Testimony of María Magdalena García Hernández
In this video María Magdalena García Hernández recalls the experience of childhood during the Spanish Civil War. She recounts how she and other children were taken across the border from to France during the day, to protect them from bombing raids, and how they were taken back to Spain at night. To pass the time, the children were encouraged to draw by their minders, with many of the children composing war scenes. Some of María Magdalena’s drawings are now in the collection of the University of California, San Diego. One of those appears in this museum: A Little Girl Draws the War.
In February of 1939, María Magdalena and her family left Spain permanently as refugees, spending some days in the infamous camp at Argelès-sur-Mer before being moved to another refuge at Cordes-sur-Ciel, which was only for women and children. The reception by the local community which she remembers was warm and welcoming. María Magdalena’s story is a familiar one of forced exile and survival through hard work. She left Spain aged 11 but continues to share her experience with local schoolchildren in France so that they might understand the nature of exile. Her sense of national identity is highly emotional and refracted through the experience of dislocation and upheaval which the end of the war entailed for a great many Spaniards.