Vol. XXXIII, No.3
PUBLISHED BY THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN BRIGADE ARCHIVES
Michael Ratner and Europeâ€™s Fight for Human Rights
Faces of ALBA: Kate Doyle (p. 12) Catalan Independence (p. 9) Indian Volunteers in Spain (p. 16)
Michael Ratner in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington DC, Jan. 11, 2006. Photo Jonathan McIntosh, CC-BY-2.5
Founded by the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade 799 Broadway, Suite 341 New York, NY 10003 (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.eyestormonline.com Editorial Assistance Phil Kavanaugh Manuscripts, inquiries, and letters to the editor may be sent by email to email@example.com 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 (193639). 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 p3 p 4 p 5 p 7 p 9 p 12 p 13 p 14 p 16 p 19 p 23
Bay Area Events Susman Lecture at Wayne State Tribute to Franco’s Victims Ratner and Europe’s Fight Catalan Independence Faces of ALBA: Kate Doyle Dutch Volunteer Biographies Eugene Poling, Fighter for Justice Gopal Huddar, Indian Volunteer Book Reviews Obama Receives Lincoln Book 2 THE VOLUNTEER September 2016
Dear Friends and Comrades: We hope you had a wonderful summer. ALBA and its Board members, braving the summer heat, with your encouragement and support have been involved in a range of initiatives—including planning for the fall celebrations in the Bay Area (see page 3), the Watt essay contest (winners will be announced shortly), updates in the volunteers’ online biographical database (www.alba-valb.org/volunteers), and securing new acquisitions for the archives. During the coming fall, ALBA continues its work with high school educators around the country. We currently have programs planned at Balboa High School in San Francisco and with teachers in western Massachusetts, New York City, New Jersey, and Seattle, Washington. We are making plans for the spring term as well. We want to take this opportunity to bring you up to speed with our efforts to preserve our revered Abraham Lincoln Brigade monument in San Francisco. The process has been time-consuming but we feel confident that most of the bureaucratic and technical hurdles are behind us. We’re working with a local architectural preservation company to develop new panels that are more suitable to withstand both vandalism and the harsh weather conditions of the San Francisco waterfront. Members of the original Bay Area committee, as well as architectural experts, have approved the use of new materials. The total cost of the renovation will run approximately $65,000. With our fundraising campaign underway, we estimate the work will be completed in spring 2017. We are working actively to ensure that the restored monument will continue to honor our volunteers and serve as an inspiration for future generations. As always, we need you on our side. Please consider making an additional contribution this year to bring our monument—and our memories—back to life! Mil gracias and ¡Salud! Fraser and Marina
Fraser Ottanelli Chair of the Board of Governors
Marina Garde Executive Director
P.S. Looking forward to seeing you at our special Bay Area 80th celebration weekend October 22-24. For more details see the facing page.
BAY AREA COMMEMORATES 80TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR Please join us in September and October for a full slate of Spanish Civil War-related events in the San Francisco Bay Area, closing with ALBA’s annual celebration on October 23 at the Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley campus.
Guerra Civil @ 80
Poetry of the Spanish Civil War – Readings by Berkeley Poets
Bancroft Library Display of Spanish Civil War Collection Corridor cases of the Bancroft Library Opens September 1, 2016
Wednesday, October 4, 2016, 7PM
Incite the Spirit
Poster Art of the Spanish Civil War Townsend Center for the Humanities Opens Tuesday, September 6, 2016, on show until December 16, 2016
The Good Fight (1986) directed by Noel Buckner, Mary Dore, Sam Sills with short Guernica (1950) directed by Alan Hessens and Alain Resnais
Introduced by Peter N. Carroll, Chair Emeritus, ALBA Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Thursday, October 13th, 2016, 7 PM
BAY AREA 80TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION October 23rd, 2016 Zellerbach Playhouse
TALKS Adam Hochschild discusses the writing and research behind his new book: Spain in our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 Morrison Room, Doe Library, UCB Opening event, September 14, 5 PM
Stephens Hall, UCB September 21, 12 PM
Investigative Journalism and Human Rights: talk by co-recipients of the 2016 ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism Lydia Cacho and Jeremy Scahill in Conversation with Kate Doyle
Heart of Spain – A Musical of the Spanish Civil War UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies 2 PM (special performance for ALBA)
Followed by Meet the Authors – Heart of Spain co-authors Peter Glazer and Eric Peltoniemi Interviewed by Philip Kan Gotanda
Reception for Bay Area ALBA Community 5–7PM
To purchase tickets: www.alba-valb.org
Zellerbach Playhouse Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 7:30 PM
September 2016 THE VOLUNTEER 3
Wayne State Honors Lincoln Brigade with Susman Lecture & Scholarships By Aaron Retish
Award-winning author Adam Hochschild speaks in Detroit and two Wayne State students receive Lincoln Veterans scholarships. The Lincoln Veterans Scholarship recognizes students who exemplify the values of the Lincoln Brigade through their actions or research in peace and justice. Adam Hochschild is an award-winning author and journalist. He is the author of eight books including King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa and To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914–1918, which were both National Book Critics Circle Award finalists. He has also published articles in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Mother Jones magazine, which he helped found.
ALBA’s annual Bill Susman memorial lecture featured a
talk by author Adam Hochschild to a packed hall of over 200 people in Detroit last June. Drawing on research from his recently published book Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939, the lecture focused on why so many Americans decided to leave their homes to fight fascism overseas. Hochschild also spelled out the important role of Texaco in supplying the rebels with cheap oil and information on shipping that undermined the Spanish Republic. The lecture highlighted individual stories of volunteers, like battalion commander Bob Merriman and his wife Marion who were graduate students at Berkeley and traveled to Spain from a research trip in the Soviet Union to fight fascism. After the lecture, Hochschild asked how many people in the audience had relatives who fought in the Spanish Civil War and dozens of hands went up and people told their own stories. One attendee told of how both her father and grandfather volunteered for the Lincoln Brigade. Another spoke of how his father was hounded during the Red Scare because of his history as a brigadier. 4 THE VOLUNTEER September 2016
Before the lecture, two students from Wayne State University were awarded the university’s 33rd annual Abraham Lincoln Veterans Scholarship. The scholarship recognizes students who through their actions or research in peace and justice best exemplify the values of the Lincoln Brigade. Sean Riddell, a recent graduate from Wayne State’s Law School, was recognized for his work in the National Lawyers Guild and for his campaigns to improve pay to workers and agricultural laborers of McDonald’s and to raise awareness of labor and human rights violations of the Aramark Corporation. Elouise Garley received the scholarship for political work in her home country of Liberia, especially in poor urban communities, pushing residents and local leaders to support political parties that encourage social change, such as safe drinking water, electricity, and improved education and health care for the impoverished. Aaron Retish, a professor of history at Wayne State University, serves on ALBA’s Executive Committee.
Hochschild speaks at Wayne, photo Aaron Retish.
FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF MEMORY: A Tribute to Franco’s Victims By Nancy Wallach
Nancy Wallach on the stage at the Teatro de Burgos with translator and Burgos Anti -Fascist Committee organizer Nacho García. Seated in the front row, right to left, are Natividad Rodrigo and Lourdes Sastre, coordinator and president of the Families of the Disappeared of Burgos. Photo credit “Diego SU Fotografía.”
In Burgos, Spain, close to 700 people paid tribute to the victims of Francoist repression and the International Brigades. ALBA’s Nancy Wallach was there.
he 2015 ALBA/Puffin award, which was granted to Spanish activist Emilio Silva, highlighted one of the central human rights issues in Spain today. Its importance was vividly apparent on my visit to Burgos last April, where I participated in the program “Following the Footsteps of Memory” held at the Teatro de Burgos. Close to 700 people filled the theater in solidarity with the victims of the repression. It was the same theater which only two years earlier had hosted a book launch by a local fascist’s daughter. The Association of the Families of the Disappeared and Assassinated of Burgos had invited me to add my testimony about my father’s experience at San Pedro de Cardeña, the International Brigade concentration camp, to their own. Their invitation demonstrated the role the International Brigades continues to play in today’s anti-fascist efforts in Spain.
The program was held in conjunction with a month-long exhibition at the Burgos Cultural Center, which documented the lives of those recently exhumed from the myriad mass graves of Burgos— an area that was hit hard by the years of the Franco dictatorship, due to the many prisons in the region, including the former monastery that housed the International Brigades concentration camp. On April 16, a poignant ceremony took place during an exhumation in which the recovered bodies were returned to their families. An exhibition at the Cultural Center followed through on this recovery of historical memory, as figures who had been formerly anonymous bodies in mass graves were given back their identities, restored through the artifacts, documents and biographies based on the research of historians and authors Luis Castro, Ian Gibson, and Burgos Anti-Fascist
The exposition “Following In the Footsteps of Memory Burgos 1936- 2016”
September 2016 THE VOLUNTEER 5
One of three crates containing the names of the people who were retrieved from mass graves, part of the exhibition at the Burgos cultural center.
The term “victim” does not credit the persistence, fortitude and courage it took for the families to pursue their quest to honor these heroes. Committee organizer Nacho García. One of the shocking aspects of the exhibition were reproductions of documents from the fascist authorities officially freeing the prisoners, who, lulled into a false sense of security, were then taken to sites where they were tortured and executed. The work of local forensic anthropologists has helped to establish their identities and the circumstances of their deaths. It was moving to see family members taking in this information. I saw a grandchild playing with a pile of stones containing the names of those recovered from the mass graves, as her mother tried to explain their significance to her. The exhibition, like the theater program that followed the next day, served a dual purpose, not only uncovering crimes of the fascists, but restoring the dignity and humanity of individual prisoners. For example, a local composer, Antonio José—who much like Lorca had used the folk music of Spain as an inspiration for his own compositions, and who also, like Lorca, had been murdered by a fascist firing squad—had his work performed by a present-day Flamenco company at the Teatro de Burgos. Maurice Ravel predicted this friend of Lorca’s would become “the Spanish composer of our century.” Ian Gibson, Lorca’s biographer, initiated the weekend with a lecture on Franco's repression and its consequences for Spanish culture. Listening to the testimonies of the forensic anthropologists, former prisoners, and family members, I couldn’t help thinking that the
title “A Tribute to the Victims” was not wholly accurate, as the term “victim” did not credit the persistence, fortitude and courage it took for the families to pursue their quest to honor and recover the memory of these heroes of Spain. One particularly moving account of the obstacles they still face was delivered by Natividad Rodrigo, who recounted how as a five-year-old she had witnessed her father and pregnant mother murdered by the fascists as a reprisal against her labor activist grandfather. When questioned by the Spanish right why she persists in bringing up the events of 80 years ago instead of “getting over it and moving on,” she replies that “it is now 2,000 years since Jesus Christ had been killed,” and asks why her protagonists have not themselves ‘moved on.’” When it was my turn to speak, I tried to emphasize the same spirit of resistance among the International Brigade prisoners at San Pedro, recounting not only their suffering, but their efforts to retain their humanity and dignity through their underground newspaper, their “University of San Pedro,” and their solidarity in protecting the identities of their officers and comrades who had fled from fascist countries. My father and his fellow Brigadistas would have been proud. Nancy Wallach, daughter of Lincoln vet Hy Wallace, is an ALBA Board Member
Document from above exhibition showing official release forms of an executed prisoner.
6 THE VOLUNTEER September 2016
Human Rights Column
Michael Ratner and Europe’s Fight for Human Rights By Wolfgang Kaleck
Michael Ratner, who passed away in May, was an internationalist in the best sense of the word. That meant for him in the first place to combat the use and abuse of power by U.S. actors in, and very often outside, their own country. A tribute from Wolfgang Kaleck, founder and head of the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights. Michael Ratner in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington DC, 11 January 2006. Photo Jonathan McIntosh. CC-BY-2.5
Today no politician or CIA official who was involved in the torture program can travel safely to Europe; they all have to fear prosecution.
hen I visited New York to attend the memorial service for Michael Ratner, the late head of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), his family kindly invited me to stay in their home in the Village. In the room where Michael had spent most of the last weeks of his life, I saw, among the few books Michael was reading, Adam Hochschild's book Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War on a shelf above Michael's bed. Michael worked and fought in the tradition of the internationalists described in this book, those who risked their lives in the struggle for the Spanish republic and the chance of building a socially just society. He was an internationalist in the best sense of the word. That meant for him in the first place to combat the use and abuse of power by U.S. actors in, and very often outside, their own country, and there was—and still is—no shortage of work for him and the others in the same
struggle: Vietnam, Nicaragua, Haiti; and during the last 15 years Afghanistan and Iraq, when he and I met in the struggle against forced disappearance and torture of terrorism suspects. Together with Peter Weiss and the Center for Constitutional Rights we filed criminal complaints against Donald Rumsfeld in Germany in 2004 and 2006. We didn't want to accept that after the revelation of the Abu Ghraib photos only the dozen rotten apples, as they were called by government officials when they talked about Sabrina Harman and Lynndie England and the other low rank soldiers, would be prosecuted. From many reports and testimonies we knew that the top officials from the Bush administration, including former Vice President Dick Cheney and former DOD Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, their lawyers and the CIA planned and set the scene for systematic torture after 9/11, first in Afghanistan, then in the secret detention sites, Guantanamo and Iraq. September 2016 THE VOLUNTEER 7
Human Rights Column “If these laws cannot be applied against the powerful,” Michael would say, “what are they made for?” We litigated this case against the advice of established human rights lawyers who feared that using universal jurisdiction laws against such a powerful actor would result in a terrible defeat and a considerable backlash in the development of the law. Michael was always very relaxed in relation to these criticisms and would say: “If these laws cannot be applied against the powerful, what are they made for?” Moreover, it is one thing to challenge U.S. actions politically and legally within the U.S., but something much more courageous to file a criminal complaint against an acting secretary of defense before a foreign court. With his willingness to challenge power and to take risks, Michael was a big step ahead of other actors both in the U.S. and in the international human rights and legal community. When we started this litigation against former top officials it seemed that we were premature. But years later more facts about the U.S. torture program enabled courts in Europe, such as a criminal court in Milano, Italy and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to release a number of judgments ruling that the CIA Extraordinary Rendition Program is blatantly illegal—confirming Michael's legal and political intuition. Today no politician or CIA official who was involved in the torture program can travel safely to Europe; they all have to fear prosecution. Michael's place was the world, but not only as a place to struggle or to file lawsuits. No, he was genuinely interested in the places he visited and in the people he met. His fighting spirit, his experience, his personality were crucial when we decided to establish the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin in 2007. It was the experience which I and my colleagues acquired while cooperating with the Center for Constitutional Rights that made us aware of the necessity of an organizational framework beyond the classical lawyer's practice to pursue strategic human rights litigation on a meaningful scale. It was Michael's encouragement and his trust in our ideas that convinced us to go ahead with the founding of our organization. ECCHR is litigating in the same areas as Michael's home base, CCR, against state actors who planned torture and war crimes, using universal jurisdiction laws, against western corporations, involved in human rights violations in the Global South and the endless series of breaches of fundamental laws in so called counterterrorism measures. Michael was there from the first moment and during the critical first years when there was no funding for the first litigation project of this kind in Europe. He never doubted that ultimately our project would succeed against all odds and his 8 THE VOLUNTEER September 2016
advice and support were instrumental in reaching this aim. Until last summer, he never missed a single session of our advisory board which he chaired. He was not one of these egocentric leftist macho lawyers, instead he was always willing to share his experience, openly and honestly, never claiming a special role for himself. He was genuinely interested in the causes for which we fought and the people we were cooperating with. He was characterized by what you can call revolutionary patience and modesty, and it is fair to say my colleagues and myself could learn a lot from him in this regard. He was a “one-man force multiplier,” as David Cole recently described him, and mobilized and inspired younger and older lawyers in the U.S. and Europe. From the beginning of ECCHR's existence he insisted that we litigate cases of human rights violations of migrants because this was and remains the most urgent human rights problem in Europe. Rather than looking at the violations elsewhere, European citizens and lawyers should try to enforce the rights of Europe’s most marginalized community. Michael was very happy when we started to litigate against the inhumane European border regime, especially our case against Spain at the European Court of Human Rights because of the illegal push backs of sub-Saharan refugees who successfully jumped over the fences from Moroccan soil to the Spanish enclaves in Ceuta and Melilla. He also loved our reparation claim against a German supermarket chain on behalf of a Pakistani organization who represents the victims of a fire on September 11, 2012 when 260 people died in a textile factory in Karachi that produced for the German market. And obviously he strongly supported our cases against U.S. torturers in Germany, France, Belgium, and Spain and against the use of lethal drones in Germany and Italy. Our transnational community of radical political lawyers has lost one of its central characters, but I lost more: I lost a friend. In my last encounter with him he told me that he had always loved to come to Berlin, but he did not talk about litigation and the more or less exciting meetings of our advisory board, he meant the parties and exhibitions at our offices. We will miss him. Wolfgang Kaleck is a German civil rights attorney, founding General Secretary for the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights, and U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden’s legal support in Europe.
Michael Ratner at ALBA’s 2013 event in New York. Photo Nicholas Chan
Francisco Franco’s Last Breath: How to Understand the Catalan Independence Movement By Eric R. Smith
Catalonia’s desire for independence has surged in recent years, thanks in large part to the intransigence of the central Spanish government in Madrid. Historian Eric Smith reviews the history and background of the Catalan independence movement.
atalonia has long had dreams of independence. It once contained more than half of the land and population of the Kingdom of Aragon, and in the late 19th century erupted in independence fervor. Spain’s Second Republic granted the region a status of autonomy in the 1930s that Francisco Franco with his visions of fascist nationalism would not tolerate. He ended it by decree in August 1938 six months before the civil war ended. What has become increasingly apparent amid the recent dispute over Catalan independence is that this aspect of Francoism remains very much alive, and the Catalan crisis might be the infamous fascist’s dying breath. Anti-Catalan sentiment during the Spanish Civil War erupted in a wave of atrocities that Paul Preston documents in his book The Spanish Holocaust. Franco’s goal was genocide against Republicans, his primary motivation for
People attending the 2014 Diada, a Catalan National Holiday, waving ribbons with the Catalan flag. Photo Marcoil CC-BY-4.0
prolonging the war after he had already assumed control. Catalans were among the strongest supporters of the Spanish Republic, and they faced the brunt of Franco’s wrath: even after the purge of tens of thousands, many republican women were forced into prostitution; women and their children were imprisoned; properties were stolen; Barcelona’s infrastructure was left to languish long after other parts of the country were rebuilt; in fact, too many examples exist to recount here. That Franco has escaped an historical indictment that would place him alongside other abhorrent figures of the twentieth century attests to both the success of the dictator’s propaganda and to democracies willing to forgive a reliable anti-communist ally. Franco envisioned a nationalist Spain where none had historically existed: extreme measures were required. As the Catalan government’s website explains: “The clear objective September 2016 THE VOLUNTEER 9
Spain’s Second Republic granted the region autonomy, which Franco would not tolerate. of Franco's regime was the elimination of all that was related to Catalonia.” Franco planned to erase Catalan culture with an internal colonization project that brought Spaniards from other parts of the country into cities like Barcelona. The Catalan language was long banned from most public or official use, though it survived in the homes of Catalans where it continued to be spoken. With Franco’s death and the transition to democracy the Catalans feared a new civil war and toned down their regional ambitions. The 1978 Constitution granted the Basques and Catalans some autonomy. But whereas the Basques earned fiscal as well as political autonomy along a federated model, the Constitution provided the same for the Catalans minus the fiscal governance, which was retained by the national government. A statute proposed by the Catalans, debated in Madrid by the Cortes, and adopted in 1979 named Catalan one of Spain’s four official languages, and granted Catalonia control over education, its own police force (considering the role of the national police during the Civil War), as well as local decision-making with respect to heritage and culture. But the statute was greatly diminished from what the Catalans had originally sought and was finally approved by the Catalans with great disappointment and a 40 percent abstention. Today, Franco’s acrimony with the Catalans lives on in Castilian-speaking regions, where daily discourse in some media outlets lambastes the Catalans in language that sounds eerily similar to what was heard in the Balkans in the run-up to the violent civil conflicts of the 1990s. (Following the intentional crash of the Germanwings flight into the Alps, one Spanish commentator stated publicly that it was too bad the flight wasn’t filled with Catalans.) The national government in Madrid has long antagonized Catalonia. With a tax structure that favors poorer regions like Extremadura at their expense, Catalan highways and schools are underfunded compared to other regions. When Madrid decided to build a high-speed train, it bypassed Catalonia entirely. The culture too has been under attack. Pervasive misinformation about Catalan education—like the untrue claim that the Spanish language is banned in Catalonia’s schools—fans the flames. In one recent attack, the Minister of Education urged the “Spanish-izing” of Catalonia—just as Franco had tried to do. Other Spaniards have been trying to sustain a boycott against Catalan made goods. Just as important, Catalans of non-Catalan ancestry clearly identify with the culture they are part of, so that even that demographic has come to support the independence movement, contrary to what President Mariano Rajoy and other 10 THE VOLUNTEER September 2016
In one recent attack, the Minister of Education urged the “Spanishizing” of Catalonia—just as Franco had tried to do.
members of the People’s Party (PP) claim. The movement is not “racial.” It is interesting to note that the neighboring province of Valencia, which also speaks Catalan but calls it Valenciano, has not endured the same hostility as its northern neighbor, in large part because Valencians have long voted the correct way, that is for PP. A series of political decisions by Madrid from the Law on Self-Governing communities to the watered-down Statute have thwarted Catalan ambitions to this point. Catalonia contributes 20 percent of Spain’s GDP, yet holds less than a sixth of the country’s population. No wonder Madrid simply refuses to let the region leave. All of this has aroused the latent spirit of independence. The more moderate demand for regional autonomy was rebuffed by Rajoy and his ruling conservatives, and his predecessor, the socialist José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero mishandled a potential solution to the problem. With the PP’s refusal to negotiate federalism, the Catalan government resorted to calling early elections as a referendum on independence. The Catalans as a whole didn't necessarily want independence before, but Rajoy's refusal to discuss any Catalan grievances—let alone federalism—has increased support for independence. Several years ago a Spanish Colonel and the Association of Spanish Soldiers (AME) threatened military action should Catalonia secede. The Colonel was removed from his post but given Spanish history such threats cannot be taken lightly. Catalan former president Artur Mas, outflanked on a referendum on independence, raised the specter of a constitutional crisis once again with indications that a new Catalan constitution independent of Spain is in the works. The potential for violence in the other direction also remains. Not permitting dialogue and stubbornly refusing the Catalans could promote desperation among young Catalan idealists who then might turn to violence the way ETA once did. The obvious solution of federalism may already have passed. Rajoy refused to stand down, repeatedly calling the Catalan ambitions “a joke,” the same word used by the PP’s Catalan MP, Xavier García Albiol whose party was then routed. But will Spain’s leaders exacerbate the crisis into openly violent hostilities? Will the EU sit idly by? In an historic gesture, the Podemos Party earlier this year called for a referendum on Catalan Independence as part of an attempt to form a coalition government with the Socialists but then failed to make gains in the June elections. The PP did, signaling a continuation of the same game. Still, intransigence and the persistent sniping about Catalans and the need to be rid of them, is a Francoist tactic whether non-Catalans recognize it or not. Eric R. Smith holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is the author of American Relief Aid and the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 (University of Missouri Press, 2013). At the 2012 Diada, Via Laietana, Barcelona. Photo Lohen11, CC-BY-3.0 September 2016 THE VOLUNTEER 11
Faces of ALBA-VALB Kate Doyle Meet the members of the ALBA community | By Aaron Retish
Kate Doyle, winner of the ALBA-Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism, now serves on ALBA’s Board of Governors where she leverages her formidable expertise. Aaron Retish speaks with her about her work uncovering U.S. involvement in Latin American human rights violations. You are Senior Analyst at the National Security Archive. What is the National Security Archive and what is your role there? The Archive, based at George Washington University, is a non-profit organization unlike any other I know: it is a research institute, library, advocacy group, and center for investigative journalism, all at the same time. Founded in 1985, the Archive was created to fight for the people’s right to know. For 30 years, we have used the Freedom of Information Act to go after the hidden history of US foreign and national security policy and have made the resulting millions of pages of declassified US documents open and available to the public. We also work with activists and scholars in countries around the world to help them draft and pass their own access to information laws, open secret police files, and draw on government archives for historical and contemporary human rights purposes. My own role at the Archive is as an analyst of US policy in Latin America and the director of the Evidence Project, which connects the right to truth and access to information with human rights and justice struggles. How has your work throughout Latin America shown the link between access to records and protecting human rights? Do you remember one moment in particular when you found a document that revealed the truth? Information about past state violence can be a powerful tool in the hands of human rights defenders. We’ve used US and Latin American government archives to challenge policies of secrecy and repression, give families of the disappeared new details about what happened to their loved ones, help identify bodies found in exhumed mass graves, deepen truth commission investigations, and serve as evidence in criminal prosecutions. Sometimes records simply confirm suspicions about a particular violation; other times they can be critical in holding officials accountable for human rights atrocities. I’ll never forget when a military logbook of the disappeared was smuggled out of the Guatemalan army’s secret files and leaked to me. Although families suspected their relatives had been abducted and killed by government security forces, the document was definitive proof, and contained all kinds of details about the crimes. It was devastating, but at the same time an enormous relief to families to finally know what happened and at whose hands. Your amazing work bringing to light the crimes of the brutal dictatorship in Guatemala has resulted in important 12 THE VOLUNTEER September 2016
publications of documents as well as the award-winning documentary Granito: How to Nail a Dictator. How did you become involved in the documentary? I got to know Granito’s director, Pamela Yates, when she was still shaping her ideas about the documentary. I was familiar with her transcendent earlier film, When the Mountains Tremble (1983) – famous inside Guatemala as a unique chronicle not only of the military’s scorched-earth campaigns against the Mayan people, but of the revolutionary movements that sought to topple the government. So I was thrilled to meet her! Pamela and I spent months talking about what her new film could be, and she eventually pulled me into the project as one its “granitos de arena” – that is, “grains of sand,” those who try to make some kind of contribution, however modest, to achieving human rights progress. You were the recipient of the ALBA-Puffin Foundation Award for Human Rights Activism in 2012. What did the award mean to you? The award was a wonderful, unexpected affirmation of the work we do at the National Security Archive. The fact that I shared it with my friend and colleague Fredy Peccerelli of Guatemala’s Forensic Anthropology Foundation made it all the more special. Human rights work is hard, so hard. It is frustrating, it is incremental, it is sometimes almost unbearably painful, and impunity is always lurking around the corner. The award gave us a rare opportunity to celebrate together and look to the future with optimism and hope. What is the main focus of your work now at the NSA? I continue to work with prosecutors in Guatemala to construct solid criminal cases against human rights violators. We also collaborate with human rights defenders all over Latin America to unearth local archives on historic abuses, strengthen existing freedom of information laws, and challenge impunity for human rights crimes, past and present. Finally, with the financial support that the ALBA/Puffin award provided, I am writing a book about Guatemala’s fight for justice in the hope that it can help future generations of human rights defenders there and elsewhere in Latin America identify what works to dismantle the legacy of political violence and to restore faith that change is truly possible.
Kate Doyle. Photo courtesy National Security Archives
New Online Biographical Dictionary of Dutch Brigadistas
“It was always rumored that my uncle fought in Spain, but now we finally know for sure. I’ve had an amazing number of touching reactions of that type,” Yvonne Scholten says, “especially from family members.” Scholten, a Dutch journalist, is the driving force behind a new biographical dictionary of Dutch volunteers in Spain that was launched in July at www. spanjestrijders.nl, a site hosted by the prestigious International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam (www.socialhistory.org).
mong the more than 30,000 volunteers who joined the International Brigades were more than 700 Dutch men and women, including Piet Laros, who made his way to Paris on bicycle to catch the train to Spain and head up the Dutch company The Seven Provinces, and the writer Jef Last, whose The Spanish Tragedy was translated into English in 1939 and recently reissued by Routledge. The rapidly expanding site provides the complete list of known names, and, so far, around 200 short biographies, along with other materials such as photographs and letters, assembled by Scholten and her team. “The site fills a real gap,” Scholten says. “The Spanish Civil War has been largely forgotten in the Netherlands, and hardly anyone remembers the volunteers. We wanted to give these people a face, and to tell something about their lives and outlook on the world. What drove many of the Dutch
Top: Fanny Schoonheyt, the “Queen of the Machine Gun,” in Barcelona, 1937. Photo Agustí Centelles. Centro Documental de la Memoria Histórica, Salamanca.
volunteers to help stop fascism in its tracks was the stories they heard from the many German refugees who’d fled to the Netherlands since 1933.” Scholten has published biographies of Fanny Schoonheyt, the only Dutch women to see battle action during the Spanish Civil War, and Bart van der Schelling, a Dutch painter and opera singer who left for Spain from New York City and joined the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. (She has written about both for The Volunteer.) The dictionary project has been funded through a foundation created by veterans’ family members, including Giny Klatser, Hetty van Hall, and Rien Dijkstra; a crowdfunding campaign; and support from the Foundation for Democracy and Media. Bottom: Jef Last (from the cover of his Letters from Spain.) September 2016 THE VOLUNTEER 13
From Oklahoma to Spain: Fighter for Justice By Andrew Griffin
Eugene Poling (1908-2000), from Lone Wolf, Oklahoma, fought with the Republic in Spain, joined the U.S. Army in World War II, and for almost forty years launched repeated campaigns for a U.S. House seat. Journalist Andrew Griffin reconstructs his life. “When I went to Dougherty to talk to people who knew ‘Mr. Poling,’ they said he was nice but a bit odd, chewing on plants, and with baby-smooth skin on his face well into his 70s and 80s.”
Eugene Poling in Spain, Nov 1937. Tamiment Library, NYU, 15th IB Photo Collection, Photo #11_0984. 14 THE VOLUNTEER September 2016
Poling’s grave site at the Memorial Cemetery in Oklahoma City. Photo by the author.
t was Memorial Day. My two young sons and I were wandering around the Lawnview Cemetery in Cordell, Oklahoma looking for a grave marker for a man we never knew. All I knew was that an American volunteer in the Spanish Civil War named Eugene Poling was buried here, somewhere. At the very edge of the cemetery, facing a farmer’s field, I found Poling’s final resting place. Kneeling down, I said a few words, thanking him for his service both in Spain and World War II, fighting fascism. I placed a small International Brigades flag next to an American flag positioned near his small gravestone which read: “Eugene Poling US Army World War II Aug 28 1908 Feb 29 2000.” The almost ever-present Oklahoma wind caused the flags to flap. I felt closer to this inspiring man. But who was he? What led him to leave Oklahoma and fight on Spanish soil so far from home? I heard about Eugene Poling thanks to Steve Dinnen. He is an Iowa-based Spanish Civil War enthusiast who recently wrote for The Volunteer about his experience digging at the Belchite battlefield archaeological site. After reading about Dinnen’s experience, I interviewed him in Des Moines about his time in Spain, writing about it for my website RedDirtReport.com. Dinnen later emailed me information about two Oklahomans he was aware of who fought in Spain. One, James “Doc” Hill, was from the town of Marlow. A sergeant, Hill would serve with the XV International Brigade, MacKenzie-Papineau Battalion and be killed in action during the Ebro Offensive at Corbera in September 1938. Hill’s buddy, and fellow Oklahoman in the Mac-Paps, was Eugene Victor Poling, a native of Lone Wolf, Oklahoma in Kiowa County. This was an area that was hard hit by the Great Depression and Dust Bowl conditions. Poling took on the name “Eugene Debs Poling” and in early 1937 answered the Communist Party call for volunteers to go to Spain. The Party, with an office in Oklahoma City, appealed to young Poling who was jobless and saw capitalism as the cause of America’s ills. The chance to go to Spain— even leaving behind a wife and two young daughters—proved to be too strong for the independent-minded Poling to ignore. In March 1938, reporter T.T. Johnson with The Daily Oklahoman, the state’s major daily, did a profile on Poling, Poling’s brother Gordon (then serving in the U.S. Army’s cavalry) and his father Alonzo Poling, headlined “Bringing Up Fighters.” Johnson wrote about how the Poling men seem “born to fight,” as the senior Poling fought as a volunteer in the Spanish-American War (but a man who was at odds with his son’s communistic beliefs). While Oklahoma had been a hotbed of socialism in Eugene Poling’s youth, it was not until he attended the Marxist-leaning Commonwealth College in rural Mena, Arkansas that the Lone
Poling’s family did not fully understand his reasons for leaving his life behind to go to join the Spanish Republican army. Wolf native really embraced socialism, and ultimately communism. In the article, Johnson references the idealistic letters Poling wrote back to family—family that did not fully understand Poling’s reasons for leaving his life behind to go to join the “Spanish Republican army,”—as he explains, noting that Spain is “a wonderful country” and “I have not regretted a day I have spent here.” Added Poling, somewhat defiantly: “Yes, here I am in the land of milk and honey, dodging fascist murderers. But they won’t get me.” But Poling was injured—“wounded in the thigh by shrapnel” at Fuentes del Ebro—and would be captured by Franco’s Fascist troops, finding himself in a Nationalist prison camp at Burgos, Spain where he would ultimately be released in February 1939, returning to Oklahoma, having been cited for bravery by the International Brigades. The Daily Oklahoman, a decidedly conservative paper, took interest in Poling’s war stories, wrote that his wife, Mayona Miller Poling, was excited her husband was returning home. “I hope he will settle down now,” she told the newspaper. But Eugene Poling would not settle down. In fact, he would divorce his wife and then serve—stateside—in the U.S. Army at Fort Hood, Texas, during World War II. A farmer and agronomist who believed in the natural healing powers of plants, Poling would remain close to the land the rest of his life, settling for several decades in Dougherty, Oklahoma, where he would launch repeated—unsuccessful campaigns—for a U.S. House seat from the 1950’s to 1990 as a Democrat. When I went to Dougherty to talk to people who knew “Mr. Poling,” they said he was nice but a bit odd, chewing on plants and talking of their healing powers, all while keeping baby-smooth skin on his face well into his 70s and 80s. And then the truth about his communist past ultimately came out. The mayor of Dougherty, Judy Hale, showed me a picture of another grave site for Poling—this one Memorial Cemetery in Oklahoma City, surprisingly enough. A family member is believed to have put it there as it says “Eugene V. Poling Son of Alonzo Aug 28 1908—Abraham Lincoln Bde. Spain 19371939 7 Mo. US Inf. 1945”. At the very bottom is a statement: “Fighter for justice for all.” Andrew Griffin is a writer and researcher based in Oklahoma City with an interest in the Oklahomans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. He runs the news website Red Dirt Report and is starting a Masters program in American History in September.
Articles on Poling from The Daily Oklahoman and other papers. September 2016 THE VOLUNTEER 15
Gopal Mukund Huddar: An Indian Volunteer in the IBs By Nancy Tsou and Len Tsou
Among a handful of India-born brigaders who fought with the Spanish Republic was Gopal Mukund Huddar, a journalism student in his thirties. Nancy and Len Tsou, experts on the Asian volunteers in Spain, tell his remarkable story, which passes through the POW camp at San Pedro de Cardeña.
public meeting, organized by the Indian Swaraj League, a political organization demanding India’s self-rule, drew a large audience of spectators, both Indians and British, to Essex Hall along the north bank of the River Thames on November 12, 1938. Speakers from various Indian and British organizations were there to welcome an “Indian member of the International Brigades who fought for the Republican Government in Spain, and who recently returned to England after being a prisoner of Franco.” 16 THE VOLUNTEER September 2016
Jawaharlal Nehru in Spain during the Civil War, with his daughter Indira (l), future prime minister of India, and Catalan President Lluís Companys (r).
The guest of honor was Gopal Mukund Huddar. On the invitation card, Huddar was highlighted as the “only” Indian member of the International Brigades. In fact, he was one of several Indian volunteers, including the famous Indian writer Mulk Raj Anand, three Indian doctors, Dr. Menhanlal Atal, Dr. Ayub Ahmed Khan and Dr. Manuel Rocha Pinto, and one Indian student Ramasamy Veerapan. Among them, Huddar was the only Indian prisoner-ofwar in Franco’s prison. When the Spanish Civil War broke
out, Huddar was studying in England. Together with some British volunteers, he arrived in Spain on October 17, 1937. At the headquarters of the International Brigades in Albacete, he was assigned as member of the Saklatvala Battalion. This was a British Battalion named after Shapurji Saklatvala, a prominent Indian Communist in England who had died in 1936. To support the Spanish Republic, his 18-year-old daughter Sehri Saklatvala arranged an event “FOR SPAIN, India Evening” in London in March 1937, which was or-
Gopal Mukund Huddar in 1936 (Courtesy of Shailendra Vaidya)
Nehru: “I wish, and many of you will wish with me, that we could give some effective assistance to our comrades in Spain, something more than sympathy, however, deeply felt.” ganized by the Spain-India Committee. One of the speakers was Indira Nehru, daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, future first Prime Minister of India. At the time, Jawaharlal Nehru was very concerned about the fascist menace in Spain. He said, “I wish, and many of you will wish with me, that we could give some effective assistance to our comrades in Spain, something more than sympathy, however, deeply felt.” Nehru’s call was answered by the Indians living in Britain. The India League, a Britain-based organization that campaigned for full independence, founded the “Indian Committee for Food For Spain.” In the fall of 1937, the Spain-India Aid Committee donated an ambulance to “the courageous Spanish democrats.” A year later, in June 1938, Nehru himself traveled to Spain. He paid visits to General Enrique Lister at Lister’s headquarters and the fronts, and also to Catalan president Lluís Companys, to show India’s solidarity. He was so impressed that later he wrote, “There was light there, the light of courage and determination and of doing something worthwhile.” On July 17, 1938 at the second anniversary of the Spanish Civil War, Nehru addressed a crowd of 5,000 in Trafalgar Square in London at a rally in aid of Republican Spain. It was in this same spirit that Huddar joined the IBs in 1937. To shield his Indian lineage, Huddar changed his name to “John Smith”, a common English name. There were at least four men named “John Smith” in the International Brigades. To differentiate him from the other “Smiths,” his comrades added “Irakian” after his name. This was probably because he indicated that he knew the Iraqi language when he filled out forms in Spain. Some of his comrades even thought he was born in Iraq. However, relatives of Huddar said that he was born in India and never set foot in Iraq. In fact, they never heard him speak the Iraqi language. His daughter believed that this was a tactic of her father’s to camouflage his true identity.
On February 11, 1938, Huddar went to Tarazona to receive non-commis-
sioned officer training and then served as an instructor in the Infantry. But on April 3, Huddar disappeared in the battle of Gandesa, taken prisoner by Franco’s army and imprisoned with other brigaders in San Pedro de Cardeña. One of his jail mates was Carl Geiser, a brigader from the U.S., who had vivid memories of “John Smith” in the jail. Geiser identified him as Nagfeur Hudar from India. In his book Prisoners of the Good Fight, Geiser wrote about him giving lectures on “the struggle for independence from Britain of the people of India under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.” In another lecture, John Smith described himself as having some of the skills developed by yogis and fakirs. He went on to demonstrate his skills of palm reading. After studying Geiser’s palm, he said, “You have one brother and four sisters.” Geiser was flabbergasted, because he had hit it exactly. John Smith studied his palm further and told Geiser two more pieces of news, one good and one bad. The good news was “you will live a long time,” whereas the bad news
was “Carl, in your old age you will have an affliction. Exactly what it will be I do not know.” Hearing this news, Geiser was very happy, since this meant that he would be able to get out of Franco’s jail alive. The prediction came true. When Geiser was put in front of firing squad, a notice of prisoner exchange came in time to spare his life. Geiser in his sixties was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. As forecasted by John Smith, Geiser lived to the ripe old age of 99. Geiser was released from Franco’s jail, but who would rescue Huddar, a lone Indian prisoner? For Huddar, chances of being freed were very slim. But he had a stroke of good luck. At that time, the British government was pressured by its people to negotiate with Franco for the release of British prisoners. As a result, a team was dispatched by the British government, among them a retired colonel, whose son was also held prisoner. When the colonel visited his son at the prison, he encountered a peculiar prisoner, who bore the name “John Smith” but looked Indian. John Smith revealed to the colonel that he was actually an Indian from Nagpur and his real name was Gopal Mukund Huddar. It turned out that the colonel had commanded a regiment at Kamptee cantonment near Nagpur before his retirement. Nostalgic memories made him sympathetic to Huddar. He included Huddar’s name along with other British POWs, enabling Huddar to be freed and return to London. Huddar was born on June 17, 1902 to a Brahmin family at Mandala in Central India. At age 4 he was brought to Nagpur to a Brahmin widow named Udhoji for adoption. When studying at Nagpur, he stood up to oppose an education policy enforced by the government. In 1920 he became a Student Union leader. Four years later, he received his BA degree from Morris College in India and joined a newly founded secret society named Rashtriya Swayam Sevak September 2016 THE VOLUNTEER 17
A 1938 invitation card (Courtesy of Shailendra Vaidya)
To shield his Indian lineage, Huddar changed his name to “John Smith.” After studying Geiser’s palm, Huddar said, “You have one brother and four sisters.” He had hit it exactly. Sangh (RSS), a Hindu organization. The following year, the young Huddar, 23, became its General Secretary. However, RSS was only interested in Hindu civilization, and could not satisfy Huddar’s revolutionary fervor. He was more interested in taking action to liberate India from British colonial rule. He pursued his clandestine revolutionary activities independent of the RSS. He set up a dacoity with his friends in Balaghat for obtaining weapons and ammunition. He was caught, sentenced and imprisoned by the British Government in 1931. He was released in 1935 from Nagpur jail. By then, he had been sidelined from the core group of RSS. He joined with a few friends to start publishing Marathi weekly and monthly magazines. It became apparent that he could no longer devote himself exclusively to Hindu nationalism, and he focused instead on how to build a militant mass struggle to break the bondage of British imperialism. In 1936, with the encouragement and financial support of his friends and a philanthropist from Nagpur, Huddar went to England to study journalism, where he witnessed the powerful international solidarity for the Spanish people’s fight against fascism. Jawaharlal Nehru joined other prominent international figures such as André Malraux, Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway and Irène Joliot-Curie, calling on world citizens to aid the Spanish Republic. The India League collaborated with the Communist Party of Great Britain and other Left organizations to hold meetings and organize marches in support of the Spanish Republic. Huddar began attending meetings and rallies addressed by Communists and other progressive speakers. His mind further shifted away from RSS’s Hindu nationalism. After much reflection, he realized the paradox of being a good nationalist without also being an internationalist. This logical conclusion led him to join the International Brigades in Spain. 18 THE VOLUNTEER September 2016
In the International Brigades, Huddar was highly regarded as “very reliable politically.” One month after receiving a heroic welcome in London, he returned to Bombay in 1938, where many union workers gathered at the wharf to greet
him with garlands. Several Bombay Unions and the Bombay Congress Socialist Party held a public meeting in his honor. Amid shouts of “Long live Spanish Democracy,” Huddar rose to speak, in fluent Marathi. His speech fired up the crowd: “The honour you have done me is really the honour to the cause of democracy and freedom which Spanish workers and peasants are defending with their lives…. The fight for democracy is in India just as it is in Spain. The very same British Imperialism which helps Franco and Mussolini in their attempt to destroy Spain is holding us down. We have to fight against it. We have to build the unity of the workers, peasants and the middle classes just as the Spanish people have done.” Huddar conveyed similar thoughts in an article “Spain and Ourselves,” suggesting that “Democracy extinguished in Spain, would entail not only the victory of barbarism in Western Europe, but the same weapons will be used for crushing the movement for our own Independence. People determined to gain their own freedom cannot allow the freedom of other people being submerged through the organized butchery of fascism.”
His experience in the International Brigades and its underlying Marxist philosophy had made a huge impact on him. In 1940, he joined the Communist Party of India (CPI) and began to work for the cause of peasants and laborers in the countryside around Nagpur headquarters. A. B. Bardhan, the general secretary of the CPI recalled that Huddar gave lectures on dialectical and historical materialism in party study groups. On several occasions, Bardhan heard Huddar tell stories of his days in the Spanish Civil War. Huddar was well liked by the people in Nagpur. In his political circle, he was called by a nickname Balaji, a name for the Hindu god Venkateswara who dispels human sins. He worked for the Communist Party until 1952. Then he left CPI and gradually withdrew from political activities. Bardhan thought it was because of his declining health and his drifting back to spiritualism. But Huddar always remained a sympathizer and cared deeply about the Communist movement. In 1972, a colleague of Bardhan visited Berlin. A German veteran of the International Brigades asked him to bring a pendant of the Thälmann Battalion and a badge for Huddar. Bardhan was so delighted to go to Huddar’s home to deliver these presents to him. It is amazing that after more than three decades, this German Brigadier still remembered Huddar. Nancy Tsou and Len Tsou are the authors of Los brigadistas chinos en la Guerra Civil: La llamada de España (19361939) (Madrid, 2013). The authors would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Shailendra Vaidya for providing information from their family files concerning Gopal Mukund Huddar.
Detail from Paracuellos
Carlos Giménez, Paracuellos: Children of the Defeated in Franco’s Fascist Spain, with foreword by Will Eisner, edited by Dean Mullaney, and translated by Sonya Jones, San Diego: EuroComics (IDW Publishing), 136 pp. Reviewed by Paul Buhle
eaders of The Volunteer know by now that comic art about the Spanish Civil War is a growing field here in the US, in Europe and certainly in Latin America. Yet readers might not recognize the older context from which this growth unfolds: a long backstory spanning the past quarter century that has brought an art form as critically despised as it has been popular, especially in the English language, into clearer view. Comic art realism may be understood historically in any number of ways, but global scholars largely agree that realistic “action” comics, especially war comics, can be traced to the US and EC Comics of the early 1950s. Harvey Kurtzman, better known as the founder of Mad Magazine, developed a series of well selling, mainstream comics about military conflicts across the ages. The most vivid of them recounted the Korean War through stories that returning GIs told to Kurtzman. In contrast to other war comics, these stories romanticized nothing, neither the suffering of the GIs nor their opponents, or the tragedy of civilians caught in the middle. They were fundamentally antiwar comics. They were finished and printed in an old style, with aging German-American craftsmen in print shops adding the final touch to the original penciling and coloring, creating a kind of collective assembly line of popular culture in its day. These kind of comics disappeared in the McCarthy Era with its assault on the form as ruinous to young people, and the eventual decline of the EC enterprise. Only Mad Magazine survived, mostly because it was printed as a magazine and was thus free from the threat of newsstand removal that the Catholic Legion of Decency had promised in those years. It is valuable to note that Kurtzman inspired the next generation of artists, who came of age in the late 1960s through the 70s, and who, in general, developed a wide range of radical,
Giménez precedes the wave of autobiographical comic writers like Spiegelman, Pekar, and Bechdel. antiwar, ecological comics better remembered for their sexual openness than for their politics. Visual recollections of the antifascist struggles and the Spanish Civil War were rare but not unknown. This surge of comic art largely faded in the US at the end of the 1970s. But in Europe, the artistic counterparts found a home in the mainstream magazines and to some extent, quality book publishers. Among them, Carlos Giménez was assuredly unique. One of the children who survived the Francoist slaughter of their parents in the brutal repressions, Giménez commenced after the dictator’s death to draw and publish his own saga, and that of the children around him throughout the period between the end of the war and the 1950s. His work is fundamentally autobiographical, and in this way Giménez represents and really precedes the wave of autobiographical comic writers and artists much more famous in the US, such as Art Spiegelman, Harvey Pekar, and Alison Bechdel, to name just a few whose work is largely responsible for raising critical awareness and approval and, frankly, comic art values to levels unseen before. Giménez’s work, Paracuellos, which first appeared in Spain in 1981 was recognized almost immediately as important both artistically and politically. Still, though renowned, it has taken more than 30 years for an English-language version to arrive. This appearance is both long awaited and ballyhooed. The foreword to this volume is a one-paragraph personal tribute by the late Will Eisner, one of the deans of US comic book story telling and art, which he wrote in 1991. This volume proves that the wait for an English-language Paracuellos has been well worth it. For scholarly-minded readers, the introductory interpretations by Antonio Martin, the leading historian of Spanish comics, and Professor Carmen Moreno-Nuño, will be compelling. Martin reminds us that Giménez’s work was begun in September 2016 THE VOLUNTEER 19
Aerial bombing of Barcelona, 17 March 1938, by the Italian air force. Public domain
the Franco era, with early installments bringing the writer death threats. Spain’s right-wing rulers certainly did not want to have the torture portrayed in this comic so graphically rendered and remembered. Professor Moreno-Nuño’s “Confronting Spain’s Absent Past,” surveying the full six volumes, of which this is only the first, tells us what will happen to these children, and carefully explores the aesthetics and the genius of the artist’s effort. Close-ups, indeed often extreme close-ups, sharply reduce the distance between this history and the reader. The faces of various authorities ruling over and abusing children appear as distorted and nightmarish, just as they would to a distressed child. A plethora of comic panels, sometimes as many as 20 per page (more than triple what usually appears on the comic page), drive home the grim details. Yet, this work does not slip into the hyperbole that defined the best-selling US war comics of the early and middle 1940s, which might have thrilled millions but inspired the censorship of the McCarthy era. Giménez might easily have engaged in this hyperbole, but he did not. Instead, we have something that resembles the realistic art of the “funny pages.” These are real children, seen from a child’s perspective, as compelling as any comics ever published. A “Dedication” to the second part, composed by Giménez himself, gives us more details about his inspiration, his first publisher, and most of all the young people around him— “the chewers, camels, dromedaries, monkeys, bed-wetters and pants-shitters…gluttons and teasers and masturbators… teachers’ pets,” and so on. In short, with graphic intensity and honesty, he tells us: I was one of them, and in some ways, I still am. Formerly a senior lecturer at Brown University and a biographer of Harvey Kurtzman, Paul Buhle has become a comics editor and sometimes scriptwriter, with a dozen titles to his credit, including a future Lincoln Brigade comic scripted by Michael Ferguson and drawn by Anne Timmons.
Nick Lloyd, Forgotten Places: Barcelona and the Spanish Civil War, Barcelona: Nick Lloyd, 2015, 392 pp. Reviewed by Peter Stansky
his is a wonderful hybrid of a book. The text tells much about Barcelona and the Spanish Civil War and much else mostly about the radical history of the city. But its other purpose is to be a companion while one is in Barcelona itself to provide information and illumination about the city’s terrible, dramatic, and heroic Civil War history. Approximately the first third of the book is a history of Barcelona and the
20 THE VOLUNTEER September 2016
Lloyd illuminates the city’s terrible, dramatic, and heroic Civil War history Civil War, and then the remaining two-thirds is divided into 14 sections covering the various neighborhoods of Barcelona, with the chapters divided into numbered sections indicating places and the individuals and events associated with those particular areas. There is a wide historical range including discussions of both periods prior to the Civil War, like the Tragic Week, and later events, such as the basing in Barcelona of the American Sixth Fleet after the Second World War. Lloyd imagines his readers dipping into the book as needed and not necessarily reading all of the second part. In order to make the various sections of the second part somewhat independent of one another, there is some repetition but it does not become excessive. The book also contains wonderful primary source material, including grainy illustrations, the most moving of which shows the author, a resident of Barcelona who provides his own guided tours of the city, reading an excerpt from Homage to Catalonia to Richard Blair, George Orwell’s son, and Quentin Kopp, the son of Georges Kopp, Orwell’s commander in Spain. There is one glorious image, used for the jacket, of the 17-year-old Communist militia woman, Marina Ginestà, on the roof of the Hotel Colón on 21 July 1936, with a borrowed rifle slung over her shoulder. Her look is full of happy hope and confidence. In the book, she recounts her memory of the taking of the image, speaking about it in 2008. “It is a good picture. It reflects the feeling we had at the time … There was euphoria. … They say that in the Hotel Colón photo I have a captivating look. It’s possible because we lived at the same time as the mystique of the proletarian revolution and the images of Hollywood, of Greta Garbo and Gary Cooper.” (p. 169) Lloyd recounts many more fascinating stories, many involving death. It is a grim story, but the book provides a unique, usable telling of the history of Barcelona in the War. Peter Stansky has written about the Spanish Civil War in Orwell: The Transformation and Julian Bell: From Bloomsbury to the Spanish Civil War.
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CONTRIBUTIONS Received from 5/1/2016 to 7/31/2016 Benefactor ($5,000 and over) The Puffin Foundation Ltd.
Peter Cunningham • Ruth & Jacob Epstein Foundation • Hila & Gerry Feil • Jeffrey Heisler in memory of Vivienne & Irving Heisler • James & Ellyn Polshek • Joan & Neal Rosenberg in memory of Leo Rosenberg
David & Suzanne Cane in memory of Lawrence Cane • Lee Halprin • Daniel Kaufman • Peter Kerr • Michael J. Organek • Fraser Ottanelli • Stolyavitch Fund • Terry G. Trilling in memory of Jo Davidson & Barney Josephson • Ada Wallach in memory of Harry Wallach, veteran
Anonymous • Nancy Berke • Frederick Blanchard • Jorgia Bordofsky in memory of Joseph Siegel, ALB veteran • Betty Brown • Virginia Franco • Michael Gallagher • Edward & Mary Garcia in memory of Eduardo Garcia • Lola Gellman in memory of Isaiah Gellman • Michael Grossman • David Hancock • Rhea Kish in memory of Leslie Kish • Dennis & Susan Mar • Paulina K. Marks • Albert Marquès • Huguette Martel • Jay Laefer & Sara Matlin in memory of all the “premature antifascists” of the International Brigades • Gerald Meyer • Daniel Moskowitz • Eric Reeves • Chris Rhomberg • William Rosen • Leona Ruggiero in memory of William Lazarre • Naomi Sager • Ruth & Michael Samberg • Marvin E. Schulman in honor of Anita Risdon, my high school Spanish teacher • Judy Schwartz • Marc Shanker in memory of David Pitchon • Freda Tanz in memory of my husband, Alfred Tanz • Shirley Van Bourg • Nancy Wallach in memory of Hy Wallach, ALB veteran • Barbara Wareck • Josephine & Henry Yurek in memory of Steve Nelson
Jose Luis Aliseda M.D. • John August • Elaine Babian • Michael Bailey • Gordon Baxter • Ray Beckerman in memory of Hyman Beckerman • Philip Bereano • Emilie Bergmann • Judith & Cyrus Berlowitz • Timuel Black • Paula Braveman • Tibby Brooks • Paul Bundy • Angel & Alice Bustelo • Katherine Doyle • Edgar & Iris Edinger • Gabriel Falsetta, in remembrance • Reuben & Shaurain Farber • Jose & Selma Fortoul • Maureen Fritz in memory of Henry Shapiro • Victor Fuentes • Alex Gabriles • Mark & Sandra Haasis • Stanley Heinricher • Joan Intrator • Steven Itzkowitz • Gabriel Jackson • Kevin Coleman Joyce in memory of David Jones, VALB Commissar, & Leonard Jones, my brother • John L. Kailin • Doris Katzen in memory of Jack Bookman & Herb Katzen • Ruth E. Kavesh • Dorothy Koppelman • Beatrice Krivetsky • Emily Kunreuther • Robert Kushner • Thomas S. Larson • Eugene & Elizabeth Levenson • William Manning • Gene Marchi • Susanne Markman • Anne P. McCready in memory of Frank B. Pirie • Andrew W. McKibben • Selina Morris • Victor M. Muñoz in honor of Victor Muñoz • Ann M. Niederkorn • Susan Nobel • Michael O’Connor • Estella Habal & Hilton Obenzinger • Nicholas Orchard • Deborah & Stan Organek • Ira Oser • Ann & Vittorio Ottanelli • James & Barbara Pandaru • Joy & Ricardo Pocasangre in memory of Michael Ratner • Deborah Pollack in honor of Annette Halpern’s father, and her retirement • Louise Popkin • Nieves & Manuel Pousada • Paul Preuss • Michael Quigley • Kenneth Robinson • Miki Rosen • Naomi Rosenblum • Lisa Rubin • Ann Schneider in honor of Ruth Richwerger • Olga Segura • Katherine & William Sloan • Kate A. Stolpman • Luise S. Stone in memory of my father, Ely Joseph Sack, who bravely fought in Spain for the ideals in which he believed • Lynne & Bertram Strieb • Kate Summey Frank • Laura Fandino Swedowsky • Margaret Tanttila in memory of my uncle, Reino Tanttila, who died in Spain • Mary Vena • Rosalind Wholden Thomas • Dolores & Gordon Wine in memory of Monie Itzkowitz, Sydney Harris, VALB, Eddie Balchowsky, VALB, and my parents Ernest Romero, VALB, & Charlotte Romero • Leonard & Ellen Zablow • Judith Zukerman Kaufman
22 THE VOLUNTEER September 2016
Photo White House
Podemos Leader Gives Obama Book on Lincoln Brigade
uring a brief visit to Spain in July, President Obama met with the leaders of Spain’s largest political parties. Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias took advantage of the occasion to give Obama William Katz’s Picture History of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. The inscription read: “The first Americans who came to Europe to fight against fascism were the men and women of the Lincoln Brigade. Please transmit to the American people the gratitude of the Spanish democrats for the antifascist example set by those heroes. Among them was Oliver Law, the first AfricanAmerican who commanded American troops. / In memory of those heroes. Un abrazo, President Obama, Pablo Iglesias.”
ALBA BOARD OF GOVERNORS EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
Fraser Ottanelli, Chair Peter N. Carroll, Chair Emeritus Dan Czitrom, Chair Emeritus Sebastiaan Faber, Chair Emeritus James D. Fernandez, Vice-Chair Gina Herrmann, Vice-Chair Ellyn Polshek, Vice-Chair Joan Levenson Cohen, Treasurer Aaron Retish, Secretary Anthony L. Geist Jo Labanyi Nancy Yanofsky
Jeanne Houck Timothy Johnson Josephine Nelson-Yurek Julia Newman Nancy Wallach
Christopher Brooks Robert Coale Burton Cohen Kate Doyle Peter Glazer
HONORARY BOARD Larry Cox Henry Foner Baltasar Garzón Real Joyce Horman Gabriel Jackson Robin D.G. Kelley Howard Lurie Judy Montell
Antonio Muñoz Molina Cary Nelson John Sayles James Skillman Bryan Stevenson
September 2016 THE VOLUNTEER 23
Our national monument in San Francisco needs restoration!
Help us preserve the monument to the Lincoln Volunteers by contributing towards the $65,000 needed to complete the restoration
Sparking the conscience of people of all generations through the power of the past www.alba-valb.org
Published quarterly by the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (www.alba-valb.org). Online edition available at www.albavolunteer.org
Published on Aug 25, 2016
Published quarterly by the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (www.alba-valb.org). Online edition available at www.albavolunteer.org