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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
(2008)

Esenwein. George Richard
The Cold War and the Spanish Civil War: the impact of politics on historiography,   pp. 175-189 ff.


Page 185

The Cold War and the Spanish Civil War 
not an example of an historian who was being guided solely by his anti-Communist
convic- 
tions.16 
There is not space here to evaluate the impact that the opening of former
Soviet ar- 
chives have had on the revisionists' case against Bolloten and Orwell. Suffice
it to say that 
the bulk of these documents-such as the formerly classified papers that have
long been 
buried in the Soviet Military Archive (RGVA) and Russian Institute of General
History of 
the Russian Academy of Sciences-reinforce the central arguments found in
both Orwell's 
and Bolloten's studies. 
Interpretation 
In presenting their brief against Orwell and Bolloten, the revisionists emphasize
their anti- 
Communist conclusions. In so doing they ignore the fact that it was not the
intention of 
either author to write a diatribe or expose of the Communists. (A classic
example of the lat- 
ter is Alexander Orlov's The Secret History of Stalin's Crimes (1953), which
appeared at the 
height of McCarthyism.) Rather, both were concerned with recording notable
episodes of 
the war with which they were intimately acquainted. In writing their respective
accounts it 
became immediately apparent that their viewpoints contradicted the Communists'
version 
of the war. While Orwell accepted their presentation of the war as an international
struggle 
against Fascism, he violently rejected their attempts to demonize their left-wing
adversaries. 
At the time, orthodox Communist views of the revolutionary left in Spain
and elsewhere 
were heavily influenced by Stalinist politics and thus were generally immune
from factual 
considerations. There are plenty examples of how the Communists manufactured
their ver- 
sion of the truth during the war-perhaps the most famous being their elaborate
efforts 
throughout the war to project their rivals in the Republican zone as enemies
of the people. 
Because Trotsky and his followers had already been cast into this sinister
role before the 
outbreak of hostilities in Spain, it was hardly surprising that the Stalinists
indiscriminately 
attached this label to all republican groups that opposed their policies.
Given its ties to the 
international anti-Stalinist movement (including to Trotsky himself), the
POUM was easily 
transformed by this twist of logic into a Trotskyist party that was harboring
spies and provo- 
cateurs who were acting in the service of international Fascism. In so doing
the Communists 
were merely repeating a pattern of denunciatory behavior which they were
more famously 
exhibiting in the Soviet Union during the show trials of Zinoviev, Kamenev,
and other veter- 
ans of the Russian Revolution. Yet this obvious parallel was overlooked by
pro-Communists 
as well as by those Republicans who held all revolutionaries in contempt.
As a result, the 
burden of exposing the lies and distortions that emanated from Communist
publications fell 
on the shoulders of their left-wing rivals. Despite their best efforts, however,
the POUM's 
left-wing supporters-a group that included such formidable intellects as
Orwell, Franz 
Borkenau, Sidney Hook, and Bertram Wolfe-lost their war of words with the
Communists 
185 


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