Document Type

Book Chapter

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Publication Title

War and Childhood in the Era of the Two World Wars


During their 400-mile walk from Málaga to Valencia, the five Molinas children, ages six to thirteen, endured lethal attack from land and air. Having already lost one of her children to the war, their mother decided to send her remaining children to the Soviet Union, although France and Belgium were also possibilities. "Many [families] cried. My mom cried," one of the children told a Soviet reporter. "Me - no. I knew that in Russia it would be good." The story of Remedio, Alfredo, Carmen, Manuel, and Francisco, while extreme in some respects, shares much with the stories of other refugee children. In what was thought by most participants to be a short-term evacuation to avoid bombing, some children thought it could be an exciting getaway, an adventure. For others, it was a frightening leap into the unknown. There is little typical about evacuation stories except the assurance of change. The stories of the nearly 3,000 Spanish refugee children as they transitioned in 1937-1938 from Civil War Spain to the USSR became didactic tools for Soviet mythmakers. Journalists and authors narrowed the official public narrative about the children's experiences on arriving in the USSR so as to construct the children as heroic symbols and models of the ideal Soviet childhood to which they adapted.


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