Tag: Basque Exile

Cecilia García de Guilarte: The First War Correspondent on the Northern Front

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Cecilia García de Guilarte (1915-1989). From ‘Un barco cargado de…’ [A Boat Laden With…], a blog devoted to her life.

It’s a real pleasure to come across the life stories of people who don’t typically make it into the history books, as happened recently when I discovered the figure of Cecilia García de Guilarte. Born in Tolosa, Gipuzkoa, in 1915, she was the first journalist to cover the Northern Front after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936.

García de Guilarte was the oldest of four children born into a working-class family originally from Burgos. Her father worked at the paper mill in Tolosa, one of the most important companies in the town. Indeed, she also started her working life in the mill. There, influenced by her father’s labor union activities for the CNT, the confederation of anarcho-syndicalist labor unions, she took to writing for union publications. Her facility for writing led her, at age 20, to publishing articles for a Madrid weekly, Estampa, signing her name, as she would do thereafter, “Cecilia G. de Guilarte.”

With the outbreak of the war, she continued her work as a journalist, writing for the union’s official publication CNT Norte and becoming the de facto first correspondent to cover the Northern Front (Gipuzkoa, Bizkaia, Santander, and Asturias), between 1936 and 1937. During this time she secured exclusive stories, such as her interview of the German pilot Karl Gustav Schmidt, who had crashed after the aerial bombardment of Bilbao by Nazi planes in the service of Franco in January 1937. At the same time she met and married Amós Ruiz Girón, the former chief of municipal police in Eibar, Gipuzkoa, who was at the time in the Cuerpo Disciplinario de Euzkadi, a policing force created by the Basque government during the war.

Following the fall of the Northern Front to Franco’s rebel forces, García de Guilarte escaped to Catalonia, from which fled fled to France in 1939 after it, too, fell. While in exile in France she wrote briefly for the newspaper Sud-Ouest before crossing the Atlantic to escape World War II and settling in Mexico with her husband. There she embarked on a productive career in journalism, writing for several journals and newspapers, including many connected to the community of Basque exiles. She was also editor of El Hogar and Mujer. She combined all this with a similarly active political life as a member of the Izquierda Republicana de Euskadi, and she also taught classes in art and theater history at the University of Sonora. As well as all this, she also published voraciously: novels, essays, biographies, and plays.

She was able to return to Tolosa in 1964, although she would have to wait over another decade, and the death of Franco in 1975, before he husband could rejoin her in the Basque Country. Back home, she became the theater critic for the Voz de España, a newspaper published in Donostia-San Sebastián, until it closed in 1979. She died in 1989, having taken an active part in the social and cultural life of Donostia both before and after Franco’s death.

Sources

See the bilingual Spanish/English blog Un barco cargado de…’ [A Boat Laden With…], which covers all aspects of her life and includes numerous photos and interviews: https://unbarcocargadode.wordpress.com/

See, too, an excellent blog post about her life at the following site: http://monografiashistoricasdeportugalete.blogspot.com.es/2014/02/celia-g-gilarte-periodista-de-guerra.html

Further Reading

War, Exile, Justice, and Everyday Life, 1936-1946, edited by Sandra Ott. This multi-authored work traces the impact of both the Spanish Civil war and World War II on people’s everyday lives, with a special focus on (but not limited to) the Basque Country. This work is available free to download here.  

Expelled from the Motherland, by Xabier Irujo. This is a book that, while taking as its central subject matter the life and work of the exiled Basque president or lehendakari, Jose Antonio Agirre, also explores the stories of many other Basque exiles in Latin America and beyond.

Ni ez naiz hemengoa

When my grandmother started losing her memory due to Alzheimer disease, she first forgot where her keys were, then the path to home or even where her home was. Later, she forgot that she lived in Hernani, the Basque town where she had been living since leaving her hometown in Spain sixty years ago. In the end, she thought that my siblings and I were her sisters and brothers, and she started talking more and more about her parents, who were, in her mind, waiting for her at home. This is exactly what happened to Josebe.

Josebe left her hometown of Errenteria, Gipuzkoa, in the Basque Country for Chile. There she married, had children, and lived a fulfilling life. But then Alzheimer’s disease started erasing all these memories, bringing her back to her childhood.

I’m not from here is a documentary by Maite Alberdi and Giedre Zickyte, published by The New York Times. It tells the story of Josebe living in a retirement home in Chile. A story of thousands, it is a touching reflection on migration and identity, memory and disease.

For the full article, please visit:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/13/opinion/im-not-from-here.html?_r=0

Xabier Irujo to speak on Basque language, writing and exile at the Sabino Arana Foundation

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Andima Ibinagabeitia, Jokin Zaitegi, and Nikolas Ormaetxea, Orixe. Source: Center for Basque Studies Archive.

Dr. Xabier Irujo will speak on the situation of the Basque language from the Second Carlist War until after the Spanish War of 1936-1939. Beginning from the premise of writers like Miguel de Unamuno, who relegated Basque to a second tier, Xabier will lead the audience through the Basque renaissance that happened following the Second Carlist War that continued through the 1936 war, at which time the major impetus for the preservation fell upon the Basques, exiled from the Francoist dictatorship, who carried on this important work in exile, usually in Latin America. Among many others, Zaitegi, Ibinagabeitia, Orixe and Ametzaga were some of the Basque writers and patriots in exile. In this conference, Xabier will treat the importance of translation of these authors who lived in exile in París, Casablanca, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, México and Caracas, and, in general, on the importance of Basque.

The conference will take place at the Sabino Arana Foundation in Bilbao on Thursday, May 19 at 7:30 pm.

xabierposter

Readers interested in this subject should check out Xabier’s Expelled from the Motherland, and for a bit of a different story of exile, A Basque Patriot in New York by Inaki Anasagasti and Jose Erkoreka.

January 20, 1940: A Milestone in Basque emigration to Argentina

On January 20, 1940, Argentinian president Roberto Marcelino Ortiz and minister of agriculture José Padilla signed into law a decree authorizing expanded Basque immigration into that country and allowing the immigration of Basques from Spain and France “with the documentation that they possess.”

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Basque emigrants to Argentina

Xabier Irujo writes about this decree in his Expelled from the Motherland: 

On August 30, 1939, the Basque government delegation in Buenos Aires established the Pro-Basque Immigration Committee. Through this committee, Basque refugees managed to persuade Argentina’s President Ortiz to sign immigration decrees on January 20 and July 18, 1940; Vice President Ramón S. Castillo signed another decree on August 12. According to the decrees, all Basque refugees—without distinction, including those without documents—could enter Argentina without undergoing quarantine, which was obligatory for all other immigrants, and after two weeks they would obtain full Argentine citizenship. There was only one condition: the committee had to verify that the refugees were Basques. (p. 106)

This decree was an important recognition and in the words of Basque president José Antonio Aguirre (as quoted in José  Manuel Azcona Pastor’s Possible Paradises: Basque Emigration to Latin America) the decree meant “the recognition of honor, as men and as a people, for the Basques” (p. 400).

NOTE: Unfortunately (for us!) graduate student Iker Saitua is nearing completion of his dissertation in history so will no longer have the time to share his great “Flashback Friday” posts with us, but we congratulate him on his progress and thank him for sharing so much historical knowledge with us and we will continue in his tradition every sharing a “this week in Basque history” every Friday.