Bias in Fleeing Franco

Hywel Davies’ Fleeing Franco is a study of Spanish refugee children who were sheltered in Wales during the Spanish Civil War.  Davies examines how the cultural and geographic similarities between the Welsh and Basque people led to a connection that resulted in the Welsh providing more effort toward supporting the Republican army than the rest of Britain.  He also shows how the Welsh peoples’ more left leaning politics played a role in their willingness to provide aid.

While the stories of the children who the Welsh refugee programs saved from the atrocities of the war could be heartwarming, Davies’ book is not without bias.  Davies has lived in Wales his entire life, and the book was published by the University of Wales press.  When describing the characteristics of the Welsh  that led to their emphasizing with the Basque children, Davies uses words such as “us” and “our,” aligning himself with the Welsh and implying his great pride in his people.  Details such as these lead one to believe that his arguments hold a bias in favor of the Welsh by slightly exaggerating their contributions.

An example of this bias in effect is when Davies is describing the routines of the children when they first arrived at the shelters.  He goes into great detail about the sports teams, dances, and magazine fundraisers that distracted the children from the horrors in their home country while at the same time, winning the hearts and support of the Welsh people.  Davies portrays their experience through rose-colored glasses.  While the traumatizing effects of the war on the children is briefly touched upon, it is overshadowed by these stories about the welcoming nature of the shelters and their staff.  This is in part due to the nature in which the shelters reported on the state of the children, however the emotional struggles the children faced could have been elaborated upon more.


2 thoughts on “Bias in Fleeing Franco

  1. I can definitely see how Davies was slightly biased in his writing. He often approached the topic from an “us vs. them” point of view. In many cases, he compared the contributions, or lack thereof, that many countries made to Spain in order to highlight the involvement of the Welsh. While this book was very informative, I agree that I expected more of an emphasis on the experience of the Spanish orphans, and less emphasis on Welsh contributions.

  2. It is interesting that that the book took this tone given that he interviewed some of the Basque children for their perspective, including Alvaro. While there was evidence of this interview, he did not thoroughly touch upon the traumatic stress that these children underwent. Was this due to bias or an unwillingness on the part of these ‘children’ to discuss the emotional turmoil of the time? This may be likely; however, that does not excuse Davies’ responsibility to address such a key aspect of this issue in a depth deserving of the topic.

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