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The Holocaust that passed through the Pyrenees

Thousands of Jews - including numerous children- escaped the Nazis through Spain. Some historians estimate that between 20.000 and 35.000 Jews fled the genocide orchestrated by Adolf Hitler by crossing Spanish territory, taking advantage of the “tolerant” Franco regime from 1940 onward. The dictator did, however, make sure that Spain was just a stop along their exodus route, and that none of them settled in Spain.
The Holocaust – or the spectre of the Holocaust – also passed through the country – although the vast majority of Spaniards didn’t realize that the victims were Jewish. For them those filthy, terrified men, women and children who came from the other side of the Pyrenees were just refugees. And so, no one ever understood Franco’s obsession with the Judeo- Masonic-Communism coalition.
Haim Avni, a professor from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and author of the book España, Franco y los judíos (Spain , Franco and the Jews), and the historian Bernd Rother, from the Willy Brandt Foundation of Berlin, the author of Franco y el Holocausto, agree that the dictator “didn’t care” if Jews passed through Spain. But the regime made sure that these people were accounted for, as shown by the fact that they weren’t allowed to join a new group of refugees until the previous one had left the country. When the Civil War ended, Franco boasted of having saved thousands of Sephardi Jews, but that’s a big lie, says Avni. Unlike Franco ,the Portuguese dictator Oliveira Salazar did allow Jews to settle in his country.
“The civil guards attended to the Jewish fugitives very correctly. There was even a French rabbi who identified himself as a Jew right after crossing the border, and when he was taken to the Pamplona jail, the prison workers put “Israelí” on his file. Spaniards saw Jews as foreigners. The drama of the Nazi persecution didn’t exist among Spaniard, Avni and Rother concur, adding that, in their opinion, the Spanish people helped the victims out of human solidarity.
From the article “The Holocaust that passed through the Pyrenees” by Jesús Duva
El País February 9, 2009


Terence said...

It is interesting that you added this article to the Spanish Civil War list, although the war was over in Spain. First people escaped from Franco crossing the Pyrenees to the North, and then Jews (and others) did the same escaping from Hitler but this time to the South. There must be plenty of touching stories from this time. Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

There are such stories Terrance.
The Navarrese Basques who have never been or will ever consider themselves "Spanish" or "French" remained armed and were amonst the first to join the "French resistance" and smuggle Jews over the mountains. The Navarrese helped do this with the aid of sled dogs. Shot down pilots ,spies and jews. We dont need any ones history books to tell us what we did. The former country of Navarre was the last kingdom forced into modern day "Spain" Our people resisted the inquisitions presence in 1512. Modern day Jewish historians should review the temptation of lazy history and dig a bit deeper

nik said...

Thank you for your interesting historical addition to this article _anonymous_.