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The 1936 war

An ever more lively network promoting the social resurgence of the Basque language grew up during the Second Republic and It was a time of great dynamism for the culture as a whole. However, all these hopes were dashed by the Fascist putsch that overthrew the republican government. For Basque society and its primary identifying feature, the Basque language, it was the beginning of a period of relentless persecution.

208. Operation Rügen was the aerial attack carried out in April 1937 on the town of Guernica (Gernika in Basque), by the German Condor Legion and the Italian Legionary Air Force, who were fighting on the Fascist side. Designed to destroy the entire town, the raid was the first example of carpet-bombing in history, and news of the massacre soon spread across the globe. Pablo Picasso's "Guernica", presented at the 1937 World's Fair in Paris, was to become one of the icons of twentieth-century art and of the anti-war movement. 209. German Heinkel He-111 bombers from the Condor Legion, used in the attack on Guernica. 210. A month before Guernica, in March 1937, the town of Durango was also bombed and machine gunned by Italian Fascist aircraft under the orders of the pro-Franco general Emilio Mola. Two hundred and ninety-four people were killed. 211. Gudaris (Basque soldiers) at the front, 11 December 1936. 212. Eguna, the first daily paper published entirely in Basque, was produced by the Basque Government from January to June 1937, with three young journalists, Agustín Zubikarai, Eusebio Erkiaga and José María Arizmendiarrieta. Despite the war and its precarious existence, this newspaper used the most modern resources, including typography and illustrations. 213. José Antonio Aguirre (Bilbao 1904-1960) was the first lehendakari (first minister) and Minister for Defence in the Basque Government, constituted on 7 October, 1936. A member of the PNV, during his term the Government of Euzkadi fought to defend the Spanish Second Republic with the Basque Army (Euzko Gudarostea). He remained as president in exile in a succession of countries and from 1941 to 1946, he also lectured at Columbia University. Throughout his life he remained faithful to the oath he had sworn in Guernica in 1936: Until fascism is overthrown, Basque nationalism shall remain at its post. 214. The publisher Ekin was founded in Argentina in 1942 by Basque exiles —Isaac López de Mendizabal and Andres de Irujo— to promote Basque culture. It was markedly political in nature. In the post-war period, the Franco regime exercised a restrictive policy, repressing Basque language and culture. Elsewhere in Europe, immersed as it was in a world war, the time was not right for publishing books on Basque themes either. In Buenos Aires, Ekin published over a hundred works, covering the most varied subjects. 215. With the outbreak of the Civil War, the ikastolas had to suspend education. Most pupils were relocated to other schools. Not only were the ikastolas obliged to close their doors, but their material and the professional careers of their teachers were also destroyed. This was the case of the Basque School in Estella. In the summer of 1936, its educational material and books were burned publicly in the Plaza de los Fueros and the teacher, Petra Azpiroz (Leitza, 1914), was disqualified from ever teaching again. 216. A British Spitfire fighter plane, with the European invasion stripes, from the final years of the Second World War. 217. Army of the Basque Government in Gipuzkoa, 1936. 218. Basque was used by the American army in the Second World War to encrypt messages in the Pacific campaign. Frank D. Carranza, captain in the US Marines and a son of Basque immigrants, proposed using Basque for coded messages, and sixty marines of Basque origin who spoke the language fluently were trained in San Francisco. In summer 1942, the American Basque code talkers began their work sending messages to Admiral Nimitz to launch the campaign in the Solomon Islands and Guadalcanal. In mid-Pacific, the phrases Egon arretaz egunari (Watch the day) and Sagarra erragiza zazpi (Operation Apple at Seven) established the date and time of the surprise landing. 219. Florentino Goikoetxea was one of the mugalaris (border crossers) in the Comète Network. He helped smuggle 227 allied aviators, mainly English, Canadian and American out of Nazi-occupied Europe. 220. RAF pilot (United Kingdom). 221. The Comète Network (1941) helped allied combatants to cross the Bidasoa during the Second World War and managed to repatriate 770 aviators. Coordinated by mugalaris (experts in crossing the border over the mountains) and using messages in Basque, the network had 1,700 agents and collaborators who rescued pilots who had been shot down and led them through the Basque Country to Franco's Spain, which was officially neutral, from where they made their way back home. 222. Hills of Bidasoa.
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