International brigades honored 80 years after bloodiest Civil War battle
Relatives of volunteers who fought against Franco’s troops attend historical reenactment in southern Catalonia
The International Brigades were honored in southern Catalonia on Sunday in a ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the Battle of the Ebre, the bloodiest in the Spanish Civil War.
Following the 1936 military coup against the democratically elected government of the Second Republic, thousands of volunteers from all across the world followed the call from the Communist International and traveled to Spain to stand against the fascist troops.
Some 40 people from the United States, Holland, Scotland, Germany and Russia attended the ceremony in Fatarella, Terra Alta, on behalf of their relatives who joined the brigades and fought in the war.
"My father believed that this was the most important thing he did in his entire life, because he had the chance of fighting fascism"
John Kallin · Son of U.S. brigadist
"My father believed that this was the most important thing he did in his entire life, because he had the chance of fighting fascism," said John Kallin, son of U.S. brigadist Clarence Kailin.
Kallin recalls his father’s memories of the war, including days of being unable to see the sky after bombings from Nazi Germany’s aircraft. "Pollution was dense, it was hell," he says.
Widely considered a rehearsal for the Second World War, Franco’s uprising received military support from Germany and Italy, while all would-be Allies except for the Soviet Union abstained from taking sides in the conflict.
The Battle of the Ebre provided Franco a crucial military victory that paved the way for his ultimate triumph in 1939. Between 50,000 and 100,000 people from both sides lost their lives, including soldiers as young as 17 years old.
Dozens of people took part in a historical reenactment of the last days of the battle, in the exact same location where the combat came to an end on November 15, 1938.
Participants stressed the importance of remembering those that joined the international brigades and fought in the Civil War.
"We must recall these memories so that future generations will learn the ideals of the republic," said Àlex Sambró, the ceremony’s organizer. "We can’t forget, or we’ll be condemned to repeating the mistakes we made in 1936."