Civil War information centre pays tribute to Gibraltar for its help and support for refugees

Five Gibraltarians were presented with distinctions at the event.
Five Gibraltarians were presented with distinctions at the event. / D.Bartlett
  • The assembly room at the Casa de la Memoria in Jimena was packed for the event, which was part of its second anniversary celebrations

As part of the events organised to mark its second anniversary last week, the 'Casa de la Memoria La Sauceda' in Jimena de la Frontera, which is a Civil War information and research centre, paid tribute to the people of Gibraltar for the help and support given to Spanish refugees during the Civil War.

Gibraltar saved the lives of more than 5,000 refugees by taking them in at the very start of the war, and many of them were housed in a makeshift camp on the site which later became the airport. Some Gibraltarians risked their own lives by setting off by boat at night to rescue people from the Spanish shore and then housed them in their own homes, sometimes 20 or 30 at a time.

At the time the population of Gibraltar was around 18,000, so this was a considerable strain on resources. Although most refugees moved on to other countries or to safer parts of Spain, about 400 remained permanently in Gibraltar.

The event at the Casa de la Memoria on Wednesday 14 November included a presentation of awards to different people from the Gibraltar of today. In the absence of the Chief Minister, who was away taking part in the Brexit negotiations, Gibraltar's Minister for Culture, Steven Linares, was there to receive the distinction on behalf of the people of Gibraltar.

Another distinction was presented to the Unite union, whose members in the Gibraltar shipyard rebuilt a republican ship, the José Luis Díez, in their own time and without payment, after it took refuge in the port after being attacked by the Franco fleet as it passed through the Strait of Gibraltar in 1938.

A distinction was also presented to Aida Barea, whose 16-year-old brother was among those killed during a protest in La Línea, and whose family took refuge in Gibraltar in 1936 because they feared that her father would also be a target.

Tito Benady, an 89-year-old Gibraltarian historian who still remembers very clearly how hundreds of people from La Línea suddenly arrived on the beach in Gibraltar where he and his mother were enjoying a peaceful day, was also presented with an award.

There was also a distinction (collected by his sons Michael and Jaime) for José Netto, managing historian at the Gibraltar union, who says he learned a great deal from Spanish union representatives and refugees from the Campo de Gibraltar area.

The event concluded with the screening of the documentary 'Gibraltar 1936'.