Luis Ruiz de Aguirre's Family in 1955: Luis, Clara, Aintzane and Koldo. Photography by Argiñe Wieland.
The Association Sancho de Beurko, an association focussed on the research about the Spanish Civil War in Euskadi, was born in 1998, being the hons.Chairman Mr.José Ramón Olazabal Aguinagalde, who had been captain and commissary in the battalion MAI Irrintzi, and later on in the XIV Brigade, being its two founding objectives:
Recover for the knowledge of the future generations, all the information about the Euzkadi Army (1936-1937), with no political neither revenge aim, being the only target to state the history of men who, irrespective of the political party or strike union that they belonged to, they are part of the heritage of our country.
- Recover all the available information about the units from the Nationalist Faction, including German and Italian units, that were involved in the fight in Euzkadi during the last (Spanish) Civil War.
The Association bears the name of Luis Ruiz de Aguirre "Sancho de Beurko", general Commisar of the Euzkadi Army, writer and poet from Barakaldo, author of interesting works and, over all, somebody who has been preserving the recollections of all these Basque individuals who lost the war, creating an exceptional record that started in the 60´s following instructions from the Basque Government in exile, and he devoted all his life to that task. That record is his biggest input to the study of the Basque country. Luis Ruiz de Aguirre and Ramon Olazabal form a unique and inseparable tandem, that caused the creation of many vocations of historians, easing the transfer of a good part of the records about the exile, between the late 70´s and beginning of the 80´s, that were delivered to the Culture Council and to the Pais Basque University. The Association Sancho de Beurko picked up this legacy from the family of Luis, and cooperated, as him, with the before said Basque institutions, starting a research task that has come to fruition through a collection of monographies about the Civil War in Euskadi, with nine books up till now. Between the many milestones of the Association Sancho de Beurko –that combines a research task with educational and social activities- there is the creation of its group of historical reenactment (2006), that has taken part in the filming of 10 movies, including short films, documentaries and feature films, plus in public ceremonies, in Euskadi and France.
The Association Sancho de Beurko promoted the first inventory list of Civil War fortifications made in Euskadi, making the catalogue of the "Cinturón de Hierro" (N. from Tr.: "labyrinthine fortification around Bilbao, built during the Spanish Civil War") from 2008, for the Heritage Department of the Basque Government, a task that is still continues today, besides working for the collaboration with all the different actors involved, in the enhancement of this built heritage: associations, municipalities , etc. The result of all these synergies and collaboration is the birth of this embryo of historical space, the Interpretation Center of the "Cinturón de Hierro" (2012) - the first of its kind in Bizkaia - and the future adoption of concrete measures for its preservation, promotion and knowledge. The latter is manifested in conferences, exhibitions, guided tours and articles in newspapers and magazines, which also includes all aspects of the Civil War in Euskadi. It has also collaborated with many authors and reference works. In 2013 it was extended to the participation of Basques in World War II ( 1939/1945 ), work that began with the battalion Gernika and continues today with the Fighting Basques project.
Following the lead of Luis Ruiz de Aguirre and others, as Blasco de Olaetxea, the Association Sancho de Beurko has made since his birth an intensive search of oral sources in a "door to door" work, that has allowed interpreting and humanize the documents from different files. A concept of oral history that sets a precedent in that cycle of round tables -in which the own Luis participated- organized by Eusko Ikaskuntza in 1984 which was entitled "Protagonists of Basque history : 1923-1950". From it have been benefited monographies as "Saibigain , the Mount of Blood" "The front of Alava" or "The Battle of Villarreal" , etc. This search for witness statements, risky but rewarding, was never intended to replace the lack of documentation, but complement the existing one to interpret it critically, as recalled by André Corvisier.
"The historian must not confuse sincerity and accuracy, nor accuracy and precision. It should also distinguish between voluntary and involuntary witness testimonies. The latter are generally the most sincere, but the most accurate ".
This interrelationship between the Association Sancho de Beurko and the society to whom it serves, has allowed to numerous requests for information over the years , for example guiding relatives of missing individuals or resolving all kind of doubts about those historical events of 1936-1937, and when it has not been possible, efforts have been made to provide contact with various specialists.