The International Brigades, solidarity in arms

The next October 28 will 84 years since the withdrawal of the International Brigadesvolunteer troops from more than forty countries who came to the aid of the Republic during the Civil war. As every year, the Amical of the International Brigades of Catalonia and the Catalan Association of Political Ex-Francoists, together with the Democratic Memorial and the Barcelona City Council have celebrated this Saturday. They have done so in front of the monument erected in honor of the lincoln brigade, in the Carmel neighborhood. They have been present the new Minister of Justice, Gemma Ubassartthe councilor for the district of Horta-Guinardo, Rosa Alarconand the director of democratic memory of the Diputación, Xavier Menendez.

That October 28 was a very special day. The Republic was dying. There were only three months left for the Francoists to enter Barcelona and five for the end of the Civil War. At the beginning of the conflict, which immediately became internationalized as a combat between the Republic and the fascism, signs of solidarity with the republican cause spread throughout the world. The International Brigades were organized to bring together volunteers to stand up to the military rebels on the battlefront.

Initially, some republican sectors viewed them with reluctance, especially the anarchists, since the communist imprint it was evident in the brigadistas. The headquarters of the brigade organization was in Paris, in the hands of the French Communist Party. andre marty, leader of the PDF, was a key figure. But it would be false to say that the Brigades were an instrument of Moscow or that they only brought together communist militants.

The number of combatants still divides historians, although it seems to be accepted that they were on the peninsula close to 50,000 brigade members, being the French the most numerous contingent. Also Italians (Garibaldi Battalion), Germans (Battle Thaelmann) and even Americans (lincoln brigade). The role he played in decisive battles was important, especially in the in front of madridwhich was in serious danger in the initial months of the war.

victims of the realpolitik

The withdrawal of the brigadistas was a decision of the government of the Republic, presided over by Juan Negrin. At that point, the war seemed lost and the few hopes that remained were that war would break out in Europe between the democracies and Hitler's Germany. The tension was maximum, while the Francoist side received decisive support from the Nazi regime and Mussolini's Italy. A support that the International Brigades could not counteract in any way. But Negrín, wanting to expose the presence of nazis and fascists Together with Franco, he offered the withdrawal of the brigadistas as a gesture to strengthen the independence of republican Spain from the interference of Stalinist Russia.

Unfortunately, it failed to move France and Great Britain who, from a cynical Non-Intervention Committee, looked more fearfully at Russian than German influence. Later, when World War II finally broke out, on September 1, 1939, it was too late for the Republic.

Today's act, which is the 25th that has been carried out, has been dedicated to the role played by the women brigade members, who were about 1,300. There is a fundamental book to delve into this aspect, written by the Catalan journalist Helena G. Vancells, Courage Under Fire, about twenty Americans who enlisted in the Lincoln Brigade. In the act of this Saturday, has intervened Celia Santos, author of the book The girl from Russiaspecialist in the figure of the brigadista Salaria Kee, and the actress Miriam Clement, who has read the farewell speech to the brigade members that he made in Madrid a few days later Dolores Ibarruri, the passionflower. A few words that are still moving today, when he said: "We will not forget you and, when the olive tree of peace flourishes, intertwined with the laurels of the victory of the Republic, come back!".

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