IBMT Scotland Secretary Mike Arnott writes…
On 12 July, Pablo Hernández, representing the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH in Spanish) in Tarancón, Spain, paid his respects at memorials in Perth, Dundee and Kirkcaldy to those who lost their lives fighting fascism in the Spanish Civil War as part of the International Brigade.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Jarama in that bloody war, and the Scottish connection with Pablo’s home town is strong; just inside the entrance to the cemetery in Tarancón, nestling under an olive tree, can be found a memorial dedicated to Dundee-born Allan Craig and to the memory of the other 38 Scottish International Brigaders that fell with him at Jarama.
Flanking the memorial are two memorials bearing the names of 44 local victims of the repression that followed the war’s end in 1939, murdered under a fascist dictatorship that ruled Spain until after the death of General Franco in 1975.
‘The sacrifice of the International Brigaders is one that the democracy-loving people of Spain will never forget, one for which we are enormously grateful,’ said Pablo in Scotland. ‘But sadly there are still elements in Spanish society that would deny their valour, and cover up the atrocities that followed the end of the Spanish Civil War. When we seek to address the past, they call for silence, to not reopen wounds – but we say that a wound that has not yet healed cannot be reopened.’
He continued: ‘In February this year the memorial stones in Tarancón cemetery were defaced by silence-loving vandals.
‘To us, this is a sign that our fight must continue. I want to be here to demonstrate that no matter how much paint they throw, the modern fascists cannot obscure the truth of the Brigaders’ sacrifice, nor will they stop us from exposing the dark secrets of the dictatorship and what we know as the Spanish Holocaust.’
At the Kirkcaldy memorial.
ARMH believes that Spain is second only to Cambodia in the world for the number of civilians buried in unexcavated mass graves, and Scottish members of the IBMT actively support the Spanish association in its work to uncover the truth of a period in Spanish history ignored for too long.
Links re-forged between Scotland and Tarancón in arranging for the International Brigade memorial to be installed led to Scottish support for the 2016 installation of the two local memorial stones, and each February a joint ceremony is held around the anniversary of the Battle of Jarama, remembering together the Scottish Brigaders and the local victims.
Attendance this year numbered well over 300, with over 150 international visitors joining locals in reading the roll of honour and observing a moment’s silence in memory of all those named.
Pablo Hernández spoke and laid flowers at the Perth, Dundee and Kirkcaldy International Brigade memorials as part of short commemorations at each site.
I also spoke, as did trip co-ordinator and IBMT member Hamish Drummond. Pablo’s trip also saw him in Inverness, paying his respects in person to Allan Craig jr, the son of Allan Craig, who was just two years old when his father died in a Tarancón hospital as a result of wounds sustained at Jarama.
See more photos at; https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipOrHbwV5scIF8ra3iGW5yQmClGpKiXucJVP...
Posted on 17 July 2017.