Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Snapshot in Time.....

Burgos 1938, the Monastary outside Burgos in the heart of Franco occupied Spain was used by the Fascists as a prison camp for arrested volunteers from the International Brigades. This picture is of a group of these prisoners, Frank Ryan the Irish Republican who was an officer in the British and Irish battalion (XVth International Brigade) is the tall man second from the left in the front row, I believe given the group captured with Ryan that it is very likely that the late Maurice Levitas, and George Wheeler are in the photo too. It is also likely that Bob Doyle, still thankfully very much amongst us is there somewhere too.. I visited this place a few years ago with Don Watson, and it is now primarily a tourist attraction. The priest who was conducting tours agreed to show us the area where the prisoners were held, and there we were conducted to the courtyard where in all likelihood this photo was taken, it still was recognisable from the descriptions of Burgos given to us by IB veterans such as Maurice Levitas. Maurice recounted to me on numerous occasions that he received appalling treatment there at the hands of his Fascist captors, as well as suffering the indignity of having to undergo pseudo-scientific skull measurements from so called 'experts' visiting from Nazi Germany, who were, sinisterly, particularly interested in Jewish Communists.


Renegade Eye said...

I thought the Nazi note in your post was quite interesting.

I think Orwell was right, if everyone killed one fascist, it would have been a better world.

Gabriel said...

Thanks Renegade for that comment, that was the part of Maurice's account to me that I found particularly chilling, apparently they were the full works, white coats measuring equipment etc. He said that all the prisoners refused to co-operate with this 'research' but were quite literally kicked into submission.Maurice strongly believed that it was another way in which the war in Spain was a 'dummy run' for what was to follow in Europe just one year later.

Rajani Palme Dutt said...

Would Tony Gilbert (later of Movement for Colonial Freedom/Liberation) be in the photo too? I think he was in Burgos.

Gabriel said...

I'm not sure about that RPD but look carefully at the smaller guys in the photo and you may be able to see if there are some likely candidates. If I remember rightly Tony was quite short in physical stature.

Venus said...

I believe Tony Gilbert is 3rd from the left in the smallest row. Near the centre of the picture.

David Duff said...

"if everyone killed one fascist, it would have been a better world."

I don't wish to intrude into this 'Old Comrades' re-union, but you could substitute the word 'communist' in the sentence above without altering its beneficial message. Indeed, many communists would agree given the historical fact that many of them spent much of their time murdering each other!

Gabriel said...

Thats alright David, your comments are welcome. I hope you feel better now having got that off your chest.

Mick Hall said...

The mentioning of Tony Gilbert's name took me back. Years ago in the late 1960's, when I was a mouthy young know all new to politics. I was arguing with this guy about some political issue of the day, i forget which. I had first come into left politics via the Trots and ranting sadly was the order of the day and it was common to believe you can brow beat people into agreeing with you.

Anyway I was giving this guy an earful, showing him no respect, he tried to intervene but I would not listen as I new it all, what could he teach me.

I walked off feeling triumphant and a Trade Union comrade pulled me to one side and said son, do you know who that was, no I said, that was Tony Gilbert, he joined the international brigades when he was 17 years old.

I felt less than an inch tall, yet that experience has always stayed with me as did the dignity with which Tony dealt with me. Ever since when I find myself getting above myself I remember Tony Gilbert.

The New Centrist said...

Another perspective:

¿Viva la Insurgenc√≠a?: The Spanish Civil War and the Legacy of the Totalitarian International Brigades


The memory of the Spanish Civil War is shaped by multiple and competing narratives. Was it a civil war or a revolution? A struggle between a fledgling liberal democratic republic and reactionary fascists? Or perhaps a righteous struggle waged by the forces of patriotism, nationalism, and religion against communism?

Journalist said...

A greeting. I am studying the concentration camp where it was months Frank Ryan. These certainly are not the provincial prison where Ryan was many months? You can to see blog with subjects of this concentration camp. thejailynews.blogspot.com

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