Zapatero pays homage to Spanish 'war children'

10th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

10 May 2005, MOSCOW — Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero paid tribute to the exiled Spanish 'war children' who suffered alongside their Soviet hosts during the second world war.

10 May 2005

MOSCOW — Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero paid tribute to the  exiled Spanish 'war children' who suffered alongside their Soviet hosts during the second world war.

Zapatero paid homage to the exiled Spanish Republicans as he joined 50 world leaders in Moscow to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the war.

"Spain and the entire world community rendered just and well-deserved homage for the great price paid (by the Soviet people) in the defeat of Hitler and barbarism," Zapatero said.

He met the Spanish community in Moscow after attending the military parade in Red Square.

Surrounded by so-called 'war children', Spaniards who were sent as minors to the Soviet Union to remove them from harm's way during the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War, Zapatero also thanked the Russian people for having taken in the evacuees.

Of the almost 3,000 war children to arrive in the USSR, more than 280 died during the years of the Great Patriotic War - as the second world war is known in Russia - from assorted causes, including direct military action, bombardments, hunger and disease.

Of the 130 'children' who volunteered to fight the Nazis, 50 were killed in combat along with another 225 Spaniards who came to the USSR as political émigrés.

Enrique Alonso, secretary of the Spanish centre in Moscow, said: "For us, the war children, the Great Patriotic War was the continuation of what we had left behind in our homeland" - that is, Spain, where the German-assisted forces of Francisco Franco triumphed in 1939 after a bloody civil war.

Alonso added that for him and his comrades "it was difficult to forget the hardships we shared with a people who a few years before had taken us in with so much love and generosity".

One of the most emotional moments of the day was the conversation between Zapatero and Angel Grandal Corral, who is the only surviving Spanish combatant who fought the Nazi forces to still live in Russia.

The 88-year-old veteran is still strong and animated, but he complained of the "bureaucratic wall" that has prevented him from receiving his official Spanish army pension for all these years.

"You'll see how we're going to break down that wall," Zapatero said after Grandal Corral personally handed him the documentation needed to apply for the pension.

Spain's Socialist government has pledged to pay out pensions to all war children.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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