One of the immediate effects after the crushing military of the Second Republic of Spain was the disintegration of Spanish culture. Among the more than 500,000 spaniards that calculates left the country after February, 1939, when he fell to Barcelona, were the leading intellectuals, artists, scientists, architects… Many had done before, such as Luis Cernuda and Juan Ramón Jiménez. Spain, as you would type Cernuda shortly after, had died. There was only the endurance of the exile. And three paradigms: Federico García Lorca, Antonio Machado and Miguel Hernández. The National Library of Spain has tried to reconstruct the cultural activity that produced the diaspora, in that year in the exhibition The republican exile of 1939, eighty years later, that you can visit in the headquarters of the institution in Madrid from Tuesday until February 2, 2020.


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The diaspora could involve the disintegration of the cultural renewal that was pushing Spain towards modernity, but the exiles “had the need since 1939, even in the concentration camps and the French, to establish a cultural continuity in exile”, explains José Ramón López García, curator of the exhibition, together with Manuel Aznar. “The need to maintain that culture and that legacy, as well as the possibility of returning to the country from which they were expelled,” he adds. The exhibition brings together up to a hundred documents including books, journals, letters, passports and photographs (for the most part, funds of the National Library), as well as audiovisual testimonies. Among these objects, highlights a notebook of the poet Rafael Alberti, with poems and drawings, which began in 1939 in Paris, during their “nights of speaker in the Radio Paris-Mundiale” and dedicated to the painter Rafael Penagos.

The commissioners of the exhibition, which carried 21 years researching and spreading the path followed by the Spanish culture in a group of Studies of the Literary Exile of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, have not wanted to do, “a claim only testimonial and archaeological”, but to share a legacy that considered “can affect much to any debate to which we come today.” Garcia regrets that the knowledge of Spanish exile “has remained in the memorial, sentimental and ideological interpretations”. “It is forgotten that this exile was massive, interclasista… rather one would have to talk about exiles. Has a plurality ideological that goes far beyond what has sometimes been given to understand because it brings together all kinds of sensitivities: socialism, anarchism, monarquismo, liberalism… is Not only a division between good and bad as sometimes you want to give to understand, even from the two sides”, he argues.

The flight from the terror of the troops of general Franco led to those spaniards to start a pilgrimage through France and Portugal to disperse them through several european countries, Latin America, the united States, the Soviet Union or the people’s Republic of China. For reasons of language and culture, South america was one of the major destinations. Several organizations, including the Service of Evacuation of Refugees, with the help of diplomats in the mexican and chilean, as Pablo Neruda, organized maritime expeditions to these new destinations with boat names that are now legendary: Winnipeg, Ipanema and Mexique. Or the Stanbrook, who covered the journey between Alicante and Algeria. According to the data of the exposure, the diaspora took that year to 4,000 spaniards to the Soviet Union; and 7,000, to Mexico, to 2,300, to Chile, to 2,000, to the Dominican Republic; 600, Colombia; 3.000 (that were soon to 10,000), to Argentina, and about 3,000 to Venezuela.

In one of those ships, the Veendam, traveled, among others, José Bergamín, Josep Carner, Paulino Masip, Rodolfo Halffter, Manuela Ballester, Josep Renau, and Eduardo Ugarte. The work of intellectuals in these countries, especially in Mexico, through the House of Spain, was decisive in order to renew the creation and the publishing world. López García referred to the Spanish civil war exiles set out a new basis for relations with the former colonies of Spain. In front of the message bombastic de la Hispanidad Ramiro de Maeztu, embraced and enriched in paternalism by Franco, the Spanish exile, starts “a relationship in terms of equality and solidarity”. It was a reflection of the culture of the Republic. As, highlights the commissioner, what was that from the first moment of the exile’s presence in the publications of the four official languages of the State, by the recognition of the plurinational which made the Republic. “Exile four languages and four cultures,” he says. The exhibition dedicates a space to the publications of Catalonia, the Basque country and Galicia in the first year of exile.


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