Alcubierre: George Orwell in Aragon

February 24th, 2010 | by nick |

Trazado de las trincheras

George Orwell spent the freezing winter of 1937 on the Alcubierre front in Aragon. The Sierra de Alcubierre at heights of 700-800 metres dominates the plains of the Ebro Depression and who controlled the sierra would control the northern access to Zaragoza, and so the Republican spent great efforts trying to break through the front here. The trenches, refuges and other military remains have been now restored and rebuilt as part of the so-called Ruta George Orwell. Panels explain the historical context. See also Spanish Civil War tours

Orwell was not in high spirits when he arrived in the village of Alcubierre:

It was vile weather, with alternate mist and rain. The narrow earth roads had been churned into a sea of mud, in places two feet deep, through which the lorries struggled with racing wheels and the peasants led their clumsy carts which were pulled by strings of mules, sometimes as many as six in a string, always pulling tandem. The constant come-and-go of troops had reduced the village to a state of unspeakable filth. It did not possess and never had possessed such a thing as a lavatory or a drain of any kind, and there was not a square yard anywhere where you could tread without watching your step. The church had long been used as a latrine; so had all the fields for a quarter of a mile round. I never think of my first two months at war without thinking of wintry stubble fields whose edges are crusted with dung. More here including his rather negative views on Aragonese villages.

See also

Spanish Civil War guided tours in Barcelona


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Links

  • Good page in Spanish with lots of details and maps of the front.
  • Orwell on the Aragon Front Good article: “His period in and around Alcubierre is notable for a number of reasons though.  Firstly it was in Alcubierre that he received his first weapon for use in the war against fascism.  He said though: ‘I got a shock of dismay when I saw the thing they gave me.’  It turned  out to be a gun more than 40 years old – a German Mauser from 1896!  Indeed the reality of ‘civil war within the civil war’ that was, at this time, beginning to gain momentum on the Republican side was brought home to him starkly by this key incident.
  • The George Orwell route
  • Photo of the Aragon Front Orwell is pictured with other members of the POUM, and his wife Eileen. She had been staying in Barcelona while Orwell fought.

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