Children's Exile: Children of the War

Evacuación de niño con maleta Pulse para ampliar AGA,04,PLA,297,02

Children were the main victims of the Spanish Civil War Nueva ventana, which produced massive displacements of the civilian population, in which children were the most affected.

Children had to be removed from the war to avoid the physical and psychological consequences. To this end, the government of the Second Republic Nueva ventana carried out expeditions to evacuate minors, with the participation of several countries and international humanitarian aid organisations Nueva ventana.

In Europe, France was the country that took in the most Spanish children with around 20,000 minors; around 5,000 children arrived in Belgium; around 4,000 in England; around 3,000 in the Soviet Union; Switzerland took in around 800 children. Outside Europe, Mexico received 455 minors, the so-called Morelia Children.

Basque Children's Committee Nueva ventana

Evacuación de mujeres y niños Pulse para ampliar Evacuación de mujeres y niños

The vicissitudes of the Civil War and World War II Nueva ventana turned many of the evacuated children into forced exiles, as they were temporarily or permanently unable to return to Spain.

This was the case in Mexico, whose government did not recognise Franco's regime Nueva ventana and placed obstacles in the way of the children's return. In the case of the "Russian children", they were repatriated to Spain in 1956.

More information:

Evacuation of children

In a virtual exhibition, the CDMH is displaying documentation on the more than 50,000 Spanish children evacuated during the Civil War to protect them from the consequences of the war. The exhibition displays three types of documents: records of the children evacuated from the northern front, letters written by the children to their families and photographs of children evacuated to the Soviet Union:

Ficha de niña evacuada Pulse para ampliar CDMH, PS, Santander, O, Caja 109, 1
Carta de niño evacuado desde Rusia Pulse para ampliar CDMH,PS,BIL,C0005,EXP0011,0018

Official bodies

The government of the Second Republic created different organisations during the Civil War to carry out the tasks of evacuating minors, two of which stand out in particular:

Central Office for the Evacuation and Assistance to Refugees (OCEAR)

The OCEAR Nueva ventanawas created in February 1937 by Federica Montseny Nueva ventana, Minister of Health and Social Assistance. It was dissolved in January 1938 and its responsibilities were transferred to the Ministry of Labour and Social Assistance.

General Directorate for Evacuation and Refugees (1938-1939)

In January 1938, the General Directorate for Evacuation and Refugees Nueva ventana was created within the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare. Its first head was the Republican Eladia Farando Puigdollers Nueva ventana. It was in operation until the end of the Civil War.

Evacuación a Rusia Pulse para ampliar AGA,33,01675,18,01

Morelia's Children

Mexico took in around 500 Spanish children in response to an appeal by the Ibero-American Committee for Aid to the Spanish People and the Committee for Aid to the Children of the Spanish People Nueva ventana. The Committee was set up by Mexican President Lázaro Cárdenas Nueva ventana, and chaired by his wife Amalia Solórzano Bravo.Nueva ventana

The children known as the Morelia's children Nueva ventana were a group of children of Spanish Republicans evacuated to Mexico aboard the steamship Mexique Nueva ventana, that arrived in the port of Veracruz in June 1937.

Listado embarque Niños Morelia Pulse para ampliar AGA,12,02908,01
Listado embarque Niños Morelia Pulse para ampliar AGA,12,02908,02
Informe de la Legación Guatemala sobre los Niños Morelia. Año 1941 Pulse para ampliar AGA,51,21130,02

After the end of the Spanish Civil War, with the victory of Franco's army, the situation became complicated for the children of Morelia. The Mexican government of Lázaro Cárdenas had supported the Second Republic and did not officially recognise Franco's government.

As a result, most of the children from Morelia stayed permanently in Mexico, with only 61 returning to Spain under different circumstances.

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Repatriation of minors and children from Russia

By the end of 1939, most of the Spanish children evacuated to the different host countries because of the Civil War had already been repatriated to Spain.

However, the children sent to the Soviet Union suffered the consequences of World War II and had to be repatriated later than the rest of the host countries.

The most negative aspect was the prolonged separation that ended up breaking family ties, as many young people experienced the sensation of being in the presence of strangers when they were reunited.

The so-called "Children of Russia" returned to Spain in 1956 and 1957, together with the expeditionary members of the Division Azul Nueva ventana, with the aim of being admitted to international representative bodies. The International Labour Organisation Nueva ventana was the vehicle for bringing the Spanish and Soviet governments closer together to negotiate repatriation to Spain.

The Order of 22 March 1957, issued by the Undersecretary of the Ministry of the Interior, created the Coordinating Commission for Repatriated People. Its function was to coordinate activities to incorporate repatriated people from Russia into Spanish life, as well as orienting them and solving their legal, political and economic problems.Nueva ventana

More information:

Niños repatriados llegando a España Pulse para ampliar AGA,33,800,01,01
Recortes de prensa sobre la vuelta a España de repatriados en Rusia Pulse para ampliar AGA,51,21131,06
Expediente de repatriación de menor desde Francia Pulse para ampliar AGA,52,02817

Documents on the Children of War at the AGA

The main collections and documentary series held at the AGA for the study of the evacuation and repatriation of minors are:

  • IDD (09)017.022: Minors Repatriation Service of the National Foreign Service Delegation: Minors Repatriation Files.

Reference code: 52/02080 - 52/02884 (85 boxes)

11,324 nominative files.

  • IDD (09)017.012: Repatriation of Minors Service of the National Delegation of the Foreign Service. Dates: 1936-1957.

Reference code: 51/21108 - 51/21131 (24 boxes)

Contains inventory of photographs of children's colonies in Spain and abroad.

  • IDD (08)003.002: Coordinating Commission for Returnees of the Ministry of the Interior: Files on repatriates from Russia. Dates: 1956 - 1961

Reference code: 44/11057 - 44/11085 (29 boxes).

  • IDD (06)071: National Placement Service of the National Delegation of Trade Unions. End dates: 1957-1962

Reference code: 17194 - 17200 (7 boxes).

Together with the Coordinating Committee for Repatriates, the National Trade Union Placement Service, with its Work to Combat Unemployment, was responsible for managing the job placement and follow-up of the last repatriates from the Soviet Union.

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