Ten-year-old Miren Alonso was one of almost 4,000 Basque children evacuated from the Basque Country in northern Spain to Southampton, England by the Basque Government in May 1937, during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). This article, based on extensive oral testimony, provides a firsthand look at a historical event that remains largely unknown to most people. It is also one of only a few long-term studies of the evacuation from the perspective of an individual. This is a summary of Miren’s experience before, during, and after the evacuation, framed within the social, political, and historical context of the period. Her story is a remarkable account of what it was like to be a child refugee, separated from her parents and sent from a war-ravaged city into the care of strangers in a country with a language that she did not speak. It is also the account of what is was like to face the aftereffects of the evacuation and trauma of the Spanish Civil War. This is a story of tragedy on an almost incomprehensible scale, but also a story of resilience, human kindness, and the power of community.

About the Author

Julia Palmer is an Associate Professor of Spanish at Hampden-Sydney College in central Virginia. She is currently researching various topics related to the evacuation of Basque children to England during the Spanish Civil War and incorporates oral testimony as a fundamental part of that study. She also investigates the development of syntax in Spanish historical linguistics and the role of grammar in literature. Her articles include a study of Cortázar’s short story “Continuidad de los parques” and an explanation of the use of the subjunctive with expressions of emotion in Spanish.


  • Ph.D. in Romance Linguistics, University of Michigan, 1999
  • M.A. in Romance Linguistics, University of Michigan, 1994
  • M.A. in Hispanic Literature, University of Virginia, 1992