Diputación Foral de Guipúzcoa
Gipuzkoakultura
October 22, 2019

The Auxiliary Navy of the Basque Country
(1936-39)

AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE FRENCH EMPIRE DEFENCE COUNCIL AND

PREAMBULE

The representatives of Euzkadi (the southern Basque Country) and those of Free France, impelled by sentiments of mutual sympathy and by considerations arising from their condition as neighbouring countries, have since November 1940 and uninterruptedly until the present, engaged in talks aimed at concluding an agreement. Said representatives have noted the difficulties, arising from general circumstances, hindering rapid conclusion of an agreement on a political foundation. Considering, nonetheless, that it is in their interest that certain clauses set out in their initial project should come immediately into force without prejudice to the furtherance of the talks, the two parties have agreed and decided as follows:

PROVISIONS

1. The attention of the French Empire Defence Council has been drawn to the situation of Basques who, having arrived from Spain, are currently in French territory, in prisons, concentration camps and, in general, in situations in which their liberty is deprived or restricted for reasons which are not those of common law and which therefore do not entail a regular sentence. Considering it to be a question of fairness to contribute to the relief of the damage caused to those Basques by said unjust detention, General De Gaulle, in the name of the Defence Council, undertakes to bring to bear all his authority and all efforts, insofar as the recovery of the French metropolitan and colonial territory allows, to ensure that any Basques in said situation be released and to assist them in re-establishing normal living conditions in Euzkadi, in the Hispanic Americas, in France and in any colonies, protectorates and territories under French mandate.

2. Considering that, subject only to the appraisal of the competent French public authorities, any Basques who have served satisfactorily in a military or civilian capacity in the Free French Forces will thereby have acquired a moral right to obtain French nationality, General De Gaulle is disposed to favour the granting of petitions to this effect lodged by said persons. He is also disposed to intervene in favour of those Basques who, although not having served in the Free French Forces, are recommended by accredited Basque delegations, with a view to ensuring that any applications to obtain French nationality are examined in a favourable light.

3. The Defence Council notes that the Council of Euzkadi is willing to favour the voluntary enlistment by Basque citizens in the Free French Forces. For its part, it will take all useful measures and will support, if necessary, any steps taken with regard to foreign authorities for the purposes of facilitating to Basques wishing to enlist in the Free French Forces the obtention of any passports and letters of safe-conduct they may require. Application of this paragraph shall be incumbent upon a committee formed by a Basque representative and a French representative.

4. The Defence Council is disposed to award the benefit of the right to asylum to a certain number of Basques recommended by the accredited Basque delegation and to take all necessary measures in order to establish said individuals in the French colonial territory that constitutes Free France.

5. The benefit of the provisions included in the above paragraphs may also be extended to certain non-Basque individuals in the service of the Council of Euzkadi, recommended thereby as being particularly worthy of attention.

6. The Defence Council notes that the Council of Euzkadi is willing to use its relations and its influence for the purposes of collaborating in the economic development of the French colonial territories comprising Free France, and above all to intensify exchanges between said territories and Central and Southern America. For its part, the Defence Council undertakes to take all necessary measures to facilitate the activity of any Basque commercial bodies established for these purposes. The systems of application of the principle set forth in this paragraph shall be established in agreements prepared by a committee formed by equal numbers of Basque and French representatives, which shall meet once the present agreement comes into force.

7. Any Basques travelling to the colonial territories comprising Free France, in application of the above paragraphs, may accredit their identity using documents issued by the Basque delegations.

8. In applying the above paragraphs, the Defence Council shall follow the advice of the Basque delegations in determining whether the interested individuals may be classed as Basque.

9. The Defence Council notes that the Council of Euzkadi is willing to facilitate the task of the French intelligence agents in France, in Spain and in African territories subjugated by the two states.

10. Without prejudging the circumstances which might, from time to time, require a contractual amendment of the terms of the present agreement, the two councils anticipate that talks between Basque and French representatives shall resume within a reasonable period of time for the purpose of examining whether the collaboration established herein may be extended to other fields. During such time, neither of the two parties shall make any political commitment relating to the other's country or to the metropolitan and colonial territories and protectorate of state from which it comes, without consulting with its co-signatory, each of the parties being entitled to terminate immediately the present agreement, in the event of dissent.

11. This agreement shall take effect on the day of the exchange of signatures. It shall remain in force in the event of an alteration in the status of either of the two parties.

This agreement is made in London on 17 May, 1941.

 

TELEGRAMS EXCHANGED AS AN INSTRUMENT OF RATIFICATION OF THE AGREEMENT

GENERAL DE GAULLE
Sent Monday 26/5
FOLLOWING SIGNATURE FRANCO-BASQUE AGREEMENT PLEASED TO SEND CORDIAL GREETINGS AND EXPRESS HOPE OUR COLLABORATION CONTRIBUTES TO DEFEATING COMMON ENEMIES DEMOCRATIC TRIUMPH LIBERATION OF OUR RESPECTIVE COUNTRIES.
Signed: Manuel de IRUJO

 

PRESIDENT de IRUJO Received Friday 30/5
THANK YOU KIND GREETINGS STOP PLEASED TO RECIPROCATE STOP COLLABORATION BETWEEN OUR TWO PEOPLES IMPORTANT ELEMENT IN FIGHT AGAINST COMMON ENEMY AND FOR TRIUMPH OF NATIONAL LIBERTIES THROUGHOUT WORLD.
Signed: Charles de GAULLE

 

Free France
Permanent Secretary of the
Empire Defence Council

4, Carlton Gardens SW1
London, 30 May 1941

Mr President,

I have forwarded to General De Gaulle the contents of the telegram you were kind enough to send him on the occasion of the signing of the agreement between our respective Councils.
I am pleased to convey to you hereunder the reply with General De Gaulle has now addressed to the headquarters for your attention:
«I thank you for your kind greetings and am pleased to reciprocate. Collaboration between our two peoples is an important element in the fight against our common enemy and for the triumph of national liberties throughout the world. Signed: Charles De Gaulle».
I take this opportunity to express my pleasure, as a faithful friend of the Basque people, in appending my signature, on behalf of the General and the Council of Defence to the Agreement of 17 May
Please accept assurances of my highest consideration.

René CASSIN

M. Manuel de Irujo.



President of the Council of Euzkadi.

 

 

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