Spanish Civil War in Barcelona

Articles in ‘Spanish Civil War in Barcelona’

Fossar de la Pedrera tour

January 23rd, 2014


Short report on BTV on my Fossar de la Pedrera tours in Catalan/Spanish with Cementiris de Barcelona. Information here

Street art in Barcelona

January 23rd, 2014

Street art, Sants, Barcelona just now based on Augustí Centelles 1936 photo of militiawomen on Aragón front.

Report on BTV on tours

June 22nd, 2012

5 minute piece on the tours by Barcelona TV. I think Marta Ballesta the director has done a great job so many thanks to her. Some of you can have a laugh at my Catalan too. An error on my part. It was Av Meridiana that was renamed Av. de la URSS not Gran Via. See video here on iberianature

Hans Beimler

May 10th, 2012

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.

A packet of tobacco

May 10th, 2012

Voucher for a packet of tobacco issued by the CNT/FAI, 1936. Some villages went as far as banning paper money, but that certainly wasn’t the case in Barcelona.

Bar La Llibertària

March 16th, 2012
A wonderful new bar called La Llibertària has just opened in El Raval, Barcelona. The walls are decorated in dozens of original posters, newspapers, drawings and photos from the anarchist history of Barcelona and the Spanish Civil War. It’s a veritable museum. Sergio, one of the cooperative members, is an ex? CNT member whose family history is steeped in anarchism which he’ll happily tell you about – ask him about the photo of his father taking over the factory in 1978.They serve good authentic tapas.
Highly recommended. Will now form part of at least one of my routes.
C/Tallers 48 in El Raval

Original edition of Homage to Catalonia

March 6th, 2012

Original edition of Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia. The Barcelona police took his draft copy in June 1937 from his wife’s bedroom at the Hotel Contiental. Where did this copy end up? As a foreign socialist, it may well have been passed onto the NKVD and then to Moscow. I think it would be a literary bombshell to fund the original draft, perhaps forgotten and gathering dust somewhere in a box. When he got back to Britain he had to re-write it from memory. His usual publisher, Gollancz didn’t want it. Nobody else did. Left-wing publishers were either in the control of the communists or did not want to rock the Republican’s boat. The rightwing for obvious reasons. It was finally published after 18 months of rejections and setbacks in 1939? by small publisher’s Secker & Warburg. It was a commercial flop and the first edition did not sell out to 1951.

Here’s some more background on its publication from Eric Hobsbawn

“Among the losers, polemics about the Civil War, often bad-tempered, have never ceased since 1939. This was not so while the war was still continuing, although such incidents as the banning of the dissident Marxist POUM party and the murder of its leader Andrés Nin caused some international protest. Plainly a number of foreign volunteers arriving in Spain, intellectuals or not, were shocked by what they saw there, by suffering and atrocity, by the ruthlessness of warfare, brutality and bureaucracy on their own side or, insofar as they were aware of them, the intrigues and political feuds within the Republic, by the behaviour of the Russians and much else. Again, the arguments between the Communists and their adversaries never ceased. And yet, during the war the doubters remained silent once they left Spain. They did not want to give aid to the enemies of the great cause. After their return, Simone Weill, though patently disappointed, said not a word. Wystan Auden wrote nothing, though he modified his great 1937 poem Spain in 1939 and refused to allow it to be reprinted in 1950. Faced with Stalin’s terror, Louis Fischer, a journalist closely associated with Moscow, denounced his past loyalties – but he took trouble to do so only when this gesture could no longer harm the Spanish Republic. The exception proves the rule: George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia. It was refused by Orwell’s regular publisher, Victor Gollancz, ‘believing, as did many people on the Left, that everything should be sacrificed in order to preserve a common front against the rise of Fascism,’ which was also the reason given by Kingsley Martin, editor of the influential weekly New Statesman & Nation, for accepting a critical book review. They represented the views overwhelmingly prevalent on the left. Orwell himself admitted after his return from Spain that, ‘a number of people have said to me with varying degrees of frankness that one must not tell the truth about what is happening in Spain and the part played by the Communist Party because to do so would prejudice public opinion against the Spanish government and so aid Franco,’ (Hugh Thomas, p. 817). Indeed, as Orwell himself recognized in a letter to a friendly reviewer, ‘what you say about not letting the Fascists in owing to dissensions between ourselves is very true.’ More than this: the public showed no interest in the book. It was published in 1938 in 1500 copies, which sold so poorly that the stock was not yet exhausted thirteen years later when it was first reprinted (Orwell in Spain, pp. 28, 251, 269-70). Only in the Cold War era did Orwell cease to be an awkward, marginal figure”

Children playing

October 24th, 2011

Children playing on a shot-down German plane. Robert Capa, top of Passieg de Gràcia, Barcelona, January 1939, two weeks before the city fell. One thing strikes me is that the Republic did eveything it could to keep the chidlren well fed as can be seen here, when many adults were on half rations.

Intimate moment

October 24th, 2011

By Robert Capa, Barcelona August 1936. I wonder if this militia woman would have had access to such magazines just a few weeks before. (July 19th) An intimate appropiation of bourgouis life

Art in times of conflict

October 14th, 2011
Window protections in Barcelona 1936 or 1937. Instructions for paper tape to be glued on all house windows in neat criss-crosses. Art in times of conflict. Found the late Valerie Powles’s site http://refugi307.blogspot.com/