Letter from ALBA: Goosebump Moments

November 18, 2023
By and

Dear Friends,

ALBA connects generations. We see this in our Watt essay contest, which showcases the passionate fascination with which high schoolers, undergrads, and graduate students engage with the legacy of the International Brigades. We see it in the touching video testimonies that grandchildren of vets have been sending us in response to our call. (We plan to share them with you in the next couple of months.) And we see it in our teacher institutes, which routinely connect educators in their twenties with colleagues of retirement age.

At our most recent workshop on “The US and World Fascism: Human Rights from the Spanish Civil War to Nuremberg and Beyond,” on November 7, we were stunned to realize that two of the older participants had a direct connection to the Nuremberg trials: their father-in-law and father had served, respectively, as interpreter and lead counsel for the prosecution! Suddenly, our module on developments in international law after World War II took on an entirely new dimension.

For us, these are “goosebump moments”: they are inspiring and energizing because they affirm the importance of our work. They help keep despair at bay at a moment when the world seems to descend in a never-ending spiral of violence, producing images of bombing victims and refugees that recall the photographs from Spain that sent shockwaves through the world more than 80 years ago.

If our educational work these past 15 years has been showing us anything, it’s that young people today are receptive to—indeed, hungry for—the lessons that the legacy of the Lincoln Brigade provides. These lessons are not simple or one-dimensional, to be sure. In fact, it’s precisely their complexity that makes them so valuable as tools for making sense of our present.

We hope that some of the articles we’re proud to share with you in this issue will inspire you in the same way—whether it’s the news about a new Spanish Civil War monument on the Berkeley campus, James Fernández’s incisive reflections on Guernica, or the interview with the legendary labor activist Karen Nussbaum and her no less legendary actor father. Bernd Häber reports on his work with Arizona students to trace the lives of the International Brigade volunteers who fought with his grand uncle, while Mark Derby shares new research on two German scientists in Republican Spain. And don’t forget to check out our book review section.

All of us at ALBA—including the teachers we collaborate with—are deeply appreciative of your generous support for our work. We couldn’t do this without you.


Sebastiaan Faber & Peter N. Carroll, editors

P.S. If you prefer to read this issue in its print layout, you can do so here.