FEBRUARY 26, 1954
NEW YORK, Thursday—There is one group of refugees that you rarely hear mentioned these days and yet their situation is perhaps one of the most pathetic. That is the group of Spanish refugees now living for the most part in France and who cannot return to their country because they fought against the present fascist regime. They wanted a democratic state.
Many people think because the Soviet Union came to the aid of the group who fought for a democratic Spain that the Soviets gained complete control and the whole movement was Communist. As a matter of fact this was never so and most of these refugees in France today are democrats and never had anything to do with communism.
There is an organization called Spanish Refugee Aid, Inc., which collects money in this country, gets people to adopt individuals or families and help them, sends over clothes and other things such as hearing aids, typewriters, and even an accordion for a blind veteran of the Spanish war who has to live in a hospital in France. This group cares for 600 cases which it has on its active list but there are about 500 more who need to be aided and they have all been recommended by well known, non-Communist Spanish committees in France.
This Spanish Refugee Aid, Inc., is located at 45 Astor Place, New York City, and they have asked me to ask for the help and understanding of my readers. They would like to provide artificial limbs, dentures, sewing machines, because these are the things the refugees will never be able to get without our help. If they had them they might be able to live more productive and happier lives.
Eight men have asked for artificial limbs which would cost about $1,000. Five hearing aids are needed, two wheelchairs, 22 people are begging for dentures while 18 families would give a great deal if they could have sewing machines. There are many more who want work tools, bedding or clothes.
Just because we do not hear often about these people does not make their plight any less serious. Nor does it lessen the burden upon France, which provides so much relief a month to each individual who cannot provide for himself. These were people fighting a civil war in the hope of getting a free and democratic government. France has carried the burden of these refugees almost alone for a very long time and it seems to me that when we read such stories as the following, we cannot help but grieve for them.
Here is what my correspondent writes about one poor man: "He has a tubercular lesion on his nose and his medical report states he is full of ulcerous Koch baccili. He lives in a kind of cabin which is very dirty and hasn't a single piece of clothing which is not dirty and in rags. He is surrounded by medicine bottles and reminds one of a leper in the Middle Ages. We must do something for him."