International Brigades / Brigadas Internacionales
|11th German||E. Thalmann|
|12th Italian||D. Garibaldi|
|13th Polish||J. Dombrovsky|
|15th American||A. Lincoln|
|American||Connolly air squadron|
The International Brigades or Brigade ( App. Brigadas Internacionales ) were armed units formed from foreign left-wing volunteers (mainly communists, socialists, left-wing liberals and nationalists), who participated in the Spanish Civil War on the side of the Republicans in 1936-1938.
The brigades were initially formed mainly on the national principle. Most of all foreign volunteers were French citizens (almost 25%), Poland (about 10%), Italy (almost 10%), Germany, the United States. Since 1937, Spanish troops began to enlist in the Interbrigades, and soon they made up a majority (up to 90%) of the personnel.
Of some 35,000 (not simultaneously) “premature anti-fascists” (the majority of them active communists) who joined the International Brigades to fight in defense of the Spanish Republic, a quarter or more were Jews. In all, about 5,000 brigadistas were killed in action, and nearly 8,000 more were wounded. about 6 thousand more deserted or were executed by orders of the command of the brigade. Most foreign volunteers left Spain after 3 to 6 months of service in the Interbrigades.
On April 4, 1931, the Provisional Government of the Republic of Spain was proclaimed to wildly enthusiastic crowds. Spanish King Alfonso XIII fled into exile when voters abolished the monarchy. Thus began the Second Republic, in which liberals and moderate socialists ruled (the First Republic was short in the 1870s). Liberal reforms were widespread in the first two years, and Catalonia and the Basque region received almost complete autonomy.
Enemies of the regime gathered after their defeat; they included the church, the landed aristocracy, and the military. In November 1933 the conservative forces took back control of the government. The Socialists began their own revolution in Asturias, and the Catalan nationalist rebelled in Barcelona. In response to this powerful General Franco crushed this October Revolution, and for his victories was appointed chief of staff of the army in 1935.
In July 1936, the opening shots of the 2nd World War were fired in Europe’s poorest country, Spain. Germany and Italy assisted by Franco, while the Russians helped the Republicans. America and Britain did not get involved officially. However, radicals and activists from these countries were held by international brigades to assist the Republicans who helped secure Madrid.
W.H.Auden was not the only intellectual, a volunteer of the Republican cause during the war; Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell also participated. Orwell ("Homage to Catalonia") came to Spain in late 1936, along the lines of the British ILP = Independent Labor Party. Since this organization had friendly ties with the POUM (independent Marxists who opposed themselves to the Stalinist Communist Party of Spain), Orwell came to the POUM militia and spent several months at the front. First in Barcelona, during the famous events of May 1937, and then again at the front, where he was wounded in the throat, after which he fled from Spain to England. Initially Orwell was positively inclined toward the Communists, and even wanted to be transferred from the POUM militia to the International Brigades, which were under the command of the Spanish Communist Party.
From the report to Moscow of the representative of the Comintern in Spain Palmiro Togliatti (nickname - Alfredo) of August 29, 1937: "The situation in the International Brigades as a whole can not be considered good ... The war lasts longer than our comrades expected. Many volunteers who came here for only a few months are now worried about their fate, as well as for their families and their affairs.
"Such sentiments are especially common among volunteers from quiet countries (France, the United States of America, etc.); from them you can hear the following: "Is it worth to stay here, the offensive one by one, we will all be killed or seriously injured" (information from Comrade Gallo on the 12th Brigade). The theme of the return rises more and more aggressively. This is indicated not only by demoralized elements, but everywhere and almost in all the brigades.
"Representative of the Communist Party of the United States, for example, presented to the High Command and the secretariat of the Communist Party of Spain the requirement that all American volunteers go home after 6 months of stay in Spain ... Major problems arose with the Italian brigade. The commander of the brigade (Pacciardi is a Republican, a very skilled demagogue, close to the fighters, perhaps more than our comrades), at the end of Operation Brunete openly raised the issue of the dissolution of the Italian brigade. He argued his proposal as follows: "... our losses are increasing every day, the difficulties with recruiting new Italians, the replenishment of Spanish conscripts is no good ..."
By 1938 nationalists had cut the territory of the republic into two zones. Franco attacked Catalonia and Barcelona fell in January 1939 Republicans finally tried to sue for peace, but Franco refused, and they surrendered Madrid On March 28, 1939, more than one million people lost their lives in the war, and Franco ruled as dictator until his death in 1975.
The phrase "fifth column" belongs to General Franco, the Spanish nationalist and fascist, who attacked the Republican Madrid in the autumn of 1936. The offensive was conducted by four columns, but in an interview with journalists he said that he had a "fifth column" in the city itself, a party of its hidden supporters.
Orwell wrote of the Communists : "Carefully at first, then more loudly, they began to claim that the POUM shared government forces not by virtue of bad judgment, but by virtue of a deliberate plan. The POUM was declared a gang of disguised fascists, paid for by Franco and Hitler, who promoted pseudo-revolutionary politics as a way to help the fascists. The POUM was a "Trotskyite" organization and the "5th Column of Franco". This meant that many thousands of working-class people, including 8 or 10 thousand soldiers who froze to the front line and hundreds of foreigners who came to fight in Spain against fascism, often sacrificing their livelihood and nationality, were traitors to a paid enemy. And this story spread throughout Spain with the help of posters, etc."
Stalin's interests in Spain were conditioned by the desire to create a military bloc of the USSR with capitalist "democracies", against the threat of Hitler. The military and diplomatic alliance of the Soviet Union with Britain and France meant defending the interests of capital in Spain against the revolutionaries.
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