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Conflicting Views of History: The Lincoln Brigade



     Andrew Lee, New York University librarian, comments:
     In response to Ronald Hilton's post, there is no requirement, stated or otherwise, that the student's submitting essays adhere to "the Abraham Lincoln Brigade's version of it [the Spanish Civil War], with no apparent reference to conflicting accounts." In fact, as in any other academic effort, the better essays use a wide range of primary and secondary sources of diverse political views, including Payne and Bolloten. The point of the award is too encourage interest in the Civil War and the formal academic study of it, not to propagate any specific views. As a member of the board of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, a member of the SSPHS, (and a far cry from a Stalinist), I wanted to correct the impression that Ronald Hilton has of the Watt Award.


     My comment: I hope that Andrew Lee's scholarly approach prevails. It was far from apparent in the original announcement. In any case, the archives come first, giving the brigade's viewpoint, with Bolloten and Payne as possible correctives. Only an examination of the students' papers would make an assessment possible.
     Tim Brown adds a good comment, surprising from one whose views are antithetically opposite to those of the b...:
     The main claim to fame of my high school alma mater is that the commander of the Lincoln Battalion graduated from Sparks High School in Nevada. I repeat, Battalion, not Brigade. The Brigade name was adopted in order to enhance its propaganda impact as an American unit, and it worked. My understanding is that as international brigades go, the Lincoln was pretty pathetic in terms of both size and actual combat service. But it had immense political value, especially among American progressives, and became an indelible rallying point of the Left. And that, as they say, ain't bad.
     John Wonder, whose dissertation dealt with that period in Spain, writes:
     I certainly empathize with your frustration regarding the Civil War. It is only one example of the baleful influence of what I would call the "inteligenty", the Russian term for the combination of would-be intellectuals including many in the press, particularly the bureaucrats in all fields, and the politicians who follow their lead. You can see what they did to Russia, and I am afraid of their influence in this country. (It is still not clear to me why so many regard Hitler as worse than Stalin. Is because they have some romantico-Rousseauesque attachment to Marxism?) You are fighting a mind-set I do not understand, and which I personally hate and fear.

Ronald Hilton - 2/11/00


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