Category: oral history

New online archive launched to preserve memory of Civil War in Bizkaia

On Friday, January 27, in tandem with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day on which we remember genocide in all its forms, the cultural association Durango 1936 Kultur Elkartea launched its new website to preserve the memory of the Spanish Civil War–and especially its effects on individual people–in the Durango district of Bizkaia: the area made up of Durango itself together with the towns of Abadiño, Amorebieta-Etxano (Zornotza), Atxondo, Berriz, Elorrio, Garai, Iurreta, Izurtza, Mañaria, Otxandio, and Zaldibar. As we have mentioned in previous posts (see here and here), this area was a particularly important target for Franco’s rebel forces (with the material support of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy) and witnessed civilian bombing on what was, to that time in European history, an unprecedented scale. It is the effects of this civilian bombing–death, injury, persecution, and exile–as well as the repression that followed that the association seeks to portray in the content of its new website.

As well as including a fascinating inventory of both primary documents and photographs, the website is also interesting for its inclusion of video interviews (in Basque and Spanish) with people who were directly affected by the war–first-hand witnesses themselves or the relatives of people who suffered during the conflict–and as such serves as an important database for preserving the memory of the civil war in this part of Bizkaia. These interviews can be accessed in four different ways: by the name of the person being interviewed, by the particular event with which the interview is concerned, by the name of the town from which the person being interviewed comes from, or by the name of a particular victim of the war. The video interviews can be accessed directly here and the list of people mentioned can be found here. Check out the sample interviews with Maite Andueza Zabaleta (Durango) and Joseba Angulo Tontorregi (Abadiño) below.

The site is still be developed but you can check it out here.  If you have a story to share about someone from the area and their experiences during the civil war, please do not hesitate to contact the association either via its contact form here, or via email at durango1936@durango1936.org.

Gernika, 1937: The Market Day Massacre, by Xabier Irujo, looks at the case of the bombing of Gernika, but many of the book’s findings are equally applicable to the impact of the civil war on the Durango area of Bizkaia as well.

Check out, too, War, Exile, Justice, and Everyday Life, 1936-1946, edited by Sandra Ott, which takes a broader look at the impact of war, particularly on noncombatants. It should be remembered that Basques were among the refugee peoples of Europe in the aftermath of both the Spanish Civil War and World War II and many Basques lived in exile and as refugees for many years following this, including our own professor Xabier Irujo. This book is available free to download here.

 

 

Ahotsak: A Basque Oral Archive

Ahotsak is an initiative of the Badihardugu Association to collect and diffuse the Basque oral heritage and the Basque dialects. It is an archive of transcribed, recorded, and/or filmed interviews with Basque seniors about the lives and experiences.

Ahotsak hizlariak

Some of the people interviewed, from Ahotsak.eus

The archive serves as a testimony to both the rich variety of dialects in the Basque language, and as a historical record of life and customs in the Basque Country during the early and mid-twentieth century.

To read, listen to, and/or watch the archived interviews, at the top of the Ahotsak homepage click on Grabazioak (Recordings). This will give you four options: Herriak (Towns), Gaiak (Subjects), Priektuak (Projects), and Hizlariak (Speakers).

For example, clicking on Herriak,  you will see a list of towns in the Basque Country in which interviews were recorded with people. The icons on the far right of the table indicate whether the interviews are available in video, audio, or transcription format. Do you have any family ties with the Basque Country? If so, why not see if your family’s home town is listed? You may even see some relatives or family acquaintances!

By clicking on Euskalkiak (Basque dialects) at the top of the homepage, you can access the interviews according to the dialect in question. The Euskalkiak page also includes maps that geographically locate these dialects.

640px-Euskalkiak_gaur

The Current Panorama of basque Dialects, according to Koldo Zuazo. “Euskalkiak gaur” from the Azkue Fundazioa

To see some examples, check out the interviews with people from Lekeitio (Bizkaia), Baztan (Navarre), or  Urepele (Lower Navarre).

If you’re interested in Basque dialects, check out Koldo Zuazo’s The Dialects of Basque, an excellent general introduction to dialectical variation in the Basque language.