BBC Radio 3 Proms Extra
On 9 August 2017, I introduced a number of readings relating to the International Brigades, movingly delivered by actors Christopher Ecclestone and Yolanda Vazquez and by Margot Heinemann’s daughter, Jane Bernal.
In the autumn of 1991 an event occurred which was to transform the understanding of the role of the International Brigades in Spain. The opening of the archives in the Russian Centre for the Preservation and Study of Recent Historical Documents in Moscow opened up a colossal amount of material to scholars, which had been virtually untouched for fifty years. Initially boxed up and shipped to the Soviet Union just shortly before the end of the civil war, the archive contained thousands of highly controversial files relating to the operation of the Brigades and military and political assessments of the units and individuals within them. The involvement of the International Brigades was, at last, able to come under detailed scrutiny from researchers.
Since the opening of the archives, a number of books have used the material in studies of the national groups within the International Brigades. The process began with Peter Carroll’s ground-breaking study of the American volunteers, The Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, published in 1998. As the material was only opened up to overseas scholars immediately prior to publication, the author did not have time to research extensively in the archives. However, he did manage to look at a number of documents and Odyssey remains the set text on the American volunteers.
The following list – arranged alphabetically by country – is of the most recent studies of the various national groups within the International Brigades. Those in bold (published after 1998) make use of the Moscow archives:
Argentina: Lucas González et al. Voluntarios de Argentina en la Guerra Civil Española. 2008.
America: Peter Carroll. Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. 1998.
Australia: Amira Inglis: Australians in the Spanish Civil War. 1987.
Canada: Michael Petrou. Renegades: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War. 2008.
China: Hwei-Ru Tsou and Len Tsou. Los brigadistas chinos en la Guerra Civil: La llamada de España 1936-1939. 2013.
Cyprus: Paul Philippou Strongos. Spanish Thermopylæ: Cypriot Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War. 2009.
France: Rémy Skoutelsky. L’espoir guidait leurs pas. Les volontaires français en Espagne républicaine. Les volontaires français dans les Brigades internationales, 1936-1939. 2000.
Great Britain: Richard Baxell. Unlikely Warriors: The British in the Spanish Civil War and the Struggle against Fascism. 2012.
Ireland: Robert Stradling. Crusades in Conflict: The Irish and The Spanish Civil War. 1999.
New Zealand: Mark Derby ed. Kiwi Compañeros: New Zealand and the Spanish Civil War. 2009.
Scotland: Daniel Gray. Homage to Caledonia: Scotland and the Spanish Civil War. 2008.
Wales: Robert Stradling. Wales and the Spanish Civil War: The Dragon’s Dearest Cause? 2004.