This evening, Lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu presided over celebration of the International Archives Day, which took place at the Historic Archive of the Basque Country in Bilbao. As in years past, this event highlighted the importance of archives, which comprise a country's documentary memory. During the event this year, thanks was extended for two recent donations received at the Historic Archive: the family archives of Manuel de Ynchausti and Andrés de Irujo, which reached Bilbao a few days ago.
Attending along with the Lehendakari were the Minister of Culture and Linguistic Policy, Bingen Zupiria, Secretary General of Foreign Action, Marian Elorza, Director of Cultural Heritage, Mikel Aizpuru, Director of the Basque Community, Gorka Alvarez and manager of the Historic Archive of the Basque Country, Borja Aguinagalde. Moreover, relatives of Manuel de Ynchausti attended. Upon completion of the event, the Lehendakari communicated with María Elena Etcheberry, widow to Andrés de Irujo. In addition to learning details from these archives, the visit provided the opportunity to view unpublished images of Lehendakari José Antonio Agirre in exile, thanks to films from the Manuel Ynchausti collection.
Manuel de Ynchausti Archive
The archive on Manuel de Ynchausti y Romero (Manila, 1900 - Ustaritz, 1961) is a documentary collection amassed over the course of decades by this noteworthy businessman and Basque philanthropist. The archive includes private documents, documents of public interest related to his cultural and political interests, and abundant correspondence, carefully organised year-after-year. Until its transfer to the Historic Archive of the Basque Country, this collection was kept in approximately one hundred boxes in the Intxausti Baita house, in the Ustaritz, in the Labort region.
The particular biography of the archive's owner gives one an idea of the peculiarities of the documents it contains. Manuel de Ynchausti came from a family from Gipuzkoa who, in the early 19th century, settled in the Philippines. There, the Ynchausti family became one of the most influential families on the islands, where they held vast industrial and commercial interests. Manuel de Ynchausti moved to Spain upon completion of his studies and earned a Law Degree from the Central University of Madrid. He graduated in 1926 and married Ana Belén Larrauri, from San Sebastian.
In Madrid, he also met the Leizaola family, who played a key role in awakening his sympathies for the Basque cause and his postulates on Basque nationalism. In 1933, given the context of political change in the Philippines, he decided to leave the islands, dissolve the family company Ynchausti y Cía and head to Europe. Manuel de Ynchausti settled in Donostia/San Sebastián during the 2nd Republic, where he continued his work in business and integration into Basque political-cultural circles.
A man closely linked to Catholicism, especially Catholic Action and the Jesuits, when the 2nd Spanish Republic suddenly occurred and the expulsion of the Society of Jesus was imminent, he worked intensely in its favour. This led to Pope Pius 11th granting him the Order of Saint Gregory. At that time, he founded in the "Our Lady of Lourdes Patronage" in Manila to help the sick impoverished.
When the Civil War broke out, he was in Donostia/San Sebastián. He was evacuated by the United States Marines (26-07-1936), given his American citizenship, although he could not prevent his assets from being seized in Spain. When on the other side of the border, first in Ustaritz and then in Paris, he began collaborating with José Antonio Agirre's Basque Government in the extremely important humanitarian task to help Basque war refugees, especially girls and boys. Manuel de Ynchausti is responsible for several initiatives providing shelter and assistance to Basque girls and boys fleeing the War. Moreover, at the end of the Spanish conflict, he handled repatriation of these boys and girls.
From 1939-1940, residing in the USA after WWII broke out, he contacted the US State Department to negotiate the arrival of Lehendakari José Antonio Agirre and his family to the USA in their flight from the Gestapo. Also in the USA, he organised the "America" chapter of the International League of Friends of the Basques and the donation of an ambulance from the Basque Government to the French army in its fight against Nazism. Manuel de Ynchausti undertook many actions to guide Basque nationalism politics in the Allied camp. In 1940, he met with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, along with his wife, Manuel de la Sota and a group of Basque boys and girls. For this reason, the Basque Government expressed its most heartfelt gratitude when it met in New York in September 1945.
After WWII, in October 1947, Ynchausti returned to Ustaritz, where he recommenced his cultural and political activism. In 1948, he played an active role in organising the 7th Congress of Basque Studies (Biarritz). He also prepared a room at the Basque Museum of Bayonne to show the work of Basques in different countries and cultures for the 8th Congress of Basque Studies of Bayonne (1954). He also paid for and published the Catholic publication Igandea and collaborated with the Society of Basque Studies-Eusko Ikaskuntza. One of his cultural promotion tasks was focused on ethnographic films on rural dances, customs, and sports (along with Aita Donostia).
The private and public documents and correspondence from Manuel de Ynchausti's archive are related to this intense cultural, political, humanitarian and business work that he conducted throughout his entire lifetime.
Andrés de Irujo Archive
The Andrés de Irujo y Ollo archive (Estella/Lizarra, 1907- Buenos Aires, 1993) reached Bilbao last week, after a long journey from Argentina. This donation was possible thanks to the generosity of his widow, María Elena Etcheverry, who still resides in the Republic of Argentina, and the liaison work of historian Xabier de Irujo, great-nephew to Andrés de Irujo. In fact, the Director of Relations with the Basque Diaspora, Gorka Alvarez, and the Director of Cultural Heritage, Mikel Aizpuru, travelled last year to Argentina to manage the archives on the ground and explore their possible conservation at the Historic Archive of the Basque Country.
This archive holds a huge amount of original documentation from both the Irujo family and from different initiatives promoted by the Basque exile in Argentina. There are five different archive collections: Editorial Ekin (founded by Andrés d Irujo and Isaac López Mendizabal, in 1941), the magazine Eusko Lurra-Tierra Vasca (whose last director was Peio Irujo, Andrés' brother), the American Institute of Basque Studies (was last director was Andres de Irujo), Peio Irujo's personal archive, and Andres de Irujo's personal archive.
Although these documents remained in Argentina for decades, they form a part of the Basque Country's documentary heritage. The Ekin collection, for example, holds several original manuscripts (including some from Lehendakari Agirre), films and correspondence. Moreover, some of Peio Irujo's archives have been identified as original documents and photographs from the Archive of the Basque Government, as well as files with documentation from Andrés and his brother Manuel de Irujo.
One of these archives' fundamental values lies in the historic moment when they were created. Most of the documents were written when Francoism was in full swing. They are an extremely valuable source to document the Basque Country's history at the time.
Son of Basque nationalist lawyer Daniel de Irujo y Urra, Andrés Irujo was a noteworthy cultural promoter during exile after the Civil War. After studying Law, he began working as a professional during the 2nd Republic as intern to Manuel de Irujo, historic PNV activist, representative and Minister of Justice of the Government. During the Civil War, he sat on the Board of Governance of Gipuzkoa, acted as secretary to the Minister of Justice (his brother Manuel) and, once exiled, represented the Basque Government in France.
In exile, along with his wife, he conducted important work in promoting Basque culture and identity. In addition to founding publisher Ekin, he was one of the founders of the American Institute of Basque Studies, along with many other initiatives. Andrés de Irujo also made important contributions to Basque historiography with works such as Los Vascos y la República Española. Contribución a la Historia de la guerra civil 1936-1939 (The Basques and the Spanish Republic. Contribution to the History of the Civil War 1936-1939) and Los Vascos y las Cruzadas (The Basques and the Crusades).
This archive shall be guarded in the Historic Archive of the Basque Country, but under the section "Archive of the Basque Diaspora," an initiative undertaken by Direction for the Basque Community Abroad and presented by the Lehendakari last 2 November in the city of Mar de Plata (Argentina).