SS Winnipeg in 1939.
|Port of registry:|
|Builder:||Ateliers & Chantiers de France, Dunkirk, France|
|Fate:||22 October 1942: sunk by German submarine U-443 in the Atlantic Ocean|
|Class and type:||Steam Passenger ship|
|Propulsion:||Two triple expansion engines|
|Crew:||114 officers & crew|
SS Winnipeg was a French steamer notable for arriving at Valparaíso, Chile, on 3 September 1939, with 2,200 Spanish immigrants aboard. The refugees were fleeing Spain after Franco's victory in the Spanish Civil War (1936–39). The Chilean President Pedro Aguirre Cerda had named the poet Pablo Neruda Special Consul in Paris for Immigration, and he was charged with what he called "the noblest mission I have ever undertaken": shipping the Spanish refugees, who had been housed by the French government in internment camps, to Chile.
After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Pablo Neruda noticed that many Spanish Republicans had fled in exile to France where they were detained in squalid camps in miserable conditions. The poet, who was then living in Chile, decided to organize their travel to Chile. He first worked as Chilean consul in Spain, before being named consul in Paris.
The ship was an old French cargo ship which ordinarily could not take more than 20 persons, but it was adapted so it could carry the 2,200 refugees. Neruda actively worked in this endeavour, reuniting families separated by the war. Beside the assistance of his friends artists and writers, he was helped by his wife Delia del Carril.
On the night when the Winnipeg set sail, on August 4, 1939, in the port of Trompeloup - Pauillac, Pablo Neruda wrote:
|“||Que la crítica borre toda mi poesía, si le parece.
Pero este poema, que hoy recuerdo, no podrá borrarlo nadie.
|“||The critics may erase all of my poetry, if they want.
But this poem, that today I remember, nobody will be able to erase.
The Winnipeg arrived at the port of Valparaíso on September 3, 1939. On the following day, the Spanish Republicans were officially received by the Chilean authorities. Some of them had already landed, a few days before, in the port of Arica, in northern Chile. In a gesture of thanks, the refugees attached to the ship's mast a large canvas with the face of the Chilean President painted on it.
SS Winnipeg remained under French flag after the fall of France in 1940 and sailed under orders of the government of Vichy. She was captured on 26 May 1941 by the Dutch sloop HNLMS Van Kinsbergen (U 93) at the Caribbean Sea and confiscated by the British government. She was eventually purchased by a Canadian company, Canadian Pacific Steamships, some months later and renamed Winnipeg II. She was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-443 on 22 October 1942 while en route from Liverpool to Saint John, New Brunswick. All people on board were rescued by the Canadian corvette HMCS Morden.
- SS Winnipeg 11 (+1942) wrecksite.eu
- Winnipeg, el poema que cruzó el Atlántico (in Spanish)
- SS Winnipeg
- Spanish: "Nunca jamás, ni siquiera al final de mi vida voy a hacer lo suficiente por agradecer el hecho de estar en este país y de ser ciudadano chileno, gracias justamente a Pablo Neruda. Como alguien dijo alguna vez ‘las deudas de amor no se terminan de pagar nunca’ y esta es una gran deuda que yo tengo con él todavía". See Noticias de la rectoría de la Universidad de Chile (in Spanish)
- Winnipeg II: British Steam passenger ship Uboat.net
- Neruda habla sobre el Winnipeg (in Spanish)
- Los andaluces, Neruda y el Winnipeg (in Spanish)
- SS Winnipeg II (+1942)
- A partial list of passengers aboard the Winnipeg