Tag: Biarritz

March 27, 1944: Bombing of Biarritz by US Air Force

At 2:30 in the afternoon on Monday, March 27, 1944, toward then end of World War II, the Basque towns of Biarritz and Angelu in Lapurdi was bombed by 44 Consolidated B-24 Liberators in the 458th and 466th Bomb Groups.  In eight minutes they dropped 44 tonnes of bombs on the Nazi-occupied town, resulting in 117 casualties and around 250 injuries.

The official aim of the mission that day–according to the archives–was to destroy the nearby Parma airfield and the Latécoère aircraft company factory, although it is also likely that it included the target of a German base there storing V-1 doodlebugs and V-2 rockets. Moreover, the Nazis had constructed a major command center in bunkers beneath Biarritz. The mission was part of the conclusion of a more general strategy to bomb occupied France on the part of the Allies between June 1940 and May 1945; and served as a prelude to the D-Day landings of June 1944 in Normandy. However, lacking the necessary precision technology, many devices went astray in the carpet bombing and hit the civilian population as well as the Nazi occupiers, with approximately one hundred German soldiers among the dead, and destroying 375 residential homes in the process too.

See “Les mystères du bombardement de Biarritz” in Sud-Ouest, March 26, 2013 (in French) and “70 urte, AEBko hegazkinek Biarritz eta Angelu bonbardatu zituztela” at EITB, March 27, 2014 (in Basque). Check out a video report on the bombing by ETB, the Basque public broadcaster, here (in Basque) and listen to a fascinating piece of oral history in this first-hand account by people who experienced the bombing (in Basque).

The Center’s own Sandra Ott has written extensively on the German occupation of the Basque Country during World War II. Check out her War, Judgment, And Memory In The Basque Borderlands, 1914-1945 and Living With the Enemy: German Occupation, Collaboration and Justice in the Western Pyrenees, 1940–1948as well as her edited work, War, Exile, Justice, and Everyday Life, 1936-1946.

Note (from Wikipedia): At the end of World War II in Europe, the U.S. Army’s Information and Educational Branch was ordered to establish an overseas university campus for demobilized American service men and women in Biarritz. Under General Samuel L. McCroskey, the hotels and casinos of Biarritz were converted into quarters, labs, and class spaces for U.S. service personnel. The University opened August 10, 1945 and about 10,000 students attended an eight-week term. This campus was set up to provide a transition between army life and subsequent attendance at a university in the US, so students attended for just one term. After three successful terms, the G.I. University closed in March 1946.

The Basque Country “is basically paradise”!

“What is Basque Country?” … Just in case anyone out there didn’t see this great introduction to visiting the Basque Country then check it it out here.

So the Basque Country “is basically paradise”? We couldn’t agree more!

*Image: Gaztelugatxe, Bizkaia, at dusk. Photo by Euskalduna, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

New York Times celebrates Biarritz

Biarritz, photo by Gilles Guillamot via Wikimedia Commons

The New York Times has published an article on the flourishing life of Biarritz on the Basque coast in France. Makes me want to go for a visit!!!

Read the article here!

The Basque Country in 3 Beautiful Time-lapse Videos

The French newspaper Sud-Ouest recently published an article featuring 3 time-lapse videos captured in the Basque Country and they’re really worth watching. As the title to their article states, “they’ll make you fall in love with the Basque Country,” as if you haven’t already! These videos let you watch the landscape over time, and the choice of music really suits the images. Enjoy!

1. Sunset in Biarritz –  credits: alex.dhie (Vimeo)

2. Hendaia’s Coast- credits: Jc Bdx (YouTube)

3. The sky over Larrun- credits: Nikovermusic (YouTube)


To check out the article, please visit:


Ultimate Disc (aka Frisbee) making waves on the Basque Coast


Euskadisk players model the teams new jerseys. Unlike many other sports, ultimate is often played co-ed, men and women players sharing the same field.

We all know about pelota (not least of all because of Olatz González Abrisketa’s terrific book on the subject Basque Pelota: A Ritual, an Aesthetic), and we know about the other Basque sports such as the rural games or herri kirolak, and of course everyone knows about beloved soccer/football, but there is another sport that might soon be taking the Basque Country by storm! The first ultimate disc team on the Basque coast, Euskadisk, formed in 2014 and continues strong today. They have played in a variety of tournaments and are active online, including, in addition to the website linked before, have a Facebook page. They sometimes join forces with the team from Pau to field tournament teams. The team aspires to be a encompassing Basque team, and thus their name is a play on Euskadi and ultimate disc (spelled with the Basque K instead of the the Latin C).  In February of this year they placed 4th in the Pau indoor championships. A great placing for their first national level tournament and in March they debuted their new logo (seen in the image above).

One note of disclaimer, your Basque Books Editor is an ultimate player and fanatic and so when I learned about this team I couldn’t help but share the news with you all! Ultimate is a field sport game that has been around since the late 1960s. It is played worldwide, and teams of 7 players (in the field edition, for a beach game teams are usually 5 players) are fielded for national and international tournaments, including a world finals that only invites each country’s best teams. The game is scored in an end zone like American football and the disc is advanced by team members throwing and catching it. Once it is caught the person with the disc must stop running and establish a pivot foot as in basketball and if he or she moves the pivot foot it is a violation. The person holding the disc then has 10 seconds to throw the disc to another team member, thus advancing the disc until it is caught in the end zone. If the player doesn’t throw the disc on within 10 seconds, or if it is intercepted or the pass is incomplete, then the team on defense takes over and tries to score in their own end zone. Play continues until a team scores. It is often called Ultimate Frisbee because Frisbee is the most well-known version of the flying disc, although the discs generally used in ultimate competitions are not made by the Frisbee company but by another company called Disccraft. There are also now 2 professional ultimate disc leagues in the United States.

Play on Basque Frisbee Players!!! Readers interested in sport, and Basque sports, should also check out Playing Fields: Power, Practice, and Passion in Sport, edited by Mariann Vaczi.