Remembering the International Brigades and the victims of Francoism

Post date: 30/06/2014


One of Spain’s leading campaigners for justice for the tens of thousands of victims of Franco’s dictatorship will address the annual commemoration this Saturday (5 July 2014) for the British volunteers who fought in the Spanish Civil War as part of the legendary International Brigades.


Emilio Silva will attend the gathering on London’s South Bank to speak about the obstacles faced by families seeking information about the fate of their parents and grandparents in the aftermath of the 1936-39 conflict and the dictatorship that lasted until 1975.


Silva co-founded Spain’s Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARHM) in 2000 after running into official indifference and hostility while trying to find out what happened to his grandfather, a supporter of the Spanish Republic who was murdered in October 1936 by Falangist (Spanish fascist) gunmen in the province of León. 


The ARHM has organised excavations and exhumations from mass graves throughout Spain, and has given evidence to the United Nations about the unsolved and uninvestigated disappearance of thousands of Republican supporters.


The UN’s Committee on Enforced Disappearances is currently looking into the legacy and consequences of the crimes of the Franco era.


Organised by the International Brigade Memorial Trust, the commemoration in London will take place next to the International Brigade memorial in Jubilee Gardens (off Belvedere Road, SE1) from 1pm to 2pm. The memorial is dedicated to the 2,500 volunteers from the British Isles who defended the elected government of the Spanish Republic against Franco, Hitler and Mussolini. Of these, 526 gave their lives during the war in Spain. 


Wreaths will be laid by, among others, representatives of the Catalan Government Delegation in London, Spanish exile and refugee groups and the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women.


In his latest book, “The Spanish Holocaust”, historian Paul Preston calculates that at least 150,000 Republican supporters were murdered or executed by death squads and military tribunals during the Spanish Civil War and in the early years of the subsequent dictatorship.


Preston will be among the speakers taking part in the commemoration in Jubilee Gardens, along with former trade union leader Rodney Bickerstaffe. There will be music from Na-Mara and Maddy Carty.


Only one British veteran of the International Brigades survives: Stan Hilton, a former merchant seaman from Newhaven, Sussex, who now lives in Australia in a nursing home near Melbourne.





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