Comete Exhibition



To mark the commemoration of this anniversary, the San Telmo Museum, the House of Peace and Human Rights, DSS 2016 and the City Council of Donostia-San Sebastián are presenting two complementary exhibitions; a dual viewpoint that shows the experiences of people who worked with the Resistance to fight Nazism, and the daily life of the invading army on the Basque coast and their fraternisation with the authorities of Franco’s regime.

The project is organised by the San Telmo Museum, the House of Peace and Human Rights, DSS 2016 and the City Council of Donostia-San Sebastián. The organisers are grateful for the  assistance given by the Kutxa Gizarte Ekintza photography collections, the Basque Museum in Bayonne, the Jiménez de Aberásturi archive and the German Federal Archives as well as the audiovisual archives of Moztu Filmak, Amo Films & Offworld which contains invaluable photographs and documents kindly donated by members of the Comete line and its relatives, airmen and different specialised archives and associations. It is a Morgancrea production. [Main Exhibition runs from 17th March -7th May]

THE COMETE ESCAPE LINE was an underground network that  helped Allied servicemen (mainly aircrew) escape from Nazi-occupied Europe during the Second World War. They would locate those airmen who had been shot down during their raids against Germany, and move them via a series of safe houses to Gibraltar travelling through France and crossing the Basque border over the Bidasoa or the Pyrenees. Between 1941 and 1944, more than 3000 people are estimated to have been part of this escape and evasion network that managed to take in or repatriate around 800 fugitives. Out of all those involved in Comete nearly 700 were arrested and about 290 were shot or died after being deported.

COMETE, THE ESCAPE NETWORK is a video presentation that runs through the main places crossed by the line and describes the experiences of some of the leading characters involved in this heroic exploit, especially of the women who had hardly come of age but who managed to challenge the fearsome Gestapo. The risks they took, their fear, uncertainty, arrests, and experiences in concentration camps… enable us to reflect on the important role played by civilians in war situations.

NAZIS ON THE BIDASOA [Runs from March 27th – June 7th] is a photographic exhibition that portrays the presence and activities of the Nazis on both sides of the Bidasoa, the daily life of the invading army, their fraternisation with the authorities of Franco’s regime or the work carried out to fortify the coast in view of a possible Allied landing.

It also shows clandestine life on the Basque border, a frontier between two states, one occupied by the Nazis and the other formally neutral, Franco’s Spain, which helped to create a complex world of cross-border activity carried out by smugglers, occupying forces, information services and by Resistance groups such as the Comète Line.

The curator of this exhibition is Juan Carlos Jiménez de Aberasturi and includes previously unseen pictures of the everyday and official life of the German army.

Talk-discussion with various representatives of the Comète Line from Belgium and France, relatives of Basque smugglers, the people in charge of the exhibition and of the San Telmo Museum
19:00 Visit to the exhibition
19:30 Talk-discussion

15-04-2015 Lecture by PHILIPPE CONNART who has been researching the history of the Comete line thoroughly the last few years mainly specialised on the Bidarray, Larressore, Souraïde routes.

If you are considering attending either the opening event on the 17th March or the Lecture by Philippe Connart on the 15th April please contact the organisers to ensure that there will be space for you!

For more information about the Comete Line look here