Fleeing Franco

Hywell Davies Fleeing Franco delivers an interesting perspective on the Spanish Civil War, showing the tight relationship between Wales and the Basques. Davies does an excellent job communicating the children’s viewpoint in addition to that of the Welsh, but due to his background, it is possible that there is a bias. Davies was born and raised in Wales and teaches there. In addition, Fleeing Franco was published by the University of Wales Press. He relies on interviews and newspapers to get a sizable amount of information and uses his secondary sources to frame that information and create a narrative. His book, although credible, does not criticize the Welsh nearly enough to make it seem as if he is “unbiased”.

The interesting part I took away from Davies was the differences in responses to the plight of the Basques versus the plight of the Jews then shortly thereafter. Davies describes how unemployed workers would spare anything they had in order to support the Basques and Republicans versus the support for the Jews. Davies briefly mentions this, but he does not compare or contrast it enough for the reader to understand the differences in the support for the two groups. I felt as if not only religion, but working class had an important part to play in this decision. But why? Why do the people of Wales take in 4,000 Basque children yet they ignore the plight of the Jewish children shortly thereafter?

4 thoughts on “Fleeing Franco

  1. I think that there are two reasons for this discrimination of sorts. First, was the commonality between both the Welsh and Basque. By being minorities who were discriminated against, by a larger ethnic group they felt like they were united in a sense. Second, was the anti-semitisim that was prevalent in Europe as a whole, this wide spread and rather common belief was engrained into the culture of Europe. This could be another reason for the dismissal of the Jews by the Welsh.

  2. I agree with the comment above. Moreover, the Welsh reaction to Jewish children occurred in a different time. These Basque children were taken in as the British economy was beginning to improve near the end of the Interwar Period. After WWII, Great Britain was devastated by the war, the bombings and the deaths. The economy was in ruin and the Empire needed to undergo massive reconstruction. Were the families in a secure place, financially and emotionally, to foster children who had been through a very different type of trauma (in some cases, imprisonment in camps spanning years of starvation, beatings, and bearing witness to horrible atrocities)?

  3. As we have seen across the continent anti-Semitism is concurrently prevalent. I believe this is a significant reason to why the Welsh failed to save the Jewish children. Of course the author goes much more in-depth on the connection between the Welsh and Basques. I do not see this as being biased as a Welshman, instead he chose to focus more on the theme of this special relationship.

  4. I believe that the Welsh people embraced the Basque refugees because of their interconnectedness. Since they were minorities within their own countries, they shared a common experience. They also had economic ties to one other. In general, Davies portrays the Welsh as extremely sympathetic people who came to the Basque’s aid when they were faced with dire circumstances. While many of the Welsh are caring and compassionate people, I believe that the kindness they displayed to the Basque occurred under extremely unique circumstances. It would be impossible for them to tackle every humanitarian cause that was presented with them. Since the Jewish refugees had no connection to the Welsh peoples, they were not welcomes with open arms because the Welsh were already over extended as it was.

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