Hands off the Madrid Monument!

September 14, 2013

IB_MonumentEditor’s Note: We received this report from our friends of the International Brigades (AABI) in Madrid about a judicial threat to remove the recently installed monument honoring the foreign volunteers who supported the Republic during the Spanish Civil War.

The Madrid monument to the International Brigades was designed by the Faculty of Arts in the Complutense University in Madrid and was funded by the Spanish Government, with contributions from different embassies, organizations such as ALBA, IBMT and FFALB, and public subscription.  It was inaugurated on October 22, 2011, in a ceremony which was presided over four veterans from the International Brigades. Two days before the inauguration, Mr. Garcia Jiménez, a Spanish citizen, filed a complaint at the Court for Contentious-Administrative Proceedings in Madrid. This member of the public was later interviewed by the Fundación Francisco Franco, which praised his patriotic determination and “bravery.” In this interview, Mr. García Jiménez declared his intention to make sure the monument was dismantled, and to protect instead the memorials and street names associated with the fascist side.

Despite the University having requested three times the planning permission for the erection of this monument, and despite the fact that the Regional Government in Madrid (Comunidad de Madrid) approved the installation once the archaeological report requested by the AABI confirmed that such installation would not interfere with the preservation of historic sites on the Campus, the Town Hall never replied to the requests.

"Que el sol siempre brille sobre la memoria de las Brigadas Internacionales y la Segunda República.” (May the sun always shine on the memory of the International Brigades and the Second Spanish Republic.” Photo collage by Alan Entin.

“Que el sol siempre brille sobre la memoria de las Brigadas Internacionales y la Segunda República.” (May the sun always shine on the memory of the International Brigades and the Second Spanish Republic.” Photo collage by Alan Entin.

In 2012, the TCAM (Madrid Court for Contentious-Administrative proceedings) ruled that the monument was illegal under planning laws, and the University replied by filing an appeal with the TSJM (Madrid High Court) in April 2012.  In December 2012, the Madrid High Court ruled in favor of the TCAM, which resulted in the resolution in late May 2013 which ordered the removal of the monument within two months after the university was served with the judgment.  On July 15, the president of the university spoke at a rally to defend the monument and stated that the University had not been officially notified of the court decision.

Thanks to immediate and clamorous reaction from around the world to this threat, the local authorities seem to have been disarmed and taken by surprise. ALBA and FFALB from the USA, IBMT from the UK, AICVAS and ANPI from Italy, ACER from France, KFSR from Germany, FIBI from Ireland, and numerous other sister organizations poured in their support through letters, websites and by endorsing the AABI petition at change.org.  In the UK, 56 MPs signed an Early Day Motion noting the threat and calling on the British government to follow the issue, since it involved British citizens. In the USA, FFALB encouraged relatives of American brigaders to secure an interview with the Spanish diplomatic legations and Embassies in Washington and New York to discuss their concerns, and obtained a positive reply from the relevant diplomats.

The University is defying the court decision because they had not been officially notified, and, at this point, a slow process might be heading to a full halt.  We encourage people to sign the petition online, and to write letters to the relevant Spanish representatives in your community or city, to inform them of the relevant and heroic role that some American citizens played in defending Spain from the threat of Fascism.

We shall keep you updated.


Born in Madrid and educated in the UK, Almudena Cros is Professor of Art History at Suffolk University, Madrid, and a member of AABI.

To learn more about the attempt to save the International Brigade Monument in Madrid, click herehere, here, or here.


6 Responses to “ Hands off the Madrid Monument! ”

  1. Donald H. Forbes on September 18, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    I have written a book “Two Communist Brothers from Washington New Hampshire and Their Fight Against Facism” I wrote extensively about the Spanish Civil War in this book. Homer Chase, Joe Bianca etc. I am appalled that this monument is in peril.

  2. Fred B. Chase on September 18, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    I hope this encourages protest against the trashing of the monument to Abraham Lincoln vets and all related at the Embarcadero in San Francisco.

  3. Brian Moyer on September 18, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Only a coward desecrates monuments….you have no pride or integrity wheather it be in San Francisco or in Madrid. But in the bigger scope of things you’ll never eliminate the spirit of the Lincoln Brigade or The Internationals.

  4. stephen on September 18, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    It give me joy to know these brave men and women are receiving this support from all over the World.NO PASARAN !

  5. ruth gottstein on September 26, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    How can I order the re-release of the 1940 album?

  6. Ricardo Martínez on October 16, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    As Spaniard I feel ashamed that the Brave Men that fought for Spanish People’s freedom and World Freedom do not have the recognition that they deserve.
    Unfortunately we still have some fascist enthusiastic people. Anyway the example of the International Brigades is great enough. I pledge to keep the monument as it is now so that future generations of Spanish People know about the struggle of so brave and selfless men.