A book to honor the work of the forgotten and to fight historical amnesia

The Catalan journalist Andreu Caralt presents the book “3,669 biberons” (3,669 baby bottles), that explains the story of the “Survivors of the Baby Bottle Regiment of ’41”, the youngest recruits in Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War

Andreu Caralt, author of “3,669 biberons” (by ACN)
Andreu Caralt, author of “3,669 biberons” (by ACN) / K. Schreiber, A. Ferràs

K. Schreiber, A. Ferràs | Barcelona

August 16, 2017 07:09 PM

It was in 1938 when the president of the Second Spanish Republic called up 27,000 young men born in 1920 and 1921 to defend the country against the Fascist uprising by General Francisco Franco. As in many countries, the World War II led hundreds of thousands of very young men to death. Many of those young Catalan soldiers of the Baby Bottle Regiment, aged between 17 and 19, perished in the two most severe battles at the end of the war: at the battle of the Ebro and the Segre in Catalonia. As the author highlights, most of them had never left their villages and had been closest to their mothers.

However, as the Catalan author and journalist points out, in Spain the memory of the sacrifice of these young people was only kept alive and only received social recognition because of the voluntary activities of the survivors themselves. In contrast with other countries, the historical amnesia of the Spanish Civil War and the pro-Franco dictatorship silenced part of the recent history of the Spanish Kingdom and stories like that of the “Baby Bottle Regiment” have been “left to oblivion”, as the author put it in an interview with ACN.

That is why the survivors of this regiment founded the Survivors of the Baby Bottle Regiment of ’41 association in 1982, a few years after the end of the Francoist dictatorship.

For the author it was crucial to explain not only the personal experiences of those young soldiers, but to show the great effort they had to make to receive the social recognition that their sacrifice deserved. At the same time, he said, it felt like an attempt to recover the youth that had been taken from them in such a cruel manner.