IBMT Trustee Pauline Fraser reports on plans by our Spanish sister organisation in Spain, the AABI, for this year’s Battle of Jarama commemoration in and around Madrid on 16-18 February. Pauline is organising the IBMT contingent who will be attending. If you are also interested in taking part, contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org
The AABI will be running buses to the Scottish International Brigade memorial at Tarancón on Friday 16 February. Tarancón is a town near Jarama where the Republican medical services had set up several hospitals, and many of the injured at Jarama were taken there. A number of Scots volunteers killed in the battle are buried in the town’s cemetery, where there are fine monuments both to them and to the Spanish Republicans murdered by the fascist forces in the years during and following the end of the war. There is also an excellent and committed local historian who should be available to lead our visit.
We have asked about the possibility of visiting the new International Brigade memorial at Vicálvaro and the AABI say that we may be able to make a stop there on our return from Tarancón.
The town council in Rivas Vaciamadrid has taken on the role of organising the logistics of the annual ‘Jarama March’ on Saturday 17 February. Participants will arrive by metro at Rivas and from there we will do a 4.5 km walk around the battlefield, which will end with a free paella meal offered by the council as a courtesy to those coming from outside Spain.
The council is also offering basic accommodation free of charge at the youth hostel in Rivas on the nights of 16 and 17 February (and the 15th if necessary) to help with the costs of the trip to Spain. Rivas is 20-25 minutes from Madrid city centre by metro (see map). There are 20 beds available, all in bunk beds in a large dormitory (it is a youth hostel, not a hotel).
The IBMT will need to know as soon as possible whether anyone in our party wishes to take up this offer of free accommodation.
On the Jarama March itself, we can assume the AABI’s Seve Montero, historian of the Jarama battlefield, will be leading the walk as usual and explaining particular features as we go.
There won’t be a concert this year, so we can improvise our own entertainment, and perhaps make up a party to visit some of the tapas bars in Madrid and generally enjoy the nightlife of the Spanish capital both on the Friday or Saturday evenings.
To make the most of the weekend, staying until at least the evening of Sunday 18 February is strongly recommended. A visit to the Reina Sofía Gallery (near Atocha) is a must. That’s where Picasso’s Guernica is hung, accompanied by many of his preliminary works and and a full explanation of the painting’s significance.
For anyone interested in visiting buildings, monuments and other significant sites concerning the Spanish Civil War and the International Brigades, the AABI has produced a series of excellent booklets, with English versions, for walks around Madrid to visit these sites. We may also be able to call upon the expertise and local knowledge of one of the AABI group to lead those interested on one of the walks.
There is also a popular flea market on Sunday morning and, of course, it’s just fun to wander round Madrid.
It’s important to let me know if you intend to go to Tarancón on Friday so that AABI know how many coach places to reserve. The fare to and from Tarancón is 15 euros, and people pay their own metro to Rivas.
The AABI is a small organisation of dedicated volunteers, so a small donation from the participants would be welcome.
Though this year’s event will be a much smaller event than last year’s 80th anniversary, it’s important that every year we remember the Battle of Jarama of February 1937, when 150 members of the British Battalion lost their lives, along with many thousands of Spaniards, but Franco’s attempt to seize the Spanish capital was thwarted.
Posted on 4 January 2018.