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Reliving the Battle of Malaga

The exhibition displays Civil War documents
The exhibition displays Civil War documents / Tony Bryant
  • New exhibition combines both visual and textual information concerning this horrific stage of the Spanish Civil War

An exhibition entitled ‘El Éxodo de la Carretera de Almería - Febrero de 1937’, has opened in Torremolinos.

The exhibition focuses on what has become known as the ‘Flight from Malaga’; an event that took place in February 1937, when the Republican-held city fell to Nationalist troops during the Spanish Civil War.

Fearing persecution, thousands of Republican refugees headed east on the road to Almeria, but many died of exhaustion or were killed by shells from offshore gunboats and aerial attacks from the German Luftwaffe.

The exhibition, which has been organised by the Junta de Andalucía, with the assistance of Torremolinos town hall, combines both visual and textual information concerning this horrific stage of the war.

The exhibition was previously on show at the Provincial Archives of Malaga and is currently on a tour of several towns in the province.

On display are various objects and equipment used by the combatant armies and more than a hundred different documents, many of which are displayed for the first time.

There are historical files from the provincial and municipal governments of Malaga and Almeria, historic military files, as well as documents from the Red Cross and the Italian news agency Luce.

Also included are the prison records of the journalist Arthur Koestler - in Malaga as a war correspondent at the time - who was accused of being a spy.

The exhibition displays a collection of poems that were written by celebrated writers of the period, including Gamal Woolsey, Peter Chalmers Mitchell and Emilio Prados. Among the items on display are a collection of photographs and newspaper cuttings that graphically document the effects of the bombings in Malaga.

The exhibition, which began last week and continues until 16 June, includes testimonies of several people from Torremolinos that lived through the event.

One draws on the story of Don Miguel Escalona Quesada, former mayor of Torremolinos, who recounted his personal story of the event in his memoirs, ‘Así llegamos a Almería’, (Thus we arrived in Almeria).

His family has loaned the exhibition documents and photographs that were published in the book and these include his brother’s prison records, Lázaro Escalona Quesada, who served 30 years in prison after trying to flee the city in 1937.

There are also information boards and video screens that retell the horrifying story of the Battle of Malaga. The images of burnt-out buildings and desolate refugees remind one of how senseless the Spanish Civil War was.

The refugees faced a 200km trek in search of a safe refuge, while being pursued by Italian tanks, German aircraft and rebel Nationalist ships.

Between 3,000 and 5,000 citizens are believed to have perished during the exodus.