The Volunteer vol. 36, no. 3 (Sept. 2019)

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Dear Friends, Founded by the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade 239 W. 14th Street, Suite 2 New York, NY 10011 (212) 674-5398 Editor Print Edition Peter N. Carroll Editor Online Edition Sebastiaan Faber Associate Editor Aaron B. Retish Book Review Editor Joshua Goode Graphic Design Editorial Assistance Phil Kavanaugh Manuscripts, inquiries, and letters to the editor may be sent by email to 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 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 Teaching Institutes p 4 Faces of ALBA p 6 Column Hanna-Attisha p 8 Catalan Exhumations p 11 Liberation of Paris p 14 Interview Giles Tremlett p 18 Re-Photography & Civil War p 22 Book Review p 23 Contributions

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It’s late summer, a time when news used to be slow. It no longer is. On the Mediterranean, the fearless life-saving professionals of ProActiva Open Arms, led by the visionary Òscar Camps, are battling narrow-minded, xenophobic European governments for the right to help drowning African migrants safely reach the shores of Italy and Spain. In Brazil, revelations of government corruption by The Intercept—founded by muckraking journalists Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill—have prompted a backlash of repression from the Bolsonaro administration. Meanwhile, in southern Mexico, Lydia Cacho, one of the country’s most prominent investigative reporters, had her house burglarized in what the Committee to Protect Journalists characterized as a “blatant and outrageous attack.” In the United States, the crisis on the southern border shows no sign of letting up. To the contrary, it has expanded into all 50 states, as ICE conducts massive raids and the situation of those held in detention continues to be appalling. The Immigration Justice Campaign’s thousands of volunteer lawyers are busy providing legal help where none would otherwise be available. The Dreamers, young Americans who arrived in the country at a young age and remain undocumented, are protesting the termination of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), rescinded by the Trump administration in 2017. This November, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether that action was legal. January will see the premiere of Just Mercy, the film based on Bryan Stevenson’s bestselling book of the same title. Both tell the story of Walter McMillian’s wrongful conviction and eventual exoneration by a criminal justice system heavily burdened by the legacies of slavery. Stevenson’s organization, the Equal Justice Initiative, is also featured in a new HBO film, True Justice. The organization has been making international headlines with its groundbreaking Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. Besides their creativity and bravery, Camps, Scahill, Cacho, the Immigration Justice Campaign, the Dreamers, and Bryan Stevenson have something else in common. They are all recipients of the ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism, which next year will celebrate its ten-year anniversary. In the face of the unrelenting wave of worrisome news, nothing is more moving than seeing these individuals and organizations, along with the five other award winners from past years, continue to fight for what they believe in: human rights, equality, progressive values, press freedom, internationalism, and social justice. They are an inspiration. As Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha explains in her column (page 6), to keep activism alive, focused, and effective, it’s crucial to see it as part of a longstanding legacy. A sense of lineage is important, of course; but so are practical examples of the ways in which regular people have been able to organize, stand up for what they believe in, fight injustice against all odds—and, yes, sometimes attain victory, even if it takes a while. As Robert Coale explains on page 11, the Spanish loyalists who started fighting fascism in 1936 were still there in 1944, liberating Paris. Or as Giles Tremlett put it, when asked about his forthcoming book about the International Brigades: “Yes, the Brigades lose the war in Spain. But they go on to win World War II. In other words: they were right. As antifascists, they were right.” (See page 14.) This is the principle that drives our work at ALBA: remembering the past—studying it, learning from it, finding inspiration in it—in order to change the present. This fall, once again, we are going on the road to bring these lessons to hundreds of high school teachers and, through them, thousands of students across the United States (see page 3). We are always aware that we can’t do this without your continued support. Thanks for everything that you do. ¡Salud! Peter N. Carroll & Sebastiaan Faber, editors

PS: SUPPORT ALBA’S TEACHING MISSION NOW! Did you know you can also set up a monthly donation amount? Use the envelope enclosed in this issue or go to

Peter Carroll at the AATSP workshop in San Diego. Photo AATSP.

ALBA’s Teaching Team Poised for a Busy Fall Are you a middle or high school teacher? Do you know one? Spread the word about ALBA’s teaching institutes. This fall offers plenty of opportunities to join!


his past July, ALBA’s Juli Highfill and Peter Carroll led a workshop for Spanish teachers in San Diego, California, at the annual convention of the American Associations of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP). The session followed an article on ALBA’s professional-development work in Hispania, the AATSP’s flagship journal. Seventeen teachers from around the country spent three hours discussing ALBA’s core documents relating to international participation in the Spanish Civil War and related issues, including the rights of civilian refugees after the war. The session in San Diego was only the opening salvo for an extraordinarily busy fall. With the generous support of the Puffin Foundation, ALBA’s teaching team is offering seven different workshops, ranging from a couple of hours to one day in length. On October 11, we’ll be in Oberlin, Ohio, for a full-day session as part of the region-wide professional-development program organized by the North Eastern Ohio Education Association (NEOEA). On October 19, we’ll be in the Chicago area, at Elmhurst College (Illinois), for a full-day workshop. An ALBA tradition by now is the annual election-day workshop in New York City (November 6). Still to be confirmed is a November 7 workshop in Bergen, New Jersey.

On November 11 and 12, ALBA is proud to be part of the first conference on Antisemitism, Hate, and Social Responsibility organized by Classrooms without Borders. Here, ALBA will offer two separate sessions on antifascist activism in the face of the rise of the radical right in Europe and the Americas. And, finally, on November 24, ALBA will offer a workshop session during the convention of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), which this year is held in Austin, Texas. Anyone interested in these workshops, or in organizing a workshop in their area, can contact the ALBA office at or (212) 674-5398.

I was excited to be able to participate in the ALBA workshop because of my interest in the Spanish Civil War and human rights my desire to learn techniques for teaching those subjects. Dr. Highfill and Dr. Carroll provided each of us with a teaching packet complete with topics of discussion for students, as well as poem excerpts, copies of propaganda posters, lesson plan templates, and background summaries on central figures surrounding or related to the Civil War, such as Pablo Neruda. This workshop was the highlight of my time at the AATSP Conference. Erin Russ-Yribar, Associate Lecturer of Spanish, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

I attended your workshop in San Diego and wanted to thank you for your work. In my opinion, it’s a fascinating area of research that doesn’t receive enough attention outside of Spanish literature or culture courses. Cheri Robinson, Assistant Professor of Spanish, Dickinson State University, North Dakota

ALBA Institutes for Middle & High School Teachers

(Social Studies, Spanish & English) Fall Agenda

OCT 11 Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH (partners: NEOEA, Oberlin College) OCT 19 Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, IL (partner: Elmhurst College)

NOV 5 King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, New York City (partner: NYU) NOV 6 Bergen, New Jersey (partner: Bergen Academies)—to be confirmed NOV 10-11 Conference on Hate & Anti-Semitism, Pittsburgh, PA (partner: Classrooms without Borders) NOV 24 Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX (partner: National Council for the Social Studies)

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Faces of ALBA-VALB

Eric Levenson By Aaron Retish This summer, Eric Levenson and his family visited Spain to pass along his father’s memory to the next generations, following on an earlier visit to the country in 2002. Eric’s father, Leonard Levenson (1913-2005), arrived in Spain in June 1937. He fought with the Lincoln Battalion as well as with the Canadian Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, as a sniper and Company Commander, and was transferred to the Special Machine Gun Battalion of the 15th Army Corps at Ebro. He fought at Fuentes del Ebro, Teruel, the Retreats, and the Ebro Offensive. A prominent member of the VALB, he served on the editorial board of The Volunteer. How did your father’s experience as a veteran of the International Brigades influence you growing up? My father was very proud of being a veteran of the International Brigades. He was a communist before and after going to Spain, and was likely one of the last of the Vets to leave the CPUSA. As a consequence of my parents’ politics, we were harassed by the FBI for decades. Although he seldom spoke of personal experiences, Len did write about going to Spain as a communist in the Fall 2000 issue of The Volunteer. He seemed most comfortable talking about his experiences when he was back in Spain, particularly on his trip with Bob Coale in 2002. (Len Levenson with Bob Coale, “A Return to Spain,” The Volunteer, Volume 25, No.1, March 2003, pp. 10-18.) Were you with your father when he returned to Spain the first time? I joined my parents in Spain in 1996 when the veterans were given honorary citizenship. Although I attended a number of official events, I didn’t take any battlefield tours at that time.

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Your family just visited many of the places where your father fought during the Civil War, following your father’s 2002 trip with Bob Coale. Why? We considered the trip to be an important part of the process of understanding the history of our family. Currently my daughterin-law is very active in national Democratic politics and my granddaughter—Len’s great-granddaughter—is active in the national anti-gun movement. It seemed important to share an experience that would give everyone a much more personal sense of the roots of the family’s political activism. (My sister, Joan Levenson Cohen, a member of the ALBA Board, could not make the trip because of a scheduling conflict.) Your father was taken in by the Masip-Parramón family in the small town of La Vilella Alta while he trained for the Battle of the Ebro in 1938. Through the diligent efforts of Bob Coale, we were able to have a reunion with the Masip-Parramón family, who greeted us as enthusiastically as they had Len and Bob in 2002. My father and Ben Sills, both part of the Machine Gun Battalion, stayed with them before the Battle of the Ebro. The next generation were

Almudena Cros conducting her SCW tour of Madrid. Almudena, Alec, Eve, Tammy (l-r). Photo E. Levenson

Peter Carroll at the AATSP workshop in San Diego. Photo AATSP.

“It is sobering to see how alive the war experience is in the Spanish psyche—especially in Catalonia.”

thrilled to have us there and to celebrate our mutual link to the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War. As Catalans they are proud of their anti-Franco history. It is interesting that some of these proud Catalans who were born after the war did not speak of the war until fairly recently.

How was it to visit the historical sites? This trip was more meaningful to us than any formal ceremonies. It is sobering to see how alive the war experience is in the Spanish psyche—especially in Catalonia. Ruins of entire villages have been left as monuments to the destruction of the Civil War. Catalan independence flags are flown in front of some of the balconies in the town of La Vilella Alta, and there is a clear sense that many in Catalonia see themselves as a totally different culture than the rest of Spain. What was your itinerary? Our trip had begun when I met my son in Barcelona. We traveled south to Benicàssim, the seaside resort that was the site of a hospital for the Republicans during the war. My father had spent time there after being wounded at Teruel in January 1938. We then returned to Barcelona, met up with my daughter-in-law and granddaughter and headed to the Ebro area, where we hired Alan Warren as a tour guide. We toured the museum and the destroyed town of Corbrera d’Ebre with Alan, who also took Alec and me to the secluded site in Marça where Clarence Kailin’s ashes now lie alongside those of his comrade John Cookson, who was killed in 1938.

We spent the last days of our trip around Madrid. Andrés Chamorro, a member of the AABI (Asociación de Amigos de las Brigadas Internacionales - the “Amigos”), took Alec and me to visit the IB Monument at the Ciudad Universitaria, describing war-related events and sites along the way. On our last day, we all took Almudena Cros’ informative Spanish Civil War tour. Almudena is the President of AABI who, among other talents, is a professional and amazingly passionate tour guide. The fees that she or other members of AABI charge for tours are direct support for the work of the AABI. Almudena, an avowed communist, considers all extreme nationalism in a negative light. This was food for thought after visiting with the Masip-Parramóns deep in the heart of rural Catalonia, the center of major demands for greater autonomy if not outright independence. It gave me a better understanding of how Judge Baltasar Garzón is widely hailed as a left-wing hero for attempting to bring the dictator Augusto Pinochet to justice for human rights violations and for his championing of transitional justice in Spain, but is considered a conservative judge because of past rulings against the Catalonian national resistance organization.

Any final take-away? In all, we all now have a better sense of my father’s experience in Spain, as well as a much better sense of the history of the Spanish Civil War as a prelude to World War II. And I am sure that this trip has strengthened the foundation of the younger generations of Len’s family from which to continue their struggles today. Aaron Retish teaches at Wayne State University. September 2019 THE VOLUNTEER 5

Dr Mona Hanna-Attisha. Photo Michigan State U.

Human Rights Column


With the viral specter of rightwing nationalism, militarism, fascism, and xenophobia on the rise once again, the lessons from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives are timely and critical. For Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha and her family, they are also personal and foundational.


n the 1930s, my great uncle, Nuri Roufeal Kotani was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studying railway engineering on a government scholarship. In his home country, Iraq, he had been involved in progressive and anticolonial causes. At MIT, leftwing students rallying for social and economic justice at the height of the Great Depression caught his imagination and inspired him. Returning to an Iraq that was a proxy state of British imperialism was difficult for Nuri, but his activism continued. He was affiliated with the Syrian Communist Party and, when not subject to state harassment or in hiding from the monarch’s secret police, he found work as a topographic engineer. He campaigned for the liberation of Palestine and was a founding member of the Association Against Imperialism and Fascism.

In 1937, Nuri received word that the police were searching for him again. He left his family and his job and on November 1, traveled by train to Syria and then Lebanon. From there, he boarded a ship bound for France. From Paris, Nuri crossed over the Pyrenees into Spain to fight Franco and the fascists. One of only two Iraqis, he joined the International Brigades under the alias Anwar R. Nouri and was listed as an American—maybe because of his time at MIT or maybe because he had family in Detroit. With a few sparse weeks of training, he was sent to the front in March of 1938 using his engineering skills as a reinforcement for the Lincoln-Washington Battalion. He joined the XV International Brigade during the Retreats and led his section during the Ebro Offensive.

Nuri Roufael Kotani, RGASPI Fond 545, Opis 6, Delo 437 6 THE VOLUNTEER September 2019

15th International Brigade Observers, Ebro Front, (Nuri standing on the right) August 1938; Harry Randall: Fifteenth International Brigade Films and Photographs; ALBA PHOTO 011; 11-1076; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives.

Returning to an Iraq that was a proxy state of British imperialism was difficult for Nuri. Nuri’s activism in Spain had a cost. Nuri’s activism in Spain had a cost. Upon leaving, he was placed in a French concentration camp. It took multiple attempts before he was able to successfully escape and, like so many other international volunteers, he found himself abandoned and without papers. Eventually, he returned to Iraq. In 1956, he was arrested by order of the King of Iraq and sent to prison on a death train (qatar al moat) in the desert fortress of Samawah. All told, Nuri spent almost half his life in prison or on the run from those persecuting him for his political beliefs. What does Nuri’s activism mean in 2019? In my book, What the Eyes Don’t See, about exposing the Flint water crisis, I emphasize how I found inspiration in Nuri’s courage. I also recognize the connections between history and the present day—for instance, the connections between General Motors’ resistance to unions in the Flint sit-down strike, its provision of tanks to Franco in the Spanish Civil War, and its role in Flint’s decline and our water crisis. Leaning on history allows us to better unravel the problems of today. Though Nuri passed away in 1980 and lived a world away from my own children, we carry forward the oral tradition, telling them stories of their great-great uncle who believed in internationalism, social justice, and human rights. We reiterate to them that no matter where you are now, you come from folks who believed in a borderless cause, who believe

in the struggle for a more just society. And like Nuri, we must use our education, skills, and voice to make whatever community you find yourself in a better place. ALBA’s collections are filled with hundreds of volunteers with stories and legacies as inspiring as Nuri’s. There are children, like my own kids, who can become aware and inspired by hearing these timely stories of brave individuals who risked everything. By supporting ALBA, you can help spread that awareness through education and human rights programming that preserves the legacy of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, and of Nuri, and carries on their ideals for a new generation. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha served on the Honorary Committee for ALBA’s 83rd Annual Celebration. A first generation Iraqi-American immigrant, she is a physician, scientist, public health advocate, and author. She has been awarded the Freedom of Expression Courage Award from PEN America, named to the Time 100, and called to testify before the United States Congress. Dr. Mona currently directs the Pediatric Public Health Initiative, a model program to mitigate the impact of the Flint water crisis. She is the author of the 2018 NYT Notable Book What the Eyes Don’t See, a stirring memoir of her fight for truth and justice in Flint through the lens of her social-justice immigrant roots.

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Archaeological work in Caseres, July 2019.

Catalan Government Exhumes Mass Graves Bodies Recovered May Include Members of the International Brigades By Gemma Domènech i Casadevall, Eulàlia Mesalles Godoy, and Jordi Martí Rueda

This past July, the Catalan government exhumed three mass graves from the Civil War that may include remains of International Brigade members who died in battle.



he exhumation projects undertaken this summer by the Generalitat de Catalunya (the regional Catalan government) are part of a broader government effort to locate, recover, and identify individuals who disappeared during the Civil War and the Franco regime. The exhumations took place at Batea and Caseres, in the region of Terra Alta, which was the scene of intense battle action between the end of March and the beginning of April 1938 during the Republican retreat. 8 THE VOLUNTEER September 2019

After the Francoist army broke through the front in Aragon and the Republican army retreated to the east, the Loyalist forces tried to establish several successive lines of defence. One of these was on the banks of the Algars River, in the municipality of Caseres, west of Gandesa. We know that the units active in Caseres included the Mackenzie-Papineau battalion and the 59th battalion of the XV International Brigade (also known as the Spanish Battalion). The Lincoln-Washington and British battalions, for their part, operated in the area

between Batea (to the north) and the road from Caseres to Gandesa, along with the XI, XII and XIV Brigades and the 11th Republican Division. Given the urgent need to contain the Nationalist advance, the bulk of the IB moved between Caseres and Batea. They included Canadian, American, British, Irish, Austrian, German, French, Italian and Cuban troops, as well as Spanish. As we know, the Republican army did not achieve its purpose. On April 2, Franco’s troops broke through and

Selection of bone pieces for the extraction of DNA in the cemetery of Castellar del Vallès (Barcelona), 2018. This allowed identification of the remains of an Italian anti-Franco guerrilla who was murdered by the Civil Guard in 1949.

THE GENERALITAT HAS CREATED A CENSUS OF MISSING PERSONS HOLDING THE NAMES OF INDIVIDUALS WHO DISAPPEARED THROUGHOUT SPAIN. advanced towards Corbera d’Ebre and Gandesa, where the Republicans established new lines of defence. Finally, the retreat ended on the left bank of the Ebro River, where the Republicans reorganized and prepared the Ebro offensive, which would take place in July. One of three recent exhumation efforts took place on a farm field in Trufes where, shortly after the retreats, a local farmer came across a soldier’s body. Trufes belongs to the municipality of Batea, where the XI International Brigade saw action. The farmer, who identified the body as a member of the IB, buried it between the field and a pine forest. To avoid disturbing the remains, he decided to leave that part of the field fallow, obliging his descendants to do the same. The Generalitat’s archaeologists have explored the area but have not been able to locate the remains. Their displacement or disappearance may well be due to rains or the simple passage of time. The second exhumation effort, in Mas del Primo alongside the road that joins Gandesa and Caseres, was prompted by a more recent event: bones surfac-

ing. Oral history suggests that the place where these bones appeared was in fact a burial site of international volunteers killed in action. According to local witnesses, the bodies were deposited in shell craters and the trenches that followed the line of the road, and simply covered with dirt. At this site, archaeologists have been able to map the trenches and recover some remains, although they have not been able establish an anatomical connection. The third dig, also in Caseres, took place near a mountainous area that the Republican army called Barranc dels Barcelonets and which today is known as l’aubaga dels brigadistes or “the Shady Valley of the Brigaders.” Although mass graves were known to exist in what had long been crop fields, a private initiative in the 1990s converted the fields into a pine plantation. When an excavator unearthed human remains, the plantation project was interrupted long enough to rebury them. It is these remains that were now recovered by the Generalitat. It is important to note that exhumation is not the end goal but merely the starting point of a broader historical study.

This includes an attempt to identify the remains, which are often being claimed by the families of the disappeared. Catalonia’s Ministry of Justice, which oversees the exhumation project, has assembled a broad-based team of professionals for this purpose, including historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, and geneticists. Once the archaeologists have done their work, anthropologists study the remains to determine, where possible, their physiological characteristics, age, sex, and the circumstances of death. This information in turn allows for a more precise historical interpretation of the mass grave that will be useful later, when the genetic data are recovered and cross-referenced with those of living relatives. In those cases where the family relationship is direct (for example, between a father and a daughter, or between two brothers), mass data cross-referencing could reveal the victim’s identity. On the other hand, in those cases where the relationship is more distant (for example, between a grandfather and a grandson or between an uncle and a niece), directed cross-referencing of data is needed. In these cases, historical studSeptember 2019 THE VOLUNTEER 9

The mass graves in the old Soleràs cemetery, where the bodies of 146 people were recovered (2017).

SO FAR, CATALONIA HAS PERFORMED 17 DIGS, EXHUMING 290 BODIES. EXHUMATION IS NOT THE END GOAL—IT’S A STARTING POINT. ies and analyses by anthropologists are especially useful because they allow the team to narrow down its hypotheses. In the event that a body can be identified, the family may claim the remains. If the family declines, the Catalan Government takes charge of burying the remains in suitable conditions in the town cemetery or in a purpose-built memorial. Any unidentified remains are buried as well, and will remain anonymous pending any future genetic data cross-referencing. These three digs are the first involving mass graves from the Republican retreat. Many other exhumations have preceded them, however, thanks to a 2009 law that enables the Catalan Government to locate mass graves from the Civil War and the Franco dictatorship and exhume any remains it finds. The General Directorate of Democratic Memory, in Catalonia’s Ministry of Justice, is responsible for this work. As part of the 2009 law, the Generalitat has created a Census of Missing Persons holding the names of individuals who disappeared throughout Spain, which currently includes almost 6,000 records, for some 600 of which the death or burial site has been documented. It has also created an online Map of Mass Graves that includes all the 517 graves that have been located so far in Catalonia. Meanwhile, a Genetic Identification Program allows living relatives who register their loved ones in the Missing Persons Census to donate a DNA sample to facilitate the identification of exhumed remains. So far, Catalonia has performed 17 digs, exhuming 290 bodies. Five of these have been identified, claimed by their families, and returned. They included three civilian bombing victims in the village of Soleràs (Lleida), a Republican soldier who died in a war hospital in the same village, and an Italian member of the anti-Franco guerrilla who was murdered by the Civil Guard in 1949 in Castellar del Vallès, Barcelona.

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Some of the archaeological work has brought large mass graves to light. In 2017, a dig on the outskirts of Miravet, near the Ebro river, allowed the exhumation of 99 bodies. The fact that most of them were buried without clothes and in many cases with prosthetics suggests that they died in a medical context, in a field hospital that was hitherto unknown. This hospital, located at the foot of the Serra de Cavalls and halfway between Pinell de Brai and Móra d’Ebre, took in wounded soldiers from the Battle of the Ebro. The genetic lab analyses of the remains are still ongoing.

At the same time, we are researching to locate cases from the Census of Missing Persons that could have been admitted to that hospital. Also in 2017, a dig at the old cemetery of Soleràs yielded the remains of 146 people, including the Republican soldier and three civilians mentioned earlier. The village probably housed three Republican hospitals that received wounded soldiers evacuated from the fronts at the Ebro and the Segre rivers, and was the scene of virulent clashes during Franco’s occupation of Catalonia. To be sure, the number of cases registered in the Census of Missing Persons (6,000) is low relative to the number of fatalities during the Civil War and the dictatorship. Moreover, only 2,000 of the relatives who have registered in the census have been included in the Genetic Identification Program. This makes it more difficult to recover the identities of the exhumed corpses.

Despite the high mortality rates among the International Brigades, the Census includes only a very small number of international volunteers. The Catalan government has begun a campaign to locate families of those international volunteers who disappeared in Catalonia in order to add their records to the Census of Missing Persons and, if possible, to locate and identify their remains. Anyone interested in finding their relatives is invited to register for the Census on the website of the Generalitat, or contact the General Directorate of Democratic Memory directly at The search for the disappeared is only one aspect of the Generalitat’s public policies on historical memory. The Catalan government also issues official documents to invalidate the sentences issued by Francoist courts and awards compensation to people who were interned in prisons and concentration camps, a program for which almost 40,000 applications have been received. In addition, the Generalitat promotes the recovery of historical memory through three institutions. The Memorial Consortium of the Locations of the Battle of the Ebro (COMEBE), created in 2001, focuses on recovering the historical memory of this area and to promote projects that help to raise awareness of the Battle of the Ebro. The Memorial Democràtic, founded in 2007, aims to recover the memory of the Second Republic, the Republican Government of Catalonia, the Spanish Civil War and the Francoist repression. Finally, the Exile Memorial Museum (MUME, in La Jonquera, near the French border), which opened in 2008, has been working to promote knowledge about political exile, in particular that resulting of the Spanish Civil War. Gemma Domènech i Casadevall is the general director of Democratic Memory at the Catalan Ministry of Justice. Eulàlia Mesalles Godoy is the coordinator of historical research. Jordi Martí Rueda is an historian.

The Liberation of Paris, 25 - 26 August 1944. General Charles de Gaulle and his entourage set off from the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs Elysees to Notre Dame for a service of thanksgiving following the city’s liberation in August 1944. London: Imperial War Museum. Public domain.

Setting the Record Straight

The Liberation of Paris, August 25, 1944 By Robert Coale

The half-tracks of the French Second Armored Division that entered Paris in August 1944 were baptized “Brunete,” “Guadalajara,” “Teruel,” or “L’Ebre,” and manned by Spanish exiles. Some 500 Spanish Loyalists served in the Leclerc Division. Yet the official story of the Liberation of Paris has always presented the battle as a purely French affair.


n the morning of August 25, 1944, as Colonel Rol, commander of the French Resistance in and around Paris, crossed the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, he couldn't help but think that history had suddenly come full circle. For what was to be the battle for Paris, Henri Tanguy, or Colonel Rol, had donned the only uniform he owned, that of commissar of the XIV International Brigade of the Spanish Republican Army. His nom de guerre was also related to that earlier struggle where his friend, Captain Theodule Rol, commander of the Comune de

Paris battalion had been killed in the Sierra Cavals in September 1938. In fact, across occupied France someone with a past in the International Brigades was a guarantee of stead-worthiness and many commanders of the resistance movement had begun their fight against fascism in Spain. Colonel Rol was well aware of the links between Spain and the Resistance, so what was it that morning that caused him to muse that history had come full circle, back to where it had started? It was, in fact, the surprising names of the vehicles of September 2019 THE VOLUNTEER 11

La Nueve’s half-track “Guadalajara” arrives in Paris. Musée du général Leclerc et de la Libération de Paris

The role of la Nueve in one of the first acts of the liberation of Paris began with a fortuitous encounter near the town of Antony seven kilometers to the south of Paris.

the vanguard of the French Second Armored Division that had entered the city the night before and had taken position around the Town Hall. Half-tracks baptized “Brunete,” “Guadalajara,” “Teruel” or “L’Ebre,” manned predominantly by Spanish Loyalist exiles, were an unmistakable reference to that earlier war. In addition, at least one vehicle, the half-tack “Santander,” bore a small Spanish Loyalist flag above the driver's compartment. Five and a half years earlier at the close of the Spanish Civil War in March 1939, these men had escaped to North Africa and had subsequently taken up arms with the Free French in 1943. They eventually found themselves in one of the most famed units of the Fighting French Army led by the charismatic General Leclerc. The symbolic full circle was thus a former IB brigade commissar who had fought in civilian clothes since 1940, who had slipped into his Spanish Loyalist Army uniform for the battle of Paris unexpectedly meeting up with Spanish Loyalist veterans in the French Army on the steps of the Hôtel de Ville readying themselves for the final blow against the Nazi occupiers. Approximately 500 Spanish Loyalists served in the Leclerc Division, chiefly in the third battalion of the Régiment de Marche du Tchad, most notably in the 9th Company, referred to throughout the division as la Nueve due to its discernable Spanish essence. The role of la Nueve in one of the first acts of the liberation of Paris began with a fortuitous encounter near the town of 12 THE VOLUNTEER September 2019

Antony seven kilometers to the south of Paris. On the afternoon of August 24, when French and American units were grappling with German strong points in the southern suburbs and the resistance groups under Colonel Rol were defending barricades across the city with increasing difficulty, the impatient General Leclerc came across Captain Raymond Dronne, one of his subordinates since 1940 and commander of la Nueve. Leclerc ordered Dronne into Paris on what objectively could be considered a suicide mission to link up with the resistance and inform them that the division would enter the city the next morning. Dronne scrounged up three Sherman tanks and a platoon of combat engineers to augment his meager force of armored infantry and set off. It was a quixotic mission: 200-and-some Leclerc Division soldiers against the entire German garrison of Paris. By avoiding wide avenues and with a member of the Resistance to guide them through narrow streets-Captain Dronne was unfamiliar with Parisian geography-the column arrived at the Hôtel de Ville as night was falling and linked up with the leaders of the resistance movement. Not one shot was fired during their trek to the heart of Paris. It was early the next morning when Colonel Rol came across the men and vehicles. The combined forces of the resistance movement and the Second Armored Division won the fight for Paris on August 25. Amusingly, one of the soldiers to whom General Von Choltiz, commander of occupied Paris, surrendered in the Hotel

The famed Leclerc Division is said to have included volunteers from dozens of countries. Spanish Loyalists were one of the larger minority groups. Meurice, was a Spaniard of the 11th company by the name of González who got to keep the general's wristwatch. The next day, General Charles de Gaulle symbolized the liberation of the capital and sealed his privilege as leader of Fighting France with a parade down the Champs Elysées during which he was acclaimed by throngs of Parisians. As a reward for carrying out their perilous mission, Captain Dronne's 9th company accompanied De Gaulle down the avenue. Ironically one of the half-tracks directly behind the General had been baptized “Don Quichotte.” In addition to Henri Tanguy, in the days leading up to the liberation of Paris two others with links to the war in Spain also noticed the Spanish Loyalist presence in the Leclerc Division: Robert Capa and Larry Cane. In his wartime memoir Slightly Out of Focus, Capa claims that he rode into Paris on the morning of August 25 with Spanish comrades in a half-track named “Teruel.” This romanticized version of events could not have taken place exactly as he depicts it, mainly because the “Teruel” had entered Paris the night before as part of Dronne's column. In fact, close scrutiny of the photos taken by Robert Capa on the morning of August 25 proves that he entered the city in a jeep directly behind General Leclerc's command vehicle, not surrounded by former comrades of 1938. Nevertheless, Capa's version of events conveniently underscores the link to that earlier war where he gained recognition as a photojournalist. Former Lincoln battalion machine gunner Larry Cane was a lieutenant in the combat engineers of the 4th Infantry Division in 1944. He had landed on Utah beach in the early hours of D-Day and fought all the way to Paris, along the way earning a Silver Star in the murderous hedgerows of Normandy. A few days prior to entering Paris, he caught a glimpse of French half-tracks whose names recalled battles from 1937 and 1938 as they dashed by in their race to the capital. Unfortunately, his attempts to flag their attention were unsuccessful and he was unable to greet his former comrades. The official story of the Liberation of Paris has always followed the Gaullist tradition that emphasizes the role played by both the Resistance and the Leclerc Division so as to present the battle as a purely French affair. This interpretation was established in a speech by De Gaulle on the very day the city was freed in which the future leader of postwar France celebrated Paris as “...liberated by the Parisians with the assistance of the French Army,” conveniently omitting any reference to the several American infantry divisions which had also participated in the event. This version also silenced the part played by the many émigrés and foreigners who served in both the French Resistance and in the ranks of the Free French Army, including former International brigaders and political exiles from across occupied Europe. The famed Leclerc Division, whose nucleus was fervently and undeniably Free French, is said to have included volunteers

from dozens of countries, and Spanish Loyalists were one of the larger minority groups represented. On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Liberation of Paris in 2004, the presence of Spanish Loyalist exiles in the ranks of the French Second Armored Division was highlighted for the first time, mainly due to the efforts of the then-Lieutenant Mayor, and presently Mayor, of Paris Anne Hidalgo who was born in Andalusia and emigrated to France with her parents at an early age. At that late date, only three Spanish veterans of the division were still alive to be honored. Ever since, the tricolor Spanish Republican flag has been present in the annual celebrations. In 2015 the city of Paris went one step further to honor permanently the stalwart antifascists who were the first to enter the city by renaming the small park which sits between the Hôtel de Ville and the River Seine the Jardin des Combattants de la Nueve. Two years later, under the auspices of Mayor Manuela Carmena, the city of Madrid also dedicated a small park in honor of the Spanish Loyalists of the Leclerc Division. Besides such official homages, in 2013 one of Spain's most renowned comic book artists, Paco Roca, used the story of Miguel Campos of la Nueve, who went missing in action in December 1944 in Alsace, as the base of his acclaimed work Los surcos de azar, which is now in its eighth edition. In addition to educating thousands of Spaniards about the role of a handful of Loyalists in the liberation of Paris, the novel incredibly has allowed one family to find closure after 60 years. As it turns out, the family of Miguel Campos had lost contact with him in November 1942, only to receive a letter from the French Ministry of War in 1951 which announced that sergeant Miguel Campos was declared Mort pour la France, with no further explanation. Until 2013, the family had no idea that Campos had joined the Free French in North Africa and had served in the famed Leclerc Division, nor that his name was inscribed on the unit's list of fallen on a monument in Paris. For the last few years, members of the Campos family, in addition to family members of other Spanish Loyalist veterans and friends, have attended events in Paris which, on the eve of the official celebrations, honor the memory of the first to enter the capital in August of 1944. As the French say, La boucle est bouclée, the buckle is buckled, the circle is rounded. ALBA Board member Robert Coale teaches at the University of Rouen in France.

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September 2019 THE VOLUNTEER 13

“The International Brigades Were Not an Outfit of the Communist International—They Were Antifascists.”


Giles Tremlett, long-time correspondent in Madrid, is finishing a major new book on the 35,000 volunteers from all over the world who flocked to Spain to help defend the Second Spanish Republic against fascism.

Giles Tremlett, Madrid, 2017. Photo Marta Jara ( BY-SA


s Giles Tremlett sits down for a cup of coffee on a sunny morning in Madrid in late June, he plunks a bound manuscript on the terrace table (“Just to prove that it exists,” he jokes): a major new history of the International Brigades who fought with the Loyalist forces in the Spanish Civil War. The heavy tome looks impressive, but Tremlett is not quite done. For one thing, his editor hasn’t read it yet. “For another, it’s about 40,000 words too long,” he says. Still, if all goes well, it’ll be published next summer. Born in Plymouth, UK, in 1962, Tremlett has lived in Madrid for more than twenty years. In addition to a long stint as cor14 THE VOLUNTEER September 2019

respondent for The Guardian and The Economist, he has written Ghosts of Spain (2007), Catherine of Aragon (2011), and Isabella of Castile (2017). Your last two books are about Spanish queens from a long time ago. How is it to be back in the 20th century? It’s wonderful, frankly. My only problem has been the sheer limitlessness of the source material. My research has taken me all over, from the Hoover Institution at Stanford to the Tamiment Library in New York, to Amsterdam, Warsaw, Belgrade, Paris…

“I want to help my readers understand what it would have been like to be there.” In addition to being limitless, your sources come in many different languages. Yes, that was an additional difficulty. I can read a bunch of languages myself; those that I cannot, I put through Google Translate to get an idea. If I see something I like, I find a proper translator. And then there is the problem of reliability. There’s been plenty of censorship or self-censorship in the thousands of IB memoirs. Over the years, some stories have clearly been improved through the retelling. Many people, for example, report sightings of Marshall Tito here, there, and everywhere—when he wasn’t even in Spain! He helped recruit volunteers but never made it over… This is your third history book. Do you still write like a journalist, or have you become a full-blown historian? Where’s the line? You tell me, I don’t know. I am deeply interested in personal stories and experiences. I want to help my readers understand what it would have been like to be there. That biographical approach means you have to select particular individuals. Did you pick people whose experiences you believe are representative? Or simply those that make for the most compelling stories? Actually, some of the most interesting people did not make it into the book, precisely because they are a bit too interesting. Some of the most obvious characters, like Robert Merriman, are mentioned much less frequently than in other books. In fact, I purposely tried not to concentrate on the British and American volunteers. They have a strong presence in the literature but were numerically less important than, for example, the French and Belgians. Did you have a chance to interview veterans? Over the years, I’ve interviewed maybe a dozen. But I honestly did not feel a strong need to do interviews. The material is rich enough. And memory is not all that trustworthy seventy or eighty years after the fact. That said, the fact that the generation of the volunteers has now almost completely disappeared makes this a good moment to try to tell the whole story, moving beyond all the separate histories of the different national groups, which all are heavily influenced by their own national narratives. The Lincoln Brigade is a good example. What does it mean to understand all those different narrative strands in the wider context of the 1930s? The world of the 1930s is not a very globalized world yet— though it’s about to be. For many volunteers traveling to Spain, all that crossing of frontiers was quite challenging, even just in cultural terms. After all, some 95 percent were working class.

Many had never been outside their own country. Still, the Brigades attracted internationally-minded people, including immigrants and children of immigrants. In my book, I use two big categories, which I call “the devout” and “the displaced,” and which often overlap. In addition to the politically devout, of which there were many, those whom I call the displaced had an experience of migration. Then, of course, you had the sailors, of whom there were a lot among the Scandinavians, Americans, and Canadians. Writing about the Brigades means you enter a political minefield. Were they heroes or dupes? Do you focus on the stories of courage and inspiration, or on those of disenchantment and desertion? As we all know, the history of the IB has been used to serve many different purposes, not least during the Cold War. What I write is that war is a very binary thing. Normally, there are only two sides, and you have to choose one, however imperfect both sides might be. So which side do you choose? The answer may seem blindingly obvious to us now, but it clearly wasn’t at the time. Otherwise, the Brigaders wouldn’t have suffered so much in their own countries after the war—not to mention the whole non-intervention pact. Now, to me, it is clear that there is one definition that fits almost all of the international volunteers. Some might be “Mexican” Comintern operatives sent by Moscow; others might be Italian anarchists; others yet might be adventurers, or unemployed. But the single biggest category is that first almost all of them are antifascist. The International Brigades were not a Comintern outfit. They were an antifascist outfit. The Comintern is important, as are the different national Communist parties. But the real common denominator is antifascism. The story of the International Brigades plays a very different role in collective memories worldwide. In Eastern Europe after World War II, the Brigaders were venerated. In the U.S., they were “premature antifascists” and targeted during McCarthyism. In addition, all these narratives are themselves shaped by those who get to tell the story. The Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, for example, were quite a self-selected group, whose story is not necessarily representative. How did you process all these stories, which are not just incredibly diverse but also heavy with controversy and emotional investment? I have felt there’s a distinct advantage to looking at all the different nationalities together. Your sample size grows and you’re no longer dependent on any single version. And in fact, the evolution of all these different narratives is fascinating in and of itself. Take the story of the Jewish volunteers, for example, especially the ones who came from Palestine. Initially, they were scorned: they had left for Spain instead of staying to fight the September 2019 THE VOLUNTEER 15

“Which side do you choose in a war? It seems obvious to us now but it clearly wasn’t at the time.” Arabs. Later, their story was retold—in my view, correctly—as a sort of pre-Holocaust resistance to fascism, an act of resistance that is immensely valuable. Over the years, Israel has slowly understood that. In Eastern Europe, up until 1989, the veterans of the IB were heroes. Then they had to give back their medals. The whole Eastern European story is amazing. Oxford and Cambridge can eat their heart out: in Eastern Europe, the International Brigades were a breeding ground of future elites. Government ministers, generals, diplomats, you name it. Some were purged, of course—but the survivors often became very important. In many cases, their individual stories also get rather complex and unpleasant. In East Germany, the State Security Service—the Stasi—is run by veterans of the IB. In Yugoslavia something similar happens. Yet in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland they face purges, often because they are Jews.

The stories of what happened to the veterans of the IB after Spain could be an entire book on its own. Including, of course, the years immediately after, in the anti-Nazi resistance. Who shot the first German officer in Paris? And the second? International Brigaders. Who ran a lot of the Partisan outfits in Italy and Yugoslavia? Again, the veterans from Spain. On the flip side, I also write about their ghastly treatment in the States, or in Holland, where the Nazis got a hold of them using the lists provided by the Dutch police. You can make this a straightforward tale of heroism: a moment in history in which 35,000 individuals voluntarily put their lives on the line for a noble cause. But you can also try to focus on more complicated moral or political lessons: what does this teach us about what we should or should not do today? Actually, I believe there are two opposite narratives happening at the same time, which again reflect the binary nature of warfare. Yes, the Brigades lose the war in Spain. But they go on

Soldiers of the Thälmann Battalion in Spain, c.1938. Mikhail Koltsov. Public Domain. 16 THE VOLUNTEER September 2019

Page from the Book of the XV Brigade (1938).

“In Eastern Europe, the International Brigades were a breeding ground of future elites.” to win World War II. In other words: they were right. As antifascists, they were right. Today, everyone knows that. What I try to do in the book is to follow the story of non-intervention, which is part of the story of appeasement, and see how that story plays while the Brigades are fighting. Because, after all, what the Spanish Republic is trying to do at the end is to keep the war going until everyone else catches up—until there is a logic to what’s happening. The arc where the Brigaders end up finally winning the argument is there, of course. But victory only comes six years after they lose the war in Spain. Does that make them heroes? I’m not terribly interested in heroism as such. It’s true that, individually, a lot of them were quite heroic. But what’s more important to me is the fact that, as antifascists, they were right. Full stop. How can anybody argue against that? If heroism as such is not that interesting, then what about exemplarity? Is there a political or moral lesson to draw from this story eighty years on, in positive or negative terms? To me, the story of the International Brigades definitely holds a positive kind of exemplarity. But actually that’s not how I would phrase it. Rather, the lesson I would draw is this one: In the face of galeforce winds of politics and history, there is a value in holding on to moral certainty. The principle of antifascism—of which the Brigades are only a part—is a fine example of such certainty. Again, though, this doesn’t mean that, as individuals, the international volunteers were necessarily exemplary. I mean, if you fight fascism in Spain to then become head of the Stasi—what kind of exemplar does that make you? The brigaders were heroic in that they stood up and risked their lives for the principle of antifascism. That said, there were families at home who were left to cope with the consequences of their commitment. And then on the battlefield, individually, some turned out to be heroes and others not so much. Just as, later on in their lives, some of them turned out rather ghastly. There’s a part of the political devotion that drives them that, historically, goes horribly wrong.

The big narrative arc you describe as indisputable—losing the war against fascism in Spain but winning it in 1945—doesn’t play out quite that way in Spain itself, which even today hasn’t quite been able to fit its own historical narrative into that Western European mold. How do you think your book will be received in Spain? To be honest, I think things here in Spain are too entrenched to move the dial in any significant way, although I would also like to think there is a certain younger generation of people who don’t know that much, aren’t quite that affected by their family history, and are more open-minded, or simply interested. Speaking of interest, one of the fascinating things in Spain is the amount of local work that’s been done on the Civil War. The whole notion that history is built on the shoulders of giants, in this particular case, is bollocks. If it’s built on anything, it’s the work of dozens and dozens of people working in small towns, often as part of local associations. If you want to know what happened at Belchite, you don’t go to a university department. You go and ask the local historian who’s been obsessed by it for forty years, and who’s set up his own small museum. Or you find the local person who’s spent hours and hours online with the Comintern archive, or digging up documents at the military archive in Ávila. These are the people who really know. What do you have left to do before the book comes out, in addition to cutting those 40,000 words? I am an obsessive fact checker, and still have some thousand checks pending. I really want to get this right. I feel a heavy weight of responsibility. This is a big subject that means a lot to a lot of people. There’s an army of individuals who keep the Brigades’ memory alive, in associations all over the world. I also feel a responsibility toward the Brigaders themselves, although they are all dead now. Of course, in the end, as a writer, you have to come out with your version. Not everyone is going to love it. But then let’s have a debate. Sebastiaan Faber teaches at Oberlin College.

September 2019 THE VOLUNTEER 17

“A Photograph Doesn’t Lie”


Revisiting a historic image to take a new photograph from the same point of view—the technique known as rephotography—opens up new avenues for research. It also helps redefine our relationship to the past and the future. What does rephotography look like in relation to the Spanish Civil War and Francoism? A conversation with Ricard Martínez and Susanna Muriel Ortiz.


arly in the morning on July 19, 1936, the young photojournalist Agustí Centelles left his house in Barcelona, a Leica camera in hand and his pockets full of film rolls. The day before, the army had risen up against the Republican government. But the Republic was resisting. From one moment to the next, the streets of the Catalan capital had turned into a battlefield. History was being made, and Centelles was determined to cover as much of it as he could. Around 2 PM that same day, Centelles arrived at the corner of the Diputació street with Pau Claris. The fighting had stopped—but it had clearly been intense. Toward the end of

the block, where Diputació intersects with Roger de Llúria, he saw five or six dead horses, still tied to a cart that some assault guards were attempting to cut loose. Centelles started walking in the direction of the horses, taking photographs as he went. Once he got to the corner, three guards took up their rifles, with bayonet and all, and took aim, using the pile of horses as a parapet, reenacting what could have been their position during the firefight that morning. An older man in a dark suit stood next to them, a couple of steps back, pretending to fire a small revolver. At that point, Centelles focused his Leica and took the shot that would make him famous. In the following days the picture, shot in landscape, was published in a couple of Catalan Cover of Newsweek magazine, August 1, 1936. Photo by Centelles.

18 THE VOLUNTEER September 2019

papers. Ten days later, it appeared—now in portrait, with the suited man cropped out—on the cover of Ahora, in Madrid, and of Newsweek in the United States. “And yet, it’s possible that wasn’t the shot that Centelles was going for that day,” Ricard Martínez tells me. It’s July 19, 2019, exactly 83 years later, and we stand on the same corner of Diputació with Roger de Llúria, close to noon, with our feet on the very sidewalk that, in 1936, was blocked by dead horses. “If you take a close look at the sequence of Centelles’s negatives,” Martínez says, “you realize that he walked down the block in search of a particular shot. Yet the one that ends the series is not

that of the assault guards pointing their rifles, but a frame of the dead horses, from a different angle, without any human presence at all”. He shows me a print of that picture, which is decidedly less epic than the one that made Newsweek’s cover. If anything, it’s desolate. Martínez, a photographer and film producer, has spent the past ten years doing rephotography. “To rephotograph,” he wrote last year, “basically means to revisit a historic image and take a new photograph from the same point of view.” Although the technique was developed by scientists to visualize long-term geological shifts, since the 1970s it’s been used for artistic and political

Agustí Centelles, Carrer Diputació, July 19, 1936. Centro Documental de Memoria Histórica, Salamanca. September 2019 THE VOLUNTEER 19

Patio de armas del castillo de Montjuïc. Barcelona, Ricard Martínez, 2011. On October 14, 1940, Lluís Companys, President of the Catalan Generalitat, is brought before a military tribunal, a few hours before his execution. (Photo credit original image: unidentified, 1940 / Archivo Varela, Cádiz).

“Once you put yourself in the exact place from where a photograph was taken, you begin to see with your body.” purposes as well. (New York Changing, in which Douglas Levere re-photographs Berenice Abbott’s pictures taken 65 years earlier, is a good example.)

the lying, and generally the photographer doesn’t write those.

Martínez’s work reintroduces photographs from the past, often images of the Civil War in Catalonia, into their present context. Sometimes he uses Photoshop; other times, he takes a picture of his hand holding the older image against the background where it was shot. In both cases, the old merges with the new, like a ghost coming back to take up the spot it occupied while alive. In his most ambitious project to date, Martínez installed life-sized reproductions of historical photos in the Barcelona streetscapes where they were taken. These installations are almost always controversial in Spain, where the unexpected return of the repressed can unleash strong reactions ranging from graffiti to destruction. For the past couple of years, Martínez (RM) has worked together with Susanna Muriel Ortiz (SMO), a photographic archivist, who also joins us for part of the interview. Both belong to “Point-of-View Archeology,” a collective that organizes exhibits, courses, and rephotography tours through Barcelona. Finding out when and where a photograph was taken often requires a serious forensic investigation. What do you get out of that process? RM: First off, there’s the emotional dimension. The process requires a deep personal involvement—especially when it comes to the Civil War, which in some ways isn’t over yet. Then, once you’ve discovered the place from which an image was shot, and you stand there, you gain so much precise information that you begin to perceive the image in a completely different way. On the one hand, you’re seduced by the illusion of objectivity that every photograph conjures up. On the other, though, standing there also pushes you to adopt a more critical way of looking. As you discover where the photographer stood, and as you wonder why he stood there and not somewhere else, you begin to think about the sheer language of photography. Whether you want to or not, you have to face the fact that, through their rhetoric, photographs construct a reality. I say construct because I don’t like to use the word manipulation. Photographs don’t lie. If anything, it’s the captions that do 20 THE VOLUNTEER September 2019

So, on the one hand, this process unmasks the entire literary or journalistic construction behind a particular photograph. On the other, though, it compels you to see with more than just your eyes. You’re beginning to see with your body as well. You realize, for instance, that the photographer’s eyes are attached to a body, a body that can move. You can take a step forwards or back, you can squat a bit or stand on your toes—in Centelles’s case, you’d be squatting because he was 5’5”—until everything lines up. That exercise forces you to face the fact that, like everyone, you view the world from a particular point of view. And that your gaze, just like the photographer’s, is never passive. “Finding the point of view,” you have written, “means to return into someone else’s footsteps. It’s a gesture of empathy between generations.” Is it always about empathy, or do you also discover things that the photographer would have preferred to keep hidden? RM: Well, for the case of the assault guards, just putting yourself in the place of the camera makes you realize right away that he shot it while standing in the street, where there would have been no protection in a hypothetical crossfire. So he couldn’t have shot that picture while guards were still engaged in combat, as the initial captions suggested. The light, too, indicates that the photographs were shot at around 2 PM. How do you know? RM: As it happens, Barcelona is one gigantic sun dial. The Eixample, designed in the late nineteenth century by Ildefons Cerdà, consists of octagonal blocks that are perfectly lined up with the compass. This means that the shadows in a picture, especially where they hit a wall, allow you to determine when the picture was taken, sometimes up to the minute. This is the technical part. But I imagine there are also professional, historical, and even personal dimensions to all this. RM: In fact, they are constantly intertwined. Let me give you an example. Susanna and I are working with one of Centelles’s two sons, Sergi, who has allowed us access to the archive of fam-

Represession and Resistance. Photographic installation at the Plaza de la Catedral, Barcelona. Ricard Martínez, 2010. Francisco Franco and Josep M. de Porcioles, mayor Barcelona, after the customary visit to the cathedral, during one of the dictator’s last visits to the city. (Photo credit original image: Pérez de Rozas, 1970 / Archivo Fotográfico de Barcelona).

Photographic installation at the corner of Diputació and Roger de Llúria. Ricard Martínez, 2009-2010. (Photo credit original image: Agustí Centelles, 1936 / Centro Documental de Memoria Histórica, Salamanca).

“A photographic installation has something violent to it. It’s an intervention—a disturbance.” ily photographs. [The professional archive was sold to the Spanish state archive in 2009—ed.] Sergi has joined us on trips to some of the places where his father took pictures, including Huesca and Belchite. Susanna and I approach those pictures from a technical standpoint. For Sergi, it’s an emotional experience. He was born in the midst of the war, in July 1937. For him, therefore, it makes a difference whether one of his father’s pictures was taken before or after he was born. SMO: On one of our trips, Sergi was holding one of his dad’s professional pictures, which was after all what drove us to undertake the journey. But once we got there, what he talked about most were the family pictures that the place reminded him of. RM: Interestingly, even Centelles’s professional work is intertwined with the personal. The negatives of that same July 19, 1936, allow us to retrace his steps street by street. At one point, he goes along the Nou de Rambla, but then he turns into Lancaster Street, where he takes a single picture before moving on. Why Lancaster Street? Well, as it turns out, that’s where his father lived. So he must have checked in on him. Contrasting the past with the present shows how much has changed but also how much hasn’t. RM: There are places in Barcelona that still show bullet holes, as if the fighting happened yesterday. When you take groups on a tour looking for places where historic photographs were shot, I imagine that experience is different for a visitor than for someone who grew up in the city. RM: Foreigners see it like a game. For people from Barcelona, the experience is often more emotional. For many, the war is an inextricable part of their lives, their family history. The other day, when doing the Centelles tour, someone told me: “My grandmother lived right here, and told me about the dead horses.” SMO: They were actually twin sisters, whose grandmother lived just above where we’re sitting now. The scene she told them about is the same one that Centelles photographed. RM: The grandmother also told them that during the shooting that morning, a bullet had entered the apartment.

large photographic installations are an obstacle, physically and otherwise. An installation has something violent to it. It’s an intervention. A disturbance. SM: A couple of years ago, Ricard installed a life-size photograph in front of the Barcelona Cathedral of Franco visiting the city in 1970. That installation was vandalized multiple times. The reactions to a project will depend, I guess, on the affective value of the image used. In Catalonia, a photograph of Franco doesn’t incite the same response as one of President Lluís Companys, of whom you did an installation at Montjüic. SMO: That’s right. And the affective component is not limited to public photography. I am now giving a series of workshops that help people organize their archives of family photographs and come up with ways to re-photograph them. It has made us realize the therapeutic effect this work can have. One woman, for example, chose a picture in which she appeared in the company of people who since have all died. She decided to shoot that image again, holding the old photograph, but with her husband and daughters in the place of those who’d passed away. She clearly felt the need to come to terms with that memory—and in the course of the project, she did. In the first class, she was all tears. By the last class, she was smiling. Is rephotography always nostalgic? RM: It’s easy to get that impression. And of course there are plenty of nostalgic instances; for example, projects that compare the Barcelona of old with the city today. But I am convinced that, in reality, it’s the other way around. Think about it: you reconstruct a photograph, you figure out where everybody in the picture was standing, where the photographer stood when he pressed the shutter release. But what is your place in all that? Where do you stand? One answer to that question is simple: Here, in the present. But another answer says: you are in the future. That is to say, you are in the future of the photograph you are recreating. Realizing that doesn’t close history off, like nostalgia would. It opens it up, because it also reveals the potential in what you are seeing. It was that same idea that drove Agustí Centelles, that day in July, 1936, to fill his pockets with film rolls. Every photograph probes the future. Sebastiaan Faber teaches at Oberlin College.

If you had the funds, are there larger projects you’d like to undertake? RM: So far, my public installations have all been temporary. I’d like to do something more permanent. But that’s complicated, not just in terms of costs and materials, but also because those September 2019 THE VOLUNTEER 21

Book Review Francisco Morente and Ferran Gallego, editors. The Last Survivor: Cultural and Social Projects Underlying Spanish Fascism, 1931-1975. Sussex Studies in Spanish History. Sussex Academic Press, 2018. 256pp. Reviewed by David Henderson


hat role did fascism play in defining the Franco regime? The Last Survivor offers a fresh interpretation of the dictatorship as ideologically fascist at its core, rather than understanding it through a purely symbolic or discursive understanding of fascism as a movement of values and attitudes. Levering new research into state structures, the editors seek to replace the definition of Francoism as an example of an “authoritarian” regime, first promoted by political scientists like Juan Linz. Yet their principal goal is not so much to determine whether the dictatorship should be considered fascist as a whole or to define the periods when it most shared a fascist or authoritarian cast. Rather, they aim to investigate fascist influences and strategies in diverse areas of the state, from university administration to welfare policy. All the contributors take the existence of a fascist ideological core in the Franco regime as a given and examine it within Spain’s institutional state between the Civil War and the dictator’s death in 1975. The separate pieces roughly focus on two periods: the Civil War era and the period of the Francoist state. Most of the authors emphasize the regime’s totalitarian pretensions of shaping Spanish subjects via social controls and ideological formation, for example by looking at Francoist intellectuals and the organizations they managed. In this vein, Gallego charts the history of Spain’s fascist parties during the Second Republic, arguing that their early marginalization was a product of right-wing alternatives better adapted to democracy, but that fascism’s radical counter-revolutionary proposals were well suited to the Civil War’s political polarization. Iñaki Fernández and Guillermo Marín demonstrate that the National Welfare Institute adopted ideas from Fascist Italy’s natalist welfare policies. Francisco Morente argues that Falange-oriented intellectuals drove the reorganization of the Spanish university system more than has been recognized in accounts that highlight the role of the Catholic Church. Nicolás Sesma Landrín claims that intellectuals who hoped that Spain could imitate Japan’s industrialization and join the Axis powers in World War II presaged later technocratic policies that were long assumed to have not been adopted until the 1950s and 1960s. Olga Glondys is the only author who does not focus on fascism directly, but she too seems to focus on the question of totalitarianism as she aims to defend the 22 THE VOLUNTEER September 2019

value of the democratizing efforts of left-wing (but not Communist) exiled intellectuals who worked with various international organizations, notably the Congress for Cultural Freedom, during the first decades of the regime. Rather than emphasizing the regime’s ideology, Julio Ponce, Emilio Grandío and Javier Muñoz Soro explore the contradictions and complications in the pursuit of fascist goals. Grandío’s work is a counterpart to Glondys’s. For him, the growth of enthusiasm for political convergence with Europe and calls for national reconciliation within Spain were partially the result of the government’s flexibility. Muñoz Soro details how the Falangist University Work Service program became an inadvertent recruitment tool for the Communist Party. Placing students in contact with workers proved counter-productive (from the regime’s point of view): it allowed each group to hear the complaints of the other, see the failures of policies and, in the end, understand the emptiness of the regime’s social promises. In one of the book’s most illuminating chapters, Ponce carefully distinguishes the notion of “regime” from that of the State. It’s important to distinguish, he argues, between the possession of power (i.e., who controls government institutions) from institutional structure as such (i.e., the design of government agencies and ministries). For him, the dictatorship brought a new set of people into power but did not significantly change inherited structures. While he substantiates this by underlining the regime’s inability to effectively reform the laws concerning the municipal administration, it would be interesting to follow this approach in other areas of potential institutional change as well. At its strongest, the book suggests that it’s time to revise the generally accepted account of the Franco dictatorship as consisting of the competing “families” of army, church, technocrats and Falange. At least, a more critical appraisal of this account is in order, as the boundaries between those groups were quite porous and individuals often moved between them. In this sense, Morente’s chapter on Catholic and fascist intellectuals in the university is potentially the most exciting area for future research. The editors’ aspiration to move beyond the level of discourse and symbol is realized in the collection’s close examination of institutions. Still, as a whole it occupies itself more with intellectual and political debate than with the actual completion of projects. Tellingly, almost every chapter uses as its principal source a journal or set of journals. The result is that the contributions tend to highlight intentions and planning over concrete achievements. So, for example, the appeal of Japanese industrialization in Spain is fascinating in its own right, but the brevity required by this collection doesn’t allow Sesma Landrín to substantiate a concrete link to later technocratic policy. Similarly, the expansive definition of fascism gives the collection much of its dynamism, but might make it difficult to convince skeptical readers of the predominance of fascist thinking in the regime. The cleavage between the contributors who underline the totalitarian aspects of the regime and those who see its goals as multifaceted suggests that the most fruitful future debate will not so much center on the ultimate nature of the regime, but rather on the depth that fascist policies reached within Spanish society. David Henderson lectures at Miramar College. He holds a Ph.D. in modern Spanish history from UC San Diego.

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ALBA Institutes for Middle & High School Teachers (Social Studies, Spanish & English) Fall Agenda

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 $20 (for domestic orders. Price includes shipping & handling.) All proceeds from the record are being generously donated to ALBA.

OCT 11 Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH (partners: NEOEA, Oberlin College) OCT 19 Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, IL (partner: Elmhurst College) NOV 5 King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, New York City (partner: NYU) NOV 6 Bergen, New Jersey (partner: Bergen Academies)—to be confirmed NOV 10-11 Conference on Hate & Anti-Semitism, Pittsburgh, PA (partner: Classrooms without Borders) NOV 24 Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX (partner: National Council for the Social Studies)

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