Testimony by Fernando González Vila

Fernando González Vila

What did you feel when you found out what your uncle was and what his work entailed during World War II?

The truth is that I could never have imagined that such a warm and affectionate man could be one of the most important spies in the world. I could not believe it, I felt a lot of emotion because to me what he had done seemed incredible.

I found out from a newspaper headline. Upon seeing the headline, I thought, “wow, he’s got the same name as my uncle”, I kept reading and it became clear to me that it actually was him. My uncle Juan reminds me of the some of most loving parts of my childhood and I do not associate him with the notion that one usually has of a “cold and calculating” spy.

What do you remember about him?

I remember that he was a calm man, attentive, very affectionate with his children and nieces and nephews. I was lucky to live with him in Venezuela. My father and Araceli were brothers and they got along very well. The two families lived together for a period in Caracas, on Avenida de Bolivia.

I always remember that he prepared breakfast for his children and nieces and nephews. We used to have fruit and Kellogg’s cereal for breakfast. These things still remind me of him today.

He was a very good swimmer, when we went to the sea he would swim way out and we worried, even though he always made us feel calm. When he left on a trip, he always brought us toys when he returned.

Once an important visitor named “Tom Harris” (of course we did not know who he was) came over for a visit. I remember this episode because I had been taught how to greet someone, but I messed up and when he gave me his hand, on which he was wearing a ring, I kissed it, as used to be done with ladies. The situation caused laughter and I felt ridiculous. I think that’s why I remember it.

Juan Pujol marked my childhood in a positive sense. It makes me feel tremendously proud that my uncle and godfather carried out such an important task, managing to save so many lives.