CARtas de Republicanos Españoles REfugiados y EXILiados en FRancia (CAREXIL-FR)

Letters from Spanish Republicans Refugees and Exiles in France


CAREXIL-FR is a research project carried out as part of the Atelier de Romanités Numériques at the University of Paris 8 (Laboratoire d'Études Romanes, EA 4385), in partnership with the National Archives, Pierrefitte-sur-Seine site and Études Romanes (EA 369) at University Paris Nanterre. It proposes the digital edition and the sociolinguistic and historical study of letters written by Spanish refugees interned in French camps at the end of the Spanish War. These letters are kept in the National Archives, Pierrefitte-sur-Seine site.


These letters, unpublished until now, were written mostly by women, some also by men, of various ages and origins, and are dated between February 1939, coinciding with the Retirada, when about 500,000 people left Spanish territory fleeing the Francoist army, and the summer of 1940.


The letters have been kept in the archives of the CAEERF (Commission d'Aide aux Enfants Espagnols Réfugiés en France), a private organisation recognised by French Government and Spanish institutions in exile, which actively supported Spanish refugees, in particular by providing material assistance (clothing, shoes, food) to the thousands of refugees interned in makeshift camps.


These are letters of appeal for help, in which the authors take the pen out of necessity. For many of them, we also keep the response that the CAEERF sent them, including new information on the situation of refugee families. The collection also keeps letters in French and English exchanged between members of the CAEERF and French institutions (prefects, mayors of municipalities hosting refugees, various collaborators...) and other international aid organizations in France, Switzerland, Sweden, Great Britain...


This collection therefore offers exceptional material for the study of the linguistic repertoires available among refugees, representative of broad sectors of Spanish society. It also informs us of the conditions under which the exile and reception of thousands of Spaniards in France took place, some of whom will never return to their country of origin. It allows us to get to know better the solidarity networks that were set up in the host country. Its digital edition and its linguistic and historical annotation aim to activate, better know and promote the dissemination of a heritage of recent European history. It can help us to better understand the challenges currently facing European societies.



Lettre de Sebastián Coll à la CAEERF. Camp d'Argelès-sur-Mer. 20/12/1939. Détail.

Letter from Sebastián Coll to Renée de Monbrison (CAEERF). Camp of Argelès-sur-Mer. 29/12/1939. Detail.


Refugee children's Colony. Morning gymnastics. 


Rufina and María, two lost children.

Note from the CAEERF about Rufina and María, s. d.


Spanish refugees in the house of Mme. Laurenceau, a baker, posing with the neighbours of the village. Neuville-aux-Bois (Noiret). Summer 1939.