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The mass exodus from Spain to Germany PDF

By Paul Whitelock

Adapted from Montejaque: Historia, Vivencias de un hijo de la tierra, Turismo Rural                                         by Francisco Montes Montes (2010)


The Civil War that raged in Spain from 1936-1939 left the country battered and bruised and the Spanish people suffered untold shortages and utter poverty.  No more so than in Andalucía, where freedom of spirit and anarchy reigned.  It seemed that the dictatorship of General Franco, which was to last until his death in 1975, ignored the region completely with no investment in infrastructure nor in medium-sized agriculture, and no support for individuals wishing to develop businesses.  This caused unemployed manual workers to seek work elsewhere.

In 1958 and 1959 many montejaqueños headed for Cuba.  Younger workers went to Cataluña to work in the developing tourist industry on the Costa Brava. From 1959 the borders with France, West Germany, Belgium and other countries began to open their doors to foreign workers.

Most emigration from Montejaque was to Germany, to Baden-Wuerttemberg and the industries of the Neckar valley around Stuttgart.  Immigration to Germany was also most beneficial: the strong German Mark and the weak Peseta enabled these Gastarbeiter, guest workers, to invest in houses, farms or businesses back home in Andalucía.  Children of the émigrés born in Germany grew up bilingual.

Today many montejaqueños and whole families remain in Germany in the area around Knittlingen.  Although the official Gastarbeiterprogramm ended in  Germany in 1970 Spaniards continued to go there to work.  Older ones started to return to Andalucíá because they had achieved their aims or longed to return home to their villages and their families.

In the 1980s even more headed back because of the economic boom in Spain and growing signs of economic weakness in Germany, especially following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent re-unification of Germany.

Good contacts have always been a feature of the “partnership”. In 1986 a delegation from Montejaque, led by the then mayor, Francisco Montes Montes, together with the village band and a dance group, made a successful visit to Knittlingen.  The following year a delegation from Knittlingen visited Montejaque and inaugurated the Avenida de Knittlingen, the main road into the village.

Adaptation © Paul Whitelock


Postscript:  In June 2010 a formal partnership agreement between Knittlingen, Montejaque and Benaoján was signed by all three current mayors at a ceremony in Knittlingen.


To read an article about this, click

For an article in German, click „Wir fühlen uns als Brüder"