Bunk, Brian D., 1968-; Pack, Sasha D.; Scott, Carl-Gustaf (ed.) / Nation and conflict in modern Spain: essays in honor of Stanley G. Payne
The Swedish left's memory of the International Brigades and the creation of an antifascist postwar identity, pp. 151-173 ff.
CHAPTER 1 0 The Swedish Left's Memory of the International Brigades and the Creation of an Antifascist Postwar Identity CARL-GUSTAF SCOTT 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 point 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 fascism.' 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 citizenship in 1996, numerous monuments had already been erected in their honor throughout the 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 international interest in the Brigades,' and a palpable goodwill has informed most European and North 151
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