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Bunk, Brian D., 1968-; Pack, Sasha D.; Scott, Carl-Gustaf (ed.) / Nation and conflict in modern Spain: essays in honor of Stanley G. Payne

Scott, Carl-Gustaf
The Swedish left's memory of the International Brigades and the creation of an antifascist postwar identity,   pp. 151-173 ff.

Page 151

The Swedish Left's Memory of the 
International Brigades and the Creation 
of an Antifascist Postwar Identity 
S    he Spanish Civil War remains one of the most controversial events of
the twentieth 
,    century, and its memory is still fiercely contested. At the time, the
conflict was gen- 
I    erally seen as a preview of a renewed war between the European Great
Powers and 
was understood in highly ideological terms. Depending upon one's political
of view, the war was regarded as a showdown between democracy and fascism,
or between 
communism and Christian civilization. In the Western democracies, however,
it did not 
take long for the first mentioned interpretation to win out. According to
this narrative, the 
Soviet Union single-handedly stood up to protect the democratic Spanish Republic
in the 
face of fascist aggression, meanwhile the Western Powers simply looked aside
as Hitler and 
Mussolini helped to secure a Nationalist victory in Spain. Franco might well
have been vic- 
torious, but in this instance history was arguably written by the losers.
Following the Second 
World War, international opinion has by and large favored the Republicans,
who were hailed 
by the left as a preeminent symbol of the "good fight" against
This outlook has been exceptionally pronounced in relation to the approximately
35,000 foreigners (representing some fifty-three different nationalities)
who fought along- 
side the Loyalists in the Communist-organized International Brigades.2 In
the 1930s these 
foreign volunteers were routinely celebrated as paragons of the socialist
ideal of "interna- 
tional solidarity," and they have been embraced as icons of the anti-fascist
cause ever since. 
Well before the surviving members of the Brigades received honorary Spanish
in 1996, numerous monuments had already been erected in their honor throughout
United States and Western Europe.3 Even in Catholic Ireland, where during
the war the 
overwhelming majority had sided with Franco's Nationalists, the memory of
those few who 
fought for the Republic is now widely cherished.4 To this day, there is intense
interest in the Brigades,' and a palpable goodwill has informed most European
and North 

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