Fleeing Franco

Fleeing Franco is a book written by Welsh historian Hywel Davies in 2011. It deals with the Welsh repatriation of Basque children during the Spanish Civil War. While the book is well researched, and presents an uplifting thesis about the largely uniform acceptance of the Spanish children in an already poverty-stricken nation, Davies does seem to present a slightly biased view on the matter. For example, he makes a point of vilifying the leading Welsh politicians, by stating their pro-Fascist attitudes, in favor of returning the children to Spain after the War, while stressing his opinion that those working with the children were following a humanitarian call rather than a political opportunity. However, Davies’ hero Maria Fernandez, an extraordinary warden at a childrens home, quotes that her political support of the Spanish Republic played a large role in her decision to join the cause (140). While this does not mean that she would have turned her back on the orphans had the Spanish government not been socialist,┬áDavies’ lack of analysis and research into this statement raises questions about his own objectiveness.

Additionally, in my opinion Davies’ structure is not very good. He starts coherently with a description of the similarities of Wales and the Basque region, but seemingly continues neither thematically nor chronologically. He describes the good sentiment of the Welsh, a few examples of bad behavior by the Spanish children, then continues with the good sentiment of the Welsh. All the while his chronology floats between before and after the fall of Bilbao. While his thesis is fairly clear, I found his structure to be slightly confusing.