The Volunteer vol. 37 no. 2 (June 2020)

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June 2020

Vol. XXXVII, No.2

FOUNDED IN 1937 BY THE VOLUNTEERS OF THE LINCOLN BRIGADE. PUBLISHED BY THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN BRIGADE ARCHIVES (ALBA)

The Girl Who Dated Trotsky’s Assassin

Marina Ginestà on the roof of the Hotel Colón, Barcelona, July 1936. Photo Juan Guzmán.

No More Deaths Wins ALBA/Puffin Award p4 Spanish Anarchists in the US p 9 In Memoriam Perry Rosenstein p16


Dear Friends, Founded by the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade 239 W. 14th Street, Suite 2 New York, NY 10011 (212) 674-5398 www.alba-valb.org Editor Print Edition Peter N. Carroll Editor Online Edition www.albavolunteer.org Sebastiaan Faber Associate Editor Aaron B. Retish Book Review Editor Joshua Goode Graphic Design www.eyestormx.com Editorial Assistance Phil Kavanaugh Manuscripts, inquiries, and letters to the editor may be sent by email to info@alba-valb.org The editors reserve the right to modify texts for length and style. Books for review may be sent to Joshua Goode Claremont Graduate University Blaisdell House, #5, 143 East 10th Street Claremont, CA 91711

www.albavolunteer.org The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA) is an educational non-profit dedicated to promoting social activism and the defense of human rights. ALBA’s work is inspired by the American volunteers of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade who fought fascism in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). Drawing on the ALBA collections in New York University’s Tamiment Library, and working to expand such collections, ALBA works to preserve the legacy of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade as an inspiration for present and future generations.

IN THIS ISSUE p 3 p 4 p 5 p 6 p 9 p 12 p 15 p 16 p 17 p 19 p 21 p 22 p 23

ALBA’s Celebration Goes Online NMD’s Madeline Huse ALBA News Hannah Creighton Spanish Anarchists in the US The Girl Who Dated Trotsky’s Assassin Faces of ALBA In Memoriam Perry Rosenstein The Last Veteran of La Nueve Book Reviews VALB Letters 1939 Poetry Feature Lollie Butler Contributions

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“Why should one care about events taking place far away?” This is one of the “essential questions” that drives our work with teachers around the country. Together with the question “When do you stand up for what you believe in?” it captures the spirit of the internationalist commitment that drove the almost 40,000 volunteers who put their lives on the line for the defense of the Spanish Republic against fascism. As Bill Bailey put it in the documentary The Good Fight: “If some poor working stiff went on strike in Timbuktu … and some cop came down and started busting his skull, you were concerned about that, because that was your brother out there.” If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s precisely the relevance of this internationalist spirit. We are all in this together. To be sure, the crisis has thrown our lives into disarray. It has hit Spain and the United States with particular viciousness. And it has forced ALBA, like many other organizations, to postpone, cancel, or reinvent plans for this fall. But at the same time, the crisis has only strengthened our conviction that the legacy of the Lincolns is more relevant than ever. We have been determined to keep our work going. We’re continuing to publish The Volunteer on schedule. Our annual celebration in New York City, on May 17, was moved online, and featured artists like Sarah Lee Guthrie, Velina Brown, Bruce Barthol, and Pedro and Luis Pastor (see page 3). During the entire month of July, we are piloting our first-ever online teacher workshop, open to the entire country (see page 5). And we’ve launched a completely overhauled ALBA website at www.alba-valb.org. Standing up for what you believe also drives the brave volunteers of No More Deaths, the Arizona-based organization that for the past 16 years has worked to save the lives of migrants crossing the desert and to achieve immigration reform. No More Deaths is the recipient of this year’s ALBA-Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism. Like the volunteers of the Lincoln Brigade, their principled activism has put them at odds with the law, which inexplicably says leaving water and food for migrants is a crime. In this issue, we interview one of the volunteers whose conviction was overturned on appeal earlier this year (see page 4). Also look for Lollie Butler’s stunning poetry feature, “On the Dry Sea of Sonora,” on page 22. We’re proud to feature in this issue the riveting story of Marina Ginestà, the young Catalan woman featured on the cover, whose face came to represent the Spanish Republican cause (page 12). Fascinating, too, is the history of Spanish anarchist communities in the United States (page 9). Look to page 6 for a touching posthumous reflection by Hannah Creighton on the lessons she learned from her father, Lincoln vet Len Olson. Finally, in this issue, we mourn the loss of Perry Rosenstein, the visionary president of the Puffin Foundation whose support has meant so much for ALBA and many other progressive organizations in the United States. Thanks, as always, for being there and supporting our work. Thanks for making it possible for us to continue to share—and keep alive—the legacy of the Lincoln Brigade when the world most needs it. ¡Salud! Peter N. Carroll & Sebastiaan Faber, editors

P.S. Please consider a special contribution to support our new online Teaching Institutes that carry our message to students around the country and the world.


ALBA’s 84th Annual Celebration Attracts Worldwide Audience

Defying the devastating Covid-19 crisis, this past May 17 ALBA’s annual reunion and ALBA/Puffin Award ceremony—celebrated fully online—brought together viewers from around the world. Hosted by ALBA’s María Hernández-Ojeda and Sebastiaan Faber, the celebration featured speeches by Dr. Mona HannaAttisha, Neal Rosenstein, ALBA’s executive director Mark Wallem, and ALBA governors Kate Doyle, Peter Carroll, and Tony Geist. The ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism was presented to No More Deaths, the Arizona-based organization that for the past 16 years has worked to save the lives of migrants crossing the desert and to achieve immigration reform. Volunteer Madeline Huse shared her experience, and Geena Jackson accepted the award on behalf of No More Deaths. The celebration also featured stirring musical performances by Sarah Lee Guthrie, who played two of her grandfather’s songs, “Jarama Valley” and “Deportee,” Bruce Barthol, Velina Brown, and Luis and Pedro Pastor, the father-son singer/songwriter team from Madrid. For a videorecording of the entire event, visit ALBA’s new website at www.alba-valb.org.

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No More Deaths volunteers Madeline Huse (left), Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, and Zaachila Orozco. Photo courtesy of No More Deaths.

“Humanitarian Aid Cannot Be Criminalized.” No More Deaths volunteer Madeline Huse By Sebastiaan Faber

We speak with one of the No More Deaths volunteers who faced trial for helping save migrants’ lives.

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n August 2017, Madeline Huse and three other volunteers of the Tucson-based organization No More Deaths entered the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona to deposit jugs of water and cans of beans near various pathways. The massive park—close to 900,000 acres—is located within the Sonoran Desert, west of Tucson, and stretches along more than 50 miles of the US-Mexico border. It’s a heavily trafficked migrant route where dozens of people have died of thirst and hunger in recent years. Huse and the others’ act of kindness led to a drawn-out legal process. In March 2019, the four volunteers were sentenced to 15 months probation and a $250 fine for entering the refuge without a permit and “abandoning property.” Despite the ruling against them, the volunteers remained defiant. “The border crisis in this country is a matter of life and death,” Huse said in a news release following the sentencing. “History will not favor those on the wrong side of it.” Their conviction was part of a legal crackdown on volunteers and activists who work to save migrant lives in the treacherous borderlands. In January 2018, Scott Warren, another No More Deaths volunteer, was arrested and charged with a felony for giving food and water to two migrants in the same area. After a first trial led to a jury deadlock, Warren was acquitted of all charges in November 2019. Three months later, a federal court also overturned the convictions of Huse and the other three volunteers. Judge Rosemary Márquez of the US District Court in Arizona ruled that the actions by Huse and others in support of migrants were motivated by religious beliefs and had not violated federal law. “The depth, importance and centrality of these beliefs caused defendants to restructure their lives to engage in this volunteer work,” Judge Márquez said her ruling. The judge “also appeared to rebuke federal prosecutors for trying to argue that leaving behind food and jugs of water in the desert would have the effect of encouraging more migrants to cross the border,” the New York Times reported. “Judge Márquez said prosecutors appeared to be claiming that without clean water and food, there would be more deaths and therefore fewer people willing to cross the border illegally. ‘This gruesome logic is profoundly disturbing,’ she wrote.” 4 THE VOLUNTEER June 2020

“Judge Márquez’s ruling was a win for the movement, and proof that humanitarian aid cannot be criminalized,” Huse, who is 24, told me when I spoke with her in May. “Personally, it was also a pleasant surprise.” The 2019 trial had left Huse and her codefendants appalled at the U.S. justice system. “If one thing became clear to us, it was the sheer brutality of the justice system. Although we were only four volunteers tried for ‘abandonment of property’—essentially littering—the government came at us viciously and vigorously, armed with a lot of resources. The whole thing felt a little silly at times. It certainly made me realize how flawed the justice system can be.” Huse first got involved with No More Deaths in 2016, not long before the elections. “It was a turbulent time on the border,” she told me. “I’d been working for farm workers’ rights in Washington state for a few years and wanted to go south and see what it was like down there. After two months in the desert with No More Deaths, I worked with the South Texas Human Rights Center. Then in 2017 I was appointed as Logistics Coordinator for No More Deaths. It was a six-month rotating position in which I learned a lot.” Going through the trial had a positive side as well, she said. “The best part about it was that we felt sure of our actions and had the support of the community. On the third day of the trial, we each received a hundred letters of support from around the country.” Huse is back in Washington, studying for a degree in human services with a focus on conflict analysis and resolution. Last year, she was certified as a mediator. “I would like to work with small activist organizations that find themselves at an impasse. Because many of them are run by volunteers, there is a high risk of burnout and similar issues. Professional mediation can often help them move forward.” Asked if, after having gone through the trial, conviction, and appeal, she would she do it again, she doesn’t hesitate for a moment: “Absolutely. I plan on going to Tucson and working with No More Deaths many more times in my life.”


News from ALBA ALBA Offers First Online Workshop for Teachers

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, ALBA’s in-person institutes are being postponed until further notice. Instead, we will be offering a fully online workshop from June 30 through July 28 with our partners at the Collaborative for Educational Services in Northampton, MA. Titled “America and World Fascism: From the Spanish Civil War to Nuremberg and Beyond,” the workshop will be open to teachers in Social Studies, Spanish, and other World Languages, grades 4-12, anywhere in the United States. Participants will earn 22.5 PDPs (for Massachusetts) or 1 graduate credit. Registration Deadline: June 12, 2020 Register online at www.collaborative.org/events-and-courses/ america-and-world-fascism

ALBA Receives Unique Donation

Two months ago, our New York office received a unique gift from David Geltman of Boston. Geltman is the grandson of Israel Perlman, who was a New York City bookseller. In February 1939, the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (VALB) organized a fundraiser auction for anti-Nazi writers and the VALB Rehabilitation Fund. Sponsors included Dashiell Hammett, Dorothy Parker, Luise Rainer, George S. Kaufman, Thornton Wilder, and others. As it turned out, Perlman bid $35 dollars and won a collection of hand- and type-written statements from individual vets in which they explained why they’d joined the fight in Spain. The collection of notes, some quite extensive, is a unique historical document, a deeply moving window into the past. ALBA is deeply grateful to Mr. Geltman for this valuable donation. (See page 22 for a small sample.)

Letter to the Editor

In your recent article about Herbert Kline and the short wave, you have him as director of Heart of Spain along with Geza Karpathi. In actuality Roman Karman shot a good deal of the war footage and Leo Hurwitz edited all the material to make it into a film. In particular the neglect of Hurwitz’s work on the film needs to be recognized. I urge you to correct this omission in crediting in your next issue. Sincerely, Manfred Kirchheimer, Trustee of the Leo Hurwitz Artistic Works Trust

ALBA’s Website Redesigned

ALBA’s website at alba-valb.org has been redesigned from the ground up. The searchable online database of volunteers who left for Spain from the United States will be updated over the summer, along with a broad range of content for teachers and the general public. Check back in regularly! The online edition of The Volunteer will remain at albavolunteer. org, and teachers can continue to find resources for their classrooms at resources.alba-valb.org.

Sonia García López responds: Many thanks for your comments regarding Leo Hurwitz's participation in Herbert Kline and Geza Karpathi’s film Heart of Spain. No one could deny your statement about Leo Hurwitz’s definitive work as editor, and the same goes for the importance of his contribution to the final form of the film: his involvement (along with Paul Strand) is well consigned in the film credits, and his impact in the resulting film has received the attention of a variety of film scholars that studied the film, including the classic contributions made by Russell Campbell and William Alexander, among others. The way the film was quoted in the article about the short wave radio broadcast directed by Kline in Spain, published in the March issue of The Volunteer, follows the standard academic criteria for the quotation of film titles, which –as a reflection of the predominance of the auteurist perspective on film history–, only includes title, director(s), and year of production/release. As this article does not focus on the production of Heart of Spain, and the film is referred to only to frame Kline's career, I did not address the participation of other members of the film crew, neither had I written about the inclusion of footage originally shoot by Roman Karmen and Boris Makaseiev, or by John Fernhout (working with Joris Ivens for The Spanish Earth), who also contributed with additional material. June 2020 THE VOLUNTEER 5


Dead Labor By Hannah Olson Creighton

What Lincoln vet Len Olson taught his daughter Hannah. “Think of all the work that was done to this thing by someone’s hands.” He swore so much when he was working that until I went to school, I thought there was Jesus Christ and he had a father named “God Damn!” “I’ll hold the nail, toots, you hit it with the hammer. Don’t hurt yourself.” “I can do it, papa. Let me do it.” Everyone’s favorite picture of me and my father was taken when he came back from his last trip to sea, when I was about 3. My pop has a long, very full beard, which he says he shaved within days because “beards itch when you’re on land.” He’d been gone many months, so he must have become a stranger to me, but I’m on his lap leaning back into his arm with one hand possessively curled around his thumb. We both stare straight at the camera, not trying at all to please.

“That’s no life,” his folks said. My father was the fourth son of ten children. During the summers, his parents apprenticed him out to lots of trades. He was a barber’s apprentice, a steeplejack, a house painter, a lumberjack. When he was seventeen, he “ran away to sea”—really to the Great Lakes. He was a sailor for much of his life, a merchant seaman. This changed when he met my mother and “came ashore.” He was 41 when I was born. He was a carpenter when I knew him.

He was born in 1902 in Virginia, Minnesota—that’s in the Mesabi Range, where the iron ore is, or was. Northern Minnesota is some of the sweetest country anywhere—rolling hills with a lake around every bend. Small lakes you could easily swim across, with maybe six houses or shacks, each with a pier. Every lake surrounded by forests of small birch—straight, elegant, white birch. And then there is the shock as you come to the mines— great pits the size of a whole town, scars of red earth. At the bottom, you can just barely see the train tracks and roads, the trucks and equipment, scattered around, like some boys had suddenly left to go to supper.

I realize now that he wasn’t suited to it—good carpenters have a lot of patience and concentration, like dentists and watchmakers. He didn’t have much patience at all. He swore so much when he was working that until I went to school, I thought there was Jesus Christ and he had a father named “God Damn!” My pop was always working on our house, a shack that was all my parents could afford in the great hunger for homeownership that came after the Second World War. But nothing ever quite got finished, either for lack of funds or motivation, so there would be places where you had to walk around tools and lumber scraps and sawdust. It drove my mother crazy. One time he had the house up on jacks for a new foundation and he dropped one corner and broke all the dishes. But if he wasn’t quite a craftsman himself, he admired craft. He was moved by the effort and intricacy of how things were made. He was always finding old things, picking up things to save. It was a religious feeling for him, and he passed it on to me.

Pop was never allowed to go into the mines—his people ran a boarding house and a bakery, and they were proud that their sons never worked in the mines. The pay was too high, too quick, and young men got hooked on the good wages and then got married, got old fast, and died young.

“Honey, look at this old wooden chest with these lovely silver handles. Think of all the work that was done to this thing by someone’s hands. The wood was chopped down by some guy, some slave on a plantation probably, maybe in South America or the Philippines because this is red mahogany. Then it was

He worked as a carpenter when I was a kid. But he had been many things and been to many places. I loved to hang around with him and listen to his stories. The only way to talk to him and not have an argument was to ask him questions and then listen to the stories that came out.

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Leonard Olson with his daughter Hannah. Courtesy of the Olson family.

Leonard Olson with his daughter Martha Jarocki, Oakland, 1994. Photo Richard Bermack, from The Front Lines of Social Change. June 2020 THE VOLUNTEER 7


Karl Marx called it “dead labor.” Like my father, he was talking about the unacknowledged contribution of producers to what we call civilization. milled by some poor working stiff at a primitive mill or maybe by hand. Then sailors loaded it on a ship. And that ship was made by lots of men too, probably in Liverpool, England. The trip took weeks and weeks and they stopped and picked up other cargo. It was unloaded by dockers at some port, back east most likely.” He continued: “Then the wood was driven by Teamsters to another mill where it was finished and planed some more. More truckers took it to a furniture maker; probably not a factory, it’s too nice, maybe a family shop. Then that guy made it. He cut the pieces so exactly, fitted it, glued it, sanded it, stained it, and put on this finish. He polished and waxed it. Think of all those guys, think of their wives and children. Are you thinking of it, toots?” “Yeah, I’m imagining them in my mind. Go on, don’t stop.” “The metal for the handles took a whole different route. The silver was mined, maybe in Mexico by some more poor slaves. It was milled, worked. Someone designed these handles, all the work that went into that, sculpture really. Then the silver was poured into a mold. After the new handles cooled, they were sanded and polished. Then they were fastened to the chest. Someone carried it to market, loaded it, drove it, unloaded it. Think of them all, toots, all those men.” And then a small event my father never wanted to think about—someone sold it. There was no respect for retailers or salesmen in my family. “I still think of it, pop, all the time.” Later, like my father, I would think of workers and add in the women. Like the woman who learned the many steps it takes to leach the poison out of acorns and make Indian bread. Did somebody have to get sick or even die for her to learn this? The Pomo women who wove baskets so dense that you could carry water in them, cook in them. I think of all those women inventing agriculture and all the cooking sciences, midwifery, nursing. I think of them and their children, their men waiting for supper. I think of Pueblo women inventing each step that goes into a rug. The washing of the wool, carding, dyeing, spinning, stretching, then the weaving itself. The tools they designed and made, the threading hook, heddles, treadles, the shuttle and the beater to comb it down tight, and the various looms. The traditional designs, that even today each woman modifies, are a route back to the women before them. The women now dead, the “dead labor.” Karl Marx called it “dead labor.” He didn’t just mean that the workers were dead. Like my father, he was talking about the unacknowledged contribution of producers to what we call 8 THE VOLUNTEER June 2020

civilization. If you take away the hustle and bustle of owners, managers, and salesmen, you can see that every object contains the knowledge, the experimentation, the skill that workers developed over time. And new objects are made with tools that contain dead labor, so it goes back and back. It’s like when you were a kid and held a mirror up to a mirror and saw yourself inside the mirror, inside another mirror, until you couldn’t think about it anymore. I try to remember that even the most stupid, wasteful, plastic junk contains dead labor and to respect it and think of the producers. Something so small as a plastic fork at the office picnic, where we could have brought our own from home or eaten with our hands and broken down the formality. It hurts that someone has to give their sweat and knowledge, and their life, to making ugly, useless things that will be thrown away. I think about how these days most things are made on deafening machines, that set a killing pace of work, when workers used to set the pace themselves and could sing and talk while they worked. And they are made out of finite materials, petroleum and chemicals that spoil our land, and make the workers and us all sick. “I think of it, pop.” The late Hannah Olson Creighton (1942-1998) was a fearless social and environmental activist with an emphasis on environmental justice. She worked for Communities for a Better Environment and later for the Urban Habitat Program where she was the editor of Race Poverty & Environment, a joint publication with the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation and the Center for Race Poverty and the Environment. She studied sociology at UC Santa Cruz in the 1970s, where her time as a single mom and waitress informed her oral history of the San Francisco Hotel Restaurant Workers Local #2 (now United Here #2). Creighton was active in the Marin County peace, anti-nuclear, environmental and transit activist movements in the 1980s and 1990s. This article originally appeared in the April 2020 issue of Monthly Review (vol. 71, no. 11). You can find out more at monthlyreview.org.

SUPPORT THE VOLUNTEER Your Anti-fascist News since 1937 Donations Welcome

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Program cover of a 1937 festival organized by the Centro Asturiano de Nueva York, affiliated with a Sociedades Hispanas Confederadas. Image courtesy of Prof. James D. Fernández.

Hubs of Antifascism

The Spanish Anarchist Press in the United States By Montse Feu

Among the thousands of Spanish workers who arrived in the United States around the turn of the twentieth century were many with radical traditions rooted in their homeland, which at the time boasted one of the world’s most vibrant anarchist movements. They created scores of cultural and mutual aid societies in cities and rural and mining areas across the United States, fueling anti-authoritarian and emancipatory practices that foregrounded the creation of culture from below. During and after the Spanish Civil War, they also built support networks for refugees and published periodicals that reported on the war and denounced Francoist repression.

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rint culture was central to the anarchist movement. From 1880 to 1940, about 235 anarchist periodicals circulated in the United States, and about 850 in Spain. Some of these periodicals were ephemeral, while others lasted decades and published thousands of issues. Despite the irregularity inherent to the alternative press, workers’ periodicals constituted a reliable source of news, opinion, ideas and practices. They also operated as connecting hubs for anarchist networks in the United States, as their editors and staff became organic leaders of the anarchist movement. For many decades, anarchist newspapers and magazines functioned as effective resources to contest elitism and repression while fostering grassroots solidarity and mutual aid in the heterogeneous and decentered cultures of the US anarchist movement. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, anarchist groups and their newspapers supported antifascist efforts from the United States. The largest Spanishlanguage periodical, Cultura Proletaria, along with the CNT-FAI, a confederation of anarcho-syndicalist unions and affinity groups, founded the United

controversy among anarchists in the USA, some of whom garrisoned orthodox purity while others conceived state cooperation as the lesser evil, acceptable in light of the urgency of the struggle against fascism. Other U.S.-based anarchists also joined to support the Spanish Republic. Historian Kenyon Zimmer has counted approximately 100 anarchists who joined the International Brigades and fought in battle. Meanwhile, contributors to communist and anarchist periodicals in the Americas travelled to Spain to report on the war. Among them were the Cuban Pablo de la Torriente Brau and Luis Zugadi Garmendia, who was of Basque origin. Both died in battle in Spain.

Libertarian Organizations (ULO). The ULO’s main activity was the publication of the periodical Spanish Revolution (1936-1938). It underscored the achievements of the workers’ revolution in Spain—until, that is, the CNT-FAI decided to join the Spanish Republican government during the war. As in Spain, the episode was a sore point of

Another significant US-based effort to support the Spanish workers started only eight days after the uprising of Francisco Franco, when about 200 U.S. Hispanic cultural and mutual aid societies came together in what became known as the Sociedades Hispanas Confederadas (SHC, Confederation of Hispanic Societies). Although the SHC grew to 65,000 members at its height, it maintained close ties with anarchist June 2020 THE VOLUNTEER 9


The party committee of the Centro Asturiano de Nueva York, 1937. affiliated with a Sociedades Hispanas Confederadas. Image courtesy of Prof. James D. Fernández.

and socialist networks, which often shared their membership. These links would later be vital for the relocation of refugees from Spain. This was the case of José Nieto Ruiz, who escaped Spain after being subjected to torture for his syndicalist activities in 1960. Anarchists helped him flee Spain and eventually reach Canada. Canadian anarchists contacted comrades in Cuba, who arranged for a visa for him to travel to the island. From Cuba, he reached Miami in 1962. There, Cuban anarchists in the city paid his travel to New York to join the SHC. Through the publication of Frente Popular (1936-1939) and later España Libre (1939-1977), the SHC remained devoted to its antifascist cause throughout the Franco years. Lasting four decades, España Libre was the longest sustained antifascist bilingual periodical in the United States. It testifies to the grassroots and cooperative efforts of its anarchist editors. Although membership in the SHC was open to anyone advocating freedom in Spain, España Libre followed the principles of two specific unions: the Spanish anarchist union— Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT)—and the Spanish socialist union—Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT). These principles were expressed through journalism, political essays, satirical chronicles, cartoons, literature, and theater. España Libre denounced Franco’s uprising and reported on the political repression under his regime— news also reached Spain by clandestine channels—at a time when the interna10 THE VOLUNTEER June 2020

tional press showed scant interest in the execution of Franco’s political prisoners. España Libre also raised funds to provide financial and legal assistance to refugees, as well as funds for political prisoners and the underground resistance in fascist Spain. Finally, the periodical helped workers feel part of a broader antifascist and exile community, which energized their culture and politics.

United by a print culture of worker solidarity and political protest, the SHC received the support of various groups. In his role as editor of España Libre, Jesús González Malo contacted the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), IWW, the UAW and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), gaining their support with small donations to sponsor España Libre’s printing costs. Spanish migrants who worked in the maritime industry and were members of the Industrial

Workers of the World (IWW) collaborated with the SHC, and some joined the confederation. This was the case of one of España Libre’s editors, José Castilla Morales, who organized maritime workers in Cuba before migrating to New York where he edited the IWW’s Solidaridad (1918–1930). Sailors and members of these organizations helped González Malo establish a clandestine correspondence. A postwar tactic that strengthened transnational dialogues on the development of anarcho-syndicalism within Spanish exile circles and the underground resistance in Spain. Aware that fascism in Spain was undermining the political role of workers, González Malo was determined to contest fascist, elitist, and orthodox approaches that limited workers’ access to the political forefront. Personal experiences and interests connected local and international networks in which ethnic, radical, labor, progressive, and personal interests overlapped. The Modern Schools, which were meeting grounds where anarchists interacted with progressive thinkers and artists, were part of the confluent circuits of kinship that aided the SHC. Anarchist intellectual Rudolf Rocker arrived in the United States in 1933 from Nazi Germany; soon after his arrival, Rocker gave speeches in antifascist meetings sponsored by various organizations. In 1938, he participated in welcoming Félix Martí Ibáñez in his pro-Spanish Republic tour of the United States. Almost 20 years later, on March 25, 1952, a friend of Rocker, Roger Nash Baldwin, one of the founders of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), was invited to speak to an audience of three hundred antifascists at the Freedom House in New York. Organized by the SHC, the meeting denounced the execution of five syndicalist workers in Spain. By organizing rallies and fundraisers and protesting in the streets, SHC furthered the cause of anti-fascism. Women members in the SHC led street protests and fundraisers in support of political dissenters and prisoners in Spain. Refugees often escaped Spain as stowaways in ships or enrolled as sailors and would desert on arrival in the USA. The SHC provided legal support to prevent deportations back to Spain,

Stamps to raise funds for the Spanish Republic from the the Sociedades Hispanas Confederadas.


Sergio Aragonés cartoon in España Libre.

of liberty. His protagonists represented the later twentieth-century freedom fighters, concerned with fascist subjugation still relevant today.

and the SHC paid for their passages to travel to visa-granting countries. The SHC secretary, Carmen Cordellat, assisted refugees with legal paperwork and funds. Women also made possible the SHC antifascist theatre that never ceased to raise funds to support refugees and prisoners while galvanizing the exile community with popular dramaturgic genres. In most cases, the effort to help refugees was a collaboration that involved several organizations. For example, the SHC cooperated with the Spanish Refugee Aid (SRA), which helped refugees in France. Both organizations shared their membership lists, and the executive committee members attended the other organization’s meetings. Nancy Macdonald, was the leading figure of the SRA since its founding in 1953 until her retirement in 1983, held an honorary membership in SHC. The Spanish Civil War exile print culture cannot be understood on political terms alone but rather in the transformative role that culture had—in the forms of cartoons, satirical chronicles, literature, and theater—for members in their fight against fascism. España Libre’s editors, contributors, and readers adapted in exile and created a postwar identity through a diverse body of cultural work. Creative expression was one of the most revolutionary means of fighting fascism because it enlarged members’ comprehension of their reality and the significance of resistance. When the anarchist movement was decimated in Spain during decades of fascist terror, the greater Spanish

anarchist movement did not disappear; instead, it remained operational in the transnational print and epistolary networks of exile. In addition to focusing on solidarity, España Libre safeguarded anarchist thought and practice. In her search for an affirmative political project that went beyond the pain of antifascist exile, SHC member Carmen Aldecoa researched and wrote on the broad political legacies of anarchist transnational journalism extending back to the nineteenth century. In Del sentir y pensar (Of feeling and thinking, 1957), Aldecoa sought to preserve the history of labor print culture that was being erased by Franco’s censors. Recovering labor print culture and literature, she demonstrated the impact of anarchism on the education of workers and society at large, showing that the anarchist press was a significant medium for circulation of ideas among workers in pre-civil war Spain. Another example of this effort was the work of Miguel Giménez Igualada, who wrote several books in the 1960s against the vilification suffered by the anarchist movement during the Cold War. Giménez Igualada sought to undo stereotyped perceptions of anarchism as terrorism and to reaffirm its values of cooperation, egalitarianism, and peace. Inspired by his exilic experiences in the Southwest, the novelist Ramón J. Sender, who contributed to España Libre, elaborated on the meaning of borders and freedom in Relatos fronterizos (1970), a collection of short stories that fictionalized bordercrossers and their re-conceptualization of freedom as cooperation and mutual aid, key to the anarchist understanding

Nieto’s membership card of the Sociedades Hispanas Confederadas.

These later trajectories of SHC members show that the development of anarchist ideas was linked not only to legacies from the Spanish Revolution but also to their evolution in the United States. For example, Félix Martí Ibáñez transferred his anarchist utopian thinking to the magical short stories he wrote for the highly regarded medical magazine he founded, MD, providing mainstream readers with opportunities to consider everyday revolutionary possibilities. Moving toward a postmodern approach, revolution was exercised by political inclusion rather than through a violent contest of political power. Likewise, España Libre’s editorial cartoonist Sergio Aragonés transferred his tongue-incheek critical take on the fascist myths of power, perfection, and regenerative death to the representation of American life in Mad magazine by demythologizing totalitarian tendencies in democratic societies. Antifascist culture left a lasting impression on him, and his pantomimes continue to foreground joy and inquisitive thinking, practices exercised by the anarchist exile community that welcomed him to New York. Malleable and persistent, the anarchists of the SHC were a political and cultural backbone of antifascism in the United States.

Montse Feu, an associate professor at Sam Houston State University, is the author of Fighting Fascist Spain. Worker Protest from the Printing Press (U of Illinois P, (2020) and Correspondencia personal y política de un anarcosindicalista exiliado: Jesús González Malo (1943-1965) (Universidad de Cantabria, 2016); she has co-edited Writing Revolution: Hispanic Anarchism in the United States (U of Illinois P, 2019). Images courtesy of the author and Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Project. June 2020 THE VOLUNTEER 11


Marina with friends in 1935. Ramón Mercader is the second from the left.

The Girl Who Dated Trotsky’s Assassin The Story Behind an Iconic Photograph By Yvonne Scholten Marina Ginestà became world famous late in life, when a stunning photograph taken at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War surfaced in a Spanish archive. With the help of Marina’s son, the journalist Yvonne Scholten uncovers new details of Ginestà’s adventurous life.

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ozens of book covers feature the picture of this beautiful Spanish woman. It was shot in 1936 in Barcelona on the roof of the Hotel Colón, which served as the headquarters of the communist-affiliated United Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSUC). The photographer, Hans Guttmann, was a young Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany who published his work under the Spanish pseudonym Juan Guzmán. The propagandistic power of his image is immediate and irresistible: the fight against fascism, it suggests, exudes beauty, strength, and youth. The girl in the photograph was 17 years old; she’d never held a rifle before. Her name was Marina Ginestà. She was born in Toulouse, France, in 1919, because her parents, progressive activists, had fled the Kingdom of Spain around 1910. She grew up speaking French, Catalan, and Spanish. Her parents moved back when she was 12, shortly after the proclamation of the Republic in 1931. The outbreak of the Civil War, in July 1936, found her in Barcelona. In the many interviews she gave later in life, she maintained that she’d never joined the armed struggle and that the only time she held a rifle was during the photo session on the hotel roof. Her son Manuel, however, has his doubts. “Marina told me she shot a rifle once, by accident,” he writes in his unpublished memoirs. “In the chaos of the first days of fighting, someone had given her a Winchester, just like the ones they used in cowboy movies. When she was showing it off to a girlfriend at the Plaça de Catalunya, smack in the middle of Barcelona, she accidently fired it. It turned out there still was a bullet in the chamber—a classic mistake.” Other sources also shed doubt on Marina’s insistence that she did not participate in the fighting. As it turns out, Marina makes an appearance in the diary of Mikhail Koltsov, the well-known Soviet correspondent who covered the war for Pravda and who was considered one of Stalin’s confidants. In his Diary of the Spanish Civil War, which was published in Spanish long after Stalin had had his friend liquidated, Koltsov 12 THE VOLUNTEER June 2020

writes that Marina never went anywhere without her heavy, antiquated rifle. He would know, because for several months Marina served as Koltsov’s interpreter, translating from Spanish to French. In fact, she’d been present at the legendary meeting between the Pravda correspondent and Buenaventura Durruti, the Anarchist leader, in mid-August 1936. Since Durruti’s French turned out to be at least as good as Koltsov’s, Marina’s services were not needed, and the two men excused her. “I wouldn’t have understood their conversation anyway,” Marina later said. “I was much too young. But they appeared to like each other a lot. They smiled and seemed to agree on everything. That, I have always thought, must have been one of the reasons why Koltsov was liquidated once he got back to Moscow. Come to think of it, I’m happy I didn’t end up in there, too, as did so many Spanish Communists after the defeat of the Republic.” Among those who did travel to Moscow was one of Marina’s old flames, Ramón Mercader, who in 1940 would assassinate Leon Trotsky in Mexico. Here, in this photograph from 1935, is Mercader standing next to Marina. It was in Moscow where Mercader was trained as a secret agent, and it was from there that he was sent to Mexico to kill Trotsky. Manuel, Marina’s son, didn’t find out about his mother’s relationship with Ramón until much later. “In September 1960 I was spending a weekend with her,” he writes in his memoirs. “She came toward me, suddenly very pale, with an issue of Paris Match in her hand. She sat down next to me and pointed to a photograph in the magazine. A couple of weeks earlier, the caption said, Trotsky’s assassin had been released after twenty years in a Mexican prison. Not only did she know the killer, she told me, but he’d been her boyfriend back in Barcelona. They had met through Marina’s older brother, Albert, and his group of friends from the Socialist Youth. Ramón, she recalled, had been the playboy of the group, a kind of Communist Don Juan, notorious for his many conquests.” Marina was one of them. “Around 1935, she said, there’d even been a mention of marriage.” Marina at the front in Bujalaroz with Koltsov, 1936.


Another shot from the 1936 session on the rooftop of Hotel Colรณn. Photo Juan Guzmรกn.

She was born in Toulouse, France, in 1919, because her parents had fled Spain around 1910.

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Marina with her brother at Tardienta, 1936.

That idea, however, met with the resistance of Ramón’s mother, Caridad Mercader, who herself was in a relationship with a Russian secret agent stationed in Spain. It was Caridad who convinced her son to go to Moscow; she was also involved in planning the attack on Trotsky. Marina knew nothing of this. But Manuel figures that his mother must have been pretty besotted with Ramón. Much later, when she was 85, she and Manuel went to see The Assassination of Trotsky, the 1972 film by Joseph Losey. “I told Marina I thought Losey had made a mistake by casting a handsome actor like Alain Delon in the role of the assassin,” Manuel recalls. “To my astonishment, my mother blushed and said, icily, ‘Ramón Mercader was much better looking than that tacky Alain Delon.’” In an interview, Marina said she loved the film, which reminded her of the ambiance in the youth movement of the PSUC, the Catalan party that united Socialists and Communists. “Young folks today can’t imagine what that was like,” she said. “People have the impression that we cared about nothing but politics. That was partly true, but the truth was that we lived in something of a double culture. On the one hand, we were fascinated by the Soviet Union, which after all had had a real revolution. We believed in the possibilities of a new society, a new man, a new relation between the rich and poor, more social justice. We were against the power of the church, which in Spain was extremely conservative and powerful, and against the big landowners who’d kept a large part of Spain stuck in the Middle Ages. But on the other hand, we were young and lived in Barcelona, then a relatively modern city. We were obsessed with Hollywood and the new world of cinema. We loved Greta Garbo and Jean Harlow. Personally, I was completely smitten with Gary Cooper. We saw all the westerns that came through. Those movie stars were heroes of ours as much as Lenin and Stalin were. So you could say we lived in two illusion-filled worlds: movies and politics.” Marina spent the bulk of the war years in Valencia. After the fall of Barcelona in 1939 she fled to Alicante, where it was rumored that Russian ships were headed to rescue refugees. Instead, the thousands of people gathered in the Alicante harbor saw Mussolini’s Italian troops take over the city while singing the fascist theme song Giovinezza. Together with a friend, Marina managed to escape and make it to the Pyrenees. Her friend died during the crossing; Marina herself fell and broke an arm, but was able to enter France, where it took her several months to locate her parents and brother. 14 THE VOLUNTEER June 2020

With Europe on the edge of war, the Ginestà family decided to try its luck in Latin America, where Mexico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic were rumored to take in Spanish refugees. When their initial attempt to reach Mexico failed, Marina and her family ended up in the Dominican Republic, whose right-wing dictator Trujillo hoped that the Spanish refugees would help “whiten” the island’s population. On the boat, the S.S. De La Salle, Marina met Manuel Periáñez, a fellow refugee who also fought in the war. In December 1940 they had a son, whom they named Manuel, after the father. By 1944 Marina and family moved to Venezuela, where Marina found a job at the Belgian embassy, fell in love with a diplomat, and remarried. In the following decades, Marina moved in diplomatic circles without uttering a word about her rifle-toting revolutionary past. In 1953, Marina’s husband was stationed in The Hague. By then, Marina had developed a strong dislike of the diplomatic world. (Franco’s Spain boasted about its diplomatic representation in The Hague; the Netherlands was among the first foreign nations to recognize the regime.) Marina died in 2014, three weeks before her 95th birthday. Later that year, her son Manuel re-issued two books she had published in 1976, Les antipodes and D’autres viendront. In July 2016, on the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the war, Marina’s 17-year-old face could be seen across Barcelona on posters and banners announcing a series of commemorative events organized by the city government of mayor Ada Colau. Guzmán’s photo, Manuel said, was only rediscovered in 1995, in the archives of Spain’s official news agency EFE. Its worldwide publication set off a search for the identity of the beautiful girl it portrayed. Manuel, who had recognized Marina right away, got in touch with Xulio Bilbao at EFE and told his mother to give him a call. “Marina told me that Xulio almost fell off his chair when he realized he was talking to the girl in the picture. It gave her a good laugh.” Yvonne Scholten is a Dutch writer and freelance journalist who has worked as a foreign correspondent in Italy and other countries. She has written biographies of Fanny Schoonheyt and Bart van der Schelling, who both fought in the Spanish Civil War, and has coordinated the online biographical dictionary of Dutch volunteers in Spain at www.spanjestrijders.nl. English version by Sebastiaan Faber.

Manuel Periáñez, Marina’s son, in Barcelona, 2016.


Faces of ALBA:

Jack Mayerhofer By Aaron Retish Jack Mayerhofer is the newest member of the ALBA Board of Governors and its freshest face. A leading figure in the protection of human rights and the development of education programs to prevent mass atrocities across the globe, Jack holds a B.S. in French and Applied Linguistics from Penn State University and an M.S. in Global Affairs from Rutgers University. Could you tell us what you do at the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities and why you were drawn to its mission? I was drawn to the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities (AIPG) because of the clear and urgent need of its mission, working to prevent genocide and other atrocity crimes. More specifically, though, I was attracted to AIPG’s approach of understanding that prevention is a longterm process that must start very early in the conflict cycle and be a sustained, ongoing effort. Atrocity prevention is not about taking action only when it is clear the situation is dire but about paying attention to, and mitigating, the early signs that can put a society on the path for experiencing large scale identity-based violence. As Deputy Executive Director at AIPG I work on a wide range of the organization’s programs. This includes providing support to my colleagues across our different offices in Oswiecim, Poland (the former Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz) New York, USA, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Kampala Uganda, and Bucharest, Romania as well as leading the development of all new and emerging programs at AIPG. Is there an initiative that AIPG is working on now that you would like to highlight? Like many other organizations, AIPG has been in the process of adapting how we work to ensure that we can still provide the necessary support to our partners in government and civil society in a COVID-19-adjusted world. We’ve transformed our in-person training programs into online courses, for example. But the increases we are seeing in levels of discrimination due to the COVID-19 pandemic also have serious implications for the work of atrocity prevention. We try to understand what conditions put a given society at greater risk for experiencing large scale violations of human rights and identity-based violence and try to provide assistance to the stakeholders in that State or region who are best positioned to mitigate those risk factors. As we have seen in all corners of the globe, including the United States and Europe, COVID-19 not only presents a severe public health risk but it has also elevated levels of hate speech and scapegoating, and has led to unprecedented levels of macroeconomic instability and insecurity. This could further erode civil liberties, exacerbate inequality, and increase authoritarianism. With this in mind, we are developing both research and training support for

governments to better respond to these worrying trends brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. In November 2018, you gave testimony before Congress on the work of AIPG in preventing mass atrocities, focusing on your great work in Tanzania. Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission has created a particularly important venue to speak about how the US government can develop better policy for atrocity prevention. A few months after that hearing, in January of 2019, the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act was signed into law legally codifying atrocity prevention in the US national interest. In addition, it also requires training for select foreign service officers on prevention and compels the President to submit an annual report to Congress on the USG’s efforts on atrocity prevention. Do you have a personal connection to the Spanish Civil War or the Volunteers? My partner is from Valencia, one of the capitals of the Spanish Republic before Franco’s fascist forces took control of the country, and her oldest relatives have vivid memories of the Civil War and post-war period. And I have always been inspired by the motivations and spirit of volunteers, like the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, that fought for the Republic. I have always found the strength of their conviction inspiring—and increasingly relevant for the world we live in today. Both AIPG and ALBA use history to inform the present and both have a focus on human rights. How do you connect the two organizations’ activities? Both ALBA and AIPG understand that there are lessons that we can learn from the past and make use of today, in order to counteract the destructive forces that lead to the rise of fascist dictatorships like the Franco regime. While we cannot develop prescriptive formulas from the past and strictly apply them to events today, we can learn lessons and develop better practices and strategies for preventing the conditions that lead to democratic backsliding and the rise of authoritarian regimes and the violence that characterize them. This work must employ all possible strategies including training, awareness raising, education, and memorialization among many others, and AIPG and ALBA’s work is very connected in contributing to this effort. Aaron Retish teaches at Wayne State University. June 2020 THE VOLUNTEER 15


Perry and Neal Rosenstein with ALBA/Puffin Award winner Bryan Stevenson, 2014.

PERRY ROSENSTEIN (1926-2020)

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e write in mourning for the loss of our dear friend, Perry Rosenstein, Founder and President of the Puffin Foundation, Ltd., who passed away in Teaneck, NJ on April 3 after a brief struggle with the COVID-19 virus. A successful self-made businessman who was born into a family of Polish immigrants and had grown up in poverty in the Coops cooperative in the Bronx, he remained passionate about assisting have-nots in all walks of society, but especially artists and arts organizations that were often excluded because of “race, gender or social philosophy.” It was in this context of arts—the creation of a major exhibition of Spanish Civil War posters “Shouts from the Wall”—that Perry first befriended ALBA in 1994 and became a partner in shaping our education and cultural programs. Together with his wife, Gladys Miller Rosenstein, and son Neal Rosenstein, Perry graciously supported a wide range of ALBA’s activities—from the annual ALBA/Susman Lecture series (which recently featured Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha) to traveling exhibitions of Children’s Art in Wartime; from ALBA’s innovative Teaching Institutes focus-

16 THE VOLUNTEER June 2020

ing on anti-fascism to the prestigious ALBA/Puffin Prize for Human Rights Activism (which has honored Bryan Stevenson, Baltasar Garzón, and Florida’s Coalition of Immokalee Workers, among others). With Perry’s support and approval, this year’s award will be given to No More Deaths, an organization based in Arizona that assists refugees seeking asylum in the US. Perry’s Foundation, established in 1983, has also supported environmental organizations (notably the Teaneck, NJ Conservancy); the Puffin Activist Gallery at the Museum of the City of New York and exhibitions on the history of labor in New York and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Another area of Perry’s interest were progressive media outlets, such as the Type Media Center, Democracy Now, the Nation magazine, Jewish Currents, and In These Times. What made Perry’s contributions unique was the range of his vision. He welcomed new ideas and new organizations, even as he cherished his left-wing background and heritage. He was one of a kind, a man with a broad outlook for the future and a strategy to accomplish it. His legacy will endure in the good work of his Foundation.


“La Nueve” company in England prior to shipping out to France. Rafael Gómez is standing in the third row from the bottom, the sixth soldier from the right.

FAMED 9TH COMPANY OF THE LECLERC DIVISION LOSES ITS LAST SPANISH VETERAN By Robert Coale

Recognition of the presence of Spanish Loyalists in the French Army over the last 15 years has unfortunately led to propagation of numerous myths. Rafael Gómez-Nieto (1921-2020), the last representative of a crusty and rare group of World War II veterans—Spanish Loyalists who served in the French Second Armored Division—died on March 31 near Strasbourg, France, victim of the COVID-19 pandemic. Until very recently he was a healthy widower and grandfather, who lived alone, drove his own car and was looking forward to turning 100. His family has had the unprecedented honor of receiving condolences from both Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic and Felipe VI, King of Spain. Born in the province of Almería, Andalusia, he grew up in Cadiz, Madrid and then Barcelona, subject to postings of his Army officer father, Rafael Gómez-Cañadas, who would remain loyal to the democratic government during the Civil War. At the age of 17, the younger Rafael Gómez was called up in Barcelona to fight on the Ebro as part of the so-called Baby Bottle conscripts. He eventually followed the Retirada to the border in February 1939 and was held in the French concen-

tration camp of Argelès sur Mer. Fortunately, an uncle residing in Oran, Algeria wrote a letter vouching for and offering a home to “Rafael Gómez” and as the French authorities were illacquainted with the Spanish tradition of two surnames that one letter freed both father and son and got them to North Africa. In Oran, the young Rafael became a cobbler’s apprentice and lived with his family. This arrangement allowed him to avoid the hardships other Loyalist exiles endured in North Africa, such as the Vichy hard labor camps of the pharaonic and ultimately unfinished Trans-Saharian Railroad or stints in the French Foreign Legion. In June 1943 he enlisted in the Free French Corps franc d’Afrique and later claimed his mother smashed a glass on the floor out of rage upon hearing the news. There he was united with other antifascist Spaniards, many of whom had fought in the Tunisian campaign against Rommel. These men then transferred to the nascent French Second Armored Division of General Leclerc.

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As a half-track driver in the division’s armored infantry Régiment de Marche del Tchad, Gomez-Nieto served in the first platoon of the famous 9th company, la Nueve, the unit with the highest concentration of Spanish Loyalist veterans of the entire division. At the wheel of the halftrack painted with the name Guernica, and then the Don Quichotte II, he survived the campaign in France without a scratch (Normandy, Paris, the Vosges, Strasbourg, Alsace, the Colmar Pocket), although he was evacuated with frozen feet during the arctic winter of 1945, returning to his unit in time for the final rush into Germany and Austria which led the Spanish veterans to celebrate V -E Day in Berchtesgaden. Discharged in the summer of 1945, he returned to Algeria where he married, but in 1958 as war tore through the country, Gómez-Nieto put his in-laws’ family Alsatian roots to good use and settled near Strasbourg, in Lingolsheim, a town he had participated in liberating some 13 years earlier, finding employment as a mechanic in a nearby Citroën automobile factory.

Pedro Calleja, 2019 visible online at www.canalsur.es). Let us hope that as time and passions pass, more credible research will tell the whole story of la Nueve, because here, as is often the case, the truth is even more tantalizing than fiction. Robert S. Coale is Professor of Hispanic Studies at the Université de Rouen-Normandie in France and a member of the Board of ALBA. For more on Spanish Loyalists of the Leclerc Division and their role in the Liberation of Paris see “Setting the Record Straight: The Liberation of Paris, August 25, 1944” in the September 2019 edition of The Volunteer.

Curiously, the honor of last survivor is not a chosen role, but rather a status thrust upon even a minor protagonist of any significant historical event by means of excellent genes, a healthy lifestyle or just good luck. Prior to receiving the coveted French Legion of Honor in 2015, Rafael Gómez faithfully attended commemoration ceremonies but was reserved, even shy, shunned interviews and remained in the background. Ironically, Rafael Gómez, the last veteran of the Nueve, did not take part in the unit’s most famous exploit, the perilous mission into Paris on the evening of August 24, 1944 led by Captain Dronne. In fact, upon receiving orders to dash into the capital and link up with the Resistance, the captain was unable to disengage his first platoon which was then heavily committed in action nearby. Dronne’s column thus headed to its rendezvous with history with fewer than five halftracks of the first platoon, including the Guernica driven by Gómez. The next morning, the forty hapless soldiers were hastily added to the rear of the division convoy. In yet another bizarre quirk of fate, unlike Dronne’s column, which against all odds, entered Paris the night before without firing a shot, the Spanish platoon at the rearguard had to battle its way into the capital. German diehards had succeeded in cutting off the last few vehicles at the Porte d’Orléans and a brief firefight was necessary to open the way into Paris. The platoon was not reunited with its comrades until the next day during preparations for De Gaulle’s victory parade down the Champs Elysées. While unquestionably deserved, recognition of the presence of Spanish Loyalists in the French Army over the last 15 years has unfortunately led to propagation of numerous myths, and many digital sources paint a distorted picture of la Nueve. It is therefore not difficult to encounter outlandish claims: one is almost forced to conclude that the thousands of German soldiers in the Paris garrison were defeated by one brave band of 100 Spanish antifascists, or that the only infantry company of the entire Leclerc Division worth its salt was la Nueve. To be sure, Rafael Gómez-Nieto was a discreet veteran who did not overstate his personal contribution in the war against Nazism as evidenced by his contribution to the recent documentary film, “Rafael Gómez, el andaluz que liberó Paris” (by 18 THE VOLUNTEER June 2020

FOR THOSE WHO CAME AFTER: SONGS OF RESISTANCE FROM THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR A new interpretation of ten iconic songs from the Spanish Civil War

Recorded live at the Japan Society in 2016 commemorating the 80th anniversary of the war, the album features a fragment of an interview with Abe Osheroff and the voice of Delmer Berg, with liner notes by Adam Hochschild.

Now available at info@alba-valb.org $20 (for domestic orders. Price includes shipping & handling.) All proceeds from the record are being generously donated to ALBA.


Book reviews

Down Below, by Leonora Carrington. Translated by Victor Llona, with an introduction by Marina Warner. New York: NYRB, 2017. 112 pp. Reviewed by Camille Meder

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ritten in 1943 about events that took place between 1940 and 1941, Leonora Carrington’s Down Below offers the compelling testimony of a young woman institutionalized for madness while the world itself seemed to go mad around her. In an account that strives to be “truthful but incomplete,” as she puts it, Carrington (19172011) describes her experiences following the internment of her lover, the surrealist painter Max Ernst, in a concentration camp in France shortly before World War II. She details her subsequent escape to Franco’s Spain, her increasing delusions and paranoia, and her 1940 institutionalization in a mental hospital in Santander. While her account clearly shows her brilliance as a writer and artist, it also demonstrates a subtly subversive, feminist interpretation of events by a young woman who has lost control over her environment, her bodily freedom, and even her own perceptions. Eighty years later, it remains a transfixing story of an individual struggle for wellness and reason in the face of overwhelming world events and traumatic personal experiences. In the late 1930s, as the Spanish Republic was losing the war against Franco and France faced the threat of German aggression, Carrington and Ernst were living in Saint Martin d’Ardèche, near Montélimar in the south of France. The 23-year-old Carrington had already made a name for herself among the surrealists. She’d begun to publish her writing, beginning with The House of Fear (1938), and to find her style as a painter with her Self-Portrait (Inn of the Dawn Horse) (1938) and The Horses of Lord Candlestick (1938), which was purchased by Peggy Guggenheim. This productive period came to an abrupt halt in September 1939, when Ernst was arrested and interned as an “undesirable foreigner.” After Carrington and friends initially succeeded

A subtly subversive, feminist interpretation of events by a young woman who has lost control over her environment, her bodily freedom, and even her own perceptions. in earning his release from the L’Argentière concentration camp, Ernst’s confinement at Les Milles in May 1940 and the encroaching German invasion were soon followed by Carrington’s break from reason. Carrington begins her recollections in Down Below following the traumatic moment of Ernst’s second detention. The account traces in chronological order what followed, including her journey with friends to Franco’s Spain, her increasing delusions, the peak of her madness resulting in her institutionalization, and her experiences at the hospital in 1940. Restrained and injected with the convulsion-inducing drug Cardiazol, she experiences not just her physical discomfort but a violation of her bodily autonomy. Carrington’s delusions are fueled as much by the political and historical context as her anxiety about domination and powerlessness. When Ernst is taken away, the world spins out of control, and her own autonomy is compromised as she loses control over her circumstances and her mind. Her paranoia is rooted in the rise of fascism, the alliance between Franco’s Spain and Nazi Germany, and the patriarchal power structures of the period. Soon after the onset of her psychiatric symptoms, she begins imagining a sinister global network. She is convinced that the Nazis are exerting their influence on Spain and Franco through psychological manipulation. She specifically fixates on a man named Van Ghent, who she knows to be “somehow” associated with the Nazi government. After meeting with the British Consul to tell him that “the World War was being waged hypnotically by a group of people—Hitler and Co.—who were represented in Spain by Van Ghent; that to vanquish him it would suffice to understand his hypnotic power,” Carrington is confined. Her paranoia struggles to make sense of real-world events and power structures that are no less unsettling than her delusions. After all, Spain itself has just emerged from its civil war; just after her arrival, Carrington recalls imagining “that the red earth was the dried blood of the Civil War. I was choked by the dead, by their thick presence in that lacerated countryside.” Rooted in the social and historical circumstances of its author’s life, Down Below is a disturbingly beautiful exploration of sanity and insanity in a chaotic historical moment. For contemporary readers, it provides a vivid depiction of an individual experience of inner turmoil fueled by a troubled, unpredictable, and dangerous world. What could be a more suitable book for our time? Camille Meder is a Ph.D. student in the Department of English at Claremont Graduate University who focuses on modernist literature.

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The Popular Front and the Barcelona 1936 Popular Olympics: Playing as if the World Were Watching, by James Stout. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2020. xix + 136 pp. Reviewed by Andrew McFarland

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ames Stout’s The Popular Front and the Barcelona 1936 Popular Olympics combines sports and political history to probe an unusual and largely forgotten episode in 1930s Spain. It is the sad story of athletic games, organized in the anti-fascist spirit of the Popular Front movement, that never were because the Spanish Civil War exploded days before their planned start in July 1936. The book also draws some interesting connections between past and present, specifically between anti-fascism and the Popular Front then and Antifa and the Catalan independence movement today. This framing provides a particular urgency to the work, though it also leads to some idealization of the left’s cause and sport’s ability to bring people together. Stout discusses these matters openly so the reader can maintain a critical distance from the historian’s assertions. The book’s first two chapters provide a background for the development of Catalan nationalism, the Olympic movement, and Popular Front alliances. Through the 1920s and early 1930s, Catalan nationalism had evolved from its middle-class roots and was seeking a broader, more populist base. Cultural activities fit this goal well, especially in an age when sport grew rapidly and many of Barcelona’s sports organizations adopted stronger regional identities in contrast with Madrid. At the same time, the Olympic movement landed in controversy leading up to the 1936 Berlin Games. Various boycott movements against the Nazi games sprang up in France, the US, UK, and Spain and some leftist groups sought an alternative that spoke to a larger swath of the western population than the narrowly class-based Workers Olympiads organized in the 1920s and 30s. Stout’s third through sixth chapters go into fascinating detail about the event’s organization, participants who strove to attend, the events planned, and what happened after the Civil War. They provide the core new research for the book and prove well worth the effort the author clearly exerted. In chapter three, Stout delves into the idea for “popular” games and how Barcelona emerged as host city. The goal was for an event that had a working-class base but also included a broader coalition of anti-fascist groups that stretched into the middle classes. Importantly, this effort was supported financially by the Popular Front governments of Spain and 20 THE VOLUNTEER June 2020

Stout rightly emphasizes that idealism and internationalism ran through the entire organization. France. Barcelona offered a logical location because of Catalonia’s established history of using sport for identity building. The city also boasted a significant sporting infrastructure from its own clubs, past international exhibitions, and prior attempts to lure the official games. The Estadi de Montjuïc, for example, was less than a decade old. In these arguments, Stout underplays the importance of nationalist motives driving some of the organizers. The Barcelona middle class harbored a strong desire for international recognition. Though most of the athletes came from Spain and France, Stout details the efforts to bring attendees from other western European countries, North America, and North Africa, who often represented groups that had faced repression. They included communist and Jewish athletes from Germany, women, and representatives of other Spanish regions like the Basque Country. Most competitors paid for their own travel (some from the US were subsidized by labor unions) and the hosts offered rooms in hotels, the stadium, and even private homes. Stout rightly emphasizes that idealism and internationalism ran through the entire organization. For example, athletes from every nation were mixed together in accommodations instead of dividing them by nations; the games included three times as many competitions for women as the Berlin Olympics, and even a 20 x 500m mass relay race for larger teams that would have forced nonrunners into its competition. These plans were laudable and sought to put internationalism and equality into practice, although we can never be sure that they would have come to fruition. Since the games were only days from becoming reality when the civil war broke out, this is a story of a very near miss rather than an idealistic failure. Stout wraps up his account with the poignant image of the orchestra rehearsing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” the evening before the Opening Ceremonies, even as tensions rose and disparate reports of a military uprising began to trickle in. In the final chapter, he explores what happened to participants of all stripes when war broke out. Most sought a way home through what was now a war zone, some stayed and joined the forming militias, and a few eventually drifted into the International Brigades that were formed in October. Stout does well to focus on a few specific participants with stories he can tell, though the vast majority get lost in the chaos of history. He supplements these accounts by discussing who came to fight in the International Brigades and their ideological and national similarities with the athletes who came first. Overall, Stout’s is an innovative work that should be of great interest to readers of The Volunteer. Andrew McFarland is an Associate Professor of History at Indiana University, Kokomo.


On the Dry Sea of Sonora By Lollie Butler

On the Dry Sea of Sonora By Lollie Butler

the wildcat takes in stride and will gnaw the bones of los povres

Man and woman will gamble survival in one world against the scant means of another,

Everything the shadow of a wall can’t cure pays profits to the sun.

when the sky and sand change places as plodding droops to crawling on the dry sea of Sonora.

Take this man Jaime and his wife Rosa handing off their two young ones like duffels;

El sol…el sol, there is nothing but the skin-splitting sun as man and woman follow their only god; a single shade tree

searching for work their empty hands ache to reach. At night their ninos cry like dark-eyed mice.

crossing themselves as they cross La Frontera…Adios…adios… …Via con Dios…

beckoning from the rippling horizon.

See how their faces turn to the small-craft warnings of Sonora; man and woman adrift in a lifeboat made of coyote promises.

Under the anger of noon, the rattler recoils and the distant mountains spin like folk dancers.

Walking north with two day’s water for a five-day journey, the sun rises over the range of javalina, bears down like the wrath of the Aztec God; offers no solace. These rigors

Adios…adios… Under a bruised sky, the sun drops behind the mountains; a double chain of footprints comes to an end and hope’s votive candle is blown out across Sonora.

Beef jerky gone, weak water, until there’s nothing but the thought of torn nails from family timbers; the lack of legal papers, saying they are counted among lives worth living.

Lollie Butler is a Fellow in Literature, granted by the Arizona Commission for the Arts. After earning an MFA from the University of Arizona, she taught Creative Writing to women inmates of the Arizona State Prison, and won several awards including a fellowship from The Arizona Commission for the Arts. She was awarded Tucson Citizen of the Year in 2003 for her work with refugees. Her poetry and prose are published widely. Lollie lives in Tucson with various wild creatures of the desert.

June 2020 THE VOLUNTEER 21


A sampling of notes written by Lincoln Brigade veterans in early 1939 for a benefit auction for anti-Nazi writers and the VALB Rehabilitation Fund. The originals were bought by Israel Perlman and generously donated by David Geltman (see page 5). Depicted here are notes from David McKelvey-White, Alvah Bessie, Steve Nelson, James Neugass, and Aaron Harris.

22 THE VOLUNTEER June 2020


CONTRIBUTIONS RECEIVED FROM FEBRUARY 1-APRIL 30, 2020 Benefactor ($5,000 and above) Puffin Foundation, Ltd. Estate of Joan Amatniek

Sponsor ($1,000-$4,999) Estate of Harry Parsons • Louise Popkin • Nathan Shaffer

Supporter ($250-$999) David & Suzanne Cane in memory of Lawrence Cane, VALB • Peter N. Carroll & Jeannette Ferrary in memory of Jack Lucid and Milton Wolff • Noel & Cathy Folsom • Adam Hochschild • Michael J. Organek • Northern California Carpenters Regional Council • Joan & Neal Rosenberg • Josephine & Henry Yurek in memory of Steve Nelson

Contributor ($100-$249) • Edward Barlow • Elizabeth Brown • Marion Burns in honor of International Women's Day • Stuart Carlson in memory of Carl Joseph Carlson • Darlene Ceremello • Robert Coale • Jeffrey Creque • Genevieve Dishotsky • Wendy Doniger • Paulette Dubetz • Felice Ehrlich in memory of Morris Brier • David Fairley • Margo Feinberg • Edith Firoozi Fried in memory of Kenneth Bridenthal • Michael Grossman • Chia Hamilton • William A. Hazen • William Hedrick • Joan Intrator • Aloha Keylor • Paul Limm • Dennis Mar • Paulina K. Marks • Daniel Merer • Gerald Meyer • James Moore • Patricia Murphy • Paul Paradise • Peter Persoff • William Rosen • Michael Rosenthal • Sue Rosenthal • Paul Schechter • Judith Shapiro • Michael Silver in memory of Nathan Silver • Peter Stansky • Patricia Tanttila • Sara & William Tattam • Jordi Torrent in honor of James Yates • Thurman Wenzl

Friend ($1-$99) Joe Adcock • Everett Aison in memory of Irving Fajans • William Russell Cozzens Barber • Dale Baum • Martin Bigos • Eric Botts • Alain Bujard • Geoffrey Cobden • Shulamit Decktor • Douglas Doepke • Pearl M. Drabkin • Michael Duffy • Bernard Feldstein • Lucy Fried • Alex Gabriles • Lawrence Gerzog • Eric Gordon • Mark & Sandra Haasis • Susan Hanna • Richard W. Hannon • Oleine Hedeen • Stanley Heinricher • Richard Horvitz • Doris Katzen • Dean Kaufer • Ruth E. Kavesh in honor of Ellyn Polshek • Marlin R. Keshishian • Mitchell Kief • Joseph Kufchak • John Kyper • Gail Long • Blas Ruiz Lorena Gonzalez • Betty Marot • Andrew W. McKibben • Judith Nelson in memory of John Rody and Marvin Nelson • Karen Nessel • Michael O'Connor • Nancy B. Polin • Marilyn Ravicz • Marci Reaven • Julius Rensch • Fariborz Rezakhanlou • Thomas Riggins • Suzanne & Alan Jay Rom in memory of Samuel S. Schiff (VALB) and Isabelle P Schiff • Gail I. & Lewis Rubman • Donnie & Linden Schatzberg in memory of Pete Seeger • Lynn Shoemaker • William Slavick • Ann Sprayregen • Luise S. Stone • Lynne & Bertram Strieb • Jon & Betty Torgerson in memory of Bill Bailey • Pierre-Paul Villafafila • Mark Wallem • Jonathan & Edith Weil • Robert H. & Lois Whealey • Bonnie & Barry Willdorf • Robert Wolff in memory of Milt Wolff

Did you know?

ALBA’s new website makes donating easier than ever. Make a one-time gift or set up a monthly donation. All donations are tax-deductible. Go to www.alba-valb.org/donate June 2020 THE VOLUNTEER 23


AMERICA AND WORLD FASCISM: FROM THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR TO NUREMBERG AND BEYOND

CHECK OUT ALBA’S NEW WEBSITE!

Online Workshop for Teachers in Social Studies, Spanish, and other World Languages, grades 4-12 Offered from June 30 through July 28 through the Collaborative for Educational Services Participants will earn 22.5 PDPs or 1 graduate credit. Registration Deadline: June 12, 2020 Register online at www.collaborative.org/events-andcourses/america-and-world-fascism

MAKE ANTI-FASCISM PART OF YOUR LEGACY! What you leave to friends and loved ones—and the causes you champion—are ways of expressing your hopes and dreams for the future. As you make your plans, please consider joining the Jarama Society by including ALBA in your will or living trust, or naming us as a beneficiary of your estate. ALBA accepts legacy gifts in any amount. Help us to continue and expand our educational mission of teaching future generations about the sacrifices made by the Lincoln Brigade in their fight against the global threat of fascism. Your gift to ALBA will help ensure that today’s young people learn about the experiences of volunteers in Spain, as well as their broader dedication to social justice at home. If you have questions or would like to discuss your options, please contact ALBA’s Executive Director Mark Wallem at 212 674 5398 or mwallem@alba-valb.org, or ALBA board member Daniel Czitrom at dczitrom@mtholyoke.edu or 413 335 1949.

www.alba-valb.org Set up a Monthly Donation Browse the Online Bookstore Peruse the Searchable Volunteer Database