News from Belgium

Post date: 11/05/2016

Rien Dijkstra, Secretary of the Dutch-based Stichting Spanje 1936-1939  ( International Brigades memorial group, writes…



From Belgium 2,400 volunteers went to Spain: 1,600 Belgian and 800 from other countries. A symposium about them is being organised by The Friends of CegeSoma & Amsab-ISG (CegeSoma is a historical research institute in Belgium). See English-language website:


Premiere of ‘Las Mamas belgas’

Together with local researcher Joan Torró Martínez, VRT correspondent Sven Tuytens has made a probing documentary about the Republican hospital in Onteniente (Ontiniyent), near Valencia, which was founded by the Belgian socialist workers' movement. At the hospital wounded Republican soldiers were also cared for by some 20 Jewish nurses (pictured) from Antwerp and Brussels. They were called the ‘Belgian mothers’ by the locals. The documentary was premiered in Ontiniyent and garnered positive reviews in Spanish newspapers such as El País and El Mundo. On 1 June, the documentary will be first shown outside Spain (at 13:00 and 18:30 in the conference room of Cegesoma, Luchtvaartsquare 29, 1070 Brussels; register:


Book launch

Sven Tuytens (VRT correspondent in Madrid) and Rudi Van Doorslaer (director CegeSoma) wrote a biography of Peter Akkerman, a young Antwerp of Polish-Jewish origin and strike leader of the Antwerp diamond workers. In the autumn of 1936 he went to Spain to fight in the ranks of the International Brigades. Akkerman, who was the political commissar of his battalion, was killed in Spain, aged 23.


Database of the Brigaders

In 1975 Rudi Van Doorslaer won the first Belgian historian access to the Belgian members of the International Brigades files stored in Salamanca. These data were systematically supplemented with information from other sources. Recently François Van Pelt took care of the input of valuable information from the Moscow-kept records of the Brigades. So, for the first time we now have a fairly complete list of volunteers.

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