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The Spanish Civil War of 1936 through Children Drawings

Imagine being a kid, ripped from your home by a war you don’t understand. That’s what happened to thousands of Spanish children during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Scared and confused, they found a way to express their feelings – through art.

Tucked away in a special collection at the University of California San Diego are over 600 drawings made by these young refugees. They used simple tools like pencils, crayons, and watercolors to capture the chaos swirling around them. These weren’t just doodles; they were windows into the minds of children grappling with war.

Many of the drawings depict the terrifying reality of aerial bombardment. Planes fill the skies, dropping bombs that explode into fiery infernos below. Buildings crumble, smoke billows, and people flee in terror. These images, drawn with a child’s hand, reveal the raw fear and destruction that war brings.

The children also drew what they missed and longed for – their homes, families, and a life before the war. Pictures of peaceful villages, smiling faces, and everyday activities like playing with friends offered a glimpse of the happy lives that were shattered by conflict.

Some of these drawings were published by organizations like the American Friends Service Committee to raise money for children affected by the war. Seeing the innocent eyes of children caught in the crossfire touched hearts and opened wallets, providing much-needed aid.

The drawings also served as historical records. Captions on the back, often written by the children themselves, provided context and details about the scenes depicted. This firsthand account from the most vulnerable victims of war offers a unique perspective on the Spanish Civil War.

#1 Ministerio de Instrucción Pública, Colonia no 10, Elda (Alicante).

#3 Tomas Boscá Gomar, 13 years of age, Valencia, January 18, 1938

#4 Luis Villar Baladrón, Bellús, 11 años [Luis Villar Baladrón, Bellús, age 11

#5 Margarita Arnao Crespo, Colonia Escolar Colectiva La Torre Benejama (Alicante), años 12 [Margarita Arnao Crespo, Collective Student Camp The Tower Benejama (Alicante), age 12].

#6 Ministerio de Instrucción Pública, Colonia no 10, Elda (Alicante). [A Spanish hero. E. Dieryma, age 15

#7 Francisco Aguado Sanchez]. Physical Description 1 digital image Geographic Bellús–Valencia–Spain

#8 Residencia Infantil No 1, Onteniente. Juan José Martinez 15 años [Juan José Martinez age 15].

#9 Ministerio de Instrucción Pública, Colonia no 10, Elda (Alicante). [Two good friends, Health, Long live the Republic, Paco Lariego].

#10 Ministerio de Instrucción Pública, Colonia no 10, Elda (Alicante). [Miaja A symbol of Spanish liberties. Enrique Dieryma].

#11 12 years of age, Valencia — 1-21-38, Angeles Martinez

#14 Residencia Infantil no 6 San Juan Alicante, Olegario López 11 años [Children’s Residence No. 6 San Juan Alicante, Olegario López age 11].

#15 Children’s Camp of the Ministry of Public Instruction, 203 Cuarte Street, Valencia, The Reds are so good! now says the bishop of Teruel. Rafael Martinez, age 13, 1-14-38

#16 Escuela Nacional de Niñas No 45-B, Madrid. [conejera, José Asenjo]

#17 10 exhibited at the Worcester Art Museum and reproduced in the Worcester Telegram by Pila, Oviedo

#18 José Bernabe, age 11, Madrid (Spanish Center), Perpignan. An aerial bombing of the streets of Madrid

#20 Buñol on January 15, 1938, Age 14 years, Valencia

#22 Maria Rosa Hernandes, age 8, Cerbere Camp, France

#23 Esta escena representa un bombardeo en mi pueblo, Port-Bou. Ma Dolores Sanz, 13 años

#24 They prevailed in the war of Independence. Madrid – 1-19-38, Eugenio Carrillo

#25 Colonia no 10, Elda (Alicante). José Caballero Moro

#26 Francisco Aguado Sanchez]. Physical Description 1 digital image Geographic Bellús–Valencia–Spain

#27 Ricardo Perez Villalba age 13, 1st year group B, January 1938, Valencia. Taking some of the houses at the entrance of Teruel

#28 Residencias Infantiles, Colonia de El Alba, Onteniente.

#29 Escuela Nacional Graduada de Niños de la Florida, Madrid. [Winter Felix Fernández (12 años)].

#35 Ministerio de Instrucción Pública, Colonia no 10, Elda (Alicante). [A soldier of the new Spanish army. A. Guisánchez, age 14. Long live the Republic! Forever!!

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Written by Sarah Johnson

Sarah Johnson is a freelance writer and photographer with a passion for exploring the world. Her writing is both informative and engaging, offering unique perspectives on travel, food, and lifestyle.

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