1936: The exile

We arrive in this way to 1936. In July, Aranzadi and Barandiarán were carrying out the ninth group of excavations in Urtiaga (Itziar). On the 18th they knew about General Franco's insurrection. They thought that in a few days the rebellion would be over, and therefore they went on with their excavations till the 24th, although the atmosphere of tension was growing and the movement of people trying to escape was increasing. Some people sheltered in the same pension where José Miguel was staying.

On the 25th of July, at daybreak, a group of militiamen came to the pension and surrounded it. The leader came into José Miguel's room and asked to see his documents and what his political ideas were. José Miguel answered that if he had asked him why he believed in God or why he was a priest, he could have answered, as he had thought a lot about that, but politics was something he hadn't thought much about. Therefore, if he answered his question, his reply would be that of a fool, as only foolish people talk about what they do not know.

The leader of the group told him: "If all the Spanish people shared your point of view, this war would make no sense".

Seeing that the situation was more worrying each day, Aranzadi and Barandiarán decided to go to Bilbao, the former to join his family in Barcelona afterwards and José Miguel to continue his work in Biscay.

When they arrived to the railway station of Atxun, three militiamen were searching the travellers' suitcases. They asked José Miguel what he was carrying in his and he answered that he was carrying a skull. In fact, during the excavation in Urtiaga, they had discovered the famous BI skull. The militiamen looked at him in astonishment and walked nervously around his suitcase. José Miguel opened it and when he showed them the skull, one of them said : "close it!" and that was all.

Barandiarán and Aranzadi said good-bye to each other in Bilbao. Eguren, sick at the time, had not joined them on that excavation. At that moment, the work carried out by the team during 20 years came to an end. They never saw each other again. Eguren died in 1942 and Aranzadi in 1945. José Miguel knew about their deaths while he was in exile.

After exploring near Lekeitio, Barandiarán moved to the Minor Seminary of Saturraran, where 40 seminarists from Alava, who were attending a summer course, had been cut off by the war and could not return to their homes. The presence of José Miguel there was a great relief to everybody; the teachers as well as the seminarists were frightened.

Meanwhile, the troops of Franco advanced in Guipuzcoa and José Miguel thought about a way to send the seminarits back to their homes. After several visits, among them a visit to Mr. Manuel de Irujo, Minister of the War, the seminarists returned home through Mondragon.

Once this done, José Miguel obtained another permit for 18 people, who were going to take a boat to S. Juan de Luz.

They sailed one night from Motrico's port, together with other fugitives. Barandiarán describes this trip in his diary: "At nine in the evening we go to Motrico's port... The password is "Itziar"... A lot of people crowd at the port. It is swarming and a good example of lack of organisation. A boat takes people to the steamships with great difficulty and, due to the low tide, they wait for us at a good distance from the dock. We are about 45 fugitives. Four or five "mendigoizales" carrying shot guns go aboard with us in case we need protection.

We start our exile at five to eleven. Stars follow our route in silence. We leave behind us the lights that show we are leaving Motrico. Afterwards, we distinguish similar groups from Ondarroa, Deva, Itziar, ... We go to the open sea and then turn right towards S. Juan de Luz.

We do not have lights to avoid being seen. Irigoyen lights a tinder lighter to light a cigarette and everybody on the boat protests.

We arrive to Socoa at five in the morning. It is a sad trip: many young men from Motrico come with us, they are escaping from the war and they don't know what they will do, where they will live or where they have to go once in S. Juan de Luz. Next to me there is a woman who cries bitterly from time to time. They all lament their misfortune".

José Miguel and other teachers who crossed with him to S. Juan de Luz, planned to cross from there to Vitoria for the new term, but when they tried to obtain their passports, they were not allowed to come back. Moreover, José Miguel was told that he could not go back to the Seminary. He thought that maybe he was to blame because of the subject of his research, as he had never participated in politics.

Mr. Mateo Múgica, his bishop, had been exiled too.

ONevertheless, from the Seminary of Vitoria, they asked him to go to the Seminary of Bayonne and help there the seminarists from Vitoria sheltered there.

José Miguel always believed that, thanks to this, he would be called to the Seminary of Vitoria sooner or later. Waiting this call, he declined important invitations from several Universities. We should add that one of these invitations was a chair at the Columbia University of New York and he received the offer in October 1939, once the World War had begun and at a time when the Basques exiled in France foretold difficult days.

At the beginning of 1937, he started the prehistoric and ethnographic research in the Continental Basque Country and in 1938, he started anew the works of the Laboratory of Ethnology and Eusko Folklore, thanks to the grant given by the Museums of France. Taking into account the expression that every cloud has a silver lining, those years of exile gave him the chance to know and investigate that part of the Basque Country, which he hadn't been familiar with.

He lived first in Biarritz, with his niece who had to leave him less than a year after and go back to Ataun to take care of her sick mother. Then, his niece Pilar, the daughter of his eldest brother went to live with him. Pilar stayed with him all the time he was in exile and afterwards, faithfully and attentively, until the day he died.

In 1941, they move to Sara, where they spent the last 13 years of exile. Here, in the house of Bidartea, Barandiarán continued his prehistoric and ethnographic research. Among this last research, we should mention in particular the ethnographic study of this locality, which was published later in the "Anuario de Eusko-Folklore".

During these years, he was also entrusted by the French Ministry of Education, as a member of the Commission for Historic Monuments, with the inventory of the Lower Pyrenees Megalithic Monuments.

At the same time, the University of Frankfurt asked him to collaborate with the magazine they published there. These works obliged him to visit the Pyrenean zone constantly and in order to allow him to walk about the region freely, the German authorities issued him an official document. To carry out his work, he needed the files he had at the Seminary of Vitoria and therefore he sent his niece Pilar to this city for them, but she came back distressed saying that when she was coming with the files, the Spanish authorities had confiscated them on the frontier saying that the files contained dangerous documents. José Miguel reported the event to the German authorities and they brought him the files the next day.

Although the world war was over, the consequences of the Spanish civil war continued and it was at that time that Mr. Mateo Múgica, the bishop exiled from Vitoria, wrote his famous document "Imperatives of my conscience", in whose creation José Miguel played a major role. This document contains a discordant note as opposed to the approval with which the Spanish Episcopacy had received the rebellion of Franco's troops.

In the field of research, Barandiarán set up in 1916 "Ikuska, Instituto Vasco de Investigación", which is in fact the continuation of the "Sociedad de Eusko Folklore" founded in Vitoria in 1921. Ikuska's main objective is to promote the study of the population of the Atlantic Pyrenees and to investigate the traditional ways of life. Its goal is also to study the traces of the prehistoric man and his culture in the Pyrenean regions. Among the collective members of Ikuska, we should mention institutions from Bayonne, Bordeaux, Paris, Toulouse, Stockholm, Helsinki, Los Angeles, Berkeley, etc. The magazine Ikuska began to be published too and between 1946 and 1951, date in which it disappeared, important works were published in it.

During these years, José Miguel took part intensively in international Congresses and Conferences. Between 1946 and 1951, he went to London, Oxford, three times to Paris, twice to Brussels,.....

On the other hand, in 1917, another magazine called Eusko-Jakintza was created, which tried to fill the gap left by the RIEV ("Revista Internacional de los Estudios Vascos") and it was published from 1907 to 1936. José Miguel was the director of this magazine.

Around this time, the most important efforts to get José Miguel back to his home town began. Many efforts had been made before but a record at the Security General Direction in Madrid calling him philo-Jew and philo-mason gave him little confidence to go back.

In these years, however, several steps taken by the "Sociedad de Ciencias Aranzadi" from San Sebastian and by the "Sociedad Bascongada de los Amigos del País" were more fruitful. The most decisive factor in these steps was Prof. A. Tovar, Rector at the University of Salamanca, who, having created the Chair "Larramendi" for Basque Studies at this University, wanted José Miguel to be the first Professor invited. On the other hand, the guaranties of security offered to him seemed to be solid.