International brigades during spanish civil war
Article about: Canadian: YouTube - Los Canadienses: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 Part 5/6 Americans: YouTube - The Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Spain civil war YouTube - Americans in the Span
International brigades during spanish civil war
YouTube - Los Canadienses: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 Part 5/6
YouTube - The Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Spain civil war
YouTube - Americans in the Spanish Civil War (1 of 2)
Americans pilots who fight near Republic air force
YouTube - Thanks to those American Airmen in the Spanish Civil War
Abraham Lincoln Memorial:
YouTube - Abraham Lincoln Brigade Monument Dedication
Italians no fascist future partisans:
YouTube - Anthem of the XII International Brigade - The Garibaldi Brigade
YouTube - hommage aux brigades internationales
International Brigades Parade:
YouTube - Desfile Brigada Internacional
YouTube - Despedida de las Brigadas Internacionales
The International Brigades (Spanish: Brigadas Internacionales) were military units made up of anti-fascist volunteers from different countries, who traveled to Spain to defend the Second Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1939.
An estimated 32,000 people from a claimed "53 nations" volunteered. They fought against rebel Spanish Nationalist forces led by General Francisco Franco and assisted by German and Italian forces.
Formation and recruitment
For military structure and organization, see International Brigades order of battle. For anti-Stalinist communist brigades, see POUMBA. For more information on composition and mustering, see International Brigades order of battle.
Using foreign Communist Parties to recruit volunteers for Spain was first proposed in the Soviet Union in September 1936—apparently at the suggestion of Maurice Thorez—by Willi Münzenberg, chief of Comintern propaganda for Western Europe. As a security measure, non-Communist volunteers would first be interviewed by an NKVD agent.
By the end of September, the Italian and French Communist Parties had decided to set up a column. Luigi Longo, ex-leader of the Italian Communist Youth, was charged to make the necessary arrangements with the Spanish government. The Soviet Ministry of Defense also helped, since they had experience of dealing with corps of international volunteers during the Russian Civil War. The idea was initially opposed by Largo Caballero, but after the first setbacks of the war, he changed his mind, and finally agreed to the operation on 22 October. However, the Soviet Union did not withdraw from the Non-Intervention Committee, probably to avoid diplomatic conflict with France and the United Kingdom.
The main recruitment centre was in Paris, under the supervision of Polish communist colonel Karol "Walter" Świerczewski. On 17 October 1936, an open letter by Joseph Stalin to José Díaz was published in Mundo Obrero, arguing that liberation for Spain was a matter not only for Spaniards, but also for the whole of "progressive humanity"; in a matter of days, support organisations for the Spanish Republic were founded in most countries, all more or less controlled by the Comintern.
Entry to Spain was arranged for volunteers: for instance, a Yugoslavian, Josip Broz, who would became famous as Marshal Josip Broz Tito, was in Paris to provide assistance, money and passports for volunteers from Eastern Europe. Volunteers were sent by train or ship from France to Spain, and sent to the base at Albacete. However, many of them also went by themselves to Spain. The volunteers were under no contract, nor defined engagement period, which would later prove a problem.
Also many Italians, Germans, and people from other countries with repressive governments joined the movement, with the idea that combat in Spain was a first step to restore democracy or advance a revolutionary cause in their own country. There were also many unemployed workers (especially from France), and adventurers. Finally, some 500 communists who had been exiled to Russia were sent to Spain (among them, experienced military leaders from the First World War like "Kléber" Stern, "Gomez" Zaisser, "Lukacs" Zalka and "Gal" Galicz, who would prove invaluable in combat).
The operation was met by communists with enthusiasm, but by anarchists with skepticism, at best. At first, the anarchists who controlled the borders with France were told to refuse communist volunteers, and reluctantly allowed their passage after protests. A group of 500 volunteers (mainly French, with a few exiled Poles and Germans) arrived in Albacete on 14 October 1936. They were met by international volunteers who had already been fighting in Spain: Germans from the Thälmann Battalion, Italians from Centuria Gastone Sozzi and French from Commune de Paris Battalion. Among them was British poet John Cornford. Men were sorted according to their experience and origin, and dispatched to units.
Albacete soon became the International Brigades headquarters and its main depot. It was run by a troika of Comintern heavyweights: André Marty was commander; Luigi Longo (Gallo) was Inspector-General; and Giuseppe Di Vittorio (Nicoletti) was chief political commissar.
The French Communist Party provided uniforms for the Brigades. Discipline was extreme. For several weeks, the Brigades were locked in their base while their strict military training was under way.
 First engagements: Siege of Madrid
Main article: Siege of Madrid
The Battle of Madrid was a major success for the Republic. It staved off the prospect of a rapid defeat at the hands of Francisco Franco's forces. The role of the International Brigades in this victory was generally recognised, but was exaggerated by Comintern propaganda, so that the outside world heard only of their victories, and not those of Spanish units. So successful was such propaganda that the British Ambassador, Sir Henry Chilton, declared that there were no Spaniards in the army which had defended Madrid. The International Brigade forces that fought in Madrid arrived after other successful Republican fighting. Of the 40,000 Republican troops in the city, the foreign troops numbered less than 3,000. Even though the International Brigades did not win the battle by themselves, nor significantly change the situation, they certainly did provide an example by their determined fighting, and improved the morale of the population by demonstrating the concern of other nations in the fight. Many of the older members of the International Brigades provided valuable combat experience having fought during the First World War (Spain remained neutral in 1914-18) and the Irish War of Independence (Some fought in the IRA while others fought in the British army).
One of the strategic positions in Madrid was the Casa de Campo. There the Nationalist troops were Moroccans, commanded by General José Enrique Varela. They were excellent fighters in the open, but were ill-trained for urban warfare, a role in which the Republican militia had shown prowess in from the early days of the war. They were stopped by III and IV Brigades of the regular Republican Army.
On 9 November 1936, the XI International Brigade - comprising 1,900 men from the Edgar André Battalion, the Commune de Paris Battalion and the Dabrowski Battalion, together with a British machine-gun company - took up position at the Casa de Campo. In the evening, its commander, General Kléber, launched an assault on the Nationalist positions. This lasted for the whole night and part of the next morning. At the end of the fight, the Nationalist troops had been forced to retreat, abandoning all hopes of a direct assault on Madrid by Casa de Campo, while the XIth Brigade had lost a third of its personnel.
On 13 November, the 1,550-man strong XII International Brigade, made up of the Thälmann Battalion, the Garibaldi Battalion and the André Marty Battalion, deployed. Commanded by General "Lukacs", they assaulted Nationalist positions on the high ground of Cerro de los Angeles. As a result of language and communication problems, command issues, lack of rest, poor coordination with armoured units, and insufficient artillery support, the attack failed.
On November 19, the anarchist militias were forced to retreat, and Nationalist troops — Moroccans and Spanish Foreign Legionnaires, covered by the Nazi Condor Legion — captured a foothold in the University City. The 11th Brigade was sent to drive the Nationalists out of the University City. The battle was extremely bloody, a mix of artillery and aerial bombardment, with bayonet and grenade fights, room by room. Anarchist leader Buenaventura Durruti was shot there on 19 November 1936, and died the next day. The battle in the University went on until three quarters of the University City was under Nationalist control. Both sides then started setting up trenches and fortifications. It was then clear that any assault from either side would be far too costly; the nationalist leaders had to renounce the idea of a direct assault on Madrid, and prepare for a siege of the capital.
On 13 December 1936, 18,000 nationalist troops attempted an attack to close the encirclement of Madrid at Guadarrama — an engagement known as the Battle of the Corunna Road. The Republicans sent in a Soviet armoured unit, under General Dmitry Pavlov, and both XI and XII International Brigades. Violent combat followed, and they stopped the Nationalist advance.
An attack was then launched by the Republic on the Cordoba front. The battle ended in a form of stalemate; a communique was issued, saying: "[t]oday, our advance continued without loss of land". Poets Ralph Winston Fox and John Cornford were killed. Eventually, the Nationalists advanced, taking the hydro electric station at El Campo. André Marty accused the commander of the Marseillaise Battalion, Gaston Delasalle, of espionage and treason and had him executed. (It is doubtful that Delasalle would have been a spy for Francisco Franco; he was denounced by his own second-in-command, André Heussler, who was subsequently executed for treason during World War II by the French Resistance.)
Further Nationalist attempts after Christmas to encircle Madrid met with failure, but not without extremely violent combat. On 6 January 1937, the Thälmann Battalion arrived at Las Rozas, and held its positions until it was destroyed as a fighting force. On January 9, only 10 km had been lost to the Nationalists, when the XIII International Brigade and XIV International Brigade and the 1st British Company, arrived in Madrid. Violent Republican assaults were launched in attempt to retake the land, with little success. On January 15, trenches and fortifications were built by both sides, resulting in a stalemate.
The Nationalists did not take Madrid until the very end of the war, in March 1939. There were also some pockets of resistance during the consecutive months.
 Battle of Jarama
Main article: Battle of Jarama
On 6 February 1937, following the fall of Málaga, the nationalists launched an attack on the Madrid-Andalusia road, south of Madrid. The Nationalists quickly advanced on the little town Ciempozuelos, held by the XV International Brigade, which was composed of the British Battalion (British Commonwealth and Irish), the Dimitrov Battalion (miscellaneous Balkan nationalities), the 6 Février Battalion (Belgians and French), the Canadian Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (Americans, including African-American). An independent 80-men-strong (mainly) Irish unit, known as the Connolly Column, made up of people from both sides of the Irish border also fought. Several histories of the Irish in Spain record that they included an ex-Catholic Christian Brother and an ordained Church of Ireland (Anglican Protestant) Clergyman, fighting and dying on the same side. (These battalions were not composed entirely of one nationality or another, rather they were for the most part a mix of many)
On 11 February 1937, a Nationalist brigade launched a surprise attack on the André Marty Battalion (XIV International Brigade), stabbing its sentries and crossing the Jarama. The Garibaldi Battalion stopped the advance with heavy fire. At another point, the same tactic allowed the Nationalists to move their troops across the river.
On 12 February, the British Battalion, XV International Brigade took the brunt of the attack, remaining under heavy fire for seven hours. The position became known as "Suicide Hill". At the end of the day, only 225 of the 600 members of the British battalion remained. One company was captured by ruse, when Nationalists advanced among their ranks singing The Internationale.
On 17 February, the Republican Army counter-attacked. On February 23 and 27, the International Brigades were engaged, but with little success. The Lincoln Battalion was put under great pressure, with no artillery support. It suffered 120 killed and 175 wounded. Amongst the dead was the Irish poet Charles Donnelly.
There were heavy casualties on both sides, and although "both claimed victory ... both suffered defeats". It resulted in a stalemate, with both sides digging in, creating elaborate trench systems.
On 22 February 1937 the League of Nations Non-Intervention Committee ban on foreign volunteers went into effect.
 Battle of Guadalajara
Republican poster featuring the International Brigades. The text reads We the Internationals, united with the Spanish people, fight the invader.Main article: Battle of Guadalajara
After the failed assault on the Jarama, the Nationalists attempted another assault on Madrid, from the North-East this time. The objective was the town of Guadalajara, 50 km from Madrid. The whole Italian expeditionary corps — 35,000 men, with 80 battle tanks and 200 field artillery — was deployed, as Benito Mussolini wanted the victory to be credited to Italy. On 9 March 1937, the Italians made a breach in the Republican lines, but did not properly exploit the advance. However, the rest of the Nationalist army was advancing, and the situation appeared critical for the Republicans. A formation drawn from the best available units of the Republican army, including the XI and XII International Brigades, was quickly assembled.
At dawn on 10 March, the Nationalists closed in, and by noon, the Garibaldi Battalion counterattacked. Some confusion arose from the fact that the sides were not aware of each other's movements, and that both sides spoke Italian; this resulted in scouts from both sides exchanging information without realising they were enemies. The Republican lines advanced and made contact with XI International Brigade. Fascist tanks were shot at and infantry patrols came into action. There was reportedly an incident in which a fascist officer asked why Italian soldiers were shooting at his party, and they responded Noi siamo Italiani di Garibaldi (literally: "we are Garibaldi Italian"), at which point the Fascists surrendered. The common language was used to advantage by the Republicans, who used loudspeakers and dropped leaflets from planes, to broadcast propaganda messages, including a promise to pay Fascist deserters.
On March 11, the Fascists broke the front of the Republican army. The Thälmann Battalion suffered heavy losses, but succeeded in holding the Trijueque-Torija road. The Garibaldi also held its positions. On March 12, Republican planes and tanks attacked. The Thälmann Battalion attacked Trijuete in a bayonet charge and re-took the town, capturing numerous prisoners.
The International Brigades also saw combat in the Battle of Teruel in January 1938. The 35th International Division suffered heavily in this battle from aerial bombardment as well as shortages of food, winter clothing and ammunition. The XIV International Brigade fought in the Battle of Ebro in July 1938, the last Republican offensive of the war.
Bronze plaque honoring the British soldiers of the International Brigades who died defending the Spanish Republic at the monument on Hill 705, Serra de Pŕndols.In October 1938, at the height of the Battle of the Ebro, the Non-Intervention Committee ordered the withdrawal of the International Brigades which were fighting on the loyalist side, while turning a blind eye on the fact that the Fascist Italian and Nazi German expeditionary forces were fighting on the rebel side, effectively helping General Franco to win the war. The Republican government of Juan Negrín, announced the decision in the League of Nations on 21 September 1938. The disbandment was part of an ill-advised effort to get the Nationalist's foreign backers to withdraw their troops and to persuade the western democracies such as France and Britain to end their arms embargo on the Republic. This action sealed the fate of the Spanish Republic which was not allowed to prevail by the European powers.
By this time there were about an estimated 10,000 foreign volunteers still serving in Spain for the Republican side, and about 50,000 foreign conscripts for the Nationalists (excluding another 30,000 Moroccans). Perhaps half of the International Bridgadists came from Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy or other countries, such as Hungary, which had authoritarian right-wing governments at the time. These men could not safely return home and parts of them were instead given honorary Spanish citizenship and integrated in to Spanish units of the Popular Army. The remainder were repatriated to their own countries. The Belgian volunteers lost their citizenship because they had served in a foreign army.
Re: International brigades during spanish civil war
So being anti facist yet hypocritically pro communist they were tools for stalin and socialists in general. Basically two forms of dictatorial socialism fought it out - the loser being the people all around.
Re: International brigades during spanish civil war
It was complex in the republican existed democrats fighting also and they were not Communist. The problem was that the communists were growing in influence because Stalin was the only one that was resting with sale of weapon to the republic. Whereas UK and STATES with the administration Roosvelt were betting for not intervention and to avoid a new world war. Only americans individual volunters and adventurers in many cases not communist, came to fight.
Re: International brigades during spanish civil war
I don't see the connection of this thread to World firearms. Are you posting in the proper area?
In Battlefield history and relics
In WW1 Allies: Great Britain, France, USA, etc 1914 - 1918
In Germany WW1 and WW2 armour, artillery and vehicles
In Battlefield history and relics
In Orders & Decorations of the Third Reich