The International Brigades in Spain

In the autumn of 1936, on Communist inspiration, a shock force was internationally recruited to assist the Republican Army in the Spanish Civil War. Where did the Brigades come from and why? By Hugh Thomas.

Hugh Thomas | Published in History Today

“Comrades of the international Brigades! Political reasons, reasons of state, the welfare of that same cause for which you offered your blood with boundless generosity, are sending you back, some to your own countries and others to enforced exile. You can go proudly. You are history. You are legend.”

In these words, Dolores Ibarruri, La Pasionaria, the Spanish Communist leader, bade farewell, at a parade in Barcelona on November 15th, 1938, to the International Brigades which had been fighting in the ranks of the Spanish Republican Army. The Brigades were being withdrawn in accordance with the offer of the Spanish Republican Premier, Dr. Juan Negrin. To whom was La Pasionaria speaking? Where did the International Brigades come from and why, and was her praise deserved?

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