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

On May 22, 1938, a mass escape took place from Fort San Cristobal, in Ezkaba (Navarre), which operated as a Francoist prison from 1934 until 1945. Seven hundred and ninety five prisoners of war escaped from Fort San Cristobal. Two hundred and eleven prisoners of those who tried to escape from the prison were killed in their attempt to do so by the military forces of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. Among those prisoners, at least twenty were Basques. Twenty-four individuals of those killed remain unidentified even today. It is considered as one of the most important and largest prison escapes in history.

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A group of Basque prisoners at Fort San Cristobal

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Aerial view of Fort San Cristobal

For further reading on the Basque resistance at the time of the political and military turmoil that turned into the Spanish Civil War and postwar repression, check out the biography of Jose Luis de la Lombana, A Basque Patriot in New York, who was himself a political prisoner and escaped from a Francoist jail in Vitoria-Gasteiz (Basque Country) in 1937.