Francisco Franco and Spanish officers greet Adolf Hitler on his arrival at Hendaia


War, Exile, Justice, and Everyday Life, 1936-1946, edited by Sandra Ott, is a collection of essays that explore common themes related to the impact of warfare in Spain and Europe as a whole during this critical ten-year period.

Every Friday we look into our Basque archives for interesting historic events that happened on the same day.

The ethnic bonding of Basque immigrant workers in the American West

In my paper for the recent 50th Conference of the Western Literature Association in Reno, under the title “From ‘Black Bascos’ to ‘White’ Subjects: Basque Sheepherders and Racial Narratives in the American West,” I explored how Basque immigrants learned their place in the new country. From experiencing exclusion and discrimination to an assimilation and legitimization process between the interwar and post-WWII periods, Basque ranch workers in the sheep business consciously pursued adaptive strategies that emphasized their identity with the Anglo-population. In this paper (part of my present doctoral dissertation that I will complete next Spring 2016), I analyzed how the increasing importance of race became a crucial element in the transformation and consolidation of the Basque immigrant community in the West.

You can follow my research on Academia and LinkedIn.

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A Basque sheepherder. Dangberg Ranch, Douglas County, Nevada. 1940. Source: Library of Congress

 

 

Flashback Friday: Dead Soldier

On October 16, 1896, Jose Aramendi Arraiza, a Basque soldier on the island of Cuba, passed away at the age of twenty-two. In the Cuban War of Independence (1895-1898), soldiers of Basque birth or descent served in the Spanish armed forces. From the beginning of the colonial crisis in Cuba in 1868, the loyalty of Basques to the Spanish crown, reflected in their participation in its armed forces, responded primarily to economic and constitutional issues. Generally, the enrolled men defended the preservation of the traditional political and economic status quo in the Basque Country. Between 1868 and 1898, because the Cuban crisis was a prominent threat to a particular Basque oligarchy, the Basque provincial councils demonstrated a capacity to mobilize their citizens for war to fight the secessionist movement in the Caribbean territory. In this context of transformative change, those traditional classes feared the loss of their social status. In 1898, United States declared war on  and eventually defeated Spain, followed by the independence of Cuba. Then Cuba became a protectorate of the United States.

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Map of Cuba

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Col. Theodore Roosevelt and American soldiers after the fighting at San Juan Hill in Cuba, 1898


The Cuban War of Independence and its ramifications in the Basque Country is discussed in some detail in Basque Nationalism and Political Violence: The Ideological and Intellectual Origins of ETA, by Cameron J. Watson.

Every Friday we look into our Basque archives for interesting historic events that happened on the same day.

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