March 1, 1913 – April 10, 1945
Ángel Lekuona, undated (private collection)
Ángel Lekuona came from the village of Busturia in the Basque region. He lived with his parents and ten younger siblings in meager conditions. Lekuona began work as a sailor at age fourteen in order to contribute to the family income. He did his military service in the navy, then served aboard a merchant vessel. In 1939, during the Spanish Civil War, Lekuona went into exile in France.
In exile: Ángel Lekuona with fellow workers in the mountains, southern France, after 1939 (private collection)
Ángel Lekuona (left) as a sailor, undated (private collection)
Together with other Spaniards, Lekuona participated in the smuggling trade. On July 10, 1943, he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the Fort du Hâ prison near Bordeaux. In January 1944, he was deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp. One month later, he arrived at Flossenbürg and was assigned the number 6516 by the camp clerical office. After a two-week quarantine, the SS transported Lekuona to the Hradischko subcamp in Bohemia. He was forced to undertake construction and excavation work at the Beneschau SS training grounds. As the battle front approached, the SS began to shoot non-German prisoners. On April 10, 1945, Ángel Lekuona was killed.
After the war, one of the few survivors of the Hradischko subcamp informed the Lekuona family of Ángel’s fate.