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Introduction: What is the Retirada?

In just a few icy days in February of 1939, approximately 500,000 refugees hiked from Spain to France, fleeing the invading army as their own side lost the Civil War. France, swamped with people they neither wanted nor were prepared … Continue reading

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What was the Spanish Civil War all about?

In 1931, Spain became a Republic with a democratically-elected left-wing government. King Alfonso XIII fled, and the new government began a program of modernizing the country. Composed of communists, socialists, anarchists, and Basque and Catalan separatist groups (lured by the … Continue reading

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Crossing the Border: A Photo Gallery

As a flood of refugees approached their southern border, French officials hesitated, indecisive. Finally they came to the conclusion that opening the border was unavoidable, and allowed the Republicans to cross beginning January 31st, 1939. Ten days later, on February … Continue reading

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Camps in the Sand

Philosopher Giorgio Agamben controversially wrote that “today it is not the city, but rather the [concentration] camp that is the fundamental biopolitical paradigm of the West.”[1] He argues that state sovereignty is based on the ability to dehumanize, to “grant … Continue reading

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Photo Gallery: Life in the Camps

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World War II and the Spanish Refugees

            The successful German invasion of France in May of 1940 did nothing to help the Spanish Republican refugees. After Maréchal Philippe Pétain signed an armistice in June, many of the refugees were still interned in … Continue reading

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Aftermath and Memory

Aftermath After the end of World War II, all of Europe was in turmoil. Around 30 million people were displaced over the course of the war, and the Spanish Republicans were just one more group in the chaos. Their options … Continue reading

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