Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Spanish Civil War Vets: Their Heroism Goes Forth

It looks like The Bay Area Paul Robeson Centennial Committee and The Veterans of The Abraham Lincoln Brigade will be working together in the ever dwindling but ever steadfast leftist Bay Area non-profit movement. I say dwindling because the majority of those who knew Robeson personally and or who fought in the Spanish Civil war are now in their 80's and 90's. Both groups will be working on getting curriculum into local schools to keep this usually erased history alive.

A good friend of mine, Jonathan F. Smith, who died 1999, left a good portion of his estate to both the BAPRCC and The VALB and this August they will be unveiling the first bonafide national monument in the history of the US that honors these great veterans.
It will be on the Embarcadero in San Francisco and from what I've seen of the previews it's very big and wonderful with Robeson included for thew orld to see; my friend would have been proud.

So who are the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Birgade? Even after both Italy and Germany fell to Fascism prior to the start of WW2, the US was still reluctant to get involved, but in Spain there was resistance by arms. The Abraham Lincoln Brigade was a collection of fighters from the United States, men and women of all races, who served as volunteers in the Spanish Civil War as part of the International Brigade, fighting on the side of the anti-fascist Spanish Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War against the Nationalists under Franco. One man came to sing for them during these battles, his name was Paul Robeson.
Robeson is one of only two honorary members of the VALB. He would also sing many of their songs including "Peat Bog Soilders" and "The Four Insurgent Generals." Many of these veterans returned to the US and found themselves labeled (I'm not making this up) "Prematurely Anti-Facist."
Like Paul Robeson, they also found themselves hounded in the McCarthy witch hunts.

Notice how in the USA, none of the groups like the KKK or Neo Nazis were ever rounded up in "Fascist scare?" Even when they blew up the Federal Building in Oklahoma or were murdering abortion doctors every month? Yet the leftists, many of them not even 'Communists', have endured three very volatile Red scares?
Notice how former President Ronald Reagan and big business pumped well over a billion dollars into white supremacist Apartheid during the 1980's? Yet there is an embargo on the multi- racial island of Cuba to this day?
Whatever your stance may be, the US government has to this day mistreated it's veterans be it the bonus marchers, the Vietnam Veterans or the patients at Walter Reed Hospital today.
Thankfully the members of VALB will not be entirely forgotten the way so many others have sadly been.



Blogger ginab said...

Maybe I'm not hip to it, but having visited Spain and by all means having read Hemingway, is this WWI? Did this happen then? Would answer a question I have always had and yet I could know, but there's so much to know. Hemingway served as an ambulence driver for the Italian army in WWI. Okay, so I broke with Spain but he by no means broke with Spain.

Then Lorca, the poet (?), first exhiled, was imprisoned and executed by Spain's facists. Gabriel Garcia Lorca.

4:45 AM  
Blogger SuperAmanda said...

He saw action in both wars and as legend has it helped Russ Meyer get apiece of his first 'action' via a French brothel.
(Yes Russ actully shot now legendary footage for the signal crops in Europe ;)
The Spanish Civil War became a huge deal to EH to where it caused him o end his marriage with his Catholic and therefore Franco leaning wife Pauline. Many feel he became an informant for the Leftists but there is no absolute veracity. Love him or hate him he lived an insanely literate and unique life. I'm not a huge fan because his macho image clashes with my arteest ways but what the hey, he's an immortal and Michael palin's favourite author.
IMHO< his fellow immortal, George Orwell, who wrote "A Homage to Catalonia" penned a book that I feel surpasses "A Farwell To Arms."

It's always a shattering read. Like Wigan Pier he is an eyewitness yet here he's fighting, shot in the neck and fighting with the anarchists as opposed to the International Birgades. He expresses his anger and paranoia at the end like Christopher Hitchens coming off a meth binge.

7:07 AM  
Blogger SuperAmanda said...

It was WW Two, too.

7:12 AM  
Blogger ginab said...

But Hemingway served in WWI. Terribly young. He's a favorite of mine (too). Horridly brief and exquisite.

I love Farewell, and more the true blunt version about Catherine in In Our Time. (I'm not familiar with Orwell's.) H is just raw honesty. Too many have written there's something masculine about a man who is honest. "On the Quai at Smyrna" which opens In Our Time is the purest narrative on an absolute lack of authority, on chaos in war. Astounding.

Thank you!

1:04 PM  
Blogger SuperAmanda said...

Well all Spanish Civil war experience aside, I would put EH as a better influence on the reader because he is light whereas, let's face it, Orwell is largely shadows and despair and who wants to be depressed? Orwell also ended up leaving some murkiness about where he actually stood politically but I'm not sure how much of that is revisionist gossip as Orwell in his own time was the sanest and fairest of leftists. Both men were eloquent giants and when I look at what the greatest writers of the 20th century accomplished in juxtaposition with low IQ crap like the Pussycat dolls and reality TV I wish I had been born in the 1920's or 30's.

6:09 PM  
Blogger SuperAmanda said...

and regarding EH macho image i agree it's a pat response to his obvious complexity and I can't really add to the debate as I'm not a huge fan. Oliver Reed had a similar reputation but when I read his autobio I realized how much of it was not so simple.

6:11 PM  
Blogger ginab said...

Here's the lo down on H being an ambulence driver. Gawd I feel so out of school!


8:52 PM  
Blogger AhvaRahn said...

Oliver Reed loved the horses, and used to fly over to my hometown in N. Ireland to watch the races. He would drink in a wee bar in the town. None of the regulars knew who he was. A terribly down-to-earth man, and quietly funny –none the TV or tabloid outbursts there- I liked him more. He appeared sad and, odd as it might seem, shy; he was just one of the funny punters. Unfortunately, too many in the media liked to exploit his demons.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Suesjoy said...

This is really interesting...frightening...depressing.
Thanks for enlightening me Amanda.

I need to get that bumpersticker:
"If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."

5:52 PM  

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