A field study for the course 20th Century Spain, An Uneasy History took place last Friday. Our day trip to the Spanish-French border, the Museum of Exile and the small seaside village Colliure, was planned as a way to show students the hardship and pains Spaniards of the 20th century had to suffer. These hardships were a result of the Spanish Civil War and the coming to power of one of the most famous fascist dictators of this century, Francisco Franco.
It is a type of hands-on-approach on the fate of over 500,000 people who had to flee the persecution of a dictatorial regime which gave them the choice between a firing squad or leaving their beloved ones and their homes. The museum itself boosts a very modern and well made exhibition on this topic. The fate of the refugees and their exile is examined, as well as the connections to the German concentration camps, to the international ideological conflict which led to the war.
The setting of the museum is in the very place where the exodus of thousands of Spaniards took place in 1939. A very dry, hostile winter landscape underlines what it meant to live through all this. During this semester's tour, the very cold and windy weather conditions helped to imagine the hardship of the people.
The final visit to the village of Colliure in France brought the students to a place where the first part of the exodus ended for many Spaniards. The contrast between the harsh historic events and the nice, lovely and calm Mediterranean village of today gives this part of the trip a special meaning, underscored by the visit to the tomb of Antonio Machado, one of the famous victims of this exile. The cemetery of Colliure impressed the students, especially when they noticed the huge amount of fresh flowers on the tomb. This clearly indicates that this chapter of Spanish history - now nearly 80 years ago - has still not been closed.
I hope you all enjoyed it!