If Madrid falls today, Warsaw will fall tomorrow

Post date: 24/06/2023

Jeremi Galdamez, of the Freedom Volunteers Association (Stowarzyszenie Ochotnicy Wolności) of Poland, writes…

Polish threads in the Civil War in Spain (1936-1939)” – exhibition in Warsaw. July 7 to October 1, 2023. Vernissage: July 7, 5:00 pm.

An exhibition in Warsaw from 7 July to 1 October recalls the participation of volunteers from Poland in the defence of Republican Spain. ‘If Madrid falls today, Warsaw will fall tomorrow: Polish threads in the civil war in Spain (1936-1939)’ also celebrates the art of Spanish anti-fascist poster. It is based on unique objects from the collections of the Museum of Independence.

When in February 1936 a coalition of left-wing parties in the Popular Front took power in Spain while proposing a programme of social reforms, right-wing and conservative forces associated with the army decided to carry out a military coup d'état. 

The failed coup of 17 July 1936 turned into a civil war that lasted almost three years. From the very beginning, the conflict took on an international character. The generals' plot against the democratic government was immediately supported by the Third Reich and Fascist Italy. The Soviet Union and Mexico sided with the Spanish Republic, while democratic Europe adopted a policy of non-intervention. 

From the first days of the conflict, volunteers from all over the world began to arrive in Spain. Seeing the expansion of fascism in the military rebellion, they wanted to join in to stop it. They warned: ‘If Madrid falls today, the whole world will fall tomorrow’. In the International Brigades – volunteer anti-fascist units – and the medical service related to them, there were about five thousand Polish citizens. They were called Dąbrowszczacy from the patron of the 13th International Brigade, Jarosław Dąbrowski.

In the exhibition at the Museum of Independence, for the first time in almost 40 years, items related to the fights of the Dąbrowski Brigade volunteers in Spain and their lives in French internment camps after leaving Spain in 1939 will be shown. 

Exhibits will be accompanied by over 30 original anti-fascist propaganda posters, which are still one of the most recognisable visual symbols of the conflict. They also include posters designed by Polish graphic artists: Mariano Rawicz and Mauricio Amster, as well as the ‘Cartilla escolar antifascista’ created for Spanish soldiers by the Republican government with a graphic design by Amster. 

The Museum of Independence will present the works of these Lviv artists in the first exhibition space in Poland since 1989.

The exhibition will be accompanied by film screenings, presentations and meetings related to the Spanish Civil War (details of the programme will be announced successively). 

The exhibition and accompanying events are the result of cooperation between the Museum of Independence in Warsaw, the Volunteers of Freedom Association (Stowarzyszenie Ochotnicy Wolności) and the Muranów Cinema. The curators of the exhibition are Weronika Krzemień, assistant professor in the Collections Department of the Museum of Independence in Warsaw, and Jeremi Galdamez, representative of the Freedom Volunteers Association (Stowarzyszenie Ochotnicy Wolności).

The exhibition is held under the patronage of the Cervantes Institute in Warsaw and the Union of Veterans of the Republic of Poland and Former Political Prisoners and can be seen at the Poster Gallery in the Museum of the 10th Pavilion of the Warsaw Citadel from 7 July to 1 October 2023.

On 8 July there will be a ceremony commemorating the Polish volunteers at military cemetery in Warsaw (further information to be announced)

Salud y República,

Jeremi Galdamez

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