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Flags and family histories at the Battle of Jarama commemoration

By IBMT Trustee Pauline Fraser

 

Pauline was part of the 60-strong IBMT group at the Battle of Jarama commemoration on 17/18 February, which was organised by the AABI Madrid-based Inernational Brigades friendship group.

 

Here is a photo of Miriam Peet, who took part in the Jarama march and commemoration on 18 February 2017 – on the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Jarama in February 1937. 

 

 

 

Miriam is proudly holding a Bulgarian flag in memory of her uncle, Kirill Tanev. Kirill went to France to work as a miner as a very young man and probably went straight from there to join the International Brigades. He fought at Jarama and was killed at Guadalajara. The family doesn’t know which brigade and battalion Kirill fought with. 

 

The Tanevs were Miriam’s mother’s family, who went underground in Europe from the time she was a baby, so there are no photographs or documents about Kirill, nor any other member of the family. Miriam just has the flag with her to remember him by.

 

While so little is known of Kirill Tanev, the Moscow archive records for the other volunteer in her family, Miriam’s father, John Peet, give a full account of his time in Spain. We know that Croydon-born John was a member of the Young Communist League, who volunteered for Spain in October 1937, aged 22. He worked in Albacete as an interpreter and researcher, then from April 1938 as a machine-gunner with the British Battalion. He took part in the Ebro offensive on Hill 481 and was wounded in the ankle in late July 1938. He was repatriated with the remaining Brigaders on 7 December 1938.

 

Peet joined the Palestine police in 1939 under the British mandate. After the Second World War, he became the Reuters correspondent in Vienna and then in Berlin, where Miriam was born. He settled in East Germany for good and died in 1988. So Miriam has a double reason to be proud of her family.

 

 

 

This is Connor Conlin, the youngest Scot on the Jarama march. He was commemorating his great great great uncle, James Rae, who was killed at Jarama. Keeping alive the memory of these family heroes so many generations down the line is something Connor can be proud of.

 

 

 

Amparo Moreno Parraga (third from right) came into the world 80 years ago while her mother took shelter in an air-raid shelter (pictured) in Tarancón. The Battle of Jarama was raging nearby, claiming the lives of 39 Scottish Brigaders. 

 

On 17 February this year, she and her granddaughter Elena made the journey to Tarancón cemetery to remember, alongside their relatives, both the Brigaders and 44 citizens of Tarancón who were shot or died in prison after the end of the Spanish Civil War, victims of Franco’s bloody repression against fellow Spaniards. 

 

Their memorials stand either side of the stone commemorating the Scottish Brigaders. At the foot of one of the memorials, one name stands out. It is Dositeo Moreno Barrios, who died in a Nazi concentration camp. He was Amparo’s father, the father she never knew.

 

Elena, told us his story, or as much as the family knows. Dositeo disappeared from the family home before his daughter’s birth, and the mystery of what happened to him was only solved in the 1960s, when the family learnt that he had crossed the border into France as a refugee in 1939, where he endured appalling conditions in one of the French refugee camps. 

 

He was given the choice of re-crossing the border back into Spain, which would have risked death, or of joining the French resistance forces. He chose to stay in France and fight fascism. He was eventually captured and deported to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria where he lost his life. 

 

 

Posted on 9 March 2017.