The end of the Spanish Civil War, between nationalists and republicans, rushed rapidly. Nationalist troops advanced rapidly in the first months of 1939, until it ended the Civil War on April 1, 1939.
From the first days of January 1939, hundreds of thousands of Republicans, with their families, crossed the border with France seeking to save life. Coming to France was not easy, it was winter and the Pyrenees were completely snowed. Very few could use vehicles, most crossed the Pyrenees on foot, carrying some children, their few belongings others, most with snow to the knee. The ways in which the columns toiling fleeing Nationalist troops were frequently bombed and strafed by aircraft, even slowing their movement painful. The cold and frost bones Menelaus.
Neruda had returned to Chile in 1937 and had been isolated in the beautiful southern country, where he continued writing his poems.
However, the tragic news of the Spanish emigration, overcrowded camps in France, came to Neruda, who abandons his literary determined to do something that would assist the Spanish refugees.
Moreover, in those years was already clear the imminent outbreak of the Second World War, given the behavior of Nazi Germany threatened Europe whose power directly. From falling into Nazi hands, the fate of the Spanish refugees prisoners in French concentration camps had been sinister.
The "Winnipeg" moves slowly with all its lights on, on the Gironde estuary, away from Trompeloup - Pauillac. Speed up your ride when going offshore. Days later passed near the Azores, Portuguese island, heading for the Guadalupe Island, a French island in the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean, in order to replenish water, food and fuel.
Inside the ship, in the early days of sailing, deploys a gigantic work of organization, the refugees met in a disciplined manner. It could not be otherwise, given what they meant more than 2,000 people, men, women and children, crowded into the old freighter, hastily fitted tight wooden bunks, makeshift toilets, temporary kitchens, kitchens running at peak day and night, precarious ventilation systems, warehouses converted into bedrooms, etc, etc.
Unable for years to return to Spain, immigrants are going deeper and deeper rooting Chilean society that welcomes them warmly.
As in all human activities, luck was different for immigrants. There were some who were very prominent from the start and they found work the day after his arrival in Santiago de Chile, others who suffered hardship and only after a while managed to settle in suitable jobs and raise families in Chile.
"That critique delete all my poetry, if you like. But this poem, now remember, you can not erase anyone," wrote Pablo Neruda. The poem had ship name, Winnipeg, which he sent to Chile in September 1939 with 2,500 Republicans rescued from French concentration camps. They just met the feat 70 years. The youngest passenger, Elena Castedo, and the Chilean ambassador in Spain, Gonzalo Martner, shared with the country the memories of that great rescue operation.