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SEMPRUN, Jorge



The Long voyage

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I’m lying in the truck, looking up at the trees. It was at Bayonne, on the docks next to the main square of Bayonne, that I learned I was a Spanish Red. The next day I got my second surprise, when we read in a newspaper that there were Reds and Nationalists. Why they were Nationalists when they fought the war using Moroccan troops, the Foreign Legion, German planes, and the Littorio divisions, was more than I could fathom. That was one of the initial mysteries of the French language I had to decipher. But at Bayonne, on the docks of Bayonne, I became a Spanish Red. There were big beds of flowers, and lots of summer vacationers behind the gendarmes who had come to see the Spanish Reds disembark. We were vaccinated, and they let us disembark. The summer vacationers looked at the Spanish Reds and we looked at the shop windows of the bakeries. We looked at the white bread, the golden croissants, all these things from out of the past. We were like fish out of water in this world from out of the past. Since then I’ve never stopped being a Spanish Red. It’s a way of life that was valid everywhere. Thus, in the camp I was a Rotspanier. I looked at the trees and I was happy to be a Spanish Red.

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