Alvah Bessie Programme publishes launch video

Post date: 23/12/2022

The Alvah Bessie Programme, run by the General Directorate for Democratic Memory in Catalonia, have published a video (above) of their launch session held on 29 April 2022. The event was held in Mataró, Barcelona and included speeches by Antoni Font i Renom – then General Director for Democratic Memory, Dan Bessie, son of Lincoln Brigader Alvah Bessie, who spoke about the figure of his father, Jordi Martí Rueda, historian in the General Directorate, and Sebastiaan Faber, Chair of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, US-based sister organisation of the IBMT.

The video is available on the Ministry of Justice, Rights and Memory of the Government of Catalonia's channel on YouTube here, provided in three languages: Catalan, English and French.

The Alvah Bessie Programme was announced in April 2021 and officially launched in early 2022. It focuses on researching international anti-fascist volunteers who died in Catalonia and seeks to find their remains and connect with their living descendants. It is named after Lincoln Battalion volunteer Alvah Bessie, who wrote an eyewitness account of the American volunteers in Spain titled 'Men in Battle' (1939). Later, in the 1960s, Bessie visited Catalonia to take part in the shooting of a film, in the process looking for the burial place of Aaron Lopoff, his friend and commander who died at the Battle of the Ebro. His effort prefigured the current work of Catalonia's General Directorate for Democratic Memory.

The General Directorate for Democratic Memory explains the mission of the programme:

We think that a minimum of 2.000 international antifascist volunteers died in Catalonia but there is not complete information about who they were and where they disappeared and a very few relatives have requested the General Directorate for Democratic Memory to search them. Through this programme we want to obtain the most specific information possible about the names and identity of those who were lost and about the place where each of them died or disappeared. On the other hand, through this program we also want to let their relatives know about our historical research, our archaeological works and our Genetic Identification Program and offer them the option to request a search and to donate a DNA sample.

More information on the Alvah Bessie Programme is available here.

Posted on 23 December 2022.

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