George Washington Brigade
The Spanish Civil War caught me in Spain doing research. I was ordered out after the first siege of Madrid, and I left cursing both houses. When people learn that I was in Spain during the Civil War, they ask approvingly "Were you in the Lincoln Brigade?" A highly esteemed science colleague recently asked me "Were you in the George Washington Brigade?", which presumably indicated an even higher degree of respectability. His knowledge of the Spanish Civil War came from that simplistic account, For Whom the Bell Tolls.
There are few cases of historical misrepresentation as blatant as that concerning the Lincoln Brigade, made up largely of Stalinists who were not fighting for parliamentary democracy. Yet this truth is concealed. The surviving members have been invited to Madrid and made honorary citizens. Spaniards are so traumatized by memories of the Civil War that they avoid the subject. Yet there are many books, mostly by non-Spaniards, which give the facts. Georges-Roux, La Guerre Civile d'Espagne, is excellent in bringing out the horrors, some of which I witnessed. The extraordinary success in Spain of the Spanish edition of Paul Preston's book about the "three Spain's of 36" is evidence that Spaniards are still obsessed with the Civil War.
Ronald Hilton - 04/19/98