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The Weekly Blague

The Artful Propaganda of the Spanish Civil War


Last week, to celebrate my birthday, I wrote about the man I was named after, my great-uncle Robert Rubin Weber, who, in 1938, joined the International Brigade, Lincoln-Washington Battalion, to fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War and was killed in action at the Battle of Gandesa. I also examined a Spanish Civil War propaganda poster from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA). A selection of these artistically striking posters, designed to convince Spanish citizens of the righteousness of the Republican anti-fascist cause, will be on display through September 15 in the NYU Kimmel Windows.


This week I'll examine two more ALBA posters that caught my eye. The text across the bottom of the above poster translates as "The Internationals: United with the Spanish, we fight against the invader"; the text in the seal as "International volunteers of freedom." Though the posters were effective, with volunteers from all over the world joining the International Brigade, the fascist rebels, led by General Francisco Franco and backed by Adolf Hitler, overwhelmed the Republican army. Franco and his repressive regime would rule Spain until his death in 1975.



During the Spanish Civil War, Buenaventura Durruti, working with anarchist labor unions, fought on the side of the Republicans against the fascist rebels, known as Nationalists. He was killed in action, in November 1936, at the Battle of Madrid. The text translates as "Honorable anarchists are against the false freedom that cowards [meaning the Nationalist rebels] invoke to get away with what they're doing."


It should be noted that the battle against fascism continues today in the United States, as one of its major political parties has rejected democratic rule, derisively calls those who oppose it Antifa (anti-fascist), and strives to overcome popular will and install an authoritarian regime.


There is much to be learned from what happened in Spain 85 years ago.


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