Among the most interesting gravestones in the Fossar de la Pedrera is that of about German brigader Hans Beilmer who had managed to escape from the Dachau concentration camp in 1933, after throttling an SA guard and putting on his uniform, earning him a huge popularity in anti-fascist circles. Three years later, he came to Spain as commissar of the first contingent of the International Brigaders, where he was killed during the defense of Madrid on 1 December 1936. There has been speculation that the NKVD were involved due to Beilmer’s criticism of the treatment of the POUM???. Whatever the case, his body like that of Durruti who had died 11 days earlier, was brought to Barcelona for a huge public funeral and buried at Montjuïc Cemetery. The German tenor Ernst Busch recorded a famous song about Beimler in Barcelona during a bombardment in 1938. Recorded in barracks somewhere in the city together with a choir from Thälmann battalion and first broadcast on Radio Barcelona, the tribute to Beilmer was an adaptation of the German military song “The Good Comrade” also sung by the Nazis, but with new lyrics (“Before Madrid on the barricades / In the hour of danger / In the international Brigades / his heart loaded full of hate / Stood Hans the commissar). It was one of six tracks on the legendary album “Six Songs For Democracy”. The original record bore a sticker stating “”the defective impression of this recording is due to the interruptions of of electric current during an air raid”
Australian nurse Agnes Hodgson attended Beimer’s funeral in Barcelona:
“Marched in the funeral procession of Hans Beimler, an ex-German Communist deputy who was killed fighting at the front here. A man very able and evidently much loved, it was a great loss to the party. We assembled outside the Karl Marx building, and waited there until all were ready. Lowson carried flowers, and we all joined in with the women’s brigade – international women, English, German and Swiss.”
An edited version of this will go in the Montjuic section of my book (A guide to Barcelona in the Spanish Civil War, anarchism and anti-Francoism.