Letters to the Editor

June 1, 2010

To the Editor:

The purpose of this message is to let you know about our shocking surprise when we read the brief note on our book Los Internacionales: English Speaking Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War. We thought our great effort and many years of hard work would deserve a bit more than just four lines of disdainful comments.

First of all we are not the editors but the authors, and the book is not just a “compendium with selected biographies and bibliographies” but something far more complex and multifaceted than that. Least of all is “studded with inaccuracies.” When you use this expression we suppose you are referring only to the listings. We were very aware when we decided to publish Appendix II that it needed further research and that there might be plenty of errors and inaccuracies to be corrected in future editions. In various passages of the book we call for the readers’ understanding and help (family, friends, etc. could probably offer details and personal information on the volunteers). On p. XVI we offer our e-mail addresses to incorporate any further corrections. We can assure you that the whole listing has been corrected several times and cross-checked in different ways. If you read pp. 413-14 you will realize how much effort and energy has been devoted into that after consulting, re-elaborating and cross-checking dozens of lists. As it is, we consider the result as the most precise listing published so far and we will continue to update it because we do not consider our work to be definitive at all. Obviously, we are very aware that our efforts should be complemented by others’ before a ‘definite’ list of this kind can ever be accomplished and considered a hundred percent accurate. Nevertheless, we have tried our best and what we need now is further encouragement to continue detecting and correcting errors.

The sources we have used are all listed in page 414 and most of them have repetitions, errors, misspellings, inaccuracies, etc. We cannot dismiss the effort that those works entailed. We should all help to complement them. In our opinion, the column that includes the country or nationality (FROM) helps to clarify the complex issue of numbers and nobody has done that before. As mentioned in various passages of the book, the Canadians, the Americans and the Irish may give rise to abundant mistakes since many of them had double nationality and they have been counted twice. With the inclusion of this column in our database, we believe that we can give more reliable results since the different names cannot be counted twice.

But our book is not only a series of biographies, bibliographies and listings. There are three other sections which should be looked at as a thoughtful introduction for general public on the Brigaders and the Spanish Civil War, on the enrollment of about 7,300 English-speaking volunteers and their generous participation in battle or in medical services. They did come to fight but at the same time they have produced a broad literary reference which, I think, hasn’t been evaluated properly (at least in Spain) and that needed to be done. I know that the task is enormous but we have tried. Chapter I (76 pp) with the title “The International Brigades and the Spanish Civil War” is dedicated to a general view on the different Brigades, their initial formation and the peculiarities of the various Battalions. Section II offers a description of the formation and the role of the Anglo-speaking Battalions and units. Section III, under the heading “The Return Home”, deals with the fate that the members of the Brigades had to face when they went back to their countries. Chapter II (118 pp) entitled “The English-speaking Brigaders and Volunteers in Literature” is in our opinion the most creative and innovative part of the book. It is a pity but few people in Spain (and probably in most other countries) know to what extent the Spanish Civil War has inspired poets, novelists and critics (let alone correspondents). The literary impact of the war in literature has been disregarded by most historians in Spain. This chapter tries to provide as much information as possible about the repercussions of the war in Great Britain and Ireland, the United States, Canada and Australia. The reaction to the military revolt from writers, intellectuals and artists, and from the anglo-speaking academic world was that of an indiscriminate support of the Spanish Republic. Chapter III under the heading of “Memory and Reminiscence” has three different sections. The first one “Commemorative Recollections” illustrates the deep sense of admiration that the Brigaders aroused in their respective countries and the reader can see the impressive number of monuments and commemorations that have emerged in those countries. The second section, entitled “Films and Videos,” comprises a full list of films, videos and documentaries that depict the Brigades and their historical legacy, attesting to the commotion and interest provoked by the Spanish conflict in Europe, the United States and Canada.

There are, therefore, a total of 237 pages of solid and scholarly-based information (probably with some errors or inaccuracies) with an ample critical corpus with which you may agree or not but which is a result of many years of serious work. If in those chapters or anywhere else in the book you have found mistakes or omissions we would be very grateful if you let us know so that we can correct them in future editions. We have planned Appendix II as a “work in progress” to be improved and corrected when suitable, as it is frequently stated in various passages of the book. We would appreciate a great deal if you call on your web visitors to send us their suggestions and corrections… that would be a very positive attitude towards our work and we would be very thankful for that.

Salamanca, March, 2010

Saludos cordiales,

Antonio R. Celada, Manuel González & Daniel Pastor

Dear comrades of the Lincoln Brigade and ALBA:

My name is Eduardo Corrales. I came to New York just for a few days to visit a friend of mine, and I thought I could not miss the opportunity to thank you, Brigade Veterans, for your heroic effort more than seventy years ago in my country. Furthermore, I would also like to mention the great work done by the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives.

I live in Gijón (a city in the north of Spain) but I was born in Madrid, where I lived most of my life—the place where the International Brigades, and in particular the Lincoln Battalion, suffered their baptism by fire, in February 1937.

There’s a place in my city of birth that is especially important. It is the Arganda Bridge, which became a strategic objective in the first great battle against international fascism: the Jarama Battle.

In those days, a young American journalist roamed the streets of my town and became obsessed with the iron bridge that was being defended so heroically by the Republican Army. This young journalist was Ernest Hemingway.

It always took my breath away that the places where I spent my childhood were the scenes where humanity’s destiny had been decided.

I just want to show you my most sincere gratitude for having been such heroes in my country. Thank you so much, comrades.

As Ernesto Che Guevara said so eloquently: “solidarity is the tenderness of the people.”

Hurray for the International Brigades!

They won’t pass! ¡No pasarán!

Eduardo Corrales

New York, May 2010