On August 28, 1937, Joseba Elosegi (1915-1990), a captain in the Basque Army, and other Basque soldiers –-or gudariak–- were imprisoned in the Francoist camp of Castro Urdiales, in Cantabria (Spain). After the war ended in the Basque Country in the victory of Francisco Franco’s army, a considerable body of Basque nationalist troops escaped westward to Cantabria. On August 24, 1937, they were arrested there in Santoña by the Italian Fascist division, the Black Arrows, which was aiding Franco’s army. The Basque Army surrendered to the Italian militia and they signed an agreement, commonly known as the Pact of Santoña. Among other things, the agreement would have allowed all the Basque authorities in Cantabria at that time to leave Spain. Thereafter, however, when Franco received word of this pact, he dismissed the agreement and ordered the immediate imprisonment of the Basques. These Basque prisoners were then moved to El Dueso prison in Santoña.

prison

El Dueso prison in the 1940s


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

Related reading

War, Exile, Justice, and Everyday Life, 1936-1946, edited by Sandra Ott, is a collection of articles that examine the impact of war, occupation, and exile on ordinary Europeans in the conflicts that engulfed the continent between 1936 and 1946. Many of these articles focus especially on the Basque experience during this tumultuous decade. The book is also available free to download here.

The events described in the post are also discussed in detail in Cameron Watson’s Basque Nationalism and Political Violence: The Ideological and Intellectual Origins of ETA.