The homage France owes to Spanish Republican refugees

By Nicolas Lebourg

A move to include the 150th anniversary of the birth of the notorious French anti-Semitic and far-right author Charles Maurras in official ceremonies across France this year caused such an outcry that it was struck off the agenda, calling into question the criteria employed by the country’s learned national commemorations committee. Amid the farce over Maurras, historian and Mediapart contributor Nicolas Lebourg argues here that a truly worthy commemoration sorely missing from the official calendar is that of the plight, and unsung contribution to France, of the hundreds of thousands of Spanish Civil War refugees who, in the runup to World War II, crossed into the country seeking refuge from the Franco regime.

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The recent controversy over the inclusion in France’s official list of national commemorations of the 150th anniversary of the birth of the anti-Semitic far-right author Charles Maurras (the ensuing outrage forced mention of him off the list), served to revive the eternal debate about art and the necessity for commemorations as a means of allowing citizens to enjoy a shared cultural heritage.