Saving the Children in the 1930s

In 1948, United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This significant declaration is now used as a guideline for many nations around the world when implementing laws or adopting policies. As Human Rights Day commemorating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights takes place in December, we thought it fitting to show some of the material we have in Special Collections and Archives that champions the rights of children and refugees across the world.

Eleanor Rathbone

Portrait of Eleanor Rathbone [c. 1910].

Portrait of Eleanor Rathbone [RP XIV.3.96, c. 1910].

In particular, social reformer and M.P. Eleanor Rathbone was instrumental in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of those affected by war and any subsequent geographic displacement. As she formed the Children’s Minimum Committee in 1934 to actively campaign for the eradication of children in poverty, it is perhaps very fitting that the Declaration of the Rights of the Child was further expanded in 1946, the year of Eleanor’s death. This promoted the safety and welfare of children across the world.

In the later 1930s, she was an active participant in campaigning for peace and the safety of Spanish civilians during the Spanish Civil War. Here at Special Collections and Archives we hold material in the Rathbone Collection (RP XIV.2.13) that relates to Ms Rathbone’s attempts to ensure that the British government were doing all they could to assist refugees and injured civilians in Spain. The below telegram to the future Prime Minister Clement Attlee outlines Eleanor’s attempts to persuade the government to protect refugee ships leaving Spanish and French ports.

Telegram from Eleanor Rathbone to Clement Atlee, dated 19th June 1937 [RP XIV.2.13(26)].

Telegram from Eleanor Rathbone to Clement Atlee, dated 19th June 1937 [RP XIV.2.13(26)].  “Will you consider moving [adjournment?] [Monday?] to consider Spanish petition and protest against Government’s refusal to protect ships taking refugees from Bilbao to Spanish ports and also from Santander to French ports – stop latter prohibitions…”

Telegram from Eleanor Rathbone to Clement Attlee, dated 19th June 1937 [RP XIV.2.13(26)]. "on private information [privately?] confirmed [&?] Foreign Office [It?] closes the last door as Bilbao [?] understood to be almost unusable."

Telegram from Eleanor Rathbone to Clement Attlee, dated 19th June 1937 [RP XIV.2.13(26)]. “…on private information [privately?] confirmed & Foreign Office It closes the last door as Bilbao understood to be almost unusable.”

Eleanor was also instrumental in lobbying for the safe removal of refugees from those countries whereby the threat of Nazi Germany was prominent, and further their safety and ensuring the best treatment whilst in Britain [RP XIV.2.17]. In particular, she was keen for those families that were separated across international borders to be reunited in Britain as soon as possible. Eleanor wrote to the Home Secretary in reference to the Government’s regulations on allowing refugees into the country, which she described was “as though one were to throw a child out of the top window for fear of catching cold through leaving the door open”. [RP XIV.2.17(3), Letter to Home Secretary dated 3rd February 1940].

Current support for child refugees can be found in December through Christmas Jumper Day, in aid of Save the Children. This was certainly a cause close to Eleanor’s heart, and as the page below taken from The Girl’s Own Annual demonstrates, children in the 1930s should be safe and showing off their rounders positions!

SPEC JUV 573 1935-6 Edition p. 202

SPEC JUV 573 1935-6 Edition p. 202

See here for an overview on the Rathbone Collection. As always, the material is available to view here at Special Collections and Archives. We are based in Sydney Jones Library, Liverpool University, and open Monday to Friday, 9:30am until 4:30pm.

The Manuel Irujo Collection

The 2014-15 academic session will see the introduction of a Basque language, literature and popular culture module to the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies. The library of Manuel Irujo, the Navarrese lawyer and politician, donated by his family, has been fully catalogued and is available for study and research in Special Collections and Archives.

Manuel Irujo portait

Manuel Irujo portait

Manuel de Irujo Ollo was born in Estella / Lizarra in 1891. His father had close links with Sabino Arana Goiri, founder of the Basque Nationalist Party (the PNV); and  the family had a long history of involvement  in local politics.   At Deusto University in Bilbao Irujo studied Humanities, but after the sudden death of his father retrained as a lawyer in order to take  over  his father’s practice. In 1919 Irujo was elected as a delegate to the Council of Navarra.  Conservative forces conspired to annul the results and he was unable to take up his seat; he stood again in 1921 and served until 1931.In the national elections of 1931,1933 and 1936  Irujo was elected  Member of Parliament for the Basque province of Gipuzkoa as a member of the Basque Nationalist Party, Partido Nacionalista Vasco (PNV). He supported the Second Spanish Republic and was fiercely opposed to Franco’s military uprising.  He was appointed Minister Without Portfolio in 1936 in the Government of Largo Caballero and later became Minister of Justice under Negrin. Irujo was determined to restore a basic form of justice in the Spanish Republican Zone, but  eventually  he was forced to  resign the position, mainly due to the extra judicial killings, which continued despite all his efforts. During the months he served as Minister Irujo saved  the lives of many condemned to execution by firing squad and worked tirelessly to facilitate the  exchange of prisoners and the safe passage of third parties.

Spanish Civil War pamphlet

SPEC Irujo D.2. Spanish Civil War pamphlet

After the Civil War Manuel Irujo initially went into exile in the United Kingdom. Later he served as a member of the Republican Government in exile in Mexico and  went on to work with  the Basque Government in exile in Paris under José Antonio Aguirre.Irujo was the author of a number of books including Inglaterra y los Vascos, in which he described the link between the Basque Country and Great Britain, and Instituciones juridicias, where he wrote about the Basque judicial system. Over the decades he  wrote  hundreds of articles for a number of periodicals including Euzko Deya : La Voz de los Vascos en México, Euzko Deya : La Voz de Euzkadi and Eusko-Gaztedi.

Irujo’s work in promoting European Unity earned him the title Honorary President of the Federal Peninsular Council of the European Movement (see Europa de los pueblos) and in October 1974 he was made Amigo de Europa. He returned to the Basque Country after Franco’s death, and was elected Senador to the Cortes in 1978, in which he served until his death in 1981.

SPEC IRUJO G 1 no 218: August 1958 issue of Euzco Deya

SPEC IRUJO G.1 Euzco Deya 218 (Aug. 1958)

The Manuel Irujo collection was donated to the Special Collections & Archives section of the Sydney Jones Library by Manuel Irujo’s grandchildren (Ane Button Irujo and Miren Button Irujo), and contains nearly 400 books and pamphlets and 117 periodicals, on Basque culture, the Spanish Civil War, with a section on Manuel Irujo’s legacy. Mostly collected by Irujo after he went into exile in the UK and France, the collection includes copies of Basque newspapers published for  exiled communities who had relocated to Europe and the Americas.  Many of the books are inscribed with dedications from Irujo’s friends, colleagues and associates, including the anti-Franco journalist and historian, Herbert Rutledge Southworth, the sculptor, Eduardo Chillida, the opera singer and writer, Isidoro de Fagoaga, the archaeologist and anthropologist, Pere Bosch-Gimpera, and the artist and politician Luis Quintanilla.

SPEC IRUJO C.15 – Eduardo Chillida’s dedication

SPEC IRUJO C.15 – Eduardo Chillida’s dedication

A Basque exile’s books come to rest in Liverpool

Special Collections & Archives is delighted to have received a significant acquisition to its holdings of books relating to Hispanic studies and the Spanish Civil War. Delivered in person by his grandaughters, Miren and Ane, the books which Manuel Irujo took with him to exile in Paris have been donated to the University, where they will be an important resource for teaching and research in Basque studies.

Book cover from Irujo collectionManuel Irujo (1891-1981), a Navarrese from Estella was the only Basque politician to hold ministerial responsibility in the Second Republican government, he was both Minister of Justice and Minister without portfolio, and became president of the Basque National Council in 1940. Irujo spent nearly half his life in exile – in Paris and London – from the post-Spanish Civil War government of his contemporary General Franco (1892-1975). Even after Franco’s death, Irujo’s return to Spain had to be delayed – leaving him only his final four years in his home country.

The books Irujo had with him in exile have been donated to Liverpool by his family, in recognition of Liverpool’s position as a centre of Hispanist studies, and with the purpose of promoting the development of Basque Studies. When catalogued, they will take their place alongside the library of E. Allison Peers, and other material related to the Spanish Civil war, including the E.J. Burford and Ronald Fraser collections, and the papers of Eleanor Rathbone, who was instrumental in the escape of thousands of Basque children from the conflict.

Irujo’s library of nearly 400 titles, in Basque, Spanish, Franch and English, is arranged in sections relating to: Basque Language and Literature; Navarra (Irujo’s home province); Basque people, culture and folklore; the Spanish Civil War, its aftermath, and Basque politics; political and social issues in the Basque country after the Civil War; Early Basque Nationalism; Basques and the Americas; Newspapers; and works on History, Travel, Geography, Science and Nature.

Many items are dedicated to Irujo by their authors, and the collection includes his own annotated copy of a volume of his memoirs. The Basque diaspora are well-represented, especially through the publications of Ekin, founded in Buenos Aires in 1942 by Basque exiles including Manuel’s Irujo’s brother Andres. 

Euzko Deya cover from Irujo collection