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Commemorative plaque for SCI volunteers in Burjassot

by Philipp Rodriguez (Nov 21, 2011)

In a few weeks, on December 15th, a plaque will be installed in Burjassot in order to commemorate the SCI volunteers, which were active for the Ayuda Suiza a los niños de España during the Spanish Civil Ware (1937-1939). A book about Ayuda Suiza will also be launched the same day.

Commerative plaque for the Ayuda Suiza in Burjassot

A group of Swiss NGOs set up a relief organisation, the Ayuda Suiza a los niños de España, and assigned SCI volunteers under the direction of Rodolfo Olgiati.

Headquarter of Ayuda Suiza in Burjassot 1937

The team installed itself in Burjassot near Valencia in a house, which was offered by a an writer. With trucks they started to to organize refugee transports from Madrid to Valencia and other places. Later on feed programm were set up. The Ayuda Suiza stayed there till 1939, when Spanish Republic did captiulate.

The aid programm was later on continued in the South France in order to help refugess, which left Spain during and after the civil war. One refugee camp was in Elne in the South of France, where the volunteer Elisabeth Eidenbenz was active.

Luis M. Expósito wrote a book about the Ayuda Suiza (see box below). It will be launched on December 15th in Burjassot in the presence of the mayor of the town and Elne (South France). The following commemorative plaque will be installed on wall near the former headquarter of the SCI teams.


Information about the celebration in Burjassot


Luis M. Expósito

La conexión Burjassot. Ayuda Suiza durante la Guerra Civil (1937-1939)

Given the indiscriminate bombing, systematic Franco ordered to perform on the population of Republican cities, there was a huge international response in the form of humanitarian aid. The Committee of Swiss Aid to Children of Spain, headed by Rodolfo Olgiati, Secretary of the Service Civil International, went to Spain with four trucks and twelve volunteers. From his headquarters in Burjassot, a device planned evacuation of children, women and elders of Madrid. Later, numerous bars installed for children, nursing mothers and elderly, both in Madrid and in many cities in Catalonia. The book tells how the idea of relief, how it was done and all the vicissitudes encountered by the volunteers of SCI since they entered Spain on April 27, 1937 until May 16, 1939, when they were forced to leave Madrid by Franco's government order. During those two years, Swiss Aid saved thousands of lives and volunteers succeeded after so much experience that would serve to further develop the humanitarian work in refugee camps in southern France and many other world conflicts.

This book is a tribute to Rodolfo Olgiati, Elisabeth Eidenbenz, Irma Schneider, Elsbeth Kasser, Elfriede Fliedner, Karl Ketterer, Trudi Ketterer, Idy Häberling, Ralph Hegnauer, Jakob Rüdishüli, Ellenor Imbelli, Willy Begert, Ruth, Leo, Sepp, Reto, John, David, and many other volunteers who gave the best of themselves to save lives in the midst of a bloody war that did not understand.

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