(Review written by About Basque History, 27.01.2022) This past week, historian and journalist Ingo Niebel presented his new book, A la caza del primer lehendakari. Franco, Hitler y la persecución del primer presidente vasco (Chasing the First Lehendakari: Franco, Hitler, and the Persecution of the First Basque President), sharing with us his research about the flight of the first lehendakari, José Antonio Aguirre, through Europe when it was occupied by the Nazis.
We’re already diving into the book, because not only is it well documented, it’s a great read. We think this book is essential to understand not only our country, but also to really, truly understand who José Antonio Aguirre was and why he is such an important figure in the modern history of the Basque people.
The author has organized the book into two large sections. In the first, he presents the information that back up his study, regarding the lehendakari’s unexpected flight to escape the Francoists’ and Nazis’ persecution. The data can be reviewed, making the study found in the second part of the book scientific; so it’s a kind of “making of”, also written in an easy-to-read style.
We, who are unabashedly very Aguirrist, have written a great deal about this Basque man who contributed so much in the defense of the cause of the Basque people, of freedom, and of democracy in the dark years he had to live through. That is why we are so upset to see the string of lies and falsehoods about the Lehendakari, or about how Basque nationalism acted when facing up to fascism, that have been popping up over the years.
The same thing that happens with Aguirre also happens with the Bombing of Guernica, where lies accumulate to such a degree that they bury the truth.
Fortunately, to stand up for the truth and uncover the lies about Guernica, we have the work of Professor Xabier Irujo, whose research has undone the lies and manipulations created around the destruction of the Basques’ holy city.
And now, to do the same with Lehendakari Aguirre, we have the immense good fortune of having this work by historian Ingo Niebel, who presents us with his work, backed up by research and documentation, about the true story of that flight and about how Lehendakari Aguirre acted, undoing the web of lies and vileness that we’ve been hearing for years from those who hate freed, democracy, and the cause of the Basque People.
You can read a bit of it in the text we’ve cited below, but we couldn’t resist citing a couple of paragraphs below, as a way of concluding this introduction:
“post-truth also kidnaps history when its supporters think that they can write it to their liking without having to respect even the most basic rules of science, such as basing claims on sources. About fifteen years ago, a current began flowing that, to this day, is attempting to “nazify” both the first lehendakari, José Antonio Agirre Lekube, as well as his party, the PNV.
Doing so is free of charge or consequence. That’s why it’s so easy to paint the past so arbitrarily without going through the complicated work of the historian which, like the coroner, has to try to not contaminate the object of study so that, at the same time, he may gather this greatest amount of data. That’s why there are methods, which require time, and which may at times prove something unwanted. But that’s how Science works.”
I can’t make it any clearer.