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Many of the Spanish emigrated by crossing the Pyrénéees on foot in winter, fleeing persecution by the National army armed by the Nazis, at the end of the Spanish Civil War, in 1939. The Toulouse phone book is full of people with Spanish names, many of whom have parents or grand-parents who fought Franco.

Life was very hard for the 450,000 that suddenly came to France. They didn't know the language, they were initially kept in refugee camps in very poor conditions ... "L'Espagnol" or "sale Espagnol" was a common way to describe these people in rural France, because they were seen to be poor, dirty, and even communists!

Many of them eagerly, within the blink of an eye, joined the résistance when the Nazis invaded France the following year. They were ready to die again, this time for their host country, but still for the same ideal. However after the war they earned little or no recognition for their enormous help in the résistance. Prejudice was still strong.

The first generation that was born in France decided to stubbornly fight this prejudice by studying and working hard. That generation is seen by many experts as the most successful generation of immigrants ever. That generation saw more lawyers, doctors, etc than any other generation of any type of immigrants.

My hat off to the great Spanish people of France.

Also for the same reason, and this goes without saying, my hat off to the great Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisan, Senegales etc people of France, who fought the Nazis, who first worked our coal mines, and now must become our doctors and lawyers.

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Nov 10th, 2005 at 03:08:47 AM EST
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