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Giles Tremlett in conversation with José Ignacio Torreblanca

The international brigades in the Spanish Civil War

Segovia 2021, 

Spain's Civil War in the 1930s was much more than a Spanish war, attracting the world's gaze and seen by many historians as the opening battle of World War 2. Prize-winning historian and Hispanist Giles Tremlett (author of Ghosts of Spain and biographies of Isabella of Castile & Catherine of Aragon) has studied the international side of the war through an emblematic and controversial volunteer force of 35,000 men and women from more than 80 of today's countries who came to the Republic's aid as a part of a unique transnational army known as The International Brigades. This extraordinary force, admired by Hemingway, Orwell, Gellhorn, Capa and other observers, helped shape the international view of the war and was a breeding ground for left-wing politicians, union leaders, poets, wrtiers, spies and senior members of the Iron Curtain regimes (including the notorious Stasi of East Germany). Given the large number of Jews, and the military support of Hitler and Mussolini to the Nationalist side, it is also seen as the first organized Jewish resistance to Fascism. For Americans, it provieded the first Black officers in US history to command white American troops. Yet, as Tremlett argues in The International Brigades: Fascism, Freedom & The Spanish Civil War ("The overal history of the Brigades that has been lacking", according to Paul Preston) it was mainly a force of inexperienced young working class idealists, half whom died or were injured, who were used as shcock trops but would always carry Spain in their hearts. Tremlett is Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economicas & Political Science (LSE).

He will talk with José Ignacio Torreblanca, head of the Madrid office of the European Council of Foreign Relations, professor at UNED and author of Asaltar los cielos Podemos o la política después de la crisis, ¿Quién gobierna en Europa? and La fragmentación del Poder Europeo.

Giles Tremlett in conversation with José Ignacio Torreblanca