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Attacks on the International Brigades are symptomatic of the rewriting of history

In a shocking ruling the other day, a Spanish court endorsed the tearing down of a recently erected memorial to the International Brigades in Madrid, after much outrage from right wingers.

This is an outrageous attack on those who sacrificed everything for democracy. The International Brigades volunteered to fight fascism at a time when British aristocrats fraternised with Hitler and Mussolini, and numerous governments were pursuing disastrous policies of appeasement.  They are some of the greatest heroes of democracy the last century saw.

Yet now the lawyer who pushed for the destruction of the memorial casually and ignorantly smears the International Brigades as a mercenary army of Stalin, whom he falsely claims “created and managed them”.

However, Spain is not alone in experiencing attempts to re-write the history of the antifascist struggle. Across Europe brave antifascist fighters have been smeared and attacked, and fascist collaborators have been politically rehabilitated.

For instance, in the former Yugoslavia the pro-Nazi collaborationists in the Ustaše, Chetniks and Domobranstvo are commemorated, often even by government officials, as fighters for national independence for Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia respectively, despite them being nothing more than reactionary agents of foreign fascists. This has ideologically propped up the far right in these countries

Similarly, the rewriting of history in the former Soviet Union and the attacks on the Red Army, which fought so hard to liberate Europe from Fascism, has seen similar commemoration of pro-Nazi collaborators. Memorials have been erected and official commemorations are held for Baltic volunteer units of the Waffen-SS among others, now lauded as fighters for independence.

Indeed, Victor Orban’s authoritarian government in Hungary has even attacked the  word “liberation” in reference to the defeat of Fascism, renaming any streets previously named along such lines.

This rewriting of history across Europe – smearing antifascists and rehabilitating nazi collaborators – must be combatted. It absolves the far right and gives them respectability – at a time when austerity has prompted fascists to step up their agressive actions as was seen this week with the brutal murder of left wing activist Clément Méric by fascist thugs  in Paris and violent EDL attacks on Mosques, giving them electoral gains as was seen with Marine Le Pen in France, the Golden Dawn in Greece and Jobbik in Hungary.

To stop the attack on the legacy and sacrifice of the International Brigades and save the memorial to them in Madrid you can sign this petition.


  1. Rob says:

    My wife’s uncle fought in the war and was captured and held in seriously bad conditions before escaping and making his way back to Wales. His name and that of others have been placed into the Town hall in Merthyr now . He went on to work with Nye Bevan helping out of work miners to find jobs and to pay out the unemployment money to miners who paid into the fund which gave free doctors and the free hospital.

    Hell of a pity we are now seeing the dismantling of this.

    But Spain is going through a very difficult time as are many other countries and I will not condemn people when out own Labour party is moving further and further to the right.

  2. As is indicated in this excellent article any attempt to rewrite history by latter day fascists must be resisted to the bitter end.

    Brave men,the very salt of the earth,left these mining villages here in Wales to fight not just the fascists in Spain,they fought for a better life for all.

    We must always salute their memory and fight any attempt to erase their bravery from history.

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