A poem for the 80th anniversary

Post date: 11/10/2016

To mark the 80th anniversary of the founding of the International Brigades, Rien Dijkstra of the Dutch International Brigades memorial group (Spanje 1936-1939) and Nancy Phillips of the US-based Friends and Families of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade have translated a poem by Flor Cernuda. They have also created a multilingual PDF booklet containing the poem and a brief biography of the Spanish poet.


Sample low-resolution pages from the booklet can be seen below. For a high-resolution copy of the booklet (5MB) contact:


‘Flor Cernuda was a life-long opponent of fascism, and her praise of internationalism makes the poem especially meaningful during this celebration of the founding of the International Brigades,’ says Nancy Phillips.


The booklet also features a barbed-wire motif and the words “We were, we are, we will be”. According to Phillips, they were adapted by Austrian prisoners of war from the last written words of Rosa Luxemburg: ‘The revolution’, she wrote, ‘will come back and announce: “I was, I am, I will be”.’


Rien Dijkstra, the Secretaryof Stichting Spanje 1936-1939, adds:


The motif and slogan are based on a leaflet made by an Austrian International Brigaders who were imprisoned in North Africa. After the Spanish Civil War they first ended up in French camps (Vichy regime) and later some were transported to the prison camps in North Africa.


The slogan they used is inspired by a text of Rosa Luxemburg in an article ‘Die Ordnung herrscht in Berlin’ (The order prevails in Berlin) in the newspaper Die Rote Fahne (The Red Banner) of 14 January 1919.


Here she writes: ‘Your order is built on sand. Already tomorrow  the revolution will a rise rattling and to your horror with trombone clank, it will proclaim: “I was, I am, I will be!’


So this logo and slogan refers to the past (Spartakus Revolution), the present (Spanish Civil War and imprisonment) and the future…


Posted on 11 October 2016 and amended on 4 November 2016.


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