A short biography of lifelong Spanish anarchist militant Julia Hermosilla Sagredo
Born on April 1st (some cite March 31st) 1916 at Sestao in the southern part of the Spanish Basque country, Julia Hermosilla Sagredo was the daughter of Juan Hermosilla, anarchist and member of the CNT. She joined the CNT herself at the age of fourteen, as well as joining the Libertarian Youth. She was an enthusiastic distributor of the libertarian press. She took part in the activities of the Libertarian Artistic Group of Santurce, which among other activities put on plays in which she played a part.
After the uprising in Aragon in winter 1933 she took a very active part in solidarity work for comrades who had fled from La Rioja, and helped some of them cross the Pyrenees into France. The following year, during the October insurrection of 1934, she again took an active part in solidarity work, in particular for the anarchists Vicente Cuesta and the Aransaeaz Caicedo family. A member of this family, Angel, became her love and life companion.
With the Francoist uprising, she joined a militia column. She fought on the front at Ochiandio. She was assigned the task of rescuing the noted anarchist militant Dr. Isaac Puente from behind enemy lines. However before she could accomplish this he was apprehended and shot. During the bombardment of Ochiandio her eardrums were burst, and she remained deaf for some time.
She carried on her dramatic activities in the Santurce group during 1937. With the fall of the northern front and of Bilbao, she managed with her family, during the heavy bombardment of the port of Bilbao, to get on board a ship for France. However, because they were considered as “Reds” it was some time before they were allowed to disembark.
After two months in France Julia crossed the border into Catalonia with her family.
With the fall of the Republic she fled to France where she was interned in a series of concentration camps. With the Liberation of France, she settled with Angel in Bayonne and took part in the “collaborationist” wing of the CNT (this tendency argued for an alliance with Spanish socialists and communists).
She took part in various clandestine missions to the southern Spanish Basque region. Together with Angel, she took part in several attempts to kill Franco, including the famous “airborne” attempt, to which the French anarchist militant Georges Fontenis also contributed, in September 1948.
She was to reminisce how comrades met at the Aleas restaurant in San Sebastian and how they were conveyed over the Pyrenees. She took part in the smuggling of newspapers, leaflets, duplicators, typewriters and money over the border, crossing over on a number of occasions. All of this was vital for the burgeoning underground organisation in the Basque country.
In 1962 she drew close to Defensa Interior (DI) animated by among others Octavio Alberola. She undertook a reconnaissance of the Palace of Ayete at San Sebastian to prepare for a subsequent attack. The following year she went to Madrid to supply the militants Delgado and Granados with false documents. They were unfortunately arrested and subsequently garrotted.
In the 1970s she was part of the militant tendency around the exile Paper Frente Libertario, which believed in carrying on an aggressive campaign against the Franco regime. She and Angel participated in the annual meetings of this tendency in Narbonne.
After the death of Franco, she took part in the efforts to rebuild the CNT in the Spanish Basque country. Her lifelong love Angel Aransaez died on November 10th 2001 at Anglet in France, where they lived.
On June 18th 2006 she was honoured in a ceremony at Archanda, along with other resistance combatants. Here she remembered the 18 members of her family murdered at Treviana in the La Rioja region after the Francoist uprising.
She died in Bayonne on 10th January 2009. Her eyewitness accounts can be read in the book written by Aitor Azurki in 2011,Testimonios de los Últimos Gudaris y Milicianos de la Guerra Civil en Euskadi.
In an emotional letter written when she was ninety she said: “All that I and Angel did was not important… I do not regret anything…I am only nostalgic for the happiest time of my life fighting alongside my love Angel Aransaez… Long live the glorious CNT!”