Sweden and the Spanish Civil War

Sweden and the Spanish Civil War

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§1. If one tries through gifts, payment or promises of reimbursement or any similar way, or through threat or abuse of higher rank to make anyone enlist for warservice in Spain, sentencing, where it will not be sentenced according to common law, to prison up to 6 months or a fine.

§2. If a Swedish Citizen enrolls for war service in Spain, punishment with prison up to 6 months or a fine.

§3. Tickets whose purpose is to travel to or through Spain can only be sold to the one who has received special permit to travel to Spain through his Majesty or through an Office which has been authorized by his Majesty, or to foreign citizens, who belong to his Majesty's stated country, who has been authorized by an authorization Office in this country to travel to Spain. If anyone breaks what has been decided, punishment with prison up to 6 months or a fine.

§4. About Swedish ships destined to Spain: it is the Commander's duty to: see to it that the ship does not take any passenger destined to Spain who does not have the permit mentioned in §3 or without hinderance under §5, second section in the Seaman's law and §10 in the law of Seamen's working hours; prohibit the crew from disembarking in Spain, unless service demands; and to see to it that any other person travelling along does not embark in Spain, unless he has the permit mentioned in §3. If the Commander neglects this paragraph, punishment will be by fine.

§5. About Swedish ships destined to Spain his Majesty has the authority to demand that the ship should embark from a certain port to let a special authorized Controlling Officer embark or board, and that above-mentioned Controlling Officer should be allowed to go along with the ship and, as regulated in detail, control the cargo and the passengers, and the Commander is obliged to allow war ships belonging to a country stated by his Majesty to be investigated, if the Controlling Officer is on board. If the Commander neglects this paragraph, punishment will be by fine.

§6. What in this law regards Spain also relates to the Spanish possessions and the Spanish zone of Morocco

§7. If violation of §2 has been committed outside Sweden independent of what is stated in Chapter 1, §1 in the penal code, the violation may be prosecuted here in Sweden. The prosecution should in a case like this be carried out at the municipal court in Stockholm. Legal court cases of violation of §4 and §5 as stated in the Seaman's law §89 should have the same applicability. Other violations of this law than the one now mentioned should be prosecuted in the common court. The prosecution is executed by the common prosecutor.

§8. The fines imposed according to this law should fall to the Crown. If means to pay the fines are missing, they should be converted according to common law.

§9. His Majesty should inform necessary stipulations about the application of this law.

The travel to Spain was organized by the Communist Party, all expenses paid. Special guys were running it, guys with contacts. It had to be done discretely. We never said that we were going to Spain, just that we were going away.

On New Year's Eve my group left Stockholm. It was no doubt that the big group of politically active people amongst us were Youth Communists. But I believe that the majority of those who left for Spain didn't belong to any political party. The recruitment - if one should use such a word - took place so that guys from Söder (Southern Stockholm), as well as here and there amongst the sailors, started talking about Spain whenever they would meet. A lot of sailors would go ashore in Spanish ports. I'd say that we, the Scandinavians, consistently abode by the theory that we were, first and foremost, Anti-Fascists. We claimed, with certain right, that we were fighting in Spain for our country, our democracy, as well. At the same time we knew this could be the start of a new World War. And it was up to us to try to stop that from happening. This was so clear within the Radical Movement in Sweden. We could read it between the lines and we would hear it at the lectures - we were on the eve of a new War.

If we had laid anchor in Spain I would've taken off already then. But we only went to other Mediterranean ports - and then home. I signed off back home in Göteborg. After that I worked for about a month and a half at the Eriksberg shipyard. Then I was fired. At the end of the year, they'd fire most people, to save money, and then they'd take them on again. But that's not the reason I left for Spain. I've been fired from a lot of jobs in my days. I met Sixten and Rolf Aronsson at Interclub, and international sailor's club that existed over the entire world. We talked about Spain. Then we left.

The group I left with was the first to walk over the Pyrenees, since the border had been shut. We were in Paris for four weeks. And then in a little village closer to the Spanish border. There we hid with a family for an entire week, one German and four Swedes. We weren't allowed to go outdoors. Then one night, they came and fetched us and we could continue. Some kilometers from Perpignan we met a bunch of Americans. First we took a bus, until we were on the edge of Perpignan. Then a bunch of taxicabs came driving. We had to jump into them, just a few of us at a time. When we had almost reached the railway bridge there in Perpignan we had to jump out - while they drove slowly. Then we had to crawl over the bridge. We saw some border patrol guards when we'd reached the other side, but they disappeared. It seemed like some sort of cooperation. We were given a guide. I don't know if he was a Frenchman or a Spaniard. But we walked all night over the mountains.

The first frontline I came to was Guadalajara. I had wanted to get to the fighting sooner, but had to obey my orders. There was some drilling first. I was put in the Thälmann Battalion - but not in the third Scandinavian company - in the eleventh company. There were Swedes, Germans and Danes there. Back then Herman Wohlin was kind of in charge of it all. You didn't think so much. You were just there. And Herman, he was like everyone's father. But the Company Commander was a Captain, Zeokila Anton.

When we came as rookies to Guadalajara, we were put in the reserves. We didn't get to hold a rifle even once, as we lay in the olive tree groves. You had to wait for someone to be killed. Then you could take his gun. You had your uniform and steel helmet, though. The first few days… it was so exciting. You had dreamed… but could never have imagined what it would be like. The only rule was: Make it on your own. You could play hero, if you wanted, and definitely never show that you were scared. It was just to walk straight ahead.

The conditions were bad, especially the hygiene, but it got better later on. We were quartered in a bullfighting arena. In dressing-rooms, bull-pens... they had placed beds all over. We also used the old barracks of Guardia Civil. All the locations were equally bad. The worst thing was the latrine. You had to crowd, stand and shit in a drain. Sometimes you couldn't help it but you stepped in the excrement and you got some on you. There were piles of it every morning. It was completely crowded when thousands of people wanted to get in and then... at ten-eleven o'clock somebody came and poured lime on top before they were going to take the crap away. But sometimes it was left several days. So it smelled bloody awful. And when it rained and so on and the slush... It was all under and around the bleachers. We were not used to the greasy food either. Some people seemed to have dysentery, as they ran all the time. Yes, it was awful before they got used to the wine, food and olive oil. You nearly throw up at first. But it went away. Then you ate anything as long as you were hungry.

Since I had received a General Certificate of Education, I spoke a little German. Therefore I was placed as an orderly in the Battalion Staff, to keep contact with the Scandinavian Company. We came to Morata de Tajuna at night. It was a little city just behind the frontline. But we had some problems with the communication. My German wasn't quite good enough. Next morning, when the company marched towards the frontline, they forgot me at the Staff Headquarters. Suddenly I was all alone with the Sergeant Major, Herman Wohlin from Gävle. Then came a bomb attack that destroyed Morata. Windows, walls… it was all blown to smithereens. We had had enough time to run down into a cellar. Our kitchen was bombed as well, but the truck, the cooking wagon, was still usable. But later we drove it out to the front. We came to the Brigade Staff Office. There we asked where we could find Battalion Thälmann. They told us to go left. I walked that way, amongst hills and olive trees. But I couldn't find our boys. Instead I ran into Battalion Dimitroff, with guys from The Balkan countries. I followed the Bulgarians and Rumanians when they advanced. That's when I heard the first noises from the front. It sounded as though someone was hammering on a roof, or like the noise from a carpenter's workshop. There was consistent hammering. They said that Thälmann was out on their right flank. So I moved right, and finally reached Thälmann's left flank. The first person I saw was a German Battalion Officer. I think he was in charge of the First Company. His name was Willi, and he was walking straight through the rain of bullets. He never threw himself to the ground, just walked around, straight and tall, pointing with a stick and commandeering his men forward. It seemed like he didn't even notice all the bullets flying around him. He was used to it, as he had fought in the First World War. But later he was killed. He told me to continue out to the Battalion's right flank, because that's where the Scandinavians were.

Most of Barcelona's population were gathered around the big street Diagonal. I think there were a million people there. The city had been bombed every single hour for months. But this time the Republican airplanes were up in the air, patrolling. There was a troop-parade. There were "carabineros" in their green uniforms, Guardia Nacional and different fractions from the army, tank-troops… while the Air Force was roaring by above. Then the International troops came, straight from the front, in their shabby army-pants and shirts, not at all as well groomed as the others from the frontline. But then the crowd went wild. People were cheering and shouting. The women brought their children and handed them over to the soldiers in the International Brigade. They wanted to give them the best thing they had. It was a fantastic sight.

The heat was indescribable. But the Spaniards had taught me how to control my thirst. You were supposed to have oranges. They don't eat oranges like we do, they suck out the juice. I heard of people who drank wine all the time. That won't quench your thirst. It's madness - like drinking lager on a hot day. It'll just make you thirstier. I also managed quite well since I never took off any of my clothes. I saw the Moors. They would catch Moors. The Spaniards were scared to death of the Moors, since they were renowned for their brutal torture methods. But they were excellent shots! And can you imagine: They wore large hoods and slouch hats. And thick clothes. That's the method. That's the way to do it. That way you are well protected from the sun. I would find yanks who had ripped their shirts off. They had sunstroke and were usually beyond help. They would drink water like never before. I never drank water.

The Lincoln Battalion lost a great deal of men that day. The first aid station was in a small abandoned house behind the groves. During the day they had raised Red Cross flags. I was told that there were half a dozen doctors there as well.

When night fell the battalion's Commander, Colonel Merriman, a professor at the University of Los Angeles , came. He told me to grab some of the telephone boys and go fetch a man who had been lying wounded and screaming all day - some hundred metres in front of us on the plain. We lay in a little depression by a road. But it was hard getting anybody to go with me.

They'll have to shoot us before we go out there, they said. We're exhausted!

Well, you have to, I told them.

Finally I got two boys with me. We went out and carried the wounded man back. They carried the stretcher very unsteadily, as they were utterly worn out. Then a doctor came up to us. I think the kid had some six or seven bullet wounds in him. The Moors were situated behind entrenchments in the city, and would shoot at anything that moved. Maybe the kid had been waving his arms every now and then.

The Fascists still had control of the church in Belchite. There were probably underground passages there, because some of our boys would suddenly fall over, shot, while they were walking down streets several hundred metres from the church. It seemed as though the Fascists had crawled out through the passages. Also, there was a company of Franco's surrounded on a hill. I don't know if the Fascists had any positions in the mountains themselves, because I never went to take a closer look. But there were armoured trenches running all around that they had dug. I was given orders by Merriman to run a wire, one and a half or maybe two kilometres long. There was hardly enough cable. We had to run the wire via some trenches the Fascists had abandoned. There I was supposed to set up an observation post. We crept into the trench, set up the phone and spoke with the colonel. He said:- Now the tanks are going to attack. But first we are going to shoot with our artillery at the hill.

"All ready here", I said. The trenches we lay in were no more than two hundred metres from the earthworks around the hill, or cliff or whatever you would call it. I had a periscope. When I looked through it I would sometimes see the heads and arms of the boys on the other side. The first grenade from our artillery hit the very top of the hill. They asked me on the phone about the impact.

"You have to lower your aim," I said. The next grenade exploded ten metres behind me.

"This is nuts" I said. You hae to raise it again.

"We'll be done in a minute", they said.

I saw tanks advancing from two different directions. The sound of the firing was deafening. Then I saw a white flag being raised from the Fascist trenches, and I called immediately.

"Now they're… they're giving up, I said. So you can stop now. With the bombing."

But the hard part was that - my boys had left me. I was alone. There was no infantry there, or anything else for that matter. The whole Fascist gang came up out of their trenches. They walked down the hill, coming straight my way. I was unarmed. I had one revolver, but it was a revolver I had taken from a dead Italian Officer. There was no ammo in it, even though it hung there in its holster. I had to leave the pit, go up and meet the Fascists. They could see that my holster wasn't empty.

I pointed at the ground and showed them how to lay their guns in a pile. There was… There was a young boy. More than half of his hand had been shot off. There were no fingers left. Some of the things.

Outside of the trenches lay two tanks of wine. The prisoners threw themselves over these wooden barrels, broke them and drank it all. Because of their thirst for water… which had almost killed them then. Three officers came last. They shouted commands and the troop stood in formation. I pointed at the church. That's the way they were supposed to go. But at the same time our patrols came and marched away with them. It was some fifteen or twenty men I had dealt with. I don't know. They could have shot me any time.

I had never been in any battle before the offensive at Ebro. I shot a few shots at Ebro in May, but that hardly counts. Then, on the night of the 25th of July, we rowed over the river in boats. When we reached the other side, we were fired at. I jumped out of the boat. I could stand on the bottom. I was going to shoot, but I had got water in the rifle, and had to quickly remove the bolt to dry it out. Then I shot some rounds and threw a grenade up the slope. But by then the Swedish company had already broken through. We rushed forwards. There were no Fascists left in the positions on the riverside, but they had left a lot of stuff, like ammunition girdles and leather bags. We didn't have anything like that. I carried my ammunition in a trouser leg that had been sewn together. We had used Russian guns first, but they were later exchanged for Czech carbines. The Poles were given the Russian guns, so that each company would have uniform equipment. The offensive continued. You can't remember everything. But I do remember the Scandinavian Death-hill at Corbera.

One morning we were going to storm. We advanced towards the Fascist positions, but met heavy defence from the side. We received contra-orders. We had to retreat to our original positions. I was in charge of a light machine-gun together with a Danish guy. When we reached our positions he got a ricochet in his back. It ripped off a little piece of meat. He gave me the machine-gun and said: "Goodbye, comrade! I'm done for."

I pulled up his shirt to take a look. It wasn't that bad. The wound was bleeding a lot, but we managed to bandage it. Maybe he had gone into shock. It was a Czech machine-gun. We took care of it for a long time, the Dane and me - until he was wounded. After that I was alone among the Spaniards. They had never received any military training. At times, when there wasn't much fighting, I would sit and train them, taking my weapon apart and putting it back together. During my time as a conscript back in Sweden you'd got used to that kind of stuff. But I wasn't licensed to use any machine-gun when I left home. You had to learn it all down there."

Yes, if you compare it to the conscript days. To go from shooting with a wooden plug to the real thing… it can turn out that way. But I saw it more as a job, actually. You went to Spain to help, and part of that help, when you were on the font, was to try and eliminate the enemy. Before we came to Ebro I was already used to it, having to take aim at people and shoot. What you remember… is mostly how people around you would get killed or wounded. I saw eight or nine Scandinavians killed in one single artillery-explosion. We were going to relieve the others out on the front. We marched in column, advancing through a grove, but were discovered by enemy planes, and got all hellfire over us from the artillery. That's when they died. We were headed over a hill. In front of it was another hill, lower than the first. That's where we were going. But we found a cave we could take cover in. There they couldn't reach us with the artillery fire, and we waited in there until it calmed down, before we headed for the positions. If you can really call them positions. There were no trenches. We had to dig little by little. It wasn't easy. You'd start out with a little pit, and make it bigger with time… until we had trenches with connections backwards as well. I was wounded three or four days before we were going to be pulled off the front. It took place at Sierra Caballs. I was temporarily outside of the trenches that evening, behind them. They were shooting with grenade launchers in the dark. I heard the hum - sort of like birds, when the grenades go by high above you. But if they hit anywhere close by you don't have any time to hear anything.

You just hear a sizzle and then it's over. The grenade hit close to me. I had a burning sensation in my cheek. I had blood in my eyes and couldn't see anything. I called for the medics. They came, but couldn't see the wound in the dark. I took his hand - and took it to my cheek so he could feel the wound. He bandaged my entire head. The medic… a Catalan… led me some kilometres backwards to the stretcher carriers. They carried me into a first-aid tent. I was given a shot. Then they lifted me into an ambulance. I fell asleep there and woke up in a hospital. I can't remember where it was situated. I said to a friend: "I think I've gone blind." But then I pulled down the bandage and noticed that I could see perfectly clearly. I had been bleeding a lot, but I hadn't been in much pain. It got worse later on. The piece of shrapnel was stuck in my right cheek. The wound got infected. My whole face swelled up, and then I was in a lot of pain. I was in a convalescent home when they removed it fifteen days later. They were missing material there. So they took the piece out without any anaesthetic.

Reviews | Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939

IT WAS THE CAUSE OF A GENERATION. The Spanish Civil War, as Adam Hochschild makes clear in this outstanding history, reshaped everyone and everything it touched. Many individuals and institutions we would prefer to revere—among them the Catholic Church, the European democracies, American business leaders, the press, President Franklin Roosevelt and his government—behaved abominably, while many devoted to the worst causes, such as Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, nobly met the challenge.

Hochschild is plainly sympathetic to the left-wing “Republican” (Loyalist) side that was the democratically elected Spanish government. But he does not look away from its outrages: the murder of more than 7,000 members of Spain’s Catholic clergy, the burning of hundreds of churches and cathedrals, and the purges by its Stalinist secret police.

The rebelling Falangists—the Spanish fascists politely known as “Nationalists”—ran up a much higher body count, shooting prisoners and murdering thousands of peasants, workers, and “intellectuals.” The Falangist leader, Generalissimo Francisco Franco, a shabby, potbellied psychopath, openly endorsed terror bombing, mass looting, and rape as weapons of war. The Catholic Church enthusiastically supported all this and worse.

While Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini provided tanks, warplanes, submarines, and troops—without which Franco undoubtedly would have been defeated—the Western democracies did almost nothing to help the Republicans. It is unlikely that Roosevelt could have done as much as Hochschild implies he could have to actively intervene on their behalf. But it is inexcusable, as Hochschild makes clear, that his administration ignored the machinations of Torkild Rieber, the pro-Fascist chairman of Texaco, who provided Franco with free oil, conveyed it in his company’s tankers (in violation of U.S. law), and used his company’s maritime intelligence network to betray Republican supply ships to Mussolini’s submarines.

The silence of the democracies left the Republicans dependent on the Soviet Union, which supplied them with arms and advisers in exchange for nearly three-fourths of Spain’s gold reserves as well as a frightening campaign of political trials and executions.

What was left, then, was only the courage of the people who could not countenance the rape of Spain, the thousands of men and women from all over the Western world who joined the International Brigades. Hochschild focuses on a handful of subjects—among them an ambulance driver, a nurse, and several journalists, including Ernest Hemingway, then a swaggering correspondent for the North American Newspaper Alliance.

One wishes that Hochschild had cast his net a little wider, but that would not have allowed for the shining courage and tenacity that he draws out of his subjects’ narratives. While the Spanish valued these men and women, they were often sacrificed to the confusion and exigencies of the war: thrown into suicidal assaults, barely trained and equipped, and provided with little in the way of food, shelter, or proper medical care. They bore up anyway and helped keep the Republic alive for an astonishingly long time.

And for their efforts, they were often treated as near-criminals in the McCarthyist years after World War II.

The volunteers who came to Spain were mostly dedicated socialists and communists, and Hochschild doesn’t hesitate to explore their naïveté or their at times willfully blind obedience to the Moscow party line. Almost all his subjects, though, are heartbreakingly American types.

Even Hemingway, for all his macho bombast, proved to be serious about his work there and was genuinely affected when the shot-up International Brigades were pulled out of Spain, shouting “They can’t do it! They can’t do it!” before bursting into tears. Hochschild makes us feel like doing the same today. MHQ

KEVIN BAKER is a novelist, historian, and journalist. His most recent book is America the Ingenious: How a Nation of Dreamers, Immigrants, and Tinkerers Changed the World (Artisan, 2016).

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2017 issue (Vol. 29, No. 2) of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History with the headline: Reviews: Causes and Effects.

Want to have the exquisitely illustrated, premium-quality print edition of MHQ delivered directly to you four times a year? Subscribe now at special savings!

IWW members who fought in the Spanish Civil War

Originally appearing in the Industrial Worker , a short piece by Matt White on some of the IWW members who died during the Spanish Civil War.

Not surprisingly, a number of Wobblies went to Spain to fight in the Spanish Civil War. Several served with the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT), while it appears the bulk served in the International Brigades. Wobblies such as Mike Raddock, Ray Steele and then-future Industrial Worker editor Pat Read acquired reputations as some of the finest soldiers in the 15th International Brigade. Records from the Spanish Civil War and 1930s IWW are incomplete, making it impossible to know with any certainty how many Wobblies went to Spain. I’ve discovered over 20 people who either listed themselves as Wobblies or who others remembered as Wobblies. Of that group of Wobblies, eight were killed in Spain and one died shortly after he returned from Spain from wounds he received there. For reasons unknown, the Industrial Worker never commemorated the deaths of five of the nine fellow workers listed here. So this November, 75 years since the last act of the Spanish Civil War, we remember.

Heinrich Bortz. According to his obituary in the Oct. 23, 1937 issue of the Industrial Worker : “Fellow worker Bortz was a German and belonged to the I.W.W. [sailors’] branch in Stettin.” The obituary related that the Nazis threw Bortz into a concentration camp. Bortz then escaped the camp and made his way to Denmark and then to Sweden. In Sweden he continued to be active in radical labor. In 1936 he traveled to Spain and joined the CNT’s Durruti International Battalion where he was killed in action.

Ted Dickinson. Dickinson joined the Australian IWW in 1923 and edited the Australian IWW paper, Direct Action . Dickinson was jailed for his IWW activities. Dickinson went to England shortly after his release from prison in the late 1920s. Dickinson joined the British Battalion of the International Brigades and was second in command of the second company. In 1937, he was captured and executed by the fascists.

Harry F. Owens . Owens was an outspoken anarchist sailor who joined the IWW in 1921 after he became infuriated with the conduct of the International Seamen’s Union. Before Owens left for Spain, he helped lead an IWW strike against a ship carrying goods to the fascists in Spain. There is not too much information about Owens in Spain, but he was a member of the Lincoln Battalion and was killed sometime in mid-1937.

Louis Rosenberg. According to his death notice from the CNT, Louis Rosenberg was killed in action with the Durruti International Battalion of the 26th Division, on the Aragon front, June 16, 1937. Rosenberg was 24 years old and joined the IWW Industrial Union (IU) 120 Timber Workers at Port Arthur, Ontario. He took part in the Thunder Bay strike of 1934 and the Algoma District strike of 1935. His obituary mentions an unnamed Pennsylvania anarchist who was killed at the same time.

Lawrence K. Ryan. Ryan was the Las Vegas branch secretary in the early 1930s. In that role he would have been involved in the Boulder Dam organizing drive. Ryan was an early Lincoln Battalion volunteer who was severely wounded during the Feb. 27, 1937, attack at Jarama.

According to his friend D.P. Stephens, Ryan died a year later in Canada, probably related to his Jarama wound.

Herbert Schlessinger. In an interview, Schlessinger claimed to have been a liaison between the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific (SUP) and the IWW, which makes perfect sense as the SUP had an alliance with the IWW during the latter half of the 1930s into the 1940s. He was killed in action with Lincoln Battalion in the latter part of 1938.

Ivan Alroy Silverman. Silverman was a member of the IWW construction workers in Los Angeles. Silverman arrived in Spain during the latter half of 1937 and was a member of the Lincoln Battalion. Silverman was listed as killed at Gandesa in April 1938.

Raymond Albert Steele. Steele was another Wobbly seaman. According to Lincoln Battalion veteran Dave Smith, “Ray Steele always expounded on the superiority of direct action as a tactic.” Steele was fondly remembered as one of the best soldiers in the Lincoln Battalion and one of the best machine gunners of the Tom Mooney Machine Gun Company. According to International Brigades records, he was killed on July 15, 1937, during the Brunete campaign. There are several different versions of Steele’s death, but the consensus view is that he was killed by a sniper.

Robert Charles Watts. Watts was a Gulf port sailor when he volunteered for Spain. He claimed to have served in the Mexican Army in the 1920s. He served in the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion and was killed in action in late March or early April of 1938.

Sweden and the Spanish Civil War - History

ENGLISH 481: Cultural Studies, Poststructuralism, and the Spanish Civil War

TEXTS (Illini Union Bookstore):

Frances Lannon, The Spanish Civil War (BACKGROUND READING).
Peter Carroll, The Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigage.
George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia.
Cary Nelson, ed. The Wound and the Dream.
Helen Graham, The Spanish Republic at War.
Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls.

The 1936-39 Spanish Civil War offers an extraordinary opportunity to test and apply some of cultural studies' most ambitious claims. It was a moment when art and politics came together with exceptional force and thus a moment when cultural studies arguments about the necessity of contextualizing cultural production become not merely useful but essential. It was also a decisive instance of common purpose across cultural domains, with music, painting, photography, literature, reportage, political intrigue, and military planning interacting and feeding off one another. Cultural studies and poststructuralism have both pressed the relationality and interdependence of cultural domains here is an opportunity to test that claim. Finally, like many military conflicts the Spanish Civil War challenges one to work despite the radical undecidability of events and the political volatility of meanings. These will be matters for our extended reflection during the seminar.

We will study the military and political course of the war, along with its literature, graphic art, and political rhetoric. Course assignments will be in English, though students with skills in other relevant languages are welcome to take up special projects that make use of their skills. The class will include group interpretive projects focused on SCW posters and photographs. The U of I library's Rare Book Room has extraordinary SCW holdings, including 100 original SCW posters and many hundreds of original unpublished SCW letters.

Feel free to email me with questions: [email protected]

September 2 INTRODUCTION, with "The Spanish Earth" (film, 1937)


Peter Carroll, The Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
from C. Nelson and Jefferson Hendricks, eds. Madrid 1937: Letters of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade from the Spanish Civil War. [MAPS]
Bernard Knox, "Premature Anti-Fascist." [MAPS]
Herbert Romerstein, "Conclusion," from Heroic Victims.
Stéphane Courtois and Jean-Louis Panné, "The Shadow of the NKVD in Spain," in Cortois et al, The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression pp. 333-52.
Ronald Radosh, et. al, from Spain Betrayed, "Preface," "Introduction," "Historical Background," pp. 103-105, 433-469.
Cecil Eby, Between the Bullet and the Lie: American Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War ("Preface").


Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls.

from Carlos Baker, Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story, (Chapters 41-50) pp. 299-357.

from Kenneth S. Lynn, Hemingway, "Chapter 20," pp. 475-497.

William Branch Watson, "Hemingway's Attacks on the Soviet and the Communists in For Whom the Bell Tolls, North Dakota Quarterly (Spring 1992), 103-18.

Robert Fleming, "Communism vs. Community in For Whom the Bell Tolls, NDQ (Spring 1992), 144-50.

E. San Juan, Jr,, "Ideological Form, Symbolic Exchange, Textual Production: A Symptomatic Reading of For Whom the Bell Tolls, NDQ (Spring 1992), 119-143.

Wolfgang E. H. Rudat, "Hamlet in Spain: Oedipal Dilemnas in For Whom the Bell Tolls, NDQ (Sp. 1992), 83-101.

Cary Nelson, Remembering Spain: Hemingway's Civil War Eulogy and the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.


Martha Millet, "Women of Spain" (poem), in Nelson, ed. The Wound and the Dream: Sixty Years of American Poems about the Spanish Civil War.

Pla Y Beltran, "Girl Fighter of Spain" (poem)

Nelson, Revolutionary Memory: Recovering the Poetry of the American Left, p. 199.

Ave Bruzzichezi, [Letters] in Cary Nelson and Jefferson Hendricks, eds., Madrid 1937: Letters of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade from the Spanish Civil War.

Helen Graham, "Women and Social Change," from Spanish Cultural Studies, eds. Graham and Jo Labanyi.

Sim (Rey Vila), from Estampas de la Revolución 19 Julio
de 1936.

from Jordi and Arnau Carulla, La Guerra Civil en 2000 Carteles, 2 vols. [Art Library AND RARE BOOK ROOM]

Francis Lannon, "Women" and "Women and War: Two Memoirs," from Lannon, The Spanish Civil War, pp. 70-2, 80-3.

Paul Preston, "La Pasionaria," from Comrades and "Nan Green" from Doves of War: Four Women of Spain.

from Mary Nash, Defying Male Civilization: Women in the Spanish Civil War.

Caroline Brothers, "Women at Arms," in Brothers, War and Photography: A Cultural History, pp. 76-98.


Raymond Carr, "Spain and the Communists," New York Review of Books (April 10, 2003), 62-67.

George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia.

Orwell, "Spilling the Spanish Beans." [MAPS]

Jean Rous, "Spain 1936-39: The Murdered Revolution," in Revolutionary History (The Spanish Civil War: The View from the Left) 4:1-2 (1992).

Helen Graham, "The Barcelona May Days and Their Consequences," from The Spanish Republic at War.

George Esenwein and Adrian Shubert, from Spain at War, pp. 217-31.


from Peter Monteath, Writing the Good Fight.

from Carlos Bauer, ed., Cries from a Wounded Madrid.

from Ted Genoways, ed., The Selected Poems of Miguel Hernandez.

from Marilyn Rosenthal, Poetry of the Spanish Civil War.


Cary Nelson, ed. The Wound and the Dream: Sixty Years of American Poems About the Spanish Civil War.


from Valentine Cunningham, ed. The Penguin Book of Spanish Civil War Verse.

selected poems from Latin America and Europe



Caroline Brothers, [On Capa's "Death of a Republican Soldier"], from Brothers, War and Photography: A Cultural History, pp. 178-85.

Cary Nelson, [On Capa's "Falling Militiaman'], from Nelson, The Aura of the Cause: A Photo Album for North American Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War, pp. 28-33.

Richard Whelan, "Robert Capa's Falling Soldier: A Detective Story," Aperture 166 (Spring 2002), 48-55.

2. Spanish Civil War Photographs [MAPS]


1. KEN LOACH [film] "Land and Freedom," supplemented by a number of reviews, including Paul Preston (New Times, September 1995), Andy Durgan (Socialist Review, July 1996), Martine Vidal (New Politics, Summer 1996), Roy Quickenden (abanderado, 1996), Richard Porton (Cineaste, Winter 1996), Anonymous ("World Socialist Web Site), Martha Gellhorn.

2. JOSé LOUIS CUERDA [film] "Butterfly"


John Tisa, The Pallette and the Flame (English library

Alexander Vegara, "The Visual Front" (online--UCSD)

Cary Nelson, "Nightmares of Dead Children, Dreams of Utopia: Posters of the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War" (http://culturalstudies.gmu.edu/cultural_matters/issue1/nelson.html).

Jordi and Arnau Carulla, LA GUERRA CIVIL EN 2000 CARTELES (2 vols) (Art & Architecture Library, Rare Book Room).

Over 100 original SCW posters are in our Rare Book Room collection.



Helen Graham, The Spanish Republic at War.

Cary Nelson--RESERVE LIST--ENGLISH LIBRARY (English 481) Fall 2003



Alvah Bessie, ed. HEART OF SPAIN





George Esenwein, SPAIN AT WAR






Gerald Howson, ARMS FOR SPAIN













*books on order


APERTURE No. 166 (Spring 2002)

Jordi and Arnau Carulla, LA GUERRA CIVIL EN 2000 CARTELES (2 vols) [also in RARE BOOK ROOM REFERENCE]


SPANISH CIVIL WAR--FILM SHOWINGS--Mondays 7pm.--160 English Bldg.


with Ingrid Bergman & Gary Cooper

SEPTEMBER 22--INTO THE FIRE (Julia Newman, 2002)



OCTOBER 27--ROBERT CAPA (American Masters--PBS)

NOVEMBER 3--BUTTERFLY (José Luis Cuerda)

1. Email analyses to all class members:

a. BEFORE October 7, one or two poems.
b. BEFORE October 14, one or two poems.
c. BEFORE October 28, one or two photographs.
d. BEFORE November 11, one group poster analysis.
e. BEFORE November 18, one group poster analysis.

f. ALL OTHER WEEKS--issues for discussion.

2. FINAL PAPER--on any element of the Spanish Civil War, narrowly
or broadly focused, but taking account of competing possible interpretations of political, cultural, theoretical issues. About 30 pages in length.

Spanish Civil War: An Overview of the Causes.

The Spanish Civil War was a tragic tearing apart of a society where civil discourse had failed and given way to violence. The war lasted from July 1936 to April 1939, and was initiated by a rebellious group of disaffected army generals frustrated by what they saw as the failure of Spain’s Second Republic, 1931-36.

The Second Republic was a valiant if misguided effort at coming to terms with the country’s past. It sought to address long-standing historic problems/struggles which had gathered force and been added to throughout the turbulent 19 th century.

During that century new voices had been added to the ancient, traditional powers of monarchy, church and nobility with the rise of the army, political parties, workers’ movements, anarchism , Republicanism. To these we can add a reborn and revitalised historical reality, regionalism, with demands for some form of recognition in the Basque Provinces and especially in Catalonia .

In attempting to satisfy/resolve the interests of all these voices, the Second Republic attempted to do too much, too quickly and with too much passion. As a result the political pendulum swung, with increasing instability, from:
1. a left wing coalition government (June 1931 to November 1933)
2. a centre-right wing coalition government (November 1933 t0 Feb 1936)
3. another left wing coalition government (Feb 1936 to July 1936).

The push to reform was central to the left wing agenda resistance was equally paramount to the right wing. The left favoured:
1. educational reform (which brought it into direct conflict with the Church)
2. agrarian reform (which threatened the landed oligarchy, especially in parts of Andalusia and of Extremadura)
3. military reform (which challenged military control of its affairs)
4. regional autonomy (which undermined national unity)
5. free assembly and the right to strike (which subverted employer power).

By the first half of 1936, the rhetoric on both sides had become more strident and inflammatory and violence more frequent, e.g. assassinations, the torching of churches. The left accused the right of obstructionism and fascism the right countered that they were fighting the forces of godless Marxism. To the left it was truth against obscurantism to the right it was the truth of traditional Catholic values against heresy.

It was, as a recent history of Spain in the twentieth century summarizes succinctly, “a class war, between differing conceptions of social order a war of religion, between Catholicism and ant-clericalism a war revolving around the idea of patria (i.e. regionalism) and nation…. In short, the Spanish Civil War was a melting pot of universal battles between employers and workers, Church and State, obscurantism and modernization….” (Casanova 161).

The Military Moves In.
Soon after the elections of February 1936, right wing politicians and some anti-republican army generals began to plot a coup against the left-wing government. The Right tried and failed to overturn the election results and the most “difficult” generals were transferred to distant posts and replaced by loyalist officers.

Amongst the former was General Francisco Franco (later Commander-in-Chief –Generalísimo– of the rebellious armed forces), who was posted to the Canary Islands, a transfer which he viewed as demotion.

The next few months saw a spiraling collapse of social order. The social dissatisfaction of the left was channeled into strikes, churches were burnt and there were threats of revolution. The right responded with its own creed of violence with gangs wearing paramilitary uniforms cruising Madrid on the lookout for the enemy.

The point of explosion came with the assassination in Madrid on July 13 th of José Calvo Sotelo, leader of the far right Bloque Nacional. His murder was a tit-for-tat response by republican police officers for the slaying the day before by right wing gunmen of a police guard known for his socialist sympathies.

Calvo Sotelo’s death propelled the hard line, traditionalist generals to action. On the evening of July 17 th , rebel soldiers in the Spanish protectorate of Morocco (aka the Rif) –fearing that loyalist troops were about to arrest them– seized control of their garrisons in Ceuta, Melilla and Tetuán.

Early next day, Franco declared a state of war and that afternoon took a chartered plane from the Canaries to Tetuán. The objective at this point was Madrid . In the north, General Emilio Mola (who coined the phrase “fifth column”) headed the northern army, with the same objective as Franco: Madrid. There was no turning back.

Barton, Simon A History of Spain Basingstoke, Hampshire 2 nd . ed. 2009.
Casanova Julián & Andrés, Carlos Gil Twentieth-Century Spain: A History trans. Martin Douch Cambridge 2014.
Jackson, Gabriel A Concise History of the Spanish Civil War London 1974.
Preston, Paul A Concise History of the Spanish Civil War London 1996.


In 1976, Augusto Pinochet told Henry Kissinger that Chile was undergoing “a further stage of the same conflict which erupted into the Spanish Civil War.” Pinochet was not alone in this view throughout the 1970s, Chilean rightists used the Spanish Civil War as a point of reference. This article explores how and why Chilean golpistas drew on the Spanish example in developing their ideas about political struggle. It argues that the Civil War—or at least one interpretation of it, in which the military had purged Spain of communism in a kind of Christian reconquest—was a key component of the paradigm that some anti–Salvador Allende revanchists used to understand their world. In so doing, the article sheds light on a strain of Chilean conservatism that looked not to the United States for inspiration but to Spain, demonstrating the value of integrating Europe into analyses of Cold War Latin America's transnational dimensions.

Sweden and the Spanish Civil War - History

The digital Archive of the Spanish Civil War and the Francoist Dictatorship is an initiative of UCSD in collaboration with several Spanish civic associations, such as the ARMH (Asociación para la Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica), the Asociación de Ex-presos y Represaliados Políticos, the Federación Estatal de Foros por la Memoria and others. With the assistance of these human rights organizations, since the summer of 2007 several teams of graduate students have been recording audiovisual testimonies of militants, witnesses, and victims of the Spanish Civil War and the Francoist repression.

As is widely known, General Francisco Franco, together with other generals, and with the military support of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, headed a coup d’état in 1936 that interrupted the democratically elected government of the Second Republic (1931-1936). Since the coup d’état faced stiff opposition from many loyalists to the Republic, it gave rise to a civil war that lasted from 1936 to 1939. After the victory of the rebellious generals, Franco took power thus inaugurating the longest dictatorship in the history of Europe (1939-1975).

In the seventy years since the end of the Spanish Civil War scholars of the period have studied the conflict from several perspectives using different methodologies. Although some of these studies refer to the political repression implemented by Franco and the Falange (the Spanish Fascist Party), the magnitude and the scope of the repression is not yet fully documented. This absence in the historical record is the result of a “pact of silence” established by the Spanish policymakers in charge of the transition to democracy. The legal expression of this “pact of silence” was the Amnesty Law of 1977. This law grated amnesty to political prisoners, but also explicitly prohibited any legal proceedings against perpetrators of human rights violations as well. It also blocked the formation of Truth Commissions as was common in other post-dictatorial societies, such as in Argentina, Chile, and South Africa. In addition, during the transition to democracy, Francoist officials destroyed thousands of written documents pertaining to the implementation of repression both during the war and the dictatorship.

  • Create a safe institutional space in order to validate the experiences of those who survived the violence implemented by the Fascist forces during the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent dictatorship.
  • Create and preserve an oral record of significant events pertaining to the Spanish Civil War and the Francoist repression. The oral stories of these victims are an alternative mode of historical knowledge. As such, the testimonies of these men and women present a different version of the past, one that is extremely important, because, as pointed out before, the majority of the written records of the dictatorship were physically destroyed during the transition to democracy.
  • Record and preserve the audiovisual dimension of these historical testimonies. The audiovisual component of the archive is essential, because it shows the non-verbal dimension of a traumatic testimony. By filming the testimonies we have access to body language, silences, pauses, and other non-verbal elements. These elements provide important information about the affective dimension of the testimony. Furthermore, the images of the testimony show the process of memory in the making, as an open process rather than as a closed product.
  • Make the stories of the victims of the Spanish Civil War and Francoist repression available on the Internet. This will be an invaluable tool to educate future generations about the traumatic events that took place in Spain during this historical period. In this sense, the archive attempts to recover and to disseminate the multiple political legacies of the men and women who defended our first democracy and opposed the Francoist dictatorship.

The interviews included in the Archive are based on a protocol that tries to empower the witnesses by listening emphatically and actively. This implies that the interviews are open-ended and that the interviewers are historically informed so that they can assist the interviewees in the process of reconstructing their memories. For this reason, the testimonies are minimally edited to “clean” external interruptions, noises, and other irrelevant footage. In sum, we understand the recording of testimonies as a “story telling” process that, as such, involves pauses, repetitions, and a non-linear approach to history.

Sample Interviews
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History Project
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Report from the Field
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We hope that you find the stories included in this archive a useful and inspiring resource to further your knowledge of the Spanish Civil War and the Francoist dictatorship. If you or any of your relatives are interested in donating your testimonies to the collection, please contact us at: [email protected]

Spanish Organizations Collaborating in the Project
ARMH (Association for the Recuperation of Historical Memory)
Asociación de Ex-presos y Represaliados Politicos Antifranquistas (The Association of Former Political Prisoners and Anti-Francoist Fighters)
Asociación Memoria y Justicia, Andalucía (Association Memory and Justice, Andalusia)
Federación Estatal de Foros por la Memoria (State Federation of Forums for the Recovery of Memory)
Psychologists without Borders (Spain)

Advisory Board
Ángel del Río. Anthropologist, University Pablo Olavide, Seville (Spain)
Francisco Ferrándiz. Anthropologist CSIC (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas), Spain.
Cristina Moreiras-Memor Romance Languages (University of Michigan)
Pamela Radcliff. History (UCSD)
Güenter Schwaiger. Filmmaker and President of the Collective Images Against Amnesia
Emilio Silva. Spanish Journalist President of the ARMH, Spain.
Carlos Aguero (ARMH)
Guillermo Fouce (Universidad Carlos III/PSF)

UCSD Researchers
Scott Boehm (Literature)
Jessica Córdova (CILAS)
Andrea Davis (History)
Jodi Eisenberg (Literature)
Viviana Macmanus (Literature)
Elize Mazadiego (Visual Arts)
Omar Pimienta (Visual Arts)

UCSD Undergraduate Student Collaborators
Viviana Bazan
Elizabeth Diaz
Natasha Flores
Cristina Gonzalez
Karina Gutierrez
Caitlin Krull
Doug Willcox
Silvina Yi

Volunteers in Spain
Miriam Duarte
Guillermo Izquierdo
Jessica Plautz
Daniel Rojo
Jorge Rojo

Coordinator of the Project (P.I.)
Luis Martín-Cabrera, Assistant Professor of Literature

Official Web site of the
University of California, San Diego
© UC Regents 2008

Spain and the Shadow of the Civil War

The relationship between an ‘unquiet past’ and the concerns of the present has been a key feature of recent engagements with the Spanish Civil War.

When Paul Preston’s The Spanish Holocaust (Harper Press, 2013) was shortlisted for the 2012 Samuel Johnson Prize it confirmed a new phase in the historiography of the Spanish Civil War. Preston’s meticulous documentation of atrocities brought home not only the fearsome nature of the conflict but also the brutality of the Francoist repression. With its lists of obscure names and places Preston’s book illustrates how civil wars transform the ordinary. These unremarkable locations have for decades contained the unmarked graves of anonymous individuals caught up in momentous events. Neighbours, friends and relatives testified to the identity of victims whose ‘crimes’ were often simply those of political affiliation. The local community may not have wielded the gun – soldiers or militiamen usually did that – but it was complicit in the everyday repressive violence of the Civil War.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Civil War Legacy Continues to Divide Spain’s Politics and Its Streets

VALENCIA, Spain — In Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city, the accuser and the accused of the Spanish Civil War are still honored side by side, at least on its street map.

One of the avenues here is named after Joan Baptista Peset Aleixandre, a prominent doctor, university rector and left-wing politician who helped manage regional hospitals during the civil war.

Running parallel to the avenue is a smaller street named after another doctor, Marco Merenciano, a Fascist who pressed charges and testified against Peset Aleixandre, who was killed in 1941 by a firing squad outside a cemetery.

On Friday, it will be 40 years since the death of Francisco Franco, the victorious general in Spain’s civil war. His death was the beginning of Spain’s transition from dictatorship to democracy, but there will be no official commemorations.

The street names and other symbols of the Franco regime, not only here but across Spain, stand as a measure not only of how Franco’s legacy remains embedded in the political and physical landscape of Spain, but of the failure of this maturing democracy to grapple with it fully to this day.

The shadow of Franco continues to be a potent source of division between right and left, despite his death.

Absent a shared view of the period, recently elected left-wing mayors in Valencia and some other cities have taken it upon themselves to remove the last street names and other public displays associated with the Franco regime.

That Merenciano should have his own street is “a scandal,” said Joan Ribó, who was elected mayor of Valencia this year, ending 24 years of conservative governance.


“It’s hard to believe that we are still honoring people linked to Franco’s repression, which clearly isn’t something occurring in relation to Nazism in Germany or Fascism in Italy,” he added.

Besides the name-change debate, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party has resisted Socialist-led demands to exhume bodies from mass graves remove Franco’s body from a basilica built as a symbol of his victory and create a truth commission to study the crimes committed during the war and its aftermath.

The investigation of Franco’s crimes was already promoted by Baltasar Garzón, a crusading judge who was barred from the bench in 2012 by the Supreme Court for illegally ordering wiretaps.

Speaking to a meeting of foreign correspondents on Thursday about the legacy of the Franco regime, Mr. Garzón concluded candidly, “There is no democratic maturity in Spain when it comes to these issues.”

So Valencia recently set up its own history commission, and its work includes reviewing street names associated with Franco.

According to local historians, the commission is likely to recommend changing 30 to 60 street names, including that of Merenciano.

Mr. Ribó said he also wanted to remove smaller plaques and other symbols of the Franco dictatorship, including eagle heads that were engraved onto buildings.

The push to clear public spaces of Franco symbols has not been without resistance and controversy, however, and not only in Valencia.

Madrid’s new left-wing mayor, Manuela Carmena, wants to change about 150 street names linked to Franco. As in Valencia, the plan in Madrid is part of the so-called law of historical memory, introduced in 2007 by a Socialist prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

After the Popular Party ousted the Socialists from power in late 2011, however, it froze public funding for projects related to the law, including efforts to identify the remains in about 2,000 mass graves.

Conservative politicians see such efforts as contrary to the principles of conciliation embodied in a 1977 amnesty law that was intended to help the country heal after Franco’s death, and as evidence of political opportunism by left-wing parties.

The conservatives note that statues of Franco and other major symbols of his regime have already been removed. They also point out that left-wing administrations have shown no similar zeal when it comes to discussing wartime atrocities committed by Franco’s opponents, or even their own past choices of street names.

In the first year of the civil war, streets in Valencia were renamed to honor Lenin and the Soviet Union, as well as revolutionaries like Pancho Villa.

“The left seems to want to change street names far more than the right, but this remains a sterile debate, driven by politics, that only helps increase divergences within the Spanish people,” said Concepción Dancausa Treviño, who is the delegate of Mr. Rajoy’s government in the Madrid region.

“Perhaps we should just use street numbers, like in the United States, rather than keep making name changes that cost money and make no sense,” she added.

In fact, at a time of strict budget cuts — another source of division between left and right — even the cost of such efforts has become a point of contention. While Madrid’s City Hall estimated that its name-changing project would cost 60,000 euros, about $64,000, opponents say the final bill will be a hundred times as high.

Beyond the name changes, Valencia is scheduling conferences, exhibitions and other events over the coming year to highlight its role as the short-lived capital of Republican Spain.

As Franco’s troops advanced and the front line reached Madrid, Spain’s Republican government moved to Valencia in November 1936 and stayed there until October 1937. A significant part of the nation’s cultural patrimony was also relocated to relative safety in Valencia, including masterworks from the Prado museum in Madrid.

Becoming the seat of government “really transformed this city, also into a hub of social revolution and extraordinary cultural effervescence,” said Jorge Ramos Tolosa, a history professor at the University of Valencia.

Last month, City Hall awarded the honorific title of favorite daughter of Valencia to Alejandra Soler, a former leader of the student movement who got her degree in 1936, just before the civil war’s outbreak, and escaped to the Soviet Union in 1939, after Franco’s victory.

Ms. Soler, who is 102, recalled Valencia as “magnificent” during its stint as Republican capital. “This was the meeting place of all the anti-Fascist people of the world, of the real believers in democracy,” she said, sitting in her apartment filled with civil war memorabilia.

The wartime importance of Valencia, however, also made it the target of 442 bombings during the civil war, mostly by Italian aircraft that formed part of the Fascist military support provided to Franco by Hitler and Mussolini.

A local civic association wants to turn one of Valencia’s former air raid shelters into a civil war museum — which would also breach something of a taboo in a country that has almost no such museums, not even in Madrid.

So sensitive is the period still that Santos Juliá, one of Spain’s most respected historians, questioned the plan, suggesting perhaps the creation of a museum of 20th-century Spanish history instead.

“I think that to single out the civil war is still too polemic and doesn’t really help explain history,” he said, “because the civil war can’t be understood without knowing what happened before, while what happened afterward can’t be understood without knowing about the war.”

Sweden and the Spanish Civil War - History

Winner of the 1995 BABRA Nonfiction Award, sponsored by the Bay Area Book Reviewers Association.

For over half a century, the history of the Abraham Lincoln brigade—the 2,800 young Americans who volunteered to fight for the Spanish Republic against General Francisco Franco's rebellion in 1936—has been shrouded in myth, legend, and controversy. Now, for the fist time, we have a comprehensive, objective, and deeply researched account of the brigade's experience in Spain and what happened to the survivors when they returned to the United States. (About one-third of the volunteers died in Spain). The book is largely based on previously unused sources, including the newly opened Russian archives, and more than 100 oral histories.

The author charts the volunteers' motivations for enlisting in the fight against Spanish fascism and places their actions in the context of the Depression era. The battleground experiences of the brigade have never before been depicted in such vivid detail, and such battles as Jarama, Belchite, and the Ebro come alive in the participants' words. The author uses the military aspects of the war to illuminate such related issues as the influence of political ideology on military events and the psychology of a volunteer army. He also closely examines the role of the Communist party in the conduct of the war, including the "Orwell question"—allegations of a Communist reign of terror in Spain—and investigates the alleged racial problems within the brigade, the first fully integrated military unit in American history.

The book continues the saga of the brigade by relating the problems of the surviving volunteers with the U.S. Army during World War II their opposition to the Cold War, the Vietnam war, and U.S. intervention in Central America the persecution during the Red Scare of the 1950s and their involvement with the civil rights movement.

Peter N. Carroll is an independent scholar who teaches at Stanford University and the University of San Francisco.

"Peter Carroll has written with great skill and understanding the fifty-year story of the Americans who fought in the Spanish civil war. Never has the complicated and intriguing tale been told so fully, drawing as it does not only from survivors who can recount their experiences, but also from a wealth of original material, including the just-opened archives in Moscow. What is particularly fascinating is the account of the tribulations and triumphs of the veterans in the years after they were 'premature anti-fascists.' This is the moment for this book to appear, and one is grateful that it has been done so well."

—Peter Stansky, Stanford University

"This rare, this astonishing book—rich, authoritative, and moving as it is on its central subject—through Peter Carroll's way of chronicling becomes something even greater: an urgently contemporary touchstone that helps us discern in our time similar contending forces in moral, not political terms—good against evil, might against right, means against ends. In a vivid, pulsing narrative, Carroll encompasses the historical context, the drama of men in battle, and most of all the haunting human beings themselves. But what can be found nowhere else is his account of the succeeding fifty years of those who survived, as they stubbornly clung to their beliefs in the necessity of action and the possibility of transformative social change."

"Compelling . . . swift-moving collective biography of the Lincoln Brigade. . . . A richly detailed story of men and women who threw themselves into the great events of their times, holding nothing back."

— New York Times Book Review

"Tapping new sources for the first time, this must surely be considered the definitive work on Americans who fought and died for the Spanish Republic."

Watch the video: How the Nationalists Won the Spanish Civil War ft. History wHilbert. Animated History