Frank Graham: 'The International Brigade were decisive'

Frank Graham (1913-2006)

Frank Graham is described in his file in the Moscow Archive as 'A brave and reliable comrade. Politically unquestionable', and it is a description which did not vary throughout his 93 years.

From a Sunderland working-class background, a series of scholarships saw him attain a degree course at King's College, London. A dislike of the course, college and shortage of money soon saw him back in the North East helping to organise demonstrations and marches for the National Unemployed Workers' Movement.

He then went to Spain and fought at Jarama and Brunete, before being seriously wounded at Caspe. Back in the UK he remained politically active whilst working as a teacher for a number of years, before setting up a very successful independent publishing company in order to give voice to the rich working class history of the North East.


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On whether the International Brigades had ultimately been effective

The International Brigade were decisive in Spain, yes. I think if the International Brigade hadn't been in Spain, the war would have been over in probably within a matter of weeks. At the time, the beginning of the Battle of the Madrid, they were the decisive [factor].

I don't say that they did most of the fighting, but they were just that extra that made all the difference. I mean, there was, well I mean eventually about 50,000 members in the International Brigade, probably. In the Battle of Madrid, in the early days, there were probably five, ten, fifteen-thousand taking part. That number made a tremendous difference.

So for the Spanish war they were decisive. Instead of being over in two months, it took two years. And I think the two years delayed the outbreak of the Second World War. Hitler couldn't start the Second World War until the war in Spain was over. I don't think he could. Because you see, Spain was intended as one of the important parts of the Second World War.

It didn't of course work as anticipated because Spain didn't come in on his side, but of course they supported him economically. But at the time, Hitler wanted Spain as an actual force whereby for example he could attack North Africa from Spain you see. So he couldn't move until Spain was conquered and that was two years delayed.

Posted on 30 May 2023.
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